Four rural areas that include some of the most remote and geographically challenging parts of the UK have been selected to pilot the next generation of high speed broadband.
Each area will be allocated around £5-10m from a total of £530m funding announced yesterday to support the roll-out of broadband between now and 2015 to areas that the market alone will not reach.
Parts of Cumbria, the Highlands and Islands, North Yorkshire and the Golden Valley in Herefordshire will all be connected at speeds only usually found in densely populated urban areas, the Chancellor announced in yesterday’s Spending Review. The pilot exercise will help establish the commercial costs and challenges involved in rolling out superfast broadband across the UK.
The Government wants the UK to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, with a minimum 2mbps broadband for virtually every community in the UK, whilst making sure that people in remote, as well as urban areas, get good online access with the social and economic benefits that brings.
Work will begin on upgrading the broadband infrastructure in the four areas following further definition of the pilots and a procurement process. It is hoped that suppliers will start rolling out upgraded infrastructure within a year. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will then use these networks to offer affordable services to homes and businesses.
The pilots will be paid for with a combination of public and private investment. Connection speeds will depend on the technology used, but the aim is to achieve download speeds and consumer prices similar to those offered by internet service providers providing superfast services in well-connected urban areas.