£45 million to be invested in boosting rural broadband

Rural businesses and communities are set to benefit from improved broadband access as part of a £45 million boost by the Government.

The new funding for the Government’s Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme adds to the £30 million investment announced last year, increasing the total pot of funding available to £75 million.

The money will be made available through grants to local authorities that have already applied for funding, in areas where broadband services at speeds of 30MB/s or faster are not available or planned.

The funding will be used to support full fibre wherever possible.

Aiming to reach 97% of UK premises

It follows the launch of the government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review this week which outlined plans to prioritise hard-to-reach rural areas for roll out of full fibre connectivity.

Visiting North York Moors National Park today, Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said that North Yorkshire is one of the local authorities to receive funding through the scheme with a grant offer of over £11 million.

Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted to announce today that North Yorkshire has been awarded a grant of £11 million towards improving its broadband infrastructure.

“Rural areas should not be left behind in the connectivity slow lane, missing out on the opportunities high-speed broadband can bring.

“The funding made available through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme champions our countryside communities and businesses by opening up access to broadband of at least 30MB/s, in some of the hardest to reach areas.”

The increased funding for the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme follows a positive response and a high number of applications from local authorities.

It is part of a planned investment of at least £3.5 billion into rural economies by 2020. A quarter of the UK’s businesses are based in the countryside.

The scheme is delivered by the Rural Payments Agency and supports those rural areas which are not currently scheduled to receive broadband as part of commercial delivery plans or under the Superfast Broadband Programme, which expects to give access to around 97% of UK premises over the next few years.

In addition to driving forward high-speed internet, the Government is championing housing availability and supporting job creation.

Lord Gardiner is today visiting the North York Moors National Park as part of National Parks Week where he will also meet a number of young workers and apprentices.

North York Moors has supported 120 apprentices through its Apprenticeship Programme, amounting to over 50,000 working days.