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NextGenUs Claims Many UK Councils Could Misuse Broadband Funding

Posted: 30th Aug, 2011 By: MarkJ
uk fibre optic cable trench jfdinextgenus community broadband ukThe NextGenUs project in Cumbria UK, which aims to deliver faster broadband ISP solutions to rural areas by using a mix of fibre optic and wireless technologies (full details), has accused the Cumbria County Council (CCC) of abusing the government's recent funding allocation to boost its own IT kit and public service networks.

The government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office recently allocated its remaining budget to councils across the country (here). The funding is supposed to help 90% of "people in each local authority area" gain access to a superfast internet service (25Mbps+) by 2015 (the last 10% will only get a minimum speed of 2Mbps).

Now the founder of NextGenUs, Guy Jarvis, believes that many councils will simply divert some or most of the money away from its "primary purpose" and use it to bolster their own networks and services instead.

The Outspoken NextGenUs Founder, Guy Jarvis, claimed ( PC Pro ):

"A lot of counties are looking at using county networks. What Cumbria has put forward is a procurement for a public-sector network using the money and it's basically spending it on beefing up its servers, beefing up the desktops, beefing up support and the WAN connectivity.

The funding is getting diverted off into something where its primary purpose becomes an inconvenient truth and a bit of an add-on."

However the council, which recently won £17,130,000 to improve Cumbria's broadband connectivity, countered that "any upgrade of the education network will be only for the benefit of the community broadband project" and would help to avoid a "waste of funds" that might occur through network duplication via other projects.

NextGenUs has its own plans for the region and often, sometimes justifiably, finds itself in deep disagreement with government policy. Meanwhile CCC has made no secret of its plans to use their existing public network as a stepping stone to expand domestic and business broadband coverage, although the new criticisms could fuel fears of money mismanagement.

According to Ofcom the availability of superfast broadband in Cumbria is virtually zero and 21% of local people receive download speeds of less than 2Mbps (Megabits per second). The onus is now firmly upon the council to ensure that it can meet the government's target on time.

In related news CCC has today announced the three organisations which have been shortlisted to help bring better broadband to the county. As you might expect it's very much the usual big-boys club of BT Global Services, Cable & Wireless and Fujitsu.
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