Feeds

Desperate broadband minister in Brussels cash splash dash

Miller to wrangle with Eurocrats over BDUK competition

Boost IT visibility and business value

Culture Secretary Maria Miller, chief of UK broadband policy, has raced to Brussels this morning to have crisis talks with the European Commission's competition boss, Joaquin Almunia, in a move to get state aid clearance for the £530m rollout of broadband networks in rural parts of the UK.

The Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) had recently appeared confident that the EC would allow the projects to get underway imminently.

It's understood that Miller is extremely frustrated that the issue of state aid had been stalled for some 10 months now, effectively preventing any physical work from progressing.

The government has plans to reach some 90 per cent of homes in Britain with broadband download speeds of at least 2Mbit/s by 2015. There are clear concerns that the slow machinations of Brussels could put a serious dent in those ambitions.

BT and Fujitsu are the preferred bidders for public sector contracts in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process. However, Fujitsu remains on the naughty step, leaving national telco BT to slurp up much (if not all) of the cash. It's this lack of serious competition for the funds that lies behind Brussels' reluctance to OK the spending, as EU governments aren't supposed to encourage monopolies.

However, Miller's department remains convinced that state aid clearance will happen - and probably by the end of this month. That said, the minister's dash to speak with Almunia indicates a sense of nervousness about the process remaining stalled.

A DCMS spokesman told us that the minister had gone to Brussels "for confirmation that [state aid investment in rural broadband in the UK] will happen".

There are also concerns about other projects being suspended by the European Commission, El Reg has learned.

A £150m fund set aside by the UK government for urban investment in the deployment of next generation broadband networks could also be stalled by competition scrutiny from the EC. Tax relief for video games could also be struck by the same delays from Brussels.

Miller wants the process to be "streamlined" to speed up such investment, we were told. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.