Drive to connect UK rural areas to broadband gathers pace

Homes and businesses across Wiltshire, Norfolk, and Devon and Somerset will have access to superfast broadband connections as part of the government’s drive to connect rural areas to the internet.

Each area will receive a multi-million pound package as part of the government’s £530m fund earmarked to support the roll-out of superfast broadband to areas that the market alone will not reach.

Today’s announcement adds three new areas to the existing superfast broadband pilots currently being set up in North Yorkshire, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Cumbria and the Herefordshire borders.

Local authorities and their delivery partners were invited to bid for a slice of the £530m funding allocated by the chancellor of the exchequer in October’s Comprehensive Spending Review. A total of 18 bids were received and it is anticipated that all will receive funding during the current Parliament.

The three successful areas of Wiltshire, Norfolk, and Devon and Somerset, which will be allocated a share of £50m funding, will also receive financial support from their local authorities and private investors.

The next steps are for each local authority to tender for contractors. Work will begin on upgrading the broadband infrastructure in the three areas following this procurement process and, hopefully, suppliers will then start rolling out upgraded infrastructure within a year. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will then use the networks to offer services to homes and businesses.

It is anticipated that a mix of technologies will be used, including mobile, satellite and fibre connections to hubs in the heart of communities.