Britain's broadband rollout given green light by EU

20 Nov 2012
Europe

State aid concerns swept aside as BDUK finally gets down to business

Britain's publicly funded broadband projects can finally get under way after the EU waived concerns over state aid.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is using £530 million of public money to kickstart regional broadband upgrades across the country, but the project had been stalled over fears that the scheme was breaching European rules on state aid.

Today's announcement means that we can crack on with delivering broadband plans

BT has won all the BDUK-related tenders to date, giving rise to fears that the company was effectively benefiting from a government subsidy.

However, all EU concerns have now been allayed after a "direct intervention" from culture minister Maria Miller, who lobbied European officials on a trip to Brussels last week, according to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

"Finally getting the green light from Brussels will mean a huge boost for the British economy," Miller claimed in a statement. "Superfast broadband is essential to creating growth, jobs and prosperity and the delay has caused frustration within government. Today's announcement means that we can crack on with delivering broadband plans, boosting growth and jobs around the country."

In a statement, the European Commission said the "design of the BDUK scheme contains several 'best practices' which will help to ensure more effective, better targeted and less distortive public interventions".

The Commission added that "the UK telecommunications regulator [Ofcom] will have a crucial role in designing wholesale access prices and conditions".

The approval means projects in Wales and Surrey can begin work immediately. Cumbria, Rutland, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire will get under way soon after.

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