BDUK superfast broadband plans win EU approval

News 20 Nov, 2012

The European Commission confirms UK broadband plans do not breach rules on state aid.

Plans by the Government to rollout high speed broadband to every home and business in the UK have won the backing of the European Commission.

The Government set aside £530 million as part of its 2010 spending review to fund the rollout of high speed broadband to rural areas as part of its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative.

Several areas have already bagged funding for their broadband projects, but have been unable to proceed until the EU gave BDUK its backing.

The delay has caused frustration within Government.

The reason for this is because of EU concerns that BDUK may have broken European rules on state aid funding.

However, the EU confirmed in a statement earlier today that BDUK’s activities are in line with its state aid regulations.

Joaquín Almunia, the Euroepean Commission’s vice president in charge of competition policy, said: “BDUK will assist local granting authorities in designing and implementing successful broadband support measures in line with EU competition rules.

“The scheme will be a big step towards the achievement of the EU Digital Agenda targets and a strong impetus for growth in the UK,” added Almunia.

Winning EU approval means work can now begin on broadband deployments in Wales and Surrey, as well as Cumbria, Rutland, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire in due course.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which oversees the work of BDUK, claims Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s recent “direct intervention” in Brussels was a factor in the EU’s decision to award BDUK the green light.

In a statement, Miller said BDUK’s work will result in a “huge boost” for the British economy by generating growth and new jobs.

“The delay has caused frustration within Government...[and] today’s announcement means we can crack on with delivering broadband plans, boosting growth and jobs around the country,” she said.

“Our broadband plans are hugely ambitious – to connect 90 per cent of homes to superfast broadband and ensuring the rest have access to at least 2Mbps. The Government will not allow parts of our country to miss out on the digital age.”