UK government to invest stg£530m in rural broadband

15 Aug 2011

The UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government will allocate stg£530m to provide rural areas with a minimum of 2MBps broadband.

The Guardian reports that Hunt will split this fund across 40 areas, including English councils, Scotland and Northern Ireland. An extra stg£300m will be offered after 2015.

Northern Ireland has been allocated stg£4.4m of this, which is less than 1pc of the total funding. This compares to the stg£56.9m allocated to Wales.

However, Hunt said this allocation was based on the cost of taking high-speed broadband to areas that could not receive it as opposed to the area’s population.

The fund will give access to high-speed internet within four years if telecoms companies join in. They’re also aiming to give 90pc of homes broadband speeds of more than 24MBps.

BT Group is already investing stg£2.5bn to get fibre-optic broadband to two-thirds of UK households by 2015 without government help.

In regards to this plan, BT will match the funding being provided to these areas if it wins contracts to rollout this broadband infrastructure and expects councils to do the same for the remaining third of households.

BT Ireland and Northern Ireland’s Graham Sutherland will be a panelist at the upcoming Digital Ireland Forum in Dublin on 30 September 2011. For further information on speakers and panelists go to the website.