Broadband cable

EU approves UK's superfast rural broadband scheme

The EU has approved a UK umbrella support scheme for investments in next generation access (NGA) broadband networks.

In particular, the scheme is aimed at supporting local projects in rural and remote areas, where such networks would unlikely be developed on commercial terms.

"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 Commission 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."

The UK plans to set up an umbrella scheme for implementing around 140 local broadband support projects without individual state aid.

The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme aims to provide as many UK homes and businesses as possible with access to superfast broadband infrastructure in the so-called "final third" areas. 

These areas are typically low-density, rural areas, where commercial operators are unlikely to invest in high-quality broadband networks.

The total value of aid to be delivered by the scheme is estimated to be around £1.5bn. 

This will most likely enable the UK to achieve coverage of 30Mbps networks.

The design of the BDUK scheme contains several 'best practices' which will help to ensure more effective, better targeted and less distortive public interventions. 

For example, a national competence centre will advise smaller local authorities, while the national telecommunications regulator Ofcom will have a crucial role in designing wholesale access prices and conditions. 

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