Brussels, Wednesday 10th March 2021.
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €70 million German aid scheme to support the deployment of high-performance mobile networks in unserved areas of the German Land of Lower Saxony. The scheme aims to support the provision of 4G or higher mobile capabilities in areas where no mobile communication services are currently available or where only 2G mobile capabilities are in place, and where no private company is expected to invest within the next three years.
Under the scheme, public entities, mobile network operators (“MNOs”) as well as specialised construction companies (such as tower companies) will receive funds in the form of direct grants to build and/or operate the mobile infrastructure. The aid to the private entities will be awarded following open, transparent and non-discriminatory tenders.
The use of the supported infrastructure will be open to all interested MNOs on equal and non-discriminatory terms. Furthermore, the MNOs commit to use the aid only in areas outside their coverage obligations, which guarantees the added value of the measure. As the measure will ensure that at least 4G mobile capabilities will be offered in areas where no more than 2G mobile connections are currently available, the scheme will also result in a significant improvement in connectivity.
On this basis, the Commission has concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules and will contribute to the EU's objectives of providing access to mobile services in homes and workplaces, including in remote rural areas.
At the same time, the scheme will help reduce important inequalities and the digital divide in the Land of Lower Saxony. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA. 56426 in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.