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English authorities bid for £530m fund
08 March 2012
All local authorities in England but two have bid for government money to help fund 2 megabit broadband
Only two English local authorities have refused to bid for a share of the £530 million the UK government has allocated to help fund broadband rollout to 90% of homes and businesses in their areas. A total of 40% of projects have already been approved, said Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s secretary of state for culture, olympics, media and sport.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with devolved administrations, have separate arrangements.
The two councils that have stayed away from the fund are North Tyneside and South Tyneside, in the north-east of England. The have told the government they will achieve 90% superfast broadband coverage through other means and have expressed no interest in using their allocated funding to go further.
Hunt said: “North and South Tyneside seem blithely confident they will deliver world class digital infrastructure — I just hope they are not being complacent. No one in the UK can afford to slack on making sure we have the best broadband network in Europe upon which so many of the jobs of the future depend.”
Surprisingly, the UK government’s definition of superfast broadband is two megabits a second.
Under the scheme, local authorities are responsible for leading the broadband roll-out in their area. Councils had until the end of February to submit an initial local broadband plan that details how they will roll-out broadband in their area. The plans must be finalised and the projects ready to begin procurement by the end of April.
“We set a demanding timetable and I’m pleased that we are making such fast progress,” said Hunt. “Virtually every local authority is on track to roll out superfast broadband. But we cannot afford to relax — we must continue to drive forward with taking superfast broadband to all areas of the UK.” GTB
Further reading from Global Telecoms Business:
Everything Everywhere plans LTE in UK 23 Feb 2012
UK to hold spectrum auction at end of 2012 13 Jan 2012
Geo leaves UK broadband project 17 Nov 2011
UK cuts 'threaten broadband investment' 04 Nov 2010