Next-gen rural broadband may take longer than expected

Darren Allan
Darren Allan -

As most of us have probably heard a number of times by now, the government has big plans to kick broadband up to a higher gear in the UK, and achieve countrywide coverage by 2015.

The tricky bit being reaching out to rural communities which aren’t nearly profitable enough for the likes of BT and Virgin to bother hooking up with. The government’s scheme involves subsidising broadband roll-out to the “final third” of the country, as it’s known, by the use of so-called digital hubs.

These hubs will act as central digital nodes for rural communities, providing super-fast connections to the nearest exchange.

However, according to a report on Broadband Finder, the government’s plans have come in for criticism by the BSG (Broadband Stakeholder Group), and not for the first time. Previously, the BSG has voiced doubts that the government will be able to fund all this in the current climate of cuts.

And now the organisation is airing concerns that the time-frame is going to slide on the rural roll-out. The initial pilot hub schemes have yet to even be put out for tender.

Broadband Finder quoted Antony Walker, CEO of the BSG, as stating: “There’s a lot of work going on, but it’s complicated and there’s a lot to learn still about what the best and most effective approaches will be.”

“It’s important to recognise that nobody’s really done this before in terms of building out next-generation networks into challenging rural locations and therefore it takes time to work out how to get it right.”

Exactly how much time, we shall have to see.


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