09 December 2011

Countryside Alliance questions Government broadband claims

Government plans to ensure the UK has Europe's best super-fast broadband network by 2015 have been questioned by rural campaigners.

Research using Freedom of Information requests carried out by the Countryside Alliance shows none of the four local authorities chosen for pilot schemes have received funding from the Treasury, selected a provider or started work.

Last October government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) chose the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Herefordshire, Cumbria and North Yorkshire as test areas for the commercial rollout of a £530m exchequer cash pot.

The areas are receiving between £5m-10m and the project aims to deliver at least 90% superfast broadband coverage in each county area, with final hard to reach 10% areas receiving a minimum standard broadband of 2Mbps, with capability to upgrade to superfast in the future.

But Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance said rural people have seen no improvement in areas of no or unreliable broadband coverage in the year since the pilots were established.

In response, the Department for Culture for Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman said: 'The money for these projects has been allocated and will be provided to the local authorities when they begin spending on the projects. This is standard practice in provision of capital grants.'

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