It's been a week since the Countryside Alliance made a noise about the lack of activity around the rollout of a broadband network in rural areas. That came after a Freedom of Information request from the pro-fox hunting group revealed that councils were bumbling along with the fibre upgrade process.
Now, perhaps in response to that gripe, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport has imposed a deadline for local authorities to submit their draft plans by February 2012.
The government will slap some of the £530m Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund on the table for individual councils in England, which will be tasked with having to match that cash injection either from their own budgets, European programmes or private investment.
“Superfast broadband is fundamental to our future economic success,” said Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. “Businesses need it to grow, the public will need it to access new services. Some local authorities will find these to be challenging targets. But I will not allow the UK to fall behind in rolling-out superfast broadband.”
He wants 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK to have have access to a "superfast" broadband network come 2015.
Ofcom defines such fibre as being capable of download speeds of 24Mbit/s or more.
Hunt is no longer pursuing the seemingly hopeless task of having the fastest broadband network by 2015. Instead, he wants its to be the "best" such network on the continent, and to achieve that, the DCMS is usefully setting its own scorecard.
The government will review all draft broadband plans submitted by local authorities, with final agreement on those proposals expected in late April next year.
There was no mention from DCMS about similar deadlines being imposed on the rest of the UK: Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales... ®