EU approves France's scheme for very high speed broadband

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators on Monday approved France’s 13 billion euro ($14.39 billion) scheme to roll out very high speed broadband across the country, saying it did not unduly distort competition.

“With these plans all French households and businesses will have access to high speed broadband by 2022. The plans also give more choice in suppliers,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, said in a statement.

The French scheme, known as Plan Tres Haut Debit, will fund local authorities’ infrastructure projects to deploy next-generation access networks ensuring fixed line connections of at least 30 megabits per second.

The European Commission said the scheme did not breach the bloc’s state aid rules because support would be granted in areas where no private investment is planned and competitors would have access to the subsidized networks.

($1 = 0.9033 euros)

Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Alastair Macdonald