The EU has approved UK plans to roll out broadband to rural areas, it was revealed today.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a government agency, had previously pledged to connect everyone to speeds of at least 20Mbps by 2015, but it needed permission from the EU so that it could enjoy partial state-funding.
The announcement, made in a press release on the EU website, means councils can start building the infrastructure and begin laying the cables necessary to bring superfast broadband speeds to rural areas.
"BDUK's scheme will be a big step towards the achievement of the EU Digital Agenda targets and a strong impetus for growth in the UK," said EU Competition Commission boss Joaquín Almunia.
The EU has committed to a 'Digital Agenda' to achieve a superfast coverage minimum of 30Mbps networks for all European citizens. It will provide £1.5 billion towards BDUK's projects to this end.
The UK government has set aside £530 million to help fund rural broadband roll outs, and councils are also being urged to contribute to funding directly, as well as helping to choose a network provider to lay down the necessary infrastructure - BT is an early favourite.
The first areas to start superfast broadband projects will be Wales and Surrey. Projects in Cumbria, Rutland, Hereford and Gloucestershire are expected to follow shortly.
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