Consumers and businesses in UK rural areas could stand to benefit from a significant European Union investment in super-fast broadband, it has been reported.
According to the BBC, the European Commission is set to propose investing almost €9.2 billion (£8 billion) in a major broadband rollout across the 27-member state bloc.
The plan is geared towards stimulating further private sector investment in rural broadband networks, while also creating a single market for digital public services.
Money would be invested into EU broadband between 2014 and 2020 – although the plan needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers first.
An EU source commented: "Europe needs these fast broadband networks to allow its economy to become more competitive in the future, and so create more jobs and prosperity.
"This money would stimulate much greater investment of private and other public money. Each euro [invested by the Commission] would give rise to a further six to 15 euros more."
Around €7 billion in funding, which will come in the guise of debt instruments and equity, will be invested in the construction of high-speed broadband networks, the BBC claimed.
The money would come from a new fund called the Connecting Europe Facility.
It is hoped that, as a side benefit, hundreds of thousands of jobs in the construction and telecoms equipment industries could be created by the project.
EU broadband funding has already been used successfully to support regional broadband infrastructure projects in the UK.
Some £53.5 million came from the European Regional Development Fund to assist BT's next-generation broadband scheme in Cornwall.
And a further £18.5 million went towards the development of Northern Ireland's broadband infrastructure.
The European Commission hopes to deliver broadband speeds of at least 30Mb to all EU citizens by 2020.