Fresh warning over rural broadband

Rural communities could be left behind without public subsidies for the rollout of fibre broadband,  the government will be told.

Government ministers needs to go "further and faster" by subsidising the rollout of fibre broadband in rural areas, according to a forthcoming report by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The Daily Telegreaph says the report will be published this month.

It reports commission chairman Sir John Armitt as saying there is a risk that government plans will benefit only towns and cities – running the risk that rural communities will be left behind.

The commission's report will recommendg Government intervention to ensure fibre broadband is also extended to more people in remote and rural communities.

Existing schemes are less likely to be commercially viable in rural areas, because the cables and too expensive to install and reach fewer people, it says.

The commission is expected to say that the government should initially concentrate on these more remote areas which are most likely to be left out by private companies.

It is expected to recommend that ministers introduce a National Broadband Plan by spring next year to install full fibre broadband to 15m homes and businesses by 2025, 25m premises by 2030 and across the country by 2033.

Sir John told the Telegraph: “In the future, access to full fibre broadband will be absolutely essential to our daily lives.

While the government’s plan to extend it to most homes in the next seven years is welcome, it needs to go even further and faster, if rural communities are not to be left behind."

The Department for Communities, Media and Sport responded by saying the government wanted everybody to enjoy the benefits of world-class connectivity – no matter where they live or work.

"We've committed to deliver a nationwide full-fibre network by 2033, and will shortly set out our plans in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review," said a DCMS spokesperson.


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