Missing paperwork delays UK broadband
Officials on both sides of the English Channel are blaming each other for slow progress on getting the required “state aid clearance” for a slew of UK broadband projects.
The next-generation broadband roll out being administered by Broadband Delivery UK uses £530m of public money in the commercial sector, so it needs clearance from the European Commission – that approval already faces delays over competition concerns.
Now, it’s been revealed the majority of regional projects face further delay because officials in Brussels say they have yet to receive the relevant paperwork from the UK.
When the delays were first revealed the DCMS told PC Pro that it had filed all relevant paperwork with the EC, adding in an official statement that: “We are working with the Commission to finalise agreement on state aid. We are confident the vast majority of councils will meet our timetable and complete procurement by the end of the year.”
We are not going to give a running commentary on the process during that period, but are confident that we will receive a state aid decision in the autumn
However, the EC says it’s waiting on paperwork from the UK.
When we asked for specifics – what documents were involved and which department was causing the delay – European officials wouldn’t give further details, but confirmed that the hold-up was being caused by the UK. “Sorry I can’t give you any more details on an ongoing investigation, but I confirm that there is still information we need to receive from the UK authorities,” a spokesperson told PC Pro.
Officials from the UK’s Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), which oversees BDUK, also refused to clarify the missing paperwork, claiming only that progress had been made and that the EC’s summer break had put the investigation on hold.
“Considerable progress has been made in the last few weeks and we expect the Commission’s formal approval process to begin after their summer break,” a spokesperson said. “We are not going to give a running commentary on the process during that period, but are confident that we will receive a state aid decision in the autumn.”