Hunt outlines coalition broadband plans


Hunt outlines coalition broadband plans

Alex Scroxton

The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is today setting out the coalition government's broadband strategy, setting a tentative date of 2015 to bring super-fast fibre broadband to between 85% and 90% of the UK, with the private sector shouldering the bulk of the burden.

The new date is later than that proposed under Gordon Brown's government, but the coalition has said that it will deliver higher overall speeds than Labour, although it shied away from committing to an exact figure.

Hunt has already announced plans to topslice the TV licence fee to the tune of £300m, and today said the government will add another £50m to the total pot of money set aside for the scheme, which totals £830m.

However, critics have claimed this will not be enough and BT - which has already committed to matching government investment where it wins bids - has drawn the ire of rivals who have to pay the incumbent to run their own services over its infrastructure.

The plans centre on providing a 'digital hub' in local communities to provide fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure as opposed to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH).

This means that the bulk of the last mile infrastructure will still rely on copper lines.

"Rolling out superfast broadband is probably the single most important thing we can do to ensure the sustainability of our rural communities in the 21st Century," said Caroline Spelman, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.

Hunt added: ""A superfast network will be the foundation for a new economic dynamism, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and adding billions to our GDP.

"But it is not just about the economy, around the world there are countless examples of superfast broadband helping to build a fairer and more prosperous society, and to transform the relationship between government and citizens," he said.

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