By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU competition regulators have revised state aid rules to make it easier for European Union countries to finance the rollout of fast-speed broadband, key to achieving the bloc’s ambitious digital and green goals.
The European Commission wants all European households to be covered by a gigabit network and all populated areas covered by 5G by 2030.
The EU executive said governments will be allowed to provide state support to fixed broadband networks providing at least 1 gigabit per second and 150 megabit per second upload speeds.
Aid for rolling out mobile networks, including 5G, will only be allowed to improve the quality of existing or planned mobile networks.
The revised rules allow EU countries to use either a published price, regulated price or cost-based price as a benchmark to set wholesale access prices.
To ensure transparency, governments will have to launch a public consultation of at least 30 days before granting state aid, with environmental and energy included among the selection criteria.
The threshold for publishing details of granted aid has been lowered to 100,000 euros from 500,000.
The EU competition watchdog also provided more details of the conditions under which member states must monitor networks’ commercial performance and possibly claw-back money in case the network is outperforming.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)