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Gov Consults on Changes to Boost the UK Superfast Broadband Rollout

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 (2:27 pm) - Score 769

The government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport has launched a new consultation on proposals that would see telecoms operators, such as BT, given a five year period of grace with which to install new street cabinets and poles (but not mobile masts) without the need for prior approval from a local planning authority.

The consultation, as spotted by Thinkbroadband, is part of the forthcoming Growth and Infrastructure Bill (GIB), which broadly plans to help “fast-track” the deployment of superfast broadband (25Mbps+) services around the United Kingdom by cutting red tape in the existing planning system.

Under the proposal BT and other operators could install their new kit, without approval, under permitted development rights, in any location other than a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). But the “sunset clause” would only allow such activity to take place for the next five years (i.e. ending around 2018).

Consultation Statement

The [UK] broadband strategy also outlined the Government’s policies for lowering the costs of deployment and its intentions for supporting rollout. Allowing new telecoms lines to be deployed overhead has the potential to reduce deployment costs by as much as 50% in some areas. This is especially important in rural areas to ensure that there is a fair and equitable availability of superfast broadband.

80% of the cost of deployment of superfast broadband is in the civil works – the digging of the roads. This solution has long been advocated as a relatively easy way to lower the cost of deployment to allow the market to deliver superfast broadband networks as far as possible, and into areas that would otherwise be considered economically unviable, particularly rural areas.”

Naturally some fear that the changes could allow operators to erect unsightly overhead cables and or poles in areas of outstanding beauty, such as in national parks like the Lake District, although the GIB still requires operators to consult with local authorities before such construction begins. On top of that the new changes “will be limited to fixed communications infrastructure – cabinets and poles” etc.

Consultation – Changes to siting requirements for broadband cabinets and overhead lines (PDF)
http://dcms.gov.uk/images/consultations/CONDOC_fixed_bb.pdf

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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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