The government has announced a new £10 million rural broadband pilot scheme which will look at connecting people to superfast speeds using a range of technologies.
Aimed at delivering superfast broadband speeds to the so-called ‘final 5 per cent’ of communities which won’t benefit from the wider BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) project.
Culture secretary Maria Miller said: “If we want to ensure that that all communities can benefit then we need to think imaginatively about alternative technology, and the pilots enabled by the £10m fund will be instrumental in helping us overcome the challenges of reaching the final 5 per cent of premises.”
FTTC technology is less suited to rural deployment as the last mile of an FTTC connection on BT’s network uses a copper wire, which can’t deliver superfast speeds over great distances. As rural communities are much more widely dispersed than urban and suburban ones, FTTC is less viable.
The new fund, which launches March 17, will be used to fund rollout of full FTTP fibre, 4G mobile, wireless and satellite broadband projects.
Trials of broadband via mobile networks have proven successful in Cumbria and rural Scotland. Rollout of wireless broadband has been particularly effective in Norfolk. Proponents of satellite broadband argue that it’s the best solution for remote communities, as no equipment on the ground, besides the dish on the customer’s property, needs to be set up.
As well as this, the fund could also be used to extend the reach of FTTC, by taking fibre from cabinets to a distribution point further down the network, into areas where remote communities would be able to enjoy superfast speeds.
Local authorities will be able to apply for money from the fund to help fill in the gaps left by BDUK projects such as Superfast Cymru, which aims to connect 96 per cent of Wales.
DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport), which has overseen BDUK, is also announcing the appointment of Chris Townsend, who will act as chief executive of BDUK.
Chris Townsend, Chief Exec of BDUK said: “Faster connections will improve the way people live, work and spend their leisure time. I look forward to starting my new role as chief executive of BDUK and building on the good work being done to get superfast broadband to people all over the UK.”
The new fund effectively replaces Defra’s £20 million RCBF (Rural Community Broadband Fund) scheme which closed in June 2013.
Image: Images Money/Flickr