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By: MarkJ - 12 January, 2012 (8:48 AM)
UK Department of Culture, Media and Sportbath and north east somerset councilThe controversial Bath & North East Somerset Council (BNESC), which last year rejected £670,000 in UK government funding (here) to boost the regions superfast broadband coverage before being forced to reconsider (here), have now finally agreed to a new joint plan that will see £2.724 million being invested in the local internet infrastructure.

According to This is Bath, BNESC will now only contribute £475,000 to the overall cost; this was originally £1m and thus deemed too expensive. The rest will come from Europe (ERDF), the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office and be match-funded via the private sector.

Councillor Cherry Beath explained:

"The cabinet recognises how important that broadband access is for communities and creating the business environment to create jobs with economic prosperity. We have thoroughly investigated all the options to improve broadband access and listened to the views of local people, particularly in rural areas where around 40,000 people live in areas susceptible to low internet speeds.

Through the cabinet deciding to join the Connecting Devon and Somerset bid, every £1 will secure £4.70 and see a much greater number of homes and businesses accessing broadband."

However the joint bid, which will be presented alongside Somerset County Council, Devon County Council, North Somerset Council, Plymouth County Council and Torbay Council, does not appear to be terribly ambitious and is below BDUK's own national UK target.

The government's BDUK office aims for 90% of "people in each local authority area" to gain access to a superfast (25Mbps+) broadband service by 2015 (the last 10% will have to make do with a minimum of 2Mbps).

By comparison BNESC's scheme apparently envisages "superfast speeds of 20MB/s" (we expect the newspaper meant Mbps [Megabits] and NOT MBps [MegaBytes]) becoming available to 85% of "places" by 2015. One reason for BDUK and Ofcom's choice of 24Mbps+ is because it would rule out cheating via existing and unreliable 'up to' 24Mbps ADSL2+ technology.
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