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Europe green lights UK's £530m fibre rollout

20 Nov 2012
Fibre broadband strands

The UK has been given the go-ahead to release of £530m in funding for superfast broadband rollout projects after the European Commission (EC) ruled the process did not infringe on any competition laws.

The move means funding earmarked for local authorities to use for rollouts in locations such as Wales or Surrey can now be released by the Broadband Delivery UK organisation to the authorities, which can work with suppliers, predominately BT, to roll out the networks.

The EC said that it had approved the move as it was both in line with state aid schemes and had a core focus on reaching rural areas where commercial rollouts would not go.

"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," said EC vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia.

"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."

Secretary of state for culture, media and sport Maria Miller said she welcomed the approval by the EC, claiming it would help ensure the nation met its goal of providing 2Mbit/s for all by 2015, and with 90 percent on at least 25Mbit/s.

"Finally getting the green light from Brussels will mean a huge boost for the British economy. Superfast broadband is essential to creating growth, jobs and prosperity and the delay has caused frustration within government," she said.

"Today's announcement means that we can crack on with delivering broadband plans, boosting growth and jobs around the country."

The majority of the rollout contracts awarded - prior to this approval - have gone to BT, with its only major rival Fujitsu repeatedly pulling out of the running for contracts.

BT welcomed the announcement and said it would now push ahead with its numerous contracts.

"We can now commence work in areas where we have contracts in place and it should also make it easier for those counties who are yet to sign deals with the private sector. It is now full speed ahead".

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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