The Government’s plans to roll out superfast broadband to every home and business in the UK have been boosted, following the go-ahead this week from the EU.
The approval paves the way for the UK’s £530million rural broadband scheme to start in earnest, meaning that work can commence laying the cables for local authority broadband projects all around the UK, including in Northumberland.
The Gazette has been supporting the county’s bid to provide superfast broadband, including extra efforts to ensure the rural areas are not left out.
Tuesday’s decision followed a direct intervention from the Culture Secretary in Brussels last week, after several months of delay in Europe.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said: “Finally getting the green light from Brussels will mean a huge boost for the British economy.
“Superfast broadband is essential to creating growth, jobs and prosperity and the delay has caused frustration within Government.
“Britain is in a global race today. To succeed in that race we must have the infrastructure to match our aspiration, providing people who work hard with the tools they need to get on and prosper; this green light will benefit both businesses and communities across the UK.
“Our broadband plans are hugely ambitious – to connect 90 per cent of homes to superfast broadband and ensuring the rest have access to at least 2Mbps.
“The Government will not allow parts of our country to miss out on the digital age.”
State aid approval means that local authorities can now sign procurement contracts with contractors and begin delivery work on their new broadband infrastructure projects.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has planned a ‘pipeline’ of local authority projects which are currently going into procurement at a rate of approximately one a week.
For more on what this means for Northumberland, see next week’s Northumberland Gazette.