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Gov't to announce £530m rural broadband fund

BT has agreed to match funding in areas it wins contracts

The government is expected to announce how £530m in funding will be shared across 40 locations in the UK in a bid to bring broadband access to 'not-spots'.

Around a third of the UK, mostly rural areas, is considered a 'not spot' or an area where net access speeds of 2Mbps or above are not available. However, by 2015 the government hopes every community will have minimum broadband access of 2Mbps or above, with 90 percent of the country getting superfast broadband access, which is defined as 24Mbps or above.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will reveal which areas have been allocated funding from the £530m pot that is coming from the portion of the BBC licence fee originally allocated to fund the digital switchover

So far around £150m has already been offered to Wales, North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Herefordshire and the Highlands. However, a further 40 areas are expected to benefit from the fund.

BT has revealed that if it wins contracts to roll-out this government-funded broadband infrastructure, it will match the funding being provided in these areas and expects councils to do the same.

"There is evidence that once you have access to it [superfast broadband], the minute you've seen the new world, you would never go back. So, I don't believe there is a lack of desire, but it is a premium product, it will never be the de facto normal product," Olivia Garfield, BT Openreach's chief executive, told The Guardian.

"Speed can be addictive. It is also of the essence if the government's dream of creating Europe's first extensive fibre network by 2015 is to become a reality. It's whether you believe that the most important thing is to roll out fibre at speed in the UK to help recover from economic recession."


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