Wales Expects EU Green Light For BDUK Broadband Rollout This Autumn
Wales expects to start laying down fibre for its BDUK project this autumn
The Welsh Government expects to start laying fibre down across the country as part of its Broadband Development UK (BDUK) backed project this autumn, as the European Commission decides on whether it will allow the country to benefit from state aid.
Some are concerned that BDUK initiatives will not get the green light from Brussels, since it started a formal investigation earlier this year, since the fact that BT had won all the contracts thus far raised questions about competition.
All but one BDUK project announced so far has been put on hold as Brussels determines whether to allow regions and private ISPs like BT to benefit from state aid, throwing government plans to make the UK home to the fastest broadband in Europe into jeopardy. BT has won all five BDUK contracts handed out to date and it is believed the only other real contender is Fujitsu, leading to competition concerns in Brussels.
North Yorkshire has already started its rollout as it got its state aid application approved early, before the European Commission started scrutinising the process more closely, the county council revealed earlier this week.
Wales is waiting on the green light from the EU, as it looks to kick off a £425 million project that should see broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps brought to 96 percent of Welsh homes and businesses by the end of 2015.
Despite concerns, the Welsh are optimistic they will get approval within the next three months for their rollout, TechWeekEurope has been told.
“We have already started the mobilisation work so we can hit the ground running once the formal approvals are finalised with detailed planning and survey work well underway. We anticipate at this stage that physical engineering work would commence during the Autumn,” a spokesperson for the Welsh Government said.
“The UK Government is actively engaged in discussions with the European Commission at present regarding state aid clearance for all next generation broadband projects in the UK. This includes the scheme for Wales.
“We are in close dialogue with the UK government on this matter. We currently expect more details on the progress in the early Autumn.”
The spokesperson said the Welsh Government had developed the project to ensure it is aligned with the European Commission broadband guidelines issued in September 2009.
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