Eight businesses will be able to test their alternative approach to delivering Internet connectivity
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced the eight successful bidders which are likely to receive a share of the £10 million rural broadband fund.
The technologies that have been proposed to solve the problem of rural ‘not-spots’ include fixed wireless, satellite and line-of-sight.
The fund was created to help test the various methods of connecting the remaining five percent of the population not covered by the existing nationwide broadband roll-out. It focuses on regions where laying fibre is too expensive or impractical, for example the Scottish Highlands.
“Fast and reliable broadband revolutionises everything from how we work and how our children learn, to how we spend our leisure time and engage with public services. It is critical that we explore how to get superfast broadband out to these hard to reach areas to allow business to be more productive, innovative and competitive, which is crucial for building a stronger rural economy and fairer society,” commented Rural Affairs Minister Dan Rogerson.
Broadband for all
According to the DCMS, the government’s national broadband roll-out is currently connecting 20,000 new premises each week, and is on track to get 95 percent of the population online by 2017.
However, connecting the remaining five percent living in rural areas is a very different challenge, one which requires regional knowledge and innovative thinking. That’s why the DCMS announced a £10 million fund in December 2013, aimed at exploring new ways to deliver broadband.
Such technology could eventually be used as part of a £250 million scheme to expand superfast broadband coverage to areas not covered by the existing £530 million BDUK initiative.
Successful bidders include AB Internet in Wales, Airwave in North Yorkshire, Quickline in North Lincolnshire, Avanti in Northern Ireland and Scotland, Satellite Internet in Devon and Somerset, Call Flow in Hampshire, Cybermoor in Northumberland and MLL in Kent.
All of the above will progress to the ‘feasibility stage’, where they have to prove that their approach will work. If successful, the eight projects will receive access to funds and will be able to start deployment before the end of the year.
The announcement was welcomed by Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA).
“This is a very useful initiative and we are keen to help local authorities and INCA members learn from the trials. There is a huge amount of experience, professionalism and entrepreneurial enthusiasm in the independent sector that can play a big role in creating Britain’s future digital infrastructure,” he said.
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