The European Commission has recognised five of the best broadband projects in Europe in the inaugural European Broadband Awards. The winning projects are from Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
Launched in July 2015, the award’s aim is to identify the best projects, one in each of five categories, that will help Europe to meet its Digital Agenda broadband targets of 30Mb/s for everyone and 100Mb/s available to 50 per cent of the population by 2020.
The award is open to both public authorities and private companies delivering networks that provide at least 30Mb/s download speeds to its customer base, whether urban or rural.
Günther H. Oettinger, the European Commissioner responsible for the Digital Economy and Society presented the awards to the winners in Brussels on Monday. This year’s winners are:
- Breitband Nordhessen in Germany as the best project in the category of cost reduction and co-investment.
- RAIN II in Lithuania as the best project in the category on socio-economic impact and affordability.
- CAI Harderwijk in The Netherlands in the category on open access and competition.
- guifi.net foundation in the municipality of Vic, Catalonia, Spain, as best project in the category on innovative model of financing, business and investment.
- Stokab in Stockholm, Sweden, as the best project against criteria relating to ‘future proof and quality of service’.
Submissions from 48 projects in 17 Member States were evaluated by a jury of five international experts in the fields of broadband, telecommunications, systems science, economics and management. Projects covered all types of technologies and sizes – from nation-wide to small community-led projects in rural areas.
The aim of the award is to highlight best practice in deploying and operating broadband networks. The Commission intends to use the winners of the 2015 European Broadband Awards to create a showcase of best practice that can be promoted to across Europe at local, regional and national level through a number of events and conferences.
About the winners
Breitband Nordhessen (Germany, Hessen) represents a best practice in both the organisational set-up and the efficient financing of a passive fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network providing a high quality of service to rural households and small businesses. Five districts in Nordhessen joined forces to help cut costs by reusing existing municipal infrastructure, and then by leasing dark fibre to private operators through a concession model. “This is a unique European model, saving on money and bureaucracy,” said managing director Kathrin Laurier.
The RAIN II project (Lithuania) is the second phase of a national project which aims to bridge the digital gap in Lithuania: while RAIN I provided, with the support of European Structural Funds, broadband internet connection for rural local administration centres, RAIN II is in the process of completing the building of more than 5700km of fibre backhaul network in nearly 1000 rural areas. This project, led by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the network is built by a not-for-profit public enterprise Plačiajuostis internetas, which also provides wholesale products such as dark fibre and data services to private telecom operators.
The CAI Harderwijk Project (The Netherlands, Gelderland) developed a detailed map of existing ducts in civil infrastructures and street works planned by local municipalities and energy companies operating in the area. This allowed CAI Harderwijk to build at low-cost yet high-quality FTTH network. Using structural separation between the infrastructure and the services aspects of the business, the CAI Harderwijk project also facilitates competition and service innovation on the network - and has been recognised by the consumers union in the Netherlands for the wide choice of high-speed services offered to end users over the network.
Guifi.Net Foundation (Spain, Catalonia) is probably the largest community network in the world, having successfully managed to engage volunteers, internet service providers and public administrations to cooperate towards the same end - new development prospects in a rural economy. All these stakeholders pulled resources together to deploy high quality of service through a mix-of fibre and wireless links in remote, very rural and disadvantaged areas in the municipality of Vic in Catalonia, Spain. Projects adopting the same model are now spreading across other parts of rural Spain.
Stokab (Sweden, Stockholm) is a company 100-per-cent owned by the city of Stockholm that has built and provides unlit fibre connectivity to 90 per cent of the city households. The passive network is used by more than 100 telecom operators and 500 companies in Stockholm. Since the company is self-funded, it does not put a burden on public finances. Benefits to end users include low-priced commercial offers and flexibility of services supporting the city’s competitiveness and innovation capacity. With the basic philosophy – developed as early as the 1990's – that access to fibre infrastructure is a strategic utility for the city – Stokab has been a pioneering model for municipal broadband development providing a neutral network to all operators.
More information on the best European broadband projects can be found on the website Broadband Europe.