Gelderland and municipalities are going to install broadband in Achterhoek themselves

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Ten municipalities in the Achterhoek are starting a company with the province of Gelderland in order to have broadband installed in rural areas. Deputy Jan Jacob van Dijk signed a letter of intent with the municipalities for this on Friday.

The province says it is working with the municipalities because the market ‘didn’t take its responsibility’. Talks with three interested companies earlier this year came to nothing. They were unable or unwilling to meet the requirements set by Gelderland.

Gelderland feels compelled to take on this role, because broadband would be of great importance for the quality of life in the countryside. For example, the internet will play an increasingly important role for the provision of care at a distance, the province says. In addition, according to the province, broadband is important for the growth and innovation of the economy. Now many in rural areas depend on a telephone line.

On Friday, the province signed a letter of intent with ten municipalities. These are Aalten, Berkelland, Bronckhorst, Doetinchem, Montferland, East Gelre, Oude IJsselstreek, Winterswijk, Doesburg and Lochem. The province is investing about 32 million euros for the project, while the municipalities together with 25 to 30 million euros.

The province and municipalities will start their broadband business in April. The construction of the broadband will start, if all goes well and the municipalities have final agreement, in the summer of next year, with 20,000 to 24,000 connections. The condition is that at least half of the inhabitants subscribe to fiber optic.

Finally, Gelderland claims that there is no state aid or crowding out of the market. Extensive research would have been done to prevent that. “With the construction of broadband in rural areas, the governments are also challenging market parties to accelerate access to the so-called gray areas with fiberglass.”

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