Funding Ready For High-Speed Rural Broadband

Broadband connections in rural England and Scotland are set to for a boost, with £363million of funds being allocated to improve them.

Cumbria gets one of the largest shares of the £530m pot, with over £17m to cope with its 96.2% of homes eligible for subsidies.

By contrast, London gets nothing as it assumed that private investment will cover all parts of the capital.

This reveals a change of strategy by the government which originally stated that counties would have to bid for the money. Local authorities and residents will decide how the money should be spent.

County councils and private enterprise partnerships will take charge of broadband rollouts in their area, and will be required to draw up delivery plans. It is expected that they will also need to find additional funding from elsewhere.

The Scottish government will decide how to use the money in Scotland. Wales and Northern Ireland have already been given their share of the £530m broadband fund which was set aside from the TV licence fee.

The government hopes that allocating the money will speed up the process and has pledged to make the UK the best place in Europe for broadband by 2015.

Up to a third of UK homes will not have access to fast broadband services from the big commercial players without government subsidy.

This is because the number of people living in rural areas versus the cost of creating a next-generation broadband do not represent a good return on their investment for players such as BT and Virgin Media.

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