2015 to 2017 broadband funding agreement signed by BBC Trust
The general budget for broadband improvements in the UK of £830m has been known for sometime, in fact the current Government detailed its plan before it was elected into power. The recent announcement of £300m from the BBC for broadband upgrades from 2015 to 2017 is thus nothing new, the only thing that appears to have changed is that the BBC Trust has signed on the dotted line.
Some of the BDUK projects have included this extended period in their time lines, with for example Devon and Somerset approaching the 2015 deadline as more of a milestone, rather than the firm deadline it is often described as.
This £300m should hopefully be used to target that final 10% or so of the UK that by 2015 will only have access to a basic 2 Mbps service, and is likely to be supplemented with funding from the money available to ensure Europe hits its 30 Mbps for all target in 2020.
Of course a week is a long time in politics, and how the BBC is treated may change during the course of this parliament or the next, and therefore until the money is arriving in the DCMS bank account at a rate of £12.5m a month projects cannot totally count on the funding. One thought that appears obvious is that with the TV Licence now funding broadband, it is heading towards being a Broadband Licence.
With the almost weekly announcements of another full fibre project somewhere in the UK, it is actually possible if demand for fibre services at speeds beyond what FTTC offers is demonstrated, that commercial operators may even make this funding irrelevant, apart from perhaps the hardest to connect clusters of one or two properties.
The constant headlining of funding for many projects has been increasing in the last year, and may be part of a policy to try and demonstrate investment is taking place in the UK, and for those who do not track a specific topic area it is easy to think that more funding is being made available than is really the case.