The Government will invest £100 million to create up to ten ‘super-connected cities’ across the UK, with 80-100 megabits per second broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity. There will be a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and strategic employment zones to support economic growth. Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London will all receive support from this fund, and a UK-wide competition will decide up to six further cities that will also receive funding.
Telegraph poles consultation
A consultation into allowing new telegraph poles to be put up to carry cables to help superfast broadband roll-out opened today. Those wishing to take part have until 21 February 2012 to submit their comments. To support the Government’s wider ambition for the UK to have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015, DCMS has also published an advice note for Local Authorities and Communications Providers on Microtrenching and Street Works.
Whilst funding will be welcomed the consultation may prompt questions, where budgets are already stretched, to what extent will some Local Authorities be able to shape the future of the communications network in the UK? Comments and opinions can be contributed at the foot of this article.
Local authorities will be required to allocate budgets to match fund investment,
Government has secured £530m until 2015 to help stimulate investment in these areas. These funds will be distributed by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to local authorities, on condition that local broadband plans and match funding are in place. Local authorities, therefore, have an integral role to play in the roll-out of superfast broadband by ensuring their area is able to compete and grow the UK economy, and by developing local broadband plans for the areas within authorities that will not be served by the market.
Local authorities are fully aware of the importance of superfast broadband as an enabler to grow the economy and to deliver greater efficiencies in the delivery of public services, particularly in health and education. With virtually all local authorities engaged in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process for accessing their Local Authority share of the £530m Government has set aside to help deliver superfast broadband in areas the market will not deliver to unaided, Government is keen to ensure that local authorities are considering ways in which they could be flexible to aid the market deployment of superfast broadband.
Concerns from communications and utilities are identified too,
Some communications providers (and other utilities) have expressed concerns about the consistency of application of permit schemes by different local authorities. Permit Schemes by their very nature will be individual based on the network conditions and aspirations of each local authority as this is the essence of “localism”. However, this part of the advice note, whilst not constituting legal advice, is intended to clarify what the relevant legislation is and to highlight where there may be some flexibility for local authorities to ensure such schemes do not present an unnecessary barrier to deployment.
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