Rural broadband in the UK to receive £530 million cash injection
Projects for rural broadband in the UK will be injected with £530 million in state aid to widen access for faster internet connections.
Europe’s competition watchdog backed the plans to use state funds to support such an initiative. The announcement proves as another major breakthrough for the government’s digital economy plans. A deal was struck last week to speed up the rollout of 4G mobile services in the country.
The Broadband Delivery UK scheme (BDUK), which aims to rollout fast broadband to most areas of the UK has been delayed after an investigation was launched into the how state aid was being used and whether it infringed on existing rules.
The Financial Times reports the latest rural initiative still needs to be approved by other commissioners, but talks are reportedly seen as mere formality at this stage.
A deadline to bring superfast broadband to at least 90% of the UK was set for before 2015, but this has been delayed after involvement from the EU regarding government subsidies.
The government had a goal of creating the best broadband network in Europe by 2015 but this is now in doubt. BT is leading initiatives in rural broadband, but state aid is deemed necessary for operators to receive substantial returns on its investment.
One of the government’s main aims has been to close the “digital divide” between urban areas and rural communities, in addition to its push speed up the rollout of 4G.
The UK is significantly lagging behind other well connected regions in the world for 4G LTE connectivity, but has been boosted by the news that Everything Everywhere will launch the service next month.