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Third CEF Digital call offers €240 million for 5G networks

CEF Digital 2023

The third call for proposals of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Digital funding programme is here. With a budget of €240 million, CEF Digital 2023 aims to foster projects of common interest related to trans-European digital connectivity infrastructures, with a special focus on the deployment of 5G networks. Organisations interested in contributing to the development of cutting-edge digital connectivity across Europe can apply only until 20 February 2024.

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The action lines of CEF Digital 2023

Below are the three action lines of CEF Digital 2023. Each of them has a specific allocation of funds.

5G coverage in transport corridors

A substantial part of the CEF Digital 2023 funds, €100 million, is earmarked for projects and studies related to the expansion of 5G coverage in transport corridors (road, rail and inland waterways). More specifically, it will fund the first major wave of deployment projects stemming from initial studies co-funded in the first call or based on other types of studies or on results generated by ongoing R&D projects on 5G cross-border corridor trials carried out across the EU under Horizon 2020. In addition, other initial studies will be funded, in order to prepare the work for the next major deployment waves to be launched once the studies are completed.

5G and cloud connectivity for local communities

To boost the digital transformation of local communities, the European Commission has earmarked €51 million to develop projects related to 5G connectivity and cloud infrastructure. This will open up new possibilities for the creation of smart communities across Europe. The objective of this CEF Digital 2023 call is to support the early deployment of 5G-based systems enabling use cases for some of the so-called socio-economic drivers, i.e., authorities and public or private entities in charge of operating services of common interest and economic services of common interest. By supporting the deployment and uptake of 5G to support services of general interest in local communities, the initiative will contribute to raising awareness of the benefits of bringing 5G to all populated areas in Europe.

Digital gateways to connect islands and outermost regions

A further €90 million from CEF Digital 2023 will be used to fund projects and studies related to the creation of digital gateways connecting islands, outermost regions and European overseas countries and territories. This includes the installation of submarine cables that will improve connectivity in these crucial geographical areas.

Zabala Innovation and CEF Digital

The main mission of the CEF is to boost investment in the field of trans-European networks. Its focus is on promoting cross-border connections through modern and highly efficient infrastructures, covering various modes of transport. In the digital area, the objective of the CEF is to promote investment projects of common interest related to the deployment of secure digital networks and the improvement of access to them. This programme also seeks to strengthen the resilience and capacity of digital backbones across the European Union by connecting them with neighbouring regions. It also focuses on the digitisation process of transport and energy infrastructures, thus contributing to the growth and modernisation of networks essential for the well-being and progress of the Old Continent.

“The race towards a digitally advanced Europe is underway, and the third call of CEF Digital offers a unique opportunity to contribute to technological development and connectivity across the continent,” says Iñaki Armendáriz, European projects consultant at Zabala Innovation. “At Zabala Innovation we offer our clients our experience in European funding programmes, in terms of support both in the preparation of the proposal and the search for partners, as well as in the processing and subsequent implementation of the project”, he concludes.