Poland: EIB financing of PLN 600 million supports the roll out of high-speed internet in underserved areas

22 October 2021
Poland: EIB financing of PLN 600 million supports the roll out of high-speed internet in underserved areas

An EIB loan of PLN 600 million (€ 130 million) will support the creation of a fiber to the home infrastructure in currently underserved Polish regions

The network will dramatically increase the connection speeds available to end-users and reach some 2.4 million households by 2025

The EIB acts as anchor lender to the project, which will get financing from private banks as well

Polish areas, which are so far not covered by high capacity networks, will gain super-fast internet access (with speed above 100 Mbps) thanks to the deployment of a fibre to the home (FTTH) network under a project financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) amongst others. The bank signed a PLN 600 million loan with Światłowód Inwestycje, a telecommunications company co-owned by Orange Polska and the pension fund covering the Dutch public servants APG. Today, Światłowód Inwestycje achieved financial close and has now access to the total funding of PLN 3.1bn, which includes the EIB loan. Światłowód Inwestycje’s network aims to cover 2.4 million homes by end of 2025.

According to the 2020 edition of the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index, which provides an up-to-date set of indicators on digitalisation and digital transformation for EU countries, Poland is among the least advanced countries in Europe with respect to the degree of digitisation. In the last few years the country has made substantial progress in assuring access to the internet. This is reflected in the above-average provision of very fast internet access as well as access to mobile broadband. At the same time, overall fixed broadband take-up is below the EU average with the gap widening since 2015. The low accessibility of access to fixed-line internet is particularly pronounced in less densely populated areas.

With about 80% of the project implemented in cohesion regions, it will specifically target underserved areas. In addition, the project will contribute to climate action thanks to the energy savings generated by end-users connected to the FTTH network.

“Green and digital transformation are key to ensure a sound recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said EIB Vice-President Teresa Czerwińska, who is in charge of EIB activities in Poland. “This project will reduce the gap between Poland and the rest of the EU when it comes to ultrafast broadband coverage. Fast internet opens up a whole new universe of opportunities to people and businesses – from telework, to home schooling, and knowledge sharing. The pandemic has shown that advanced digital solutions are the basis for strong and healthy economies and societies.”

“High quality connectivity has become more important than ever. At Orange, we see it first-hand. Since 2015, we have invested nearly PLN 3.9 b in rolling out superfast fiber. We are building new fiber connections in both bigger cities and small towns, embracing almost 5.5 m Polish households as of today. Wiping out black spots has always been among our priorities. We are working with the authorities on solving this issue, i.a. through conducting EU-cofunded projects across the country. Światłowód Inwestycje is a new wholesale player on the Polish telecom market, ready to invest in modern and efficient network mainly in disadvantaged areas. We believe that it will further contribute to the digitisation of Polish economy and help tackle the digital divide,” said Julien Ducarroz, CEO of Orange Polska.

In addition to the EIB, a number of other national and international banks provide external financing: BNP Paribas Bank Polska, ING Bank, Santander Bank Polska and Société Générale BGK, KfW Ipex, mBank, Bank Pekao, PKO BP, and Raiffeisen Bank International.

Background information

In 2020, the EIB Group provided €5.2 billion in financing to projects in Poland.

Światłowód Inwestycje is a wholesale joint venture of Orange Polska and APG, focusing on FTTH market. By 2025, it aims to build fiber network reaching 1.7 m households located mainly in low and mid competition areas. Together with the 0.7 m households that Orange Polska has contributed to the company’s footprint, it will offer open access to an FTTH network embracing 2.4 mn Polish homes and offices.

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