Minister praises broadband plans

CULTURE minister Ed Vaizey has praised the enthusiasm of councils rolling out superfast broadband.

"Britain needs fast broadband to drive economic growth and connect remote communities," he said.

We are making a significant investment in taking broadband to those homes and businesses currently missing out on decent Internet access.

Mr Vaizey met Shropshire Council councillors and officers during a presentation of the county's plan for superfast broadband.

He said: "I have been impressed by the enthusiasm the majority of councils have shown for seizing the opportunity to rollout superfast broadband."

Mr Vaizey spoke after the government approved plans that bring superfast broadband a step closer for rural Shropshire.

The government has given £8.2 million to support the project.

Now Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – the organisation coordinating the £530m government initiative – has given its backing to the local delivery plan.

That means Shropshire Council can now go ahead with approaching a private partner to put the plan into action.

Up to £30m may be needed to provide all households with minimum broadband speeds of 2mbps, while getting as possible connected to superfast broadband.

Shropshire Council is match-funding the project by investing £8.2m – partly in funding towards the overall target, and partly to drive the project forward.

The council is also lobbying BT and other companies from the private sector to make improvements now.

Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow said the move meant work could now start on really improving broadband for people in Shropshire.

"I would like to praise our Cabinet member, Martin Taylor-Smith, and the officers involved for all their hard work in getting this plan approved."

Martin Taylor-Smith, the council's cabinet member responsible for ICT, said BDUK had been impressed with the level of detail in the local delivery plan.

Together with the clear commitment from the council, it stood the county in good stead to improve the broadband network in Shropshire.

"Having access to good quality broadband is hugely important for residents, and particularly businesses, so we feel it's our duty as a council to do what we can to improve the situation."

Improving broadband in Shropshire was a challenge for everyone, not just the council, said Mr Taylor-Smith.

"We are working incredibly hard on improving coverage in rural areas, and that includes lobbying BT to improve its infrastructure in the county."


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