Technology|

UK government agrees funds for broadband second wave

The government will push ahead with the second wave of funding for the UK broadband network, concentrating on rural areas.

Although no technologies or companies have yet been selected for the remote pilot areas, the government is determined to roll out the scheme, with bids being invited for a further £50 million in funding. A government pledge states the UK will be the best for super-fast broadband access in Europe by 2015.

In a ‘locally-driven process’, the funds will be made available to chosen local authorities across the UK. According to Chancellor George Osborne, the funding will enable another 800,000 homes to receive the enhanced next-generation service, although many are questioning the timing of the scheme. Pilot schemes, it seems, have not yet been established, with test bed results for best connectivity practice not yet available as a result.

The funds will be used to connect the 33 per cent of UK households and businesses refused connectivity by commercial suppliers such as BT and Virgin due to the expense involved in setting up the next-generation service.

The four test bed areas were intended to be rural communities in North Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Cumbria and the Scottish Highlands and Islands, with each trial allocated between £5 million and £10 million. Lack of progress by last month encouraged Labour MP Ian Lucan to request the government ‘got its finger out’ on the issue.

A spokesman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport admitted there had been delays, saying councils need to be sure what work has to be done and promising immediate announcements. The government is earmarking £530 million in public funds to be sued in the provision of fast broadband in rural areas, with the cash drawn from the BBC license fees.

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