The EU has approved the UK’s plans to roll out broadband to
rural areas as part of a state-aided project. This means that councils can
start to lay cable that will bring superfast speeds, although many are yet to
choose a provider for the service.
Whilst the EU have been dragging their feet on the subject,
last week Culture secretary Maria Miller intervened last week to speed up the
"Superfast broadband is essential to creating growth, jobs
and prosperity and the delay has caused frustration within Government. Today’s
announcement means that we can crack on with delivering broadband plans,
boosting growth and jobs around the country.
"Britain is in a global race today. To succeed in that race
we must have the infrastructure to match our aspiration, providing people who work
hard with the tools they need to get on and prosper; this green light will
benefit both businesses and communities across the UK.”
The government plans to have everyone connected to speeds of
at least 2Mbps has come in for criticism by many as being too ambitious to
achieve by their target date of 2015. Councils must contribute to the schemes
but the government has set aside £530m to help fund the project.
However, councils must make their own decisions when it
comes to their choice of service provider. Whilst only a few councils have thus
far chosen a provider, BT has won every contract, despite the bidding being
open to all ISPs.The Department for Culture,
Media and Sport say that the first areas to receive superfast broadband
will be Wales and Surrey. Further projects are planned for Cumbria, Rutland, Hereford
and Gloucestershire with the rest of rural procurements expected to be
completed by 2013.