A deadline has been set by the government for local authorities to plan their superfast broadband rollout. By the end of February 2012, councils using funding from the £530m BDUK pot, will need to have submitted their draft 'Local Broadband Plan', with a final plan agreed by the government at the end of April. The government are aiming to reach 90% of homes and businesses with superfast broadband - broadband with a speed faster than 24Mbps - and everyone should be able to connect with a speed of at least 2Mbps.
"Superfast broadband is fundamental to our future economic success. Businesses need it to grow, the public will need it to access new services. Some local authorities will find these to be challenging targets. But I will not allow the UK to fall behind in rolling-out superfast broadband. Superfast broadband is simply too important for creating the growth we need to allow the roll-out to be delayed. I am confident local authorities will be able to meet the timetable and provide their businesses and residents with the broadband access they need."Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport
This short timescale may catch some councils out if they have not already started planning due to the short time scale and the requirement for matched-funding for the money given out by BDUK. The government need to ensure action starts happening soon though if they are to meet their aims of the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.
If some councils have not planned their broadband rollout by the end of July, the government may consider running a national procurement for these areas. This would likely see a large company standing up to take over the roll out in these areas, which would likely be BT or perhaps Fujitsu, who are waging to put in a full fibre-to-the-home option.
With 90% of homes and businesses expected to be covered by superfast broadband, we may have to see some areas reach into the 95-100% coverage bracket to ensure that average doesn't drop if some rural areas cannot make it up to 90%.
The government will release a progress report detailing how far each local authority has got in January 2012, which may help encourage those currently dragging to pull their socks up.