Telco lobbying group ETNO has warned against cutting funding to the CEF

Cutting funding to broadband infrastructure will harm Europe’s economic competitiveness, industry lobby group ETNO has warned. In a letter to European Union leaders, Europe’s Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO), which consist of major European operators such as Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, warned against cuts to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

Back in October, Neelie Kroes, the EU commissioner dealing with digital technology, lobbied for ETNO to back the CEF with a budget of €50bn to fund large scale cross-border broadband infrastructure projects for transport, energy and ICT up until 2020, with €9.2bn specifically relating to broadband and digital networks. However, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has recommended a 25 per cent cut in this budget.

However, ETNO suggested such a move would place Europe at a disadvantage with the rest of the world. “In our view, this would be a short-sighted decision, since broadband networks constitute a critical infrastructure for the competitiveness of our economy. Furthermore, the leverage dynamics associated with the CEF would provide a catalyst for more private investments in the ICT sector, to the advantage of both European businesses and citizens”, Luigi Gambardella, ETNO’s executive board chair said in the letter.

ETNO represents a broad spectrum of telcos including Dutch provider KPN, France Telecom, Telefonica, Telekom Austria, Telenor and TeliaSonera.

The European Commission has said that it wants all European households to have access to broadband by 2013 and at least 50 per cent of European households to be able to subscribe to internet access above 100Mbps by 2020 with a minimum of 30Mbps for the remainder.

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