Wednesday, November 21, 2012

European Commission clears UK umbrella support scheme for broadband investment

The European Commission has (finally) approved Broadband Delivery UK's application to act as a "national competence centre", enabling it to work with local authorities to ensure that urban and rural broadband investment projects are in keeping with European state aid and competition regulations:
""BDUK, as a national competence centre, will assist local granting authorities in designing and implementing successful broadband support measures in line with EU competition rules. The umbrella scheme will be a big step towards the achievement of the EU Digital Agenda targets and a strong impetus for growth in the UK" said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaqu√≠n Almunia. The UK notified plans to set up an umbrella scheme for implementing around 140 local broadband support projects without individual state aid notifications to the Commission. The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme aims to provide as many UK homes and businesses as possible with access to superfast broadband infrastructure in the so-called "final third" areas. These areas are typically low-density, rural areas, where commercial operators are unlikely to invest in high quality broadband networks. The total value of aid to be delivered by the scheme is estimated around GBP 1.5 billion (€1.8 billion)."
DCMS press release here; coverage from the BBC here and Br0kenTeleph0n3 here. The final text of the decision (which isn't yet available) should make for interesting reading when it's released, if the previous notification in relation to Birmingham's broadband investment plans is anything to go by. Let's hope that this latest approval goes unchallenged though.

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