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Birmingham ultra-fast broadband plans win EU approval

Wednesday, June 13th 2012 by Paul France
EU approval for Birmingham ultra-fast broadband strategy

The European Commission has given the green light to Birmingham's next-generation broadband plans.

Plans to grant millions of pounds of public money to the construction of an ultra-fast broadband network in Birmingham do not contravene EU rules on state aid, the European Commission has declared.

Under the proposals, around €6 million (£4.8 million) of public financing will be spent on the infrastructure improvements as part of the UK's super-connected cities initiative.

After investigating the plans, the European Commission said the project is acceptable because the network will be open to all operators and therefore will help to boost competition in the communications market.

Alternative operators will be offered open access to the infrastructure for at least 25 years, despite the Commission's guidelines only stipulating seven years.

In addition, all possible wholesale access products - including dark fibre - will be available to third-party providers.

Joaquin Almunia, vice president in charge of competition policy at the Commission, said: "Investments in ultra-fast broadband networks contribute to promoting growth in line with the EU's Digital Agenda.

"If such networks are built with the help of taxpayers' money, it is important to ensure thriving competition on the subsidised networks."

According to Ofcom, super-fast broadband is currently available to 86 per cent of Birmingham.

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