Making plans for broadband funding

A BROADBAND plan for Northumberland will be submitted by the end of the year to access £7million worth of Government funding.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is overseeing the Government’s broadband policy and Northumberland County Council has been pre-allocated £7million from a fund of £530million for superfast broadband.

To access this funding, the council must provide a Local Broadband Plan, which will be submitted by December 31, match funding and ‘additional and significant’ private sector funding.

In a report to last Monday’s meeting of the county council’s executive, Northumberland’s Local Broadband Plan is described as focusing on the delivery of three elements: development of a fibre and wireless-based broadband infrastructure in Northumberland; demand stimulation (encouraging more people to use broadband and specifically superfast broadband); digital inclusion (enabling more people to use the Internet – more than one in five people in Northumberland have still not used the Internet).

The match-funding contribution will be included in the council’s medium term financial plan and will therefore be considered by the executive on Monday, January 9, and full council on Wednesday, February 22.

The report adds: “In addition to the £530million fund, Defra have launched a rural broadband fund of £20million to support rural homes and businesses to receive superfast broadband.

“The deadline for expressions of interest is January 31, 2012, and the council is engaging with interested parties to bid for funds.

“Clearly though, demand will be high nationally, and the fund is limited and requires match funding from the private sector.”