One-third of English councils are ready for superfast broadband

By Sooraj Shah
27 Jan 2012 View Comments
Fibre optic broadband

One-third of 47 broadband project areas in England are ready to take 24Mbps superfast broadband to their homes and businesses, according to communications minister Ed Vaizey.

Vaizey was speaking after four more areas, including Kent and Medway councils, had their broadband plans approved to bring the total number of broadband projects to 47.

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The communications minister said the government has unlocked potential European funding of approximately £100m that local authorities can apply for to help fund their broadband plans.

The funding is in addition to the £630m that is already being invested by the government to meet Chancellor George Osbourne's aim of ensuring the UK has the best superfast network in Europe by 2015.

Funding has been allocated to each local authority in England to help provide 90 per cent of homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband and everyone with access to at least 2Mbps. There has also been funding allocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Vaizey said he was impressed by the majority of councils for taking the opportunity to roll out superfast broadband and that it was important to drive economic growth and connect remote communities in the UK.

To secure a share of the broadband fund, UK councils have to complete a local broadband plan, and details of the progress with these plans have been made available online in both table or map form.

The department for culture, media and sport said that 32 projects have not yet had their plans approved, but that of the 32, there were only three areas that were making insufficient progress.

The three areas concerned are: Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral; Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland; and Bath and North East Somerset.

"I am disappointed that a few councils seem to have slipped behind schedule. I will be seeking urgent talks with these councils to ensure they understand the need to make real progress quickly. We do not intend to continue to fund councils if they continue to fail to deliver," said Vaizey.

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