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Friday, 4 March 2011

State Aid Guidelines

Light reading for the weekend, folks! After last night's "Eden Valley Connective" broadband meeting with BDUK, I thought it was time to lay into the State Aid Guidelines.

This blog post can be read at

It is going to be very important for those within the BDUK pilot areas to help those in Councils etc to make the right decisions. We can all only do that if we understand how State Aid will and does affect choices made. For instance, it would seem that "open access" is being translated to suit the bidders already, and not either the project or the end users.

In addition, it would seem very important that Councils et al are very clear about 51.

51. In assessing the proportional character of the notified measures in "white" or "grey" areas, through its decision-making practice, the Commission has highlighted a number of necessary conditions to minimise the State aid involved and the potential distortions of competition. The lack of any of the following conditions in (a) to (h) would require an in-depth assessment [51] and most likely it would lead to a negative conclusion on the compatibility of the aid with the common market.

So, a) for instance reads:

(a) Detailed mapping and coverage analysis: Member States should clearly identify which geographic areas will be covered by the support measure in question. By conducting in parallel an analysis of the competitive conditions and structure prevailing in the given area and consulting with all stakeholders affected by the relevant measure, Member States minimise distortions of competition with existing providers and with those who already have investment plans for the near future and enable these investors to plan their activities [52]. A detailed mapping exercise and a thorough consultation exercise ensure accordingly not only a high degree of transparency but serve also as an essential tool for defining the existence of "white", "grey" and "black" zones [53].

Mapping for instance is vital. At Penrith conference, the maps failed to include our own homegrown networks like Cybermoor, Gt Asby etc so maps must include ALL existing service providers, not just the big boys.

Communicating with existing service providers about their plans. Hm, we are already hearing from providers and communities who are getting increasingly concerned that their ongoing work could be totally distorted by BDUK intervention unless local authorities try much harder to discover what is going on in their areas. (This has been ongoing for a while, but many of those now getting in touch are not 'planning' to build something, they have already JFDI.)

This small example of a detailed and complex document gives some idea of what we are all up against.

There will be a short test on Monday on the rest of the Guidelines. ;o)

(Next week, we shall be studying the Framework Agreement).

Have a good weekend all. And just a reminder that rural areas, kids and advanced technology mix really well. I suspect we may see something similar in Stoneleigh as a school holiday course in years to come...


PhilT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhilT said...

So, Penrith I take it is a "black" area as BT have publicly announced FTTC plans - correct ?

update - I see there are "black" areas and "NGA black" areas (along with other shades of both).

Penrith is definitely black for broadband, as are other Market 2 /3 exchange areas up to the limits of coverage. Probably NGA black as BT FTTC is the only announced plan.