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Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) has won a £7m grant from the EU to help subsidise broadband in the county.

The money - which needs to be matched by LCC - should help around 3,000 rural businesses get hooked up to high-speed Net access.

The project builds on the investment of a broadband network currently used exclusively for Lincolnshire's schools and public sector organisations. The council wants to use the cash to develop a five-year programme to ensure rural businesses also have access to high-speed Internet technology.

Broadband services to businesses are expected to start in late 2003 once a tendering process has been completed.

David Bowles, chief exec of LCC, said: "The county is now very confident about attracting broadband service providers because it is creating a ready-made market for their products."

While the EU is happy to hand out cash to worthy causes, it seems not is all well among the Eurocrats.

Today's FT reports that there's a spot of bother between competition commissioner, Mario Monti, and the man responsible for telecoms, Erkki Liikanen.

It seems Monti has written to Liikanen telling him that despite two years of liberalisation incumbent telcos still dominate Net access.

And he claims that at the current pace of progress it would take the EU 28 years to reach the same level of competition as the US.

Hitting back, Liikanen told Monti that he should take action against the telcos if he thought they were acting anti-competitively.

Splendid. So while these two squabble ordinary Joes are still expected to pay through the nose for a service they may - or may not - be able to get. Bravo. ®

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