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Feb 13, 2024 11:58 EEST
February 13 (SeeNews) - Serbia's telecommunications ministry has hired a local consortium to provide technical assistance for the implementation of a 105 million euro ($113 million) rural broadband project supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the bank said.
The technical assistance project is worth 2.174 million euro and was signed at the end of January with the consortium led by design, engineering and consultancy firm VMS, the EBRD said in a statement on Monday.
The consortium also comprises Belgrade-based JAI Development and Consulting, Serbia's National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED), and design and consultancy firm Delta Inzenjering. Its technical assistance will include project implementation unit (PIU) support, project management, technical acceptance of works and technical control of designs. The assignment should be completed by November 25 next year.
In November 2021, the EBRD approved a 100 million euro sovereign loan to Serbia to finance the construction of mid-mile and last-mile fibre broadband infrastructure connecting up to 1,600 rural schools and public institutions across the country to the existing fibre backbone network. The total value of the project is 105 million euro, the EBRD has said.
"Due to geographic isolation and low population density, deploying broadband in white areas [without access to broadband network] is not sufficiently profitable for any single operator. Mid-mile rollout and provision to telecom operators on free-use rights basis will decrease the capex required for network expansion to households in rural areas, making targeted white zones more attractive for investment by operators," the EBRD noted back in 2021.
The project is part of a larger initiative and represents a follow-up to a previous such project, signed in December 2020, which targeted 600 schools and public institutions in Serbia. The value of the first project was 19.7 million euro, of which 18 million euro was provided by an EBRD loan.
($ = 0.928 euro)
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