Telecoms company Epic is to receive €20 million in European financing to help it develop nationwide 5G coverage and begin work to install its own fibre-to-the-home Infrastructure.
The aid will come from the European Investment Bank, the EU’s long-term lending institution, and is intended to help Epic accelerate its 5G rollout to ensure nationwide coverage by 2024.
Epic’s 5G and fibre projects are expected to cost €43 million in total.
Currently, Epic’s 5G coverage only stretches to a restricted number of localities include St Julian’s, Sliema, parts of Gżira, San Ġwann, Mosta and Attard.
It was not immediately clear how much of the country Epic’s extended rollout will cover: while the EIB’s website states that 70 per cent of the country will be covered by the project, EIB vice-president Gelsomina Vigliotti said that coverage would stretch to 99 per cent of Malta.
A spokesperson for Epic told Times of Malta that the project will ensure nationwide coverage by 2024.
Epic has also committed to launching a pilot project for fibre-to-the-home Infrastructure in select areas of Malta. Fibre connections allow for super-fast internet speeds.
Epic started rolling out its own fibre network last year, having previously used infrastructure belonging to GO through a sharing deal reached between its predecessor, Vodafone Malta, and GO.
EIB vice-president Gelsomini Vigliotti said that the pilot project would extend fibre-to-the-home services to areas that include roughly 25 per cent of homes.
The EIB investment follows a €28 million loan that the institution provided GO in 2018 for similar infrastructural investment. Both its loans to the telecoms providers cover roughly 50 per cent of their project costs.
In its statement, the EIB said that the investment is in line with its objective to boost development of telecommunication network infrastructure and bridge the digital divide.
Apart from providing several benefits to businesses and consumers in Malta, the project would also allow Epic to cater for an expected increase in demand for data and “build a more future-proof and effective fibre network to support its mobile network.”
Over the last five years, the EIB has provided €11.7 billion for telecom and broadband network investment around the world. This has supported investment by leading telecom operators, including Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Iliad, Orange, Magyar Telecom, and Eutelsat, and the construction of submarine communications cables to Africa, rollout of national broadband networks, and development of 5G mobile infrastructure.
Epic CEO Tamas Banyai described the deal as an “important moment” for the company and Malta in general.
Minister Silvio Schembri concurred, saying that “in today’s day and age, connectivity is essential as many businesses switch to a digital infrastructure to be more efficient, resilient and closer to workers and consumers.”
Correction September 5, 2022: A previous version stated that Epic was using GO infrastructure to offer fibre internet services. The company began rolling out its own fibre infrastructure in 2021.
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