The European Commission (EC) has approved a EUR2 billion (USD2.2 billion) Austrian aid scheme made available through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) to roll out passive infrastructure for fixed broadband access networks in areas of the country where there is no current or planned network able to provide download speeds of at least 100Mbps. The measure is part of Austria’s strategy to address the needs of citizens and businesses in the context of the digitisation and also contributes to the EU’s strategic objectives relating to the digital transition.
The scheme, which will be partially funded via the RRF in the form of direct grants, will run until 31 December 2026. It will finance the deployment of passive infrastructure (e.g. ducts, cabinets, exchanges and dark fibre) for fixed broadband access networks offering speeds of at least 100Mbps, which is capable of supporting the provision of gigabit speeds in the future. The scheme will give priority to the financing of infrastructure in areas where end users do not yet have broadband access at download speeds of at least 30Mbps. It is designed to stimulate the wholesale market, while ensuring competition in the retail market, in order to incentivise further private investments in the networks, with a view to reaching gigabit connectivity for all Austrian citizens and businesses by 2030.
The support options covered are: an ‘Access’ programme that will support beneficiaries in all network business models, targeting in particular the vertically integrated network business model, where the beneficiary is active as physical infrastructure provider, network provider and service provider; and an ‘OpenNet’ programme that will support beneficiaries in an open network business model, being active at wholesale level only.