UK rural broadband aid approved by EU

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Rural areas in the UK will soon receive a ‘superfast’ broadband boost after the UK government received approval to pump £530m into its Broadband Development UK (BDUK) upgrade scheme.

As the scheme was considered state aid, the plans had been on hold while the UK government waited for approval from Brussels. Upgrade projects in Wales and Surrey in the UK will now go ahead with Cumbria, Rutland, Hereford and Gloucestershire to follow soon.

The scheme has faced criticism from some quarters for having only one bidder, UK incumbent BT, after Fujitsu pulled out of the running.

“Finally getting the green light from Brussels will mean a huge boost for the British economy,” according to the Culture Secretary Maria Miller of the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

“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.”

According to the DCMS site, superfast broadband refers to speeds faster than 24Mbps, the theoretical speed limit of ADSL2+.

UK broadband website ThinkBroadband claims that the areas that will benefit are not truly rural, but are in fact large villages and towns that major incumbents BT and Virgin Media do not consider economically viable locations for fast broadband. More remote areas can only look forward to receiving the 2Mbps that the government has committed itself to delivering.

The UK government has also committed itself to having 98 per cent of the country covered with 4G wireless connectivity by 2015.

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