European Broadband Awards 2017 winners were announced at the Award Ceremony on 20 November. The European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu and Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, Phil Hogan awarded the five winners in Brussels. The five projects were selected in five categories focusing on innovative models of financing, cost reduction, territorial cohesion, socio-economic impact and competition. These projects are exemplary projects for the other regions and organisations planning broadband rollout.

Image featuring the winners of the European Broadband Awards 2017

Ms Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society said:
All the five projects are exemplary projects for broadband development. I congratulate organisations and administrations who developed them. These projects will serve bringing more and better internet to people so that they could have better connectivity, better jobs and leisure.

49 projects from 20 EU countries applied for the European Broadband Awards 2017. The jury composed of five European experts in broadband assessed the projects and selected the best five projects from the 15 finalists.

Category 1: Innovative models of financing, business and investment

The project brought fiber to the whole Gotland island in the Baltic sea. The results show that at least 85% of residents and 50% of people owning the summer house have joined the project. The public administrations have spent EUR 4.3 million, of which EUR 2 million from the EU funds. The people of Gotland payed some EUR 12 million. To keep the costs low, people offered their land for cable rollout and even dig them themselves. 57 thousand people now have fiber in Gotland.

Category 2: Cost reduction and co-investment in a future proof infrastructure

Colchester Business Broadband, UK

Logo Colchester Business Broadband, UK

Colchester's open access passive fibre network delivers up-to-gigabit connectivity to more than 850 SMEs and 1.100 households in a previously underserved area of Colchester in the newly constructed buildings. The project represents a highly cost-effective deployment method as it used upgraded existing infrastructure. It is estimated that this deployment model reduces the costs to 10-15%. The project was financed by four sources:

  1. £200.000 (circa EUR 274,000) from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership via Essex County Council,
  2. £167.000 (circa EUR 228,790) Section 106 funds,
  3. £25.000 (circa EUR 34,250) New Homes Bonus, and
  4. £50.000 (circa EUR 68,500) Colchester Borough Council capital expenditure.

Total project cost = £442.000 (circa EUR 605.540 using exchange rate of September 2015, when the funds were granted) from regional and local public funds.

Category 3: Territorial cohesion in rural and remote areas

Broadband Network Development in White Rural Areas of Greece

Logo Broadband Network Development in White Rural Areas of Greece

This large scale, EU funded project, helped deploying broadband in rural areas in Greece previously not connected online. It provided connectivity to more than half a million people in white areas in Greece. The total cost of the project is EUR 199.7 million (of which  EUR 143.8 million from EU Structural funds). The project aimed at closing the “broadband gap” between remote, disadvantageous, traditionally “white rural areas” and the rest of the country, providing good connectivity services at affordable costs. A mix of technologies was used: fibre and Wireless Backhauling, Wireless and VDSL Access.

Category 4: Socio-economic impact and affordability

Coviolo Wireless, Italy

Logo Coviolo Wireless, Italy

The project has been implemented by a group of citizens affiliated to the Neighbourhood Social Center of Coviolo, in collaboration with the Municipality of Reggio Emilia and Lepida Spa. A white spot area was covered with broadband. The cost of the project: EUR 33.582 (EUR 10.000 from the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, EUR 14.582 from the Neighbourhood Social Centre -NSC- of Coviolo and EUR 9.000 from the Lepida spa).Users of broadband in the region are co-financers and have now access high speed internet access that can be expanded to 1.000 Mbps without any structural intervention at an affordable cost.

Category 5: Openness and competition

The Helsinki Optical Fibre Cooperative, Finland

Logo The Helsinki Optical Fibre Cooperative, Finland

Marttila is a small village-like neighbourhood in the Helsinki metropolitan area where war veterans and disabled people built their modest homes (on city owned land) in the late 1940s. As the building density is low, private telecom operators were not interested in bringing fibre technology. Therefore the residents established a cooperative to build their own high-capacity network. The cooperative members financed the project themselves with EUR 170.000. There was no other private or public funding. All planning and much of the physical work has been done by cooperative members themselves who continue to own and manage the network. The project resulted in 96% coverage and 70% penetration.

The European Broadband Awards are open to all types of projects irrespective of the size, location, or technologies used. The competition targets national, regional, and local public authorities (e.g. municipalities, regions and administrations) as well as large and small privately funded projects that adopt innovative models of investment, business or financing structure, such as financial instruments. More information about the Awards are available at the European Broadband Awards page.