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EC approves plans for broadband aid in Wales

'Fibrespeed' still awaits final go-ahead

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The European Commission (EC) has given the go-ahead for plans by the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) to wire up 14 Welsh business parks in North Wales with broadband.

Due to their remote locations, these business parks are without broadband. But thanks to a scheme called "FibreSpeed Wales", the WDA is looking to hire a wholesale operator to construct an open, carrier-neutral, fibre-optic network linking all 14 business parks.

The network would remain in public ownership but would be available to telecoms operators to provide broadband to business users.

The EC has given the plans its thumbs up saying that the project, backed by public money, "was not likely to distort competition within the EU significantly".

Giving its blessing, competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said the FibreSpeed Wales was "fully in line with the commission's policy to promote broadband in rural and remote areas".

Although the EC has agreed that such a project would not breech state aid rules, however, a final decision on whether the project can proceed is still to be made.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government told El Reg: "Today's decision by the European Commission to approve the FibreSpeed project as compatible state aid is good news. A final decision on the project's implementation will be later this year." ®

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