Surrey calls on private investors for superfast broadband


Surrey County Council has called on private investors to help provide superfast broadband to all its residents.

The Council has set a target for all of Surrey to have access to superfast broadband by 2013, but it fears efforts by BT to roll-out connections across the country will not reach all corners of the county in time.

To this end, it is asking for a private bidder to stump up the money to fund 20 per cent of premises across the county, with a particular focus on rural locations - the least likely homes and businesses to be served by BT.

It is also asking companies to tender for providing a public sector network for smaller councils across the county, as well as the Surrey Police, leading to savings for the taxpayer.

The decision has been taken by the Surrey Strategic Partnership, a public services collective headed up by Surrey County Council leader Dr Andrew Povey.

"Fast and reliable internet access is vital for business and is central to our daily lives," he said.

"Everyone should have access to this essential tool and we are committed to making sure that those in rural areas and other parts of Surrey where service is patchy are not left behind."

Bids are being accepted now and the contracts for both the rural broadband and public sector network are expected to be finalised by May 2012.

Povey concluded: "Poor broadband coverage and slow speeds hold back local businesses and put rural communities at a disadvantage. Unless we step in up to 20 per cent of Surrey won't feel the huge benefits of high-speed broadband in the near future."

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.