EU regulators ask for feedback on state aid for broadband

European Commission plans to adopt broadband funding guidelines this year

Europe's lawmakers have asked for feedback on its proposed new rules on allocating state aid to fund broadband networks.

The European Commission on Friday launched a public consultation on its current draft guidelines, which were drawn up in 2011 following a questionnaire-based consultation. At that time most stakeholders said the existing rules worked well, but that there was scope for more clarification.

As good progress has been made with regard to the objective of connecting all citizens to basic broadband networks, the focus is shifting toward facilitating the rollout of fast networks, said the Commission statement. Therefore the revised guidelines propose to include the possibility of supporting ultra-fast broadband networks (with speeds above 100M bps) under certain conditions.

However trade association Cable Europe says that public funds should focus on areas where citizens are not being served by connectivity at all. "Public funds simply shouldn't be diverted to an area where a private investor would otherwise be ready to invest," said the group in a statement.

The revised rules would require member states to publish all information on broadband projects receiving state support and would also open up state aid for infrastructure elements not directly related to the transmission of services, such as ducts or dark fiber (passive infrastructure).

Interested parties should submit their comments by Sept. 3. The Commission intends to adopt definitive Broadband Guidelines in December 2012 based on the comments received.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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