The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Proximus S.A. have reached an agreement on a €400 million loan granted to the Belgian service provider to further roll-out and upgrade its fixed broadband infrastructure in Belgium, predominantly to help accelerate deployment of a Gigabit network of the future, bringing fibre to 85 per cent of businesses and to the centres of cities and communities in Belgium.
The EIB is supporting the roll-out of high-speed internet in the context of the overarching Digital Agenda for Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to promote smart growth and develop a knowledge and innovation-based economy. A key element of this agenda consists of high-performance high-speed networks, ensuring the reliable and rapid transfer of constantly growing data volumes, including in the mobile sector. The steady growth of mobile applications and the resulting data traffic in Europe call for continuous improvement of networks with the latest mobile technology to achieve universal access to high-speed broadband services.
In the framework of its Fibre for Belgium project, Proximus announced its intention to invest €3 billion over 10 years to accelerate the roll-out of fibre in Belgium (see Proximus announces €3B investment in ‘Fibre for Belgium’). In February 2018, more than 6,000 enterprises were already connected to fibre, while 24 cities and communes are in roll-out or planned for short-term implementation.
At the signing, EIB director general Jean-Christophe Laloux commented: ‘This investment will significantly enhance access by both residential and business users to ultra-high speed broadband, This is key today – for citizens and companies alike – to reap the benefits of the digital single market.’
Proximus CEO Dominique Leroy additionally stressed the importance of the new credit line for the group: ‘Through the EIB loan, we have gained a cost-effective long-term, reliable financing partner for one of our most important strategic projects.’ Added CFO Sandrine Dufour: ‘In addition, the cooperation with the EIB will help to optimise our capital structure by lengthening the average duration of our debt portfolio as well as further diversifying our funding sources at attractive interest rates.’