The government has revealed the successful bids for its £10m rural broadband fund, which is to be used by companies to explore ways to take ‘superfast' broadband to the most remote and hardest to reach places in the UK.
The companies have been shortlisted to progress to a ‘feasibility stage', ahead of deployment later this year.
In February, the government said it would allocate £250m towards developing broadband services in rural areas. Up until then it had invested £1.2bn in remote areas for broadband, and said it hoped additional funding would ensure that it can reach its target of delivering ‘superfast' broadband to 95 per cent of the country's homes and businesses by 2017.
The government claims that its nationwide rollout is reaching more than 20,000 new premises each week and is on track to reach its target.
It is now switching its focus on exploring ways to reach those premises in the final five per cent.
"The eight shortlisted pilots will explore how to expand coverage in remote areas, using fixed wireless and satellite technologies, a social investment financial model and an operating model, which aggregates small rural networks, to ensure no one is left behind in the digital slow lane," the government said.
Rural affairs minister Dan Rogerson suggested that it was "critical" that the government explores how to get superfast broadband out to remote areas.
"[This] will allow business to be more productive, innovative and competitive, which is crucial for building a stronger rural economy and fairer society," he stated.