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Bourreau, Marc; Feasey, Richard and Nicolle, Ambre (2020): Assessing fifteen years of State Aid for broadband in the European Union: A quantitative analysis. In: Telecommunications Policy, Vol. 44, No. 7, 101974

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In this paper, we document how public funds, or State Aid, have been used to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in Europe since 2003. Our descriptive analysis relies on a unique data set on all the broadband measures notified to the European Commission by Member States between 2003 and 2018. We identify two waves of State Aid for broadband: one for the deployment of basic broadband, and a more recent one for the roll out of next-generation access networks. The use of State Aid is very heterogeneous across Member States, with a few large countries representing the bulk of the cases. The objective of most plans is to expand broadband coverage. The typical project relies mainly on public funds, and involves a direct grant, an open tender, and a contract for 3-5 years. Access obligations are imposed on networks deployed with State Aid, using a benchmarking approach in most cases. Finally, we show that notifications are associated with a relatively high level of broadband coverage in notifying countries, suggesting that public investment is taking over from private investment.

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