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Edinburgh forced by EU to swap superfast fibre broadband for WiFi

Edinburgh city chiefs have been forced to ditch plans that would see 90 per cent of the city get superfast broadband after the EU intervened. 

European laws on state aid for broadband services mean that money from the Urban Broadband Fund (UBF) can’t be spent on areas of cities where commercial rollout from the likes of BT and Virgin Media is expected. 

This means that plans for fixed-lines fibre broadband across large areas of Auld Reekie have been been scotched. 

Edinburgh forced by EU to swap superfast fibre broadband for WiFi
Back to the drawing board: Edinburgh redraws its superfast plans

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Super-Connected Cities and the Urban Broadband FundInstead of spending £9.7 million on fibre rollout, Edinburgh will instead funnel £2.7 million into public WiFi in public transport (if those trams ever get finished) and council buildings as well as a £3 million voucher fund for small businesses who want superfast connections. 

Another £4 million will be spent on start-ups with a further £1 million set aside for archives of festivals like Digital Scotland, reports the Scotsman

Despite the UBF money not going towards fibre broadband rollout which would have provided a more future-proofed solution for residents and businesses, Edinburgh is somewhat at the forefront of superfast connectivity. BT has enabled FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) connections at the Waverly exchange and trialled its FTTP On Demand programme here. The Scottish Government plans to have everyone connected to superfast speeds by 2020. 

The UBF, part of the Super Connected Cities Plan, has already been criticised by BT and Virgin Media for similar reasons. The two ISPs were wary of plans drawn up by Birmingham City Council which could have seen money spend on superfast connections in areas that were already well served. 

Image credit: Flickr user Jon Mountjoy

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