One third of English councils set for broadband

Plans for superfast broadband with speeds of 24Mbps are progressing well in most local authorities, says Communications Minister Ed Vaizey

Plans for superfast broadband with speeds of 24Mbps and more are progressing well in most local authorities, according to communications minister Ed Vaizey.

Four more areas had their broadband plans approved, meaning one third of the 47 projects across England are ready to begin taking superfast broadband to homes and businesses in their area, Vaizey said.

The communications minister also announced government has unlocked potential European funding of around £100m to help local authorities’ broadband plans.

The funding comes on top of the £630m being invested by government as part of plans to ensure the UK has the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.

The government has also produced new guidance for broadband projects applying for funding from the European Regional Development Fund

“Britain needs fast broadband to drive economic growth and connect remote communities. We are making a significant investment in taking broadband to those homes and businesses currently missing out on decent internet access,” said Vaizey.

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

Deadlines have been set for councils to complete a local broadband plan to secure their share of the broadband fund.

Details of the progress made in each area have been published online in table and map form, with most councils being on schedule.  

However, 32 projects have not had their local broadband plans approved yet.  Of these, a total of 16 have been rated as highly confident of meeting the timetable set, with 13 rated as having "medium confidence" of meeting deadlines.

But three groups of local authorities are making insufficient progress. Vaizey is to work with them to make progress on delivering robust broadband plans.

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

Vaizey said he was disappointed that a few councils had 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,” he said.

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