Broadband fund 'does little for rural areas'

A government fund to 'unlock' £1bn for fibre broadband will do little for rural areas seeking faster connections, say campaigners.

The new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund aims to make internet internet buffering and painfully slow download times a thing of the past.

Launched on Monday (3 July), it seeks to support the rollout of cutting-edge fibre-based connections across the country.

The government said it would make internet access more reliable for homes and businesses – enabling more people to work remotely without disruption.

    See also: One in 10 unhappy with broadband – study

Flexibility to work remotely is seen as pivotal for driving the economy forward, reducing overheads and helping businesses to start and grow.

But the Countryside Alliance said the fund would mainly benefit those living in urban areas.

The alliance said it had been widely accepted that fibre to the home technology will be impossible to deliver to most rural areas.

Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee said: "The unlocking of this funding to deliver fibre to the home will be a huge boost to those who benefit.

"But the fund will fail to deliver broadband to the final 5% in the countryside where there is already market failure.

"Once again rural communities are being treated as second class citizens and are missing out on this important boost to the economy.

"To deliver high speed broadband to the countryside we need to embrace and support the development of alternative technologies and not just focus on fibre."

Treasury minister Andrew Jones said the investment would make sure the UK’s digital infrastructure was "match-fit for the future".

He added: "As technologies change and people’s habits move with them, it is crucial we play our part to ensure Britain stays at the front of the pack."

Full fibre would provide the UK with the better broadband needed to ensure people could work flexibly and productively, without connections failing.

Matthew Vickerstaff, the government's head of project finance said full fibre digital communication networks would require substantial investment from the private sector.

"The launch of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund will help accelerate the roll out of ultra fast digital networks by increasing access to private finance for companies delivering them."


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