A Lords select committee has heavily criticised failures in government broadband rollout plans, describing funding proposals for rural areas as “ludicrous”.
In a report published on Monday (30 July), the committee expressed concerns over the delivery of broadband to the hardest to reach 10% – in particular, the requirement for communities to fund the construction of their access networks with no guarantee of a grant payment from DEFRA.
Communities need to pay all costs up front and will only be able to recover these once they have provided evidence of payment. Even then, there is no guarantee.
“In our view, it is ludicrous to expect all remote communities to be able to provide the levels of funding required to build broadband access networks in their areas.”
Select committee report
DEFRA’s rural broadband funding handbook stated: “In simple terms, you will need to spend first-and then claim later.”
Criticising this arrangement, the committee’s report said: “In our view, it is ludicrous to expect all remote communities to be able to provide the levels of funding required to build broadband access networks in their areas.”
“Whether the stipulation derives from a Europe-wide policy or is one of the government’s own making, however, does not alter the absurdity of its assumptions, which must be resolved.”
The committee urged the government to provide a more coherent model for funding which does not assume all communities have the capital required up front to invest in their own networks.
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