The European Commission (EC) has reportedly approved a support scheme in Latvia worth around LVL71.5 million (USD139 million) for the deployment of superfast broadband networks in the country, eGov monitor reports. It is understood that the scheme aims to bring internet access as speeds between 30Mbps and 100MBps to both consumers and businesses, while it also hopes to further bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas. EC vice-president Joaquin Almunia said of the plans: ‘Latvia’s broadband support scheme meets the Commission’s Digital Agenda objectives of bringing very high speed broadband to all European citizens. The scheme contains sufficient safeguards to limit competition distortions and supports only networks which are open to all users on a non-discriminatory basis. This will stimulate competition between network infrastructures and services.’
The report notes that this development follows on from Latvia’s notification of a nationwide support measure for the construction of fibre-based broadband networks to the EC in September 2011. The country’s regulatory framework is understood to ensure that financial support for new network rollouts will be only be granted in those areas where no commercial fibre rollout is expected in the near future. Access to subsidised infrastructure meanwhile will be carried out ‘on a non-discriminatory basis and at adequate prices’, with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) taking responsibility for the scheme, and the project forms part of Latvia’s Operational Programme “Infrastructure and Services” 2007-2013.