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October 8, 2012

EU set to approve UK’s rural broadband scheme

The scheme still requires signatures of other commissioners

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Union (EU) is all set to approve plans to move ahead with UK state investment of £530m into Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme, which would allow the work to begin on the superfast broadband to rural areas.

European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia said that only "minor changes" are to be implemented prior to the approval from officials in Brussels.

According to FT, the scheme was earlier delayed as the commission investigated whether it infringed regulations on unlawful state support.

The decision pending scheme still needs to be signed by other commissioners, which is anticipated to delay any announcement until late October, although it is being considered as a formality.

The schedule for offering superfast broadband to 90% of the UK by 2015 has been delayed by about three months due to negotiations with the EU over the requirement of government subsidies, which raised concerns over government’s aim of creating thefinest broadband network in Europe by 2015.

Launch of rural broadband has also been controversial, with opponents alerting of a lack of competition among infrastructure providers.

As part of the BDUK process, local authorities will select pick ideal providers for their areas in separate tenders, of which BT has been selected for offering services for Lancashire, Rutland, Surrey, Wales, and parts of East Anglia.

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The firm will also be supported to commence work on the areas that it has been selected to offer services.

The UK Government had revealed a plan to invest £114m to establish ultrafast broadband networks across 10 cities across the region.

Out of the total investment, London will receive a £25m while Leeds and Bradford will jointly receive £14.4m. The funding for other cities include £13.7m for Belfast, £12m for Manchester, £11.3m for Bristol, £11m for Cardiff, £10.7m for Edinburgh, £10m for Birmingham and £6m for Newcastle.

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