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BT: Gov't needs £2bn to enable super-fast broadband

Exec says people deprived by slow speeds

The government will have to fork out billions to ensure every Brit has access to super-fast broadband, says BT.

Steve Robertson, chief executive of BT Openreach, told BBC Radio 5 Live he expects the funding to total around £2bn.

"As a society we need to make our minds up about what is an essential element of our social fabric. Today not having broadband makes people feel deprived," said Robertson.

The coalition government plans to use the remaining £175m from the Digital Switchover fund to pay to upgrade the UK's aging copper network to fibre optic cables. However, where the rest of the money will come from has not been outlined yet.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC the government was confident it would "be able to deliver on our [the government's] commitment".

"Obviously we are looking for solutions that allow extensions to superfast [broadband]. It would be a short-term fix if two megabits was the limit."

Hunt is meeting with ISPs today at an 'Industry Day' in a bid to find ways to ensure every resident in the UK can be given access to a 2Mbps broadband connection.

The government plans to identify the cheapest way to upgrade those with slow broadband connections to a minimum of 2Mbps and then trial it in three areas, before considering rolling it out nationwide.

"We need a level playing field and have to make it easy for people to lay fibre in BT's or other's ducts," he said referring to a scheme recently completed in Rutland that saw residents of a village in the area raise £37,000 to set-up their own super-fast broadband network.

See also: Kent village gets £13,000 fibre broadband grant

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