25/02/2014 - Permalink

Shropshire Council could receive £11.38million to extend rural broadband coverage

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News from our partners Superfast Britain

An extra £250m of Government money for superfast broadband will help business start-ups and job creation in some of the Shropshire’s hardest to reach rural areas, Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, announced today.  The nationwide rollout is a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future by providing better access to superfast broadband, and in allocating funding the Government has worked to ensure as many families and businesses as possible benefit.

Shropshire Council has been allocated £11.38 million – with £1.42 million going to Telford & Wrekin Council to complete the county’s allocation.  The money requires the councils to ‘match fund’ their allocation, meaning Shropshire Council will need to provide £11.38 million from their own budget to receive the funding from the Government.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for broadband, said:

“This announcement of extra funding from the Superfast Extension Programme is good news for Shropshire and will help us to achieve our ambition of providing as much fibre-based broadband as possible.  But it is no secret that Shropshire Council are facing great challenges to maintain services with a reducing budget – this makes the ‘match funding’ an issue that will require some thought.  We will be looking for support from various sources to get the match funding and really make use of this extra money and the opportunity it gives to get Shropshire better connected to faster fibre broadband.”

The funding is in addition to the £1.2bn already invested by central and local government, and aims to provide 95% of UK homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband by 2017.

The current rural programme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested.  As well as improvements in the productivity of broadband firms, faster broadband will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024, and the work involved in the current rollout is expected to provide a £1.5 billion boost to local economies, with approximately 35,000 job-years created or safeguarded over the period to 2016.  By 2024, the Government’s current investments in faster broadband will be boosting rural economies by £275m every month, or around £9m every day.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said:

“Superfast Broadband will benefit everyone in Britain – whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films.  Thousands of homes and businesses now have access and it is helping people with their everyday tasks.  We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband, and the extra £250m we are investing will help ensure communities around the UK are not left behind in the digital slow lane.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

“This Government’s long-term economic plan is accelerating the rollout of superfast broadband, to help narrow the digital divide and boost local growth.  We are offering additional central government funding to councils who want to work with us to help increase Internet speeds for their local residents and local firms.”

Councillor Flick Rea, Chair of the Culture, Tourism and Sport Board at the Local Government Association, said:

“Councils are committed to improving Internet services for residents and business to help drive forward growth in their areas, and this announcement of further funding is a positive step to build on the good work that has already been done locally to build better-connected communities.  We look forward to working with the Government on the rollout of the schemes in the areas that are receiving funding.”

The Government also recently committed £10m to look at ways to reach those areas in the “final 5 per cent”.  Potential technologies that could be piloted under this fund include:

  • Using 4G mobile signal to deliver ‘fixed wireless’ superfast broadband
  • Using fibre direct to premises
  • Taking fibre from broadband cabinets to a distribution point further down the network, increasing speeds by reducing the reliance on copper
  • Satellite technology. 

The fund will open on Monday 17 March 2014.