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DEFRA Open GBP20m UK Rural Community Broadband Fund for Final Bids

Friday, Mar 22nd, 2013 (1:35 pm) - Score 879

The government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has today opened the third and possibly final round of bidding for their £20 million Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF), which is designed to help rural farmers, homes and businesses benefit from improved internet connectivity.

So far the RCBF, which focuses upon smaller scale superfast broadband and related business projects in the last 10% of the United Kingdom’s most “hard to reach” rural areas, has helped several projects secure funding to roll-out faster internet access (e.g. Fibre GarDen in Crumbria). The fund itself usually aims to provide around 50% of the overall project costs and around 80 schemes have expressed an interest.

In fact DEFRA announced today that up to 450 premises in the Tove Valley (Northamptonshire) area would soon benefit from faster connectivity thanks to the approval of a new £117,000 RCBF grant. The money will help the local Abthorpe Broadband Association (ABbA) to update their current wireless network with the latest fibre-based network and link together the local villages of Abthorpe, Weedon Lois, Wappenham, Slapton and Weston.

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said:

Communities in the remotest parts of England are just as keen to have superfast broadband as those in urban areas. This funding is available to help deliver all the benefits that come with superfast broadband to those businesses and homes that may otherwise have struggled for access to these levels of speed.”

Richard Benyon, Environment Minister, said:

People living and working in remote areas face a range of challenges. Having access to superfast broadband will help people overcome these issues and tap into new opportunities to help grow their businesses.

By getting people better connected, the Government’s £20m broadband fund will give businesses and a boost and benefit the local economy.”

The RCBF was first announced in March 2011 (here) and the first expressions of interest began to be taken from 1st December 2011 (here), although to date only a small number of broadband projects have received preliminary or final approval. The final round of bidding will be open until 24th May 2013.

On top of that the £20m fund, while most welcome, is still just a drop in the ocean of what would be required in order to do the job properly across the whole country. On the other hand it’s good to see an alternative to the BT dominated Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework.

The Rural Community Broadband Fund

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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