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England to get lion’s share of £250m extra rural broadband cash

England will see the most of a £250 million taxpayer-funded pot designed to increase superfast broadband coverage in rural areas. 

The lion’s share - £184.34 million - of the cash will go to English projects while Scotland will get £20.99 million, Wales £12.11 million and Northern Ireland will get just £7.24 million to play with. 

This additional funding has been allocated to extend the reach of BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects which originally set out to connect 90 per cent of the UK to superfast broadband by 2015. 

England to get lion’s share of £250m extra rural broadband cash
Don't look at me mate: England gets its paws on most of the superfast cash

When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen everywhere, the government extended the deadline to 2017, but also announced that target coverage would climb to 95 per cent. 

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “Superfast Broadband will benefit everyone - whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films.

"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.”

The money will go to extend the reach of the various BDUK projects, all of which have been awarded to BT so far. While it looks like England is getting the most money, it's important to remember that the Superfast Cymru project aims to cover 96 per cent of Wales. The local government is also looking into how the Fibrespeed network in north Wales can be used to extend coverage. 

Northern Ireland already enjoys high levels of superfast coverage and the challenges posed by Scotland's geography has required extra investment for several hundred kilometers of fibre backbone

The majority of homes and premises across the UK will be connected to FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) lines by BT, which currently provides top download speeds of 80Mbps. Ongoing experiments with vectoring and G.fast could see these top speeds increasing to 100Mbps and 1Gbps in some areas. 

Some homes will get faster FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines from BT, providing download speeds of up to 330Mbps. Those living in areas which won’t be touched by superfast will get a basic 2Mbps service. 

As FTTC is hard to deliver in some places, the government announced the creation of a separate £10 million fund which will look at other technologies aimed at delivering superfast speeds to remote rural areas. Methods considered to connect those in the margins to superfast include satellite, wireless, fixed location 4G, FTTP and FTTdp.

Image: Rajan Manickavasagam/Flickr

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