(Adds background on scheme)
BRUSSELS, May 26 - A British scheme to roll out high-speed broadband coverage across the country, allowing citizens to get faster access to the Internet, does not contain illegal state aid, EU competition regulators said on Thursday.
The European Commission had already approved an earlier scheme in 2012. The current National Broadband Scheme covers the period from 2016 to 2020, aiming to cover as many homes and businesses as possible, especially in rural areas.
The European Commission said the programme complies with the bloc’s state aid rules as it channels public funds to under-served areas, provides fair chances to all bidders and fair access to the infrastructure through open tenders.
The scheme aims to increase coverage of high speed broadband in Britain by deploying next-generation access networks that can ensure data speeds of more than 30 megabits per second. For Britain, 91 percent of households are already equipped against a 71 percent EU average.
BT, a former state monopoly, has taken the lead in large network rollout programmes. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Kate Holton in London; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)