Will the Government meet its super fast broadband goals?

Friday, August 10th 2012

It is believed that thousands of properties in the Yorkshire region won’t be provided with faster broadband due to lack of funding to the tune of 100 million Pounds and this would upset the Government planning of providing super fast broadband to at least 90 per cent of the UK premises.

A council report has expressed reasonable doubts whether the rollout of basic and high-speed internet in the West Yorkshire would meet with the Government’s commitment that before the end of the current parliament, all households and businesses across the UK would be provided with broadband. The Government has already set apart more than 0.5 billion Pounds for “universal service commitment” which means that each and every house in the UK would be provided with a basic broadband speeds of 2Mbps by the end of 2015 and at least 90 per cent of the premises would be delivered super fast broadband with at least 25Mbps.

Though Ed Vaisey, the Minister for Culture said that he was happy with the progress of the country’s broadband plans, report of officers at Leeds City Council points out that about 3500 premises across Leeds and many thousands through out the county still remains without even the basic broadband coverage. As per the report another 100 million Pounds would be needed for providing broadband services with 2 Mbps to all households and businesses in West Yorkshire and for the time being the Government is not in a position to allot that amount.

The report also says that even after the completion of the project, around 3,500 premises would be left with out any broadband facilities as these houses and businesses situate in the remote areas of Leeds. In order to deliver broadband to these properties, again an additional 100 million Pounds would be needed and the Government considers it ‘non-viable’.

The Council wants the winner of the broadband contract to invest this 100 million Pounds. The report clearly stated that the problem of non availability of broadband service does not stop with Leeds alone but it extends to thousands of properties in Wakefield, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees. The report says that the authorities in other West Yorkshire also have “white spots”.

The Government of UK has set apart 540 million Pounds as government aid to be distributed among the local councils for the deployment of broadband services in the remote areas where providers like BT or Virgin Media are not willing to step in as the areas are considered commercially not viable.

BT has made a broadband deal with North Yorkshire to provide broadband speeds of universal 2 Mbps and has agreed to fund half of the 50 million schemes. The lack of funding for West Yorkshire project raises the question whether all houses and businesses in this region would get broadband connection.

A spokesman of the Leeds Council said that council’s plan would not only meet the target but also would exceed the government’s target. The plan expects to cover 93 per cent premises in the region with super fast broadband. He added that through the procurement process the council has committed to cover 90 percent with super fast broadband and the rest of the areas would be provided with broadband speeds of 2Mbps.

The UK Government wants to meet targets, 90 per cent super fast broadband and minimum 2Mbps for the rest, by 2015. Department for Culture said that in its local broadband plan the West Yorkshire council had committed to deliver super fast broadband to 90 per cent of the premises and the rest with 2Mbps. The Government expects to deliver 100 per cent premises broadband facility 2015 using all communications technologies available.

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