The EC has approved an initiative by the Welsh Development Agency to provide 14 remote Welsh business parks with access to broadband. The EC concluded that the move was not likely to distort competition within the EU significantly.
Wales lags behind the rest of the UK in broadband deployment due to its geographical isolation, mountainous terrain and low population density. Affordable broadband services for businesses are not available in the 14 business parks because they are so remote, making them unattractive for commercial investment by broadband providers.
After extensive consultations, the Welsh authorities decided to support the construction of an open, carrier-neutral fibre-optic network linking the business parks. The construction and management of this network, which remains in public ownership, will be tendered out to a wholesale operator. This wholesale operator will then offer its services to telecommunications operators, which will provide high-speed broadband services to business users.
Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: I am pleased to endorse public funding for the FibreSpeed Wales project. It will allow businesses on the target sites in North Wales to reap the full benefits of the knowledge economy. The project is fully in line with the Commission’s policy to promote broadband in rural and remote areas.