£363 million to ‘take broadband to all’ in England and Scotland

As part of the Government’s £530 million investment in the UK’s broadband network, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt today announced how much money has been allocated to each English county (PDF 153Kb) and to Scotland.

English counties are set to receive £294.8 million, and Scotland £68.8 million.

This investment will ensure that the UK has the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, with 90 per cent of homes and businesses having access to superfast broadband and for everyone in the UK to have access to at least 2Mbps.

To access these investment pots, local authorities and the Scottish Government will need to play their parts. In England each county council or local enterprise partnership will lead broadband roll-out in their area, draw up an effective delivery plan, and match the Government’s investment with European, their own or private funds. In Scotland the Scottish Government will need to consider how best to use the funds.

“Vital to economic growth”

Mr Hunt said:

“Fast broadband is absolutely vital to our economic growth, to delivering public services effectively, and to conducting our everyday lives.

“But some areas of the UK are missing out, with many rural and hard-to-reach communities suffering painfully slow internet connections or no coverage at all. We are not prepared to let some parts of our country get left behind in the digital age.

Don’t suffer in silence

Mr Hunt urged those suffering the frustration of slow internet connections to “make it clear to your local elected representatives that you expect them to do what is needed to access this investment and to deliver broadband to your community.”

The private sector on its own will take superfast broadband to around two-thirds of UK households and businesses – this funding will be used to help take broadband to the remaining third by making it viable for business to invest. Funding allocation announcements have already been made for Wales and Northern Ireland.

The allocations made today are based on need – we have looked at the areas where the market will fail to deliver superfast broadband to enough premises on its own, and the cost of that. It is not based on the number of people living or working in a county.

Areas receiving most funds

  • Cumbria: £17m
  • Devon and Somerset: £31.3m
  • East Sussex: £10.6m
  • Kent: £9.87m
  • Lancashire: £10.8m
  • Lincolnshire: £14.3m
  • Norfolk: £15.4m
  • North Yorkshire: £17.8m
  • Suffolk: £11.68m

UK rural broadband plans move on

Homes in Devon, Somerset, Norfolk and Wiltshire will get super-fast broadband, the government has said.

Making sure rural areas have fast net services is part of a wider drive to make the UK the best place for broadband by 2015.

Each county will receive a portion of the £530m fund the government has set aside to fund rural broadband.

The Department for Culture said that all the UK’s local authorities will receive funding in the next few years.

“This is part of our plan for virtually every community in the UK to have access to super-fast broadband,” said culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The government acknowledges that its £530m pot – which is money left over from an earlier digital switchover fund – will not be enough to give the entire country fast broadband.

Private investment will also be needed.

Fibre homes

The successful counties were among 18 which originally bid for the money.

Devon and Somerset will receive around £30m, Norfolk £15m and Wiltshire £4m and they will then choose a contractor and technology best suited for their needs.

The government anticipates that the technologies will be a mix of mobile, satellite and fibre connections.

Wiltshire Council has already pledged to spend £16m on broadband services across the county.

The government announced the first tranche of its rural broadband plan in October 2010, setting up three pilots in North Yorkshire, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Cumbria and Herefordshire.

It has been accused of being far too slow to get the trials up and running. So far none are live and only two have begun the process of finding a firm able to offer services.

Fujitsu has pledged to build a super-fast network across the whole of rural Britain. It has said it will offer fibre-to-the-home technology to around five million homes. That could provide homes with speeds of up to 100Mbps (megabits per second).

In order to do so it will rely on using BT’s infrastructure – the ducts and poles that provide telephone and broadband services around the UK.

Ofcom has forced the telco to open up its network but some have argued that the prices it is planning to charge for access are too high.

Revised pricing is expected in June.

According to BT, Fujitsu has yet to join its ducts and poles trial.

[Via BBC News]