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Majority of UK Local Authorities Meet Governments Broadband Deadline

Thursday, Mar 8th, 2012 (2:53 pm) - Score 501

The UK governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today announced that all but two local authorities (councils) have managed to submit their draft Local Broadband Plans (LBP) on time, which aim to help make superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP services available to 90% of the country by 2015 (the last 10% will get at least 2Mbps). In addition 40% of local authority projects have been given the green light to proceed with procurement.

Sadly North and South Tyneside were the only local authorities that failed to produce the needed plans, which in fairness is because both expect to meet or even exceed the government’s target without recourse to public funding. On the other hand this also means that, as reported last month (here), the last 9% have been given a “low priority” and will instead be stuck with “a 2Mbps service” (i.e. no additional funding for improvements).

The governments Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has set aside an initial budget of £530m to support the project. A further £100m was recently added for super-connected cities (Urban Broadband Fund) and another £100m (total £730m) will come from European funding (here). On top of that both local authorities and the private sector are expected to match that commitment.

Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt MP, said:

We set a demanding timetable and I’m pleased that we are making such fast progress. Virtually every local authority is on track to roll out superfast broadband. But we cannot afford to relax – we must continue to drive forward with taking superfast broadband to all areas of the UK.”

North Tyneside and South Tyneside have told the Government they will achieve 90 per cent superfast broadband coverage through other means and have expressed no interest in using their allocated funding to go further.

North and South Tyneside seem blithely confident they will deliver world class digital infrastructure – I just hope they are not being complacent. No one in the UK can afford to slack on making sure we have the best broadband network in Europe upon which so many of the jobs of the future depend.”

The government now expects any final plans to be “agreed” by the end of April 2012, although 18 of the 45 LBPs (40%) have already been approved. Once approved it could take up to a year for the procurement process to complete and work to begin, although BT already looks like a safe bet to grab the lion’s share of funding (here and here).

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However, the UK governments goal still falls short of Europe’s Digital Agenda strategy, which among other things aims to make superfast broadband ISP speeds of 30Mbps+ available to everybody by 2020. The government’s strategy thus envisages that a further £300m could be added to BDUK’s budget (between 2015 and 2017) by using some of the BBC’s TV Licence Fee (i.e. the 3.5% Digital Switchover Budget). It’s likely that this decision will be left until just before or after the next generation election (also set for 2015).

Local Broadband Plan status 8 March 2012 (Google Doc)
http://bit.ly/zJkrwn

Local Broadband Plans Map (Google Maps)
http://g.co/maps/gd9fh

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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