The announcement of the ten super-connected cities in the Budget, was slightly tempered in some corners by worries that by using state funding to increase speeds in areas where standard or superfast broadband was already available the projects would fall foul of the EU State Aid rules.
The European Commission has now announced that the project has cleared the state aid hurdle. The project will target two districts in Birmingham to bring ultra-fast broadband to these areas, where there are currently no commercial plans to do so.
The other nine cities will still need to have their project approved by the European Commission, with the key elements being that a long term wholesale solution is offered, and it seems in the case of Birmingham this goes as far as making dark fibre available at the wholesale level.
With the EU 2020 target of half of households in each member state using a 100 Mbps service, and all the others having access to 30 Mbps or faster, the super-connected cities are crucial. Though with Virgin Media already offering 100 Mbps services in 2012 to 48% of UK households, if the provider continues its annual speed upgrade program, almost all of these are likely to be on a 100 to 200 Mbps service in eight years time.
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