Next round of funding for Northamptonshire is not just for rural areas
The news of how the £250m of 'rural' broadband funding is to be shared out across the UK and the English local authorities has caused a fair bit of confusion and with what Northamptonshire appears to be planning the level of confusion may be increasing.
The Northamptonshire Chronicle covered the news that the county was getting an extra £3.64m from central Government to push superfast coverage to 95% of the county, but towards the end of the article the areas expected to benefit are mentioned "parts of the town centre of Northampton, Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, parts of the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone, a number of business parks/industrial estates and some of the remaining rural and more remote areas in the county."
So far from being a rural broadband fund, it is really just further funding to continue the gravy train and it is unclear if anything has been learnt by the DCMS and BDUK. Northamptonshire has had a 100% superfast plan for sometime but the pre-existing BDUK funding was not going to be enough and it is clear now that the original maps actually were drawn up with the idea of getting extra funding. Whether the extra funding will put paid to the secured loan scheme proposed by the County Council is unknown at this time.
Obviously if the UK wants to be one of the best for broadband in the world, patching up the holes in coverage in our large towns and cities needs to be done but the Government needs to be more honest rather than keep trotting out lines like "An extra £250 million of government money for superfast broadband will help business start-ups and job creation in some of the UK’s hardest to reach rural areas"
A bigger question though is what pressure is the Government applying on the commercial operators to improve speeds and coverage in our cities without any extra tax payer money?