British aid for ultra-fast network cleared
Wednesday 13 June 2012
The European Commission ruled, on 12 June, that a proposal by the United Kingdom to grant around €6 million in public support for the construction of an ultra-fast broadband network in Birmingham is compatible with EU state aid rules. The target areas of the measure are two districts in Birmingham were private operators have either very limited or no investment projects for the next three years. The design of the ultra-fast network for Birmingham will encourage competition by granting open access for at least 25 years to other operators, whereas the EU broadband guidelines require only seven years. The network will be operated on a wholesale basis to ensure more competition at retail level. All possible wholesale access products will be offered to third-party operators, including dark fibre, one of the most pro-competitive products. The Commission notes that the project is also fully in line with the requirements of the new draft broadband guidelines, published on 1 June for public consultation.