UK Government has announced the successful bids for its £10 million (€12.5m) innovation fund to explore ways to take superfast broadband to the most remote and hardest to reach places in the UK. Eight different projects using a range of technologies have been shortlisted to progress to the feasibility stage, ahead of deployment later this year.
With the Government’s current nationwide rollout already reaching more than 20,000 new premises each week and on track to deliver superfast to 95% of the UK by 2017, Government is now focusing on exploring ways to reach those premises in the final 5 per cent. The eight shortlisted pilots will explore how to expand coverage in remote areas, using fixed wireless and satellite technologies, a social investment financial model and an operating model which aggregates small rural networks, to ensure no-one is left behind in the digital slow lane.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Our nationwide rollout is progressing at a terrific rate and each week superfast speeds are becoming a reality for tens of thousands of homes and businesses in rural areas across the UK. We know how important this has become which is why we are investing £10m in these pilots to explore how we can extend coverage beyond the 95 per cent of the UK we are on track to deliver by 2017.
Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson said:
Fast and reliable broadband revolutionises everything from how we work and how our children learn, to how we spend our leisure time and engage with public services. It is critical that we explore how to get superfast broadband out to these hard to reach areas to allow business to be more productive, innovative and competitive, which is crucial for building a stronger rural economy and fairer society.
Chief Executive of Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) Malcolm Corbett said:
This is a very useful initiative and we are keen to help local authorities and INCA members learn from the trials. There is a huge amount of experience, professionalism and entrepreneurial enthusiasm in the independent sector that can play a big role in creating Britain’s future digital infrastructure.