The government are to invest £363 million in England and Scotland to enhance the UK's broadband services it has been announced today. The funding comes from £530m that has been set aside for broadband projects in the UK, to be distributed by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to councils. England will receive £294.8 million whilst Scotland is set to get £68.8 million, whilst Wales is getting £56.9 million and Northern Ireland £4.4 million.
"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.Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary
The government's intention is to create the "best super-fast broadband network in Europe by 2015", and also allow everyone to get online at speeds of at least 2Mbps. Private industry is already progressing towards this, with BT looking to get 40% of the country enabled for fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) or fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband by the Summer of 2012, whilst around 2/3rd's of the country is expected to be reached without government assistance.
The funding being made available is based on where it expects the market will fail to deliver next-generation service to enough premises rather than it being based on the number of residents in the county. As such, Greater London has currently been awarded no funding as it is assumed that the private sector will provide suitable coverage here. Many rural areas will see the most help and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) have praised the government for helping rural areas the most.
"I am delighted the Government recognises that rural areas are missing out on all the benefits broadband brings and that the countryside should not be overlooked. Rural areas are woefully underserved by even an adequate broadband service let alone superfast.
The CLA has argued for eight years that a Public Private Partnership (PPP) should be created to provide the correct level of investment for a superfast broadband infrastructure and today’s announcement by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt supports this."William Worsley, (President) CLA
It will now be up to local councils to place the money toward suitable projects to ensure that enough people are given access to next-generation broadband. They may also search for additional funding which may come from their own budgets or from matched funding from the private sector.