EU approves Birmingham's super-fast broadband funding

Brussels approves Government plans to close the West Midlands' digital divide.

Broadband speed

The European Commission has approved plans to construct an ultra-fast broadband network in Birmingham.

Under the proposals, around 4.8 million will be spent on improving infrastructure in England's second city as part of the UK's super-connected cities initiative.

Investments in ultra-fast broadband networks contribute to promoting growth in line with the EU's Digital Agenda.

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The European Commission said the project plans were acceptable as the network will be open to all operators, which will help to boost competition in the communications market.

"Investments in ultra-fast broadband networks contribute to promoting growth in line with the EU's Digital Agenda," said the commission vice president in charge of competition policy, Joaqun Almunia.

"If such networks are built with the help of taxpayers' money, it is important to ensure thriving competition on the subsidised networks, so that local businesses and citizens can benefit from continuously improving broadband services at competitive prices."

The measure targets two districts in Birmingham where private operators have no or very limited investment plans in the next three years.

This means, in the absence of this project, most consumers would only be able to use basic broadband services or very expensive business leased line services.

Open access will be granted for at least 25 years for alternative operators, despite the Commission's guidelines only requiring seven years.

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The money is part of a 100 million fund set up by chancellor George Osborne to create a network within the UK of several cities with speeds of around 80 to 100Mbps.

Another 50 million will be distributed among smaller UK cities as part of the Urban Broadband fund.

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