Superfast Broadband Cities Targets Increased
Government plans to develop superfast broadband in the UK have been revised, and in his autumn statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne promised government funding to brinf superfast broadband to a number of new cities.
The original 10 cities were awarded a government funding of £114 million, and the additional 12 cities which are smaller will receive funding of £50 million. However the funding must be approved by the European Commission before it can be made available.
Although this might appear generous on the part of the government, it is more than offset by the expected revenues it will receive in the forthcoming auction of 4G mobile spectrum. Osborne has said that he expects that the auction will generate £3.5 billion.
The new cities to receive superfast broadband include Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton, Portsmouth, Derby, Newport, York, Salford, Coventry, Londonderry, Perth, and Aberdeen.
By superfast broadband, the government means broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps which will be made available to both businesses and homes with a target date of 2015.
However, according the Ed Vaizey the Communications Minister meeting the 2015 target date will be very difficult, calling it an “uphill struggle” and that the current timeline cannot be accelerated; however he is putting any blame for any delay on the EU, saying that his department had to wait a frustratingly long time for the EU competition officials to rule on the legality of the proposed government funding before they were able to move forward.
In response to these claims, Joaquin Almunia the EU competition commissioner said that the delays had been caused by the amount of time the UK government took in providing the required information.
Meanwhile the Superfast Cornwall project aims to bring high speed broadband to the county and the Isles of Scilly by 2014, with availability to over 80% of all residences and businesses. Some places will receive speeds as high as 160 Mbps, though most broadband packages will be up to 80 Mbps. This is a substantial improvement on the current average ADSL home broadband speed in the county of 5 to 6 Mbps.
Superfast Cornwall is co-funded by Cornwall Council, BT and the EU and the project is being coordinated by the Cornwall Development Company. The programme cost is £132 million, £53.5 million of which is being provided by the European Regional Development Fund.