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EU refuses aid for a municipal fibre network
Friday 21 July 2006 18:42:00 by Andrew Ferguson

One town in the Netherlands has been refused aid from the EU to help build its own fibre based network. The aid was refused on the grounds that the project would be unfair to existing commercial broadband offerings in the town. Visit the Associated Press website to read more on what was said.

Whether the town can go ahead with the project without using EU aid is not totally clear, the wording of AP story is vague on whether this is the EU saying the local government cannot build the network, or that they can ahead so long as no EU money is used. The project for the town of 5,500 people, and the plan was to spend $6.3 million to build and maintain the network, i.e. around $1150 per inhabitant. Interestingly this cost did not include the final part of the link from the network to the household, that was to be left to individual providers who would rent capacity on the network.

A number of other countries and towns/cities around Europe already have municipal fibre networks, very often in partnership with private companies. The UK has yet to really embrace this area at all, most large cities have plenty of fibre running around and through them, the big problem being connecting households into it. The US has seen a degree of lobbying resulting in some states passing laws stopping local government funded broadband networks.

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