Next wave of rural broadband roll-out confirmed


The next stage of the roll-out of broadband in rural areas has been confirmed today by the Government.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced 50 million would be going to providing superfast connections in Wiltshire, Norfolk, Devon and Somerset, following bids from 18 local authorities across the UK.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said this next phase represented plans the Government had "for virtually every community in the UK."

"Broadband is becoming just as essential to homes and businesses as electricity and telephone lines and it is now only a matter [of] time before people in these three rural areas have access to the connection speeds more commonly associated with towns and cities," he added.

The money is coming from the 530 million pot set aside by Government during the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) to tackle the need for better connections across the country. However, this money alone will not guarantee the Government target of 2Mbps broadband for all by 2015, with private investment a necessity.

For now though, Devon and Somerset can enjoy 30 million of the fund, along with 15 million for Norfolk and 4 million for Wiltshire.

The cash will be spent on developing the infrastructure to carry superfast connections in the areas and the Government hopes Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will then take up the gauntlet of running services over the top.

"Broadband is vital to the economic and social growth of rural communities and the Government is determined to ensure that all the benefits of fast and reliable access is available to people across the countryside," added Caroline Spelman, the Government's environment secretary.

Broadband upgrades funded by the Government are already taking place in North Yorkshire, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Cumbria and Herefordshire but DCMS was keen to highlight "no local authority need lose out," with announcements of the fund allocation for all areas to be revealed before the end of the year.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.