The European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting the expansion of the Swedish fibre network in cities and rural areas with €125 million in debt financing over the next four years. The transaction with IP-Only, the country’s biggest independent network provider, was made possible by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). EFSI is the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Fast internet is becoming ever more crucial in an increasingly digitized society. However, more than one-third of Swedish households lack access to fast fibre networks. In rural areas, three out of four households rely on out-dated technology or have no fixed access at all. The EIB’s support to IP-Only will provide over 400,000 households and companies with next-generation broadband internet connections. Additionally, IP-Only’s open network model allows clients to freely choose digital service providers and benefit from improved competition and lower costs.
European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said: "The agreement signed today with IP Only under the Juncker Plan is good news for Sweden just days after the first EU summit dedicated to Europe's common digital project. Europe needs fast internet to reap the benefits of the digital single market. This is true for citizens and companies alike, in all corners of Europe: rural or urban."
EIB Vice-President Alexander Stubb said: “I am excited about this project. Swedish households will enjoy faster access to the internet, and the Swedish economy as such will benefit. This is simply a great way to get your Skype and Spotify to work better.”
IP-Only CEO Henrik Ringmar said: “The Swedish government’s new broadband strategy presented in December 2016 by Peter Eriksson, Minister for Digital Development, was a crucial step towards giving the entire country access to a digital infrastructure. IP-Only has high ambitions when it comes to contributing to the historical digitalization taking place right now. The support from EIB contributes decisively to IP-Only’s determined fibre roll out, from urban to rural areas. We have a responsibility to counteract the digital exclusion – every citizen has the right to be a part of the modern society.”
The project contributes to the Swedish Government’s broadband strategy that aims to connect 95 % of all households and businesses with a minimum of 100 Mbps to the internet by 2020. The EIB has provided attractive terms and has pushed for a sustainable financial structure allowing IP-Only to provide network access to a higher number of households than planned.
In past last years the EIB, has stepped up its financing for digital and communication projects in Sweden. The support ranges from large-scale digital infrastructure projects to increase geographical coverage of high-speed mobile internet (LTE/4G) to near-complete coverage of the entire population, to the financing of promising small digital companies.
3 October 2017