Is the fund to test 'innovative broadband solutions' funding for fundings' sake?

This morning, I wrote a story about investment from insurance firms into infrastructure projects across the UK. The six companies plan on investing £25bn into the likes of airport redevelopment, flood defences, and, yes, broadband.

This will all fall under the umbrella of the National Infrastructure Plan from the government, which it claims will consist of £375bn of funding to get these projects done.

When the announcement came out this morning, a few token projects were touted, but the Treasury has just emailed me with more detail around how the broadband roll-out will benefit from the additional money.

Apparently, the government plans to open a £10m competitive fund in early 2014 to “test innovative solutions to deliver superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas of the UK” – e.g. rural Britain.

“Options may include enhanced mobile services, new fixed technologies and alternative approaches to structuring financial support, working closely with the communications industry,” it continued.

But, as with many government announcements, here is where the information stopped.

Is this new money or money from the Rural Community Broadband Fund? Who will be allowed to apply for this fund? Do we need to fund more research when there are plenty of small, alternative providers jumping in the air with working technologies who just need the funding and the nod from BDUK to start building?

Hmmm… I am not against extra funding in this area in the slightest – you may have seen my rants about the lack of money going into broadband infrastructure in the past – but you shouldn’t have funding for funding’s sake and it should be going towards the right projects, perhaps the printing costs of releasing all the postcode data behind BT/BDUK’s roll-out?

So far I have been waiting over two hours for a call from the Treasury to come back to me with someone clued up on the scheme. As soon as they do and I get more details, I will let you know… 

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