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Controversial UK HS2 Train Project Set to Boost Fibre Optic Broadband

Monday, January 21st, 2013 (8:02 am) - Score 1,123

The UK governments Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that its costly £33bn High Speed Two (HS2) project, which aims to build a new high speed rail link between the midlands and northern England, will also deliver broadband benefits into more areas by laying fibre optic cables alongside its tracks.

The controversial scheme, which has faced heavy criticism due to its exceptionally high cost and allegedly limited potential for creating new jobs and boosting the economy, is keen to show that it’s about more than just transport and could also improve broadband, water and electricity supplies to areas along its route.

Simon Burns MP, Minister of State for Transport, said (The Guardian):

HS2 is far more than a new railway line – it is a national infrastructure project that will bring places and people closer together while creating jobs and driving growth.

Construction of HS2 gives us the perfect opportunity to explore how we can make it easier for even more people to benefit from ultra-fast broadband and potentially deliver improvements to the provision of other utility services.”

But data from the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, allegedly shows that between 70% and 90% of homes along HS2’s planned development can already access some form of superfast broadband connection. On the other hand a further improvement to network capacity couldn’t hurt and might even help to support coverage beyond the immediate areas.

Talk of a new “broadband superhighway” along the HS2 route from London to Birmingham is all very well but many may wonder why so much money is being spent on such a development when it could potentially be used elsewhere, such as to bring a true fibre optic link to every home and business across the entire United Kingdom. Not that such a thing would strictly be necessary but it’s worth considering.

Mr Burns, whom is also the Conservative MP for Chelmsford, expects the bill to pass in 2014 and HS2 itself is then scheduled to be completed by 2032.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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