EU gives go-ahead to British broadband plans
21 November 2012
Frustrating delays to rolling out high speed British broadband are to come to an end after the EU gave the go-ahead to the government's plan, Culture Secretary Maria Miller has announced.
Ministers confirmed earlier in November that the bulk of the country's superfast broadband projects were still stuck in the pre-procurement stages
, with only a handful of contracts signed to date. This was despite a commitment from the UK government to deliver the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.
The government has now said its £530m rural broadband scheme can "start in earnest" after Brussels gave the green light – approval that required direct intervention from Miller.
"Finally getting the green light from Brussels will mean a huge boost for the British economy," she said.
"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."
Under government plans 90 per cent of homes in the UK will get access to superfast broadband and other areas will get access to at least 2Mbps. Funding to achieve this is being allocated to projects run by councils in England and devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Clearance from the EU will first benefit projects in Wales and Surrey. Projects in Cumbria, Rutland and Herefordshire and Gloucestershire are expected to follow shortly afterwards.
"The government will not allow parts of our country to miss out on the digital age," said Miller.
"Britain is in a global race today. To succeed in that race we must have the infrastructure to match our aspiration, providing people who work hard with the tools they need to get on and prosper; this green light will benefit both businesses and communities across the UK."