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Call: 5G coverage along transport corridors - Studies

Acronym CEF-DIG
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Connecting Europe Facility - Digital"

The 2nd generation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-2 programme) “Digital” strand (2021-2027) aims to support and catalyse investments in digital connectivity infrastructures of common interest.

The programme has a total budget of € 2.065 billion, of which € 1.7 billion is managed by European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Actions foreseen to be supported under CEF-2 Digital include:

  • Deployment of/access to very high-capacity networks, including 5G systems, capable of providing Gigabit connectivity in areas where socio-economic drivers, such as schools, universities, hospitals, transport hubs, public administrations, etc., are located;
  • Uninterrupted coverage of 5G systems on all major transport paths, including the trans-European transport networks;
  • Deployment of new or significant upgrade of existing backbone networks including submarine cables, both within/between the EU Member States and third countries;
  • Implementation of digital connectivity infrastructures related to cross-border transport and energy projects and/or the support of operational digital platforms directly associated to these infrastructures.
Link Link to Programme
5G coverage along transport corridors - Studies
Description of call
"5G coverage along transport corridors - Studies"


As of 2021, there were no operational 5G corridors in Europe. However, large-scale trials for testing, demonstration, and validation purposes have been conducted at different locations across Europe, with the support of European and national/local public funding.

As such, inception studies will be funded under this call in order to prepare the actual deployment work of the first big wave of deployment to be launched after the conclusion of the studies; the relevant call is currently planned for 2023. One study for several deployment projects for the same or different calls, e.g. combined by region, are encouraged. These inception studies should include detailed network planning, which should provide a basis for the deployment plan, concrete deliverables in terms of deployed infrastructure, coverage and service capabilities, utilization of existing infrastructure (fibre, power, ground space etc.), associated costs as well as the assessment of market failure for each relevant action.

Should projects for complementary sections in the same region be under preparation for CEF, RRF or other national programmes, these should be combined in one inception study in order to ensure synergies and complementarity.

In parallel to this call, the Commission is launching a Coordination and Support Action (CSA), which aims at achieving 5G edge cloud integration and thus support and provide assistance in this area.


This topic targets preparatory actions for envisaged deployment projects that support investments in challenging areas, where market forces alone will not deliver 5G services with the necessary quality of service, and focus on key European transport paths, including but not limited to, the indicative list of 5G corridors in the Annex part V of the CEF Regulation 2021/1153. The priority for this call will be to support investment in cross-border sections involving two or more Member States, but additional sections considered relevant from a European perspective are equally in the scope of this call.

The corridor that is subject to the study must cross at least one border between two Member States. The length of the corridors envisaged for deployment or study on both/all sides of the border may vary, depending on national circumstances including means of transport, geographic situation and maximum size of the project/EU funding.

Cross-border sections that are complementary to national 5G corridor sections already planned for deployment by the private sector or identified under RRF or other national programmes in line with state aid rules are particularly encouraged in view of their additional potential impact at an early stage.

The studies should provide the following elements:

  • Exact location of the corridor, including the different cross-border sections.
  • Detailed definition of service requirements along the corridor allowing for business continuity across borders.
  • Full network planning including the spectrum bands used.
  • Concrete deliverables enabling to specify and financially quantify the investment required for infrastructure deployment, including coverage and service capabilities, use of existing infrastructure (backhauling including fibre, power, buildings and other constructions for co-location, ground space and other associated facilities and services).
  • Coordination mechanisms to ensure business continuity across the border, in particular regarding spectrum management and numbering. This includes a description of the scenario(s) and processes to guarantee a network hand-over meeting targeted CAM service requirements.
  • Cost calculation and a cost-benefit analysis to identify economically viable and non-viable sections of the corridor where CEF-funding of 5G connectivity infrastructure deployment would be needed and justified according to the guidance set forth by the Commission in its Work Programme.
  • Timeline of the work plan (finalisation of network planning, permit requests, preparation of works, works, testing, service launch).
  • Network upgrade plans according to an evolutionary path enabling a densification of radio networks that would allow moving towards higher levels of automation, if possible up to full automation (e.g. level 5 in automotive).
  • Definition of the cooperation model(s) between the different members of the consortium outlining the roles and responsibilities of each involved party in the deployment project, including financing, ownership, infrastructure deployment, network sharing agreements – if any, network operations and commercial service provision.
  • Definition of the processes enabling coordination and synergies between funding of works under CEF Digital 2021-2023 and RRF where appropriate, as well as in combination with any other relevant public funding programmes at EU, national and regional/local levels that could be used for the purposes of this first phase of deployment work or subsequent projects.
  • Identification of financing solutions for subsequent phases (based on the roadmap described above) possibly using a mix of grants and loans, e.g. under the CEF Digital blending facility.

The corridors that are subject to the study should meet the following requirements:

  • The infrastructure under study should deliver uninterrupted coverage over the whole range of the corridor section thus ensuring high-quality connectivity - depending on the expected traffic demand along the different parts of the section - suitable to provide a broad range of 5G and, where appropriate (i.e. focusing on hotspots e.g. traffic junctions, roadworks, etc.), complementary safety-related services based on existing direct short range communication technologies, such as 4G LTE-V2X and ITS-G5, compatible with existing deployment and supporting complementarity between existing and future infrastructure deployments.
  • The corridor under the study should be capable of meeting service requirements for both safety-related road/rail/waterway operations (e.g. Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), Future Rail Mobile Communication System (FRMCS), River Information Services (RIS)) and multi-service/multi-application 5G services and ensure business continuity across the entire section of the corridor, including in a cross-border environment. The infrastructure can be used for services beyond the transport paths under certain conditions, e.g. in areas surrounding the corridor including populated areas or socio-economic drivers where market failure is demonstrated, without causing undue competition distortions or crowding out effects and provided third party open wholesale access under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory condition is provided.
  • The infrastructure under study should make use of at least one 5G pioneer band (700 MHz, 3.6 GHz, 26 GHz) and if appropriate the 5.9 GHz ITS band and the 900 MHz and 1900 MHz FRMCS bands. If 5G radio-communication technologies are used along the corridor, they should be based on the latest suitable 5G specifications made available by 3GPP, and furthermore be able to integrate upgrades when available. The infrastructure should support advanced service features such as quality of service guarantees enabled by 5G edge computing facilities and facilities allowing for 5G network slicing.
  • Studies should prove that interference issues with other C-ITS services using the 5.9 GHz ITS band are analysed and adequately addressed in the project. Particular attention should be paid to ensure continuity of legacy services and in particular continued functioning of safety-related services.
  • The corridor under study should incorporate solutions to integrate long-range and, if appropriate, short-range communication technologies and support infrastructures. The choice of these solutions will have to take into consideration the level of complementarity of both technologies, as well as efficiencies that may impact deployment costs, network performance, including quality of service, as well as scope and degree of innovation in use cases enabled.
  • The network quality of the corridor under study must go beyond existing and/or planned infrastructure along the full corridor and beyond any legally binding 4G or 5G coverage obligations attached to spectrum licences that apply to relevant parts of the corridors in question.
  • The study should plan for the operation of the service beyond the specific section supported by CEF, in view of the long-term development of the more extensive pan-European corridor network.
  • Studies should plan how the infrastructure is intended to be made available for CAM service providers or other users inside or outside the consortium, e.g. providing access on a non-discriminatory basis to all operators that hold relevant spectrum licenses in the territory concerned, while keeping in mind the respective levels of risk undertaken.
  • Studies should prepare modalities for post-project ownership and describe the mechanism(s) set in place for long-term cooperation and sustainability. In particular, it should be described how the infrastructure under study will be used for the provision of CAM services. Any arrangements for network sharing options should be clearly defined, as well as the functional and operational relationship(s) between the different participants in the value chain for the provision of digital services throughout the 5G corridor.
  • Studies should define a solid implementation plan, including access to services and applications with social, economic, and environmental benefits extending beyond the financing Member States, the beneficiaries or telecoms sector, as well as a commitment to maintain the infrastructure beyond the lifetime of the project. Studies should also include a plan to enable uninterrupted service beyond the cross-border sections funded.
  • The identification of options for specific measures addressing green policy objectives, in particular in terms of reducing the carbon footprint are encouraged.

Please consult the Call document for more information on the scope, including digital security requirements.

Expected Impact:

Proposals submitted under this topic are expected to prepare for 5G corridor work that will contribute to a wider plan to deploy uninterrupted, end-to-end 5G connectivity throughout the entire CEF corridor covered by the proposal, in synergy, where appropriate, with national actions, such as those identified under RRF.

The study should propose key parameters that will best describe the different features of the proposed 5G corridor, including the aggregate length of the corridors covered by 5G, the spectrum bands to be used along the sections, the inter-radio site distance, the availability of various service features along transport routes, as well as the available performance such as data rate and latency for each vehicle as a result of CEF Digital support.

Enabling the use of sharing models for both passive and active infrastructure is encouraged to increase the efficient use of funds provided under this programme. Sharing of both passive and active equipment by network operators (e.g. through a neutral host model) should aim at substantially reducing network deployment costs and at the same time facilitating the energy efficient use of resources when deploying and operating 5G infrastructure. In addition, wherever possible, existing infrastructure such as ducts, fibre, equipment shelters, power supply and utility poles should be used.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Administration & Governance, Competitiveness, SME, Mobility & Transport/Traffic , Justice, Safety & Security
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Public Services, Other, National Government, Start Up Company, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:
  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))

Specific cases:

  • Entities from other countries are exceptionally eligible for projects of common interest in the field of transport, energyand digital and for cross-border projects in the field of renewable energy, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action.
  • Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legalpersonality separate from that of the natural person).
  • International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.
  • Entities without legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guaranteesfor the protection of the EU financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.
  • EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details minimum 2 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) from minimum 2 different eligible countries
Project duration max 6 months
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • detailed budget table per WP
    • activity reports of last year
    • list of previous projects (key projects for the last 4 years)
    • Timetable/Gantt chart
    • Agreement by the concerned Member States (Letter of support)
    • security guarantees
Page limit - part B: 120 pages
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details

The available call budget is EUR 6,000,000.

Project budgets (maximum grant amount) are expected to be around EUR 300,000 per project.

The costs will be reimbursed at the funding rate fixed in the Grant Agreement (maximum 50%).

Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.
Contact Details

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