Government coughs up £830 million for broadband
The Government will plough £830 million into reaching its goal of having the best broadband in Europe by 2015.
The new plan is to create fibre-based “digital hubs” in communities, and then link residences to the hubs with fast connections, by the end of this parliament.
Of the £830 million in funding revealed by Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, £530 million was previously annouced during the spending review. The remaining £300 million will come from the BBC license fee over the next two years. Local authorities will be required to bid for grants to install the hubs and connections.
Barry Collins explains why there’s nothing new about the Government’s broadband strategy
Hunt will also reveal that £50 million of those funds will go towards trialling new ways to roll out broadband.
The previous Government had promised a minimum 2Mbits/sec across the UK by 2012, but that has since been pushed back to 2015. Hunt now says that goal has been rolled into the new project.
However, the Government doesn’t clearly define what minimum speed will be required to have the “best” broadband.
“In order to determine what constitutes ‘the best’ network in Europe, we will adopt a scorecard which will focus on four headline indicators: speed, coverage, price and choice,” the strategy says, according to a report in the Guardian. “These will be made up of a number of composite measures rather than a single factor such as headline download speed.”
BT has said it will contribute extra funding if it wins any Government money for rolling out fibre. “BT’s fantastic range of measures could, on top of the Government’s £830 million investment, bring superfast broadband to around 90% of the population,” Hunt said.
Rural Affairs Secretary Caroline Spelman said that getting fast broadband connections to rural areas was “probably the single most important thing we can do to ensure the sustainability of our rural communities in the 21st century”.