Networking researchers will get a £1m funding boost to develop technology capable of delivering internet access at 10Gbit/s to homes and businesses.
The pot of cash for projects costing between £30,000 and £100,000 was today allocated by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), a quango sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
While BT's plans to upgrade the national communications infrastructure to offer real world internet speeds of "up to" 40Mbit/s by 2012 only cover 40 per cent of premises, the TSB envisages an optical network across the whole EU. Such an investment "could see European companies gaining a massive competitive advantage on a global scale", it said.
The new funding will help support feasibility research.
Mike Biddle, TSB's lead technologist, said: "The challenge is to identify ways to address the technical issues facing the introduction of ultra-fast broadband within the next decade and to build European collaborations to exploit the technology, while generating wealth for the UK.
"Our intention in providing this funding is to help British companies establish future European collaborations that will participate in larger EU funding initiatives."
A recent study by the trade body the Broadband Stakeholder Group found that installing fibre optic cables to every premises in the UK - potentially capable of delivering up to 10Gbit/s - would cost up to £29bn. ®