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UK Government Sets Deadline for Local Superfast Broadband Plans

Posted: 15th Dec, 2011 By: MarkJ
fibre_optic_broadband_internet_cable.jpgUK DCMS internet copyrightThe UK governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today warned local authorities that they have until the end of February 2012 to submit their draft 'Local Broadband Plan' for helping rural areas access superfast broadband. A final plan then "needs to be agreed" by the end of April 2012.

So far the governments Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has already set aside £530m (could rise to £830m by 2017) to help 90% of people in predominantly rural areas gain access to superfast broadband (24Mbps+) ISP services by 2015 (the last 10% will get at least 2Mbps). A provisional allocation of this money has already taken place (August 2011 news).

A further £100m from the BDUK budget has also been put towards the Urban Broadband Fund (here), which seeks to expand the rollout of superfast broadband services in "up to ten super-connected cities" across the UK. Then there's also the £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (here), which is designed to help the most isolated of farming communities.

The DCMS Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, said:

"Superfast broadband is fundamental to our future economic success. Businesses need it to grow, the public will need it to access new services. Some local authorities will find these to be challenging targets. But I will not allow the UK to fall behind in rolling-out superfast broadband.

Superfast broadband is simply too important for creating the growth we need to allow the roll-out to be delayed. I am confident local authorities will be able to meet the timetable and provide their businesses and residents with the broadband access they need."

Hunt states that local authorities will "need" to have match-funding in place, alongside any money coming from their budgets and or other sources, before the final plan can be signed off. Once it has been agreed then work will begin on procurement, which is expected to "be completed within a further three months."

The Government states that it will consider running a national procurement for areas not ready by the end of July 2012. It will also publish a progress report for each local authority during January 2012. Today's move is perhaps designed to silence those, such as the Countryside Alliance (CA), whom have recently criticised the government for its lack of practical progress (here).
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