Government's £10m broadband innovation fund to open on 17 March

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

The Government has released further details about its forthcoming 10 million broadband innovation fund, which aims to boost internet connectivity in remote areas.

Technology providers are being invited to bid for some of this money by putting forward "innovative" ideas about how superfast broadband services can be delivered to difficult to reach areas.

Whereas initiatives like the Government's Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) scheme aim to deliver superfast broadband services to 95 per cent of the country by 2017, the innovation fund hopes to connect up the final five per cent.

The scheme was first outlined by the Treasury in December 2013, but few details about how it would operate were shared at the time.

However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed today the scheme will open on 17 March 2014, and will see a range of pilot projects take place across the country thereafter.

The Government has also flagged several technologies that could be piloted under the scheme, including satellite services, fibre to the premises and 4G mobile signals that deliver fixed wireless superfast broadband.

"Superfast broadband is vital for businesses, homes and families, whether it be for online shopping, doing homework or working from home," the DCMS said in a statement.

"This money will help ensure that people are not left living in the digital slow lane' simply because of their post code."

To coincide with the launch day announcement, the DCMS also announced the appointment of Chris Townsend, former commercial director for the 2012 Olympics, as its new broadband chief executive.

He will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of the innovation fund, as well as the Government's other broadband efforts.

Culture secretary Maria Miller hailed Townsend's appointment, adding that his Olympic experience will stand him in good stead in his new role.

"If we want to ensure that all communities can benefit then we need to think imaginatively about alternative technology and the pilots enabled by the 10 million fund will be instrumental in helping us overcome the challenges of reaching the final five per cent," she added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.