At the sitting held on 18 March 2021, the members of the Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending considered the Bill on the Confirmation of the Loan Agreement (Rural Broadband Rollout Project) between the Republic of Serbia and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, submitted by the Government.
The Bill was presented by the representatives of the relevant ministry who said that the reasons for the ratification of the Loan Agreement (Rural Broadband Rollout Project) between the Republic of Serbia and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, signed on 30 December 2020, in Belgrade, were contained in the fact that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development had approved a loan of 18,000,000 EUR to the Republic of Serbia, as the borrower.
Broadband internet allows high speed data transfer and the development of broadband networks has greatly influenced the increase in quality of people's daily lives, helping them function more efficiently in many areas. The introduction of this system enables better and faster social development, facilitates communication and increases the availability of state administration, modernises the learning process, provides faster and better medical services and enables trade and payments from remote places. Broadband access has become a significant link in the development of rural and remote areas, as well as in the development of industrial areas and connecting the country's economic regions.
Increasing the speed of data flow in schools in rural areas, hardly at an enviable level, has been a matter of special focus. The implementation of this project would ensure the development of high-speed broadband networks in white spots in rural areas throughout the Republic of Serbia, focusing on schools as access points and priority users.
The project will enable the construction of broadband infrastructure in the middle mile segment, which will connect 500 schools, i.e. public institutions in settlements in rural areas white zones with existing broadband infrastructure and provide free, long-term right of use to electronic communication operators selected through public tender. In return, the selected operators will at the same time build the infrastructure of the last-mile segment, a telecommunications technology that transmits signals from a broadband network over a relatively short distance - from house to house, connecting schools with up to 80,000 surrounding households. The project is part of a broader initiative and represents the first of two phases, with the second phase, targeting up to 900 schools and public institutions and 135,000 households, being planned as a separate project in 2021/2022.
The construction of the middle mile segment is expected to encourage electronic communications operators to develop last-mile segments infrastructure in white zones, as such connectivity is commercially unprofitable and would, without government intervention, remain not covered in the coming years.
Following a discussion, the Committee decided to adopt the Bill.
The sitting was chaired by the Committee Chairperson Dr Aleksandra Tomic, and attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Zoran Tomic, Ana Carapic, Doc. Dr Mihailo Jokic, Dr Milorad Mijatovic, Adrijana Pupovac, Milenka Subic, Olivera Pesic, Velibor Milojicic, Sonja Vlahovic and Dr Boban Birmancevic.