French president Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that the government will invest EUR 4.5 billion to support the rollout of very high-speed broadband and the development of innovative services as part of a EUR 35 billion bond issue known as the "grand emprunt". Les Echos reports that Sarkozy announced five major priorities, higher education, research, digital, sustainable development and industry. Although details of how the funds will be allocated have yet to be unveiled, the public sector investment in the digital economy will be EUR 500 million more than the EUR 4 billion of funding recently sought by a commission on the digital economy. The president said "It is a matter of doing for very high-speed services what was done for fixed telephony in the 1970s".
The government will provide EUR 2 billion to enable 70 percent of the population to have access to at least 100 Mpbs services within the next 10 years. Private operators are expected to invest twice as much as the State, according to the president. While operators are ready to go it alone in densely populated areas, a national fund for the digital society will be formed to make loans to operators for shared infrastructure deployment. A public-private partnership is expected to be formed to launch a satellite offering very high-speed access within five years to 750,000 rural homes. The government will also invest EUR 2.5 billion in promoting the development of innovative content and new uses through public-private partnerships in intelligent networks, teleworking, telemedicine, health, government, justice and education. Part of the funds will go towards the constuction of large data processing and storage facilities.