EU gives green light to £530m superfast broadband plans

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EU gives green light to £530m superfast broadband plans

Kathleen Hall

The government has been given the green light by the European Union to roll out £530m in broadband funding, intended to bring superfast broadband to 90% of homes, and a minimum speed of 2Mbps elsewhere.

The investment had been pending approval from the EU for state aid, due to competition concerns.

Secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Maria Miller said: “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.  Today’s announcement means that we can crack on with delivering broadband plans, boosting growth and jobs around the country.”

The plans aims to connect 90% of homes to superfast broadband, with the remainder having access to a minimum of 2Mbps.

BT has been the only supplier to so far win any of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contracts. The firm has won the bids for Lancashire, Rutland, North Yorkshire, Wales and Surrey. 

"These are the ones where we have signed the contract for and so should now be able to start work on," said a spokesman from BT. "[This move] should also make it easier for those counties who are yet to sign deals with the private sector."

North Yorkshire’s project began implementation in July as it already has state aid approval. 

The go-ahead also means local authorities can now sign procurement contracts with contractors and begin delivery work on their new broadband infrastructure projects.  

BDUK said it has planned a pipeline of local authority projects which are currently going into procurement at a rate of approximately one a week. 

Projects in Cumbria, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire are expected to follow shortly, said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, while Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and Highlands & Islands are still progressing their procurements.

Lancashire’s project has completed procurement and is awaiting the commission’s decision on its own separate notification of state aid, said BDUK.

A further eight projects are currently undertaking their procurements using the Broadband Delivery Framework - Norfolk, Suffolk, Wiltshire, Devon & Somerset, Northamptonshire, Kent & Medway, Lincolnshire and Hampshire. Shropshire will launch its procurement next week.

All the remaining rural broadband projects are expected to complete their procurements by summer 2013.

 

 


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