The Commission has considered a UK initiative to create an advanced broadband network in North Yorkshire to be compliant with the EC state aid rules. The Commission found that North Yorkshire’s geography and local economy discourage commercial operators from providing advanced broadband services in rural parts of the region and recognised the importance of an advanced broadband infrastructure and cost effective broadband connectivity for citizens and businesses located in these areas. The local authorities have aggregated public-sector demand and will provide the necessary financial support for the construction and operation of the network, which will be subject to an open tender. The local authorities have retained the right to use the network for public sector needs for a period of 10 years, during which time wholesale access to the network will be granted to operators and internet service providers on an open and non-discriminatory basis. These operators will then add their investments to supply advanced broadband services to citizens and SMEs in the region. [22 February 2007]