BDUK superfast broadband plans win EU approval

Broadband resize

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.

Joaqun 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."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.