Press release

A third of English councils set to go with broadband

Good progress in developing plans to roll out superfast broadband is being made by most local authorities, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey

Four more areas had their broadband plans approved, meaning a third of the 47 projects are now ready to begin taking superfast broadband to homes and businesses in their area.

The Communications Minister also announced today the Government has unlocked potential European funding of around £100 million that local authorities can apply for to help fund their broadband plans. That comes on top of the £630 million currently being invested by the Government to ensure the UK has the best broadband network in Europe by 2015.

The latest four areas to have their Local Broadband Plan approved are:

  • Kent and Medway Councils
  • Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin
  • Lincolnshire
  • Hampshire, City of Portsmouth, City of Southampton

The Government has also produced new guidance for broadband projects applying for funding from the European Regional Development Fund. This will give greater certainty to local authorities bidding for money to help cover their broadband plans.

Mr Vaizey said:

“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. 

“I have been impressed by the enthusiasm the majority of councils have shown for seizing the opportunity to roll-out superfast broadband.”

Each local authority in England has been allocated funding to help provide 90 per cent 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 today and the vast majority of councils are on track but the Government currently has little confidence that three projects can are on track to meet the deadlines.

There are 32 projects that have not had their Local Broadband Plans approved yet.  Of these, a total of 16 have been rated as ‘high confidence’ the timetable will be met with 13 rated as ‘medium confidence’.

But three groups of local authorities are making insufficient progress.  The Communications Minister is set to meet them, and will 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

Mr Vaizey said:

“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.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Details of the progress being made by each local authority (PDF 64kb) or Google table. Alternatively, see the Google map that shows the status of local broadband plans across the UK.

  2. The Government allocated £530 million for broadband in the Spending Review in 2010.  In November last year the Chancellor announced the Government would invest another £100million to create up to ten ‘super-connected cities’ with 80-100 Mbps broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity.

  3. The Government published its broadband strategy Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future in December 2010.  In August we announced how much each English county had been allocated to help roll-out superfast broadband. 

  4. The market will provide superfast broadband to around two thirds of the country. It is essential the whole country shares in the benefits of high-speed internet access.  The Government is providing additional funding to make it economically viable for telecoms companies to roll-out broadband to the whole of the UK.  Our investment will help provide 90 per cent of homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband and for everyone in the UK to have access to at least 2Mbps.

  5. Ofcom defines ‘superfast broadband’ as broadband with speeds greater than 24 Mbps.

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