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Broadband fund to provide £20m to rural areas
Thursday 10 March 2011 13:17:46 by John Hunt

The government is to set up a rural 'Community Broadband Fund' which will be used to help provide opportunities to rural communities such as the upland areas to apply for funding for community broadband projects. £20m of funding will be made available through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) to help small communities develop ideas for broadband services into a working solution that can get people online. The RDPE programme is set to run until 2013, and it is through this that funding will be granted.

"Fast reliable broadband is one of the biggest problems that many rural areas face. Local communities have long been setting up their own schemes in the face of apparent indifference from BT and a sometimes patchy response from the public sector.

The Uplands Policy Review rightly points out these initiatives are a valuable part of the broadband picture and £20m for community initiatives is welcome [but] is a comparatively small amount when compared to the scale of the rural broadband problem, so it needs to be carefully focused.

Malcolm Corbett, (Chief Executive) Independent Networks Cooperative Association

Last month the Commons environment and audit committee recommended that bringing faster broadband to farmers would help them run their business and encourage young people to stay involved, whilst also helping to keep these vital communities running which are a great aid to our tourism industry.

Rural areas such as the upland areas fall under the 'final-third' category which private firms are unwilling to provide broadband to due to the high cost of investing there and low return that would be seen. Subsidies are needed to get things moving and it is great to see that some money is being funnelled this way. BDUK has £530m to spend in this parliament to help broadband roll-outs, with some of this money already allocated to pilots or as grants to local authorities. Any investment specifically focused towards rural areas will help bridge the broadband divide and help ensure that the final-third do not get left behind whilst the rest of the country sees next-generation broadband coming to fruition.


Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
So the bottom line is... the taxpayers (many of whom are really suffering with over tax and cuts and rising prices across the board) will be funding the broadband for rural areas. Where town/city dwellers pay for it themselves out of their own pocket with no funding.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
the amounts concerned are sufficient to impede progress in the hope of getting a grant while not providing enough money to address a significant number of areas or properties. A low cost non-solution that leaves >90% of the cost to be found by other means.
Posted by LINDA1 over 6 years ago
As many rural users have been made to pay for very slow broadband at the same rate as those in towns and citys whos speed is much faster and more reliable. I feel that the suppliers should be given areas that they must cover, ie you supply part of London, ok you must also supply north wales, that would then hopefully be useing the money we pay to provide the service we all require.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Why Linda, its not comparing apples with apples, it obviously costs more to rollout in rural areas which is why they don't go there because of ROI reasons. Why would any company produce anything at all for any customer base where it will take forever to get a ROI or even provide it at cost? Forget we are talking about broadband, apply that to any business. Making cakes, TV's whatever, if you can't make money on it you don't do it, simple.
Posted by mike4ql over 6 years ago
Your arguments, GMAN99, would be fair if broadband wasn't an essential service. The farmers who produce the food you buy in your cheap well stocked supermarket live in these areas and the government requires they and ALL businesses in the UK make their statutory returns on-line. Broadband is no longer a toy or a luxury it is a lifeline service.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
As I've said countless times, if you require broadband for your "business" your business should cover the cost of its provision and use, NOT the taxpayer. Just like we don't pay for your tractors we shouldn't pay for any element of your business.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
This argument is always the same. It is a fact that taxes go into one big pot and are shared out where needed for the services needed. Simples.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
For businesses?
Posted by krazykizza over 6 years ago
It seems people classify an area as either urban, or rural. Allocating lots of money for rural investment, but what about the urban areas that LLUs and BT don't want and cable isn't available? then what happens? There is a massive grey area and so far everyone and the government included are choosing to ignore it.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
The £530m BDUK fund is inclusive of any area with poor connectivity, wherever it may be. It's only 5% of the funds required but it is location agnostic.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 6 years ago
In response to GMAN99, I live in a rural area where I have to pay more for my broadband because there are no LLU operators at the exchange. I resent having to subsidize people in urban areas where there are LLU operators.

Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
You can't stop resenting right now because your not! :) Your not subbing anyone, your beef is with LLU providers, your not paying MORE for your broadband, your just not getting it as cheap as where some LLU providers have a presence. How can any money you pay to your current ISP be subbing different companies offering LLU, think about what your saying.
Posted by MCM999 over 6 years ago
@Michael_Chare Please explain how by living in a rural area you are subsidising those using or supplying a LLU connection?
Posted by krazykizza over 6 years ago
@MSM999 @GMAN99 I think he is referring to Tier pricing which some ISPs do. If an exchange is Market 3 then rates offered to a customer will be lower than Market 2 or 1. This is due to competition of services at the exchange. If an area has lots of LLU suppliers, cheaper pricing becomes available, if no LLU then higher prices.
Posted by spetznaz over 6 years ago
£20m is nothing in relative terms. I think we should sack all the police as they are not needed in rural areas and let the cities become rife with crime.

Posted by donkey_hellfire over 6 years ago
Some of the comments on this form really do make me despair. We are one county. I am sick of this I am alright jack screw everyone else attitude. If you feel like that move to America! As a country you do need use cross subsidy to offer an acceptable level of service in most part of the county. For instance my local exchange serves 2000 households in 5 villages which have merged over time into one large village / small town. We are located 4 miles from a town of 70K people and 12 miles from the nearest city. So are hardly rural in the middle of nowhere.
Posted by donkey_hellfire over 6 years ago
When there is lots of competition to provide an essential national service the companies simply cheery pick the most profitable areas and leave the incumbent to reluctantly (due to regulation) provide a service to the less profitable areas. The incumbent has lower economies of scale due to competition and thus cannot afford to use some of the money from more profitable areas to help fund the less profitable areas. Thus the less profitable area suffer from a lack of investment.
Posted by donkey_hellfire over 6 years ago
This is exactly what is happening to the Post Office today. Our mail now arrives at 1pm in the afternoon when 10 years ago it arrived at 8 am. I firmly believe competition in Telecoms should be at the service level not the infrastructure level just like the GAS, Electricity and Internet markets.
Posted by Westcoastbroadb over 6 years ago
I am the Director of Westcoast Broadband and also Northlew Broadband, a rural broadband supplier and have to disagree with some of the comments on here. Sometimes when your nearest store is a round trip of 70 miles, there is no shop, post office and bad mobile reception, to exclude these communities is both morally and sociably wrong. We only ask for capital costs from grants not ongoing subscriptions, each subscriber still has to pay for the service so some of the posts on here are quite clearly wrong. If you need help with rural broadband, contact us at
Posted by mattbibby over 6 years ago
This all comes down to a Government not taking responsibility for utilities that are essential to the country.


They should not be privately ran... end of. Because you get into situations where services are obviously ran in the interest of the business and not the country.
Posted by litesp33d over 6 years ago
BT have a Universal Services Obligation to provision services & there is a £3500 lump of cash made available for each site without a phone line. However as lines are ONLY installed by BTO through BT Wholesale (another monopoly) BTO control the situation. They ensure their quote is 3 or 4 times the actual cost which totally eats the subsidy even if the actual cost price of the install is a couple grand.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
@Westcoast, I'm talking about the provision of broadband - getting it out there in the first place not the monthly sub's.

@matt, Hmm yes and no, yes in the ideal world that would be great, no not really because the gov would make a right hash of it as they have in the past, I doubt we'd even been on ISDN if left to the government. Not sure how many people remember what the UK phone network was like before it was privatised... less said the better.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Apart from Gov funding (which we pay for) I can't see any other way this would work, its just that its coming at probably the worst time in as long as I can remember, people aren't exactly flush at the moment, all sorts of services as being slashed there should be a priority call on where money goes and I would see funding bb in these areas as a nice to have rather than essential. Proper funding of the hospitals/police/armed forces etc being essential
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago

"They ensure their quote is 3 or 4 times the actual cost which totally eats the subsidy even if the actual cost price of the install is a couple grand. "

Can you actually prove that? If so Ofcom is your next point of call.
Posted by spetznaz over 6 years ago
I wonder how many billion we could have saved to spend on BB by not invading Afghanistan/Iraq?, it doesn't bare thinking about. Also we don't need half the police as they are paper PC's.

Hospitals - fair enough.

Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Oh yeah... could have saved a fortune, as for the police, who do you think is going to be filling in the paperwork now, regular coppers (I have friends in the police) so you'll see less of them doing what they are supposed to be doing. The government will soon see that the police numbers were needed when more rioting at the cuts they are imposing starts up like with the Uni fees, same goes for the armed forces bungling cameron is already waving his sabre at Libya... doesn't he realise we've nothing left to send over? He's scrapping all the ships and aircraft and sacking troops (via email)
Posted by spetznaz over 6 years ago
Regular police already fill in too much pointless paper work so what need for more paper pushers?. Labour created this problem by bloating the public sector to mask a lack of private sector jobs. Not that I'm a particular fan of the conservative party but anyone with a functioning brain knows who caused it.

Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
'Sometimes when your nearest store is a round trip of 70 miles, there is no shop, post office and bad mobile reception...'

So if you want the services move to them rather than expecting them to be brought to you at the expense of the tax payer?
Posted by Michael_Chare over 6 years ago
@krazykizza. You are quite right, thankyou. I use Plusnet. The cheapest tariff at my local exchange is £12.99 pm, it would be £6.49 if there were LLU operators.
Posted by Pettywell over 6 years ago
Well maybe we should also stop funding to Townies Food; make them come and get it.
Posted by LINDA1 over 6 years ago
Has anyone noticed that the u.k acording to BT has shrunk, we have lost Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, as the new fiber optic b. band seems to stop at Bristol, yet again. Have any more Countys fall off? All I ask is a fair deal for all, as we pay the same price we should get the same service.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
@linda1 - so everyone or no one should get a particular product?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
@Petty, isn't that the other way around, we sub you to keep you in food producing jobs? We don't need to come and get it, we can have it delivered from abroad if you won't deliver it
Posted by LINDA1 over 6 years ago
I belive that if you pay the same you should get the same product. So we would stop getting charged for a service that we are unable to receive. If my line is only capable of sending 2meg, then why should I have to pay for the other 6 meg that it is impossible for me to receive, I am sure that alot of people out there agree.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I know what your saying but its the other way around. People used to pay a price for 2Mb when that's all that was offered, when ISP's could offer up to 8Mb it didn't cost any extra it was the same price a free upgrade, same as when it went up to 20Mb, the cost didn't rise. In terms of the price for fixed 2Mb (as was) and what you pay now for up to 8 or up to 20Mb I'm sure its a lot less, the extra increase in speed was free, no-one paid extra for it, so whilst your argument sounds right at first glance its not because no-one is paying extra for these higher speeds anyway.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Plus, the price for BB in the UK is already rock bottom one of the cheapest in the world, and people are complaining about lack of coverage and decent speeds, well that is because there's not enough margin to put into investment, if you reduce prices even further as you suggest it makes the problem even worse.
Posted by chris6273 over 6 years ago
Posted by LINDA1 1 day ago
Has anyone noticed that the u.k acording to BT has shrunk, we have lost Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, as the new fiber optic b. band seems to stop at Bristol, yet again.

I know exactly what you mean and I completely agree.

If us out in Rural Areas have to pay as much as people in Urban Areas, we should recieve the same service and speed (We don't - For example, my 8Mb connection jumps all over the place at peak times, unlike connections on 21CN exchanges which I have seen only 8 miles away!).
Posted by LINDA1 over 6 years ago
Back to- Posted by GMAN99 about 16 hours ago
Yes thats my point, those getting the extra speed should pay for it. We dont need to make the difference about Rural or Urban just the speed that each customer can receive on there line.
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