The EU and UK Government have granted the South Gloucestershire Council in England an additional £900,000 to support the development and rollout of superfast broadband networks across the region to reach a further 100 rural businesses.
The money was a joint donation from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Developments (EAFRD) and the British government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The funding will now allow the council to identify which specific rural businesses will benefit the most from the extra investment, but no details have yet been announced.
The council is presently working alongside Openreach (BT) to expands its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks, which is on the verge of reaching universal coverage with a current coverage of over 97 per cent.
Councillor Ben Burton, of Frenchay and Downend council, said: “We understand how important broadband is for people, especially those running rural businesses, so we are very pleased to welcome this additional funding following our successful bid to the government.
“So far, more than 21,700 homes and businesses have been able to access fibre broadband as part of our rollout across South Gloucestershire, a substantial number, but one we are focused on improving upon.
“We are committed to providing a better broadband service to as much of the district as possible and this latest investment will help us bring connectivity to some of the harder to reach rural areas.”
The assumption is that the funding will be put towards developing full fibre gigabit capable broadband services, as opposed to slower networks which the UK Government disfavours in terms of investment options and opportunities.
In a separate cabinet meeting, local authority figures noted that the rollout of superfast broadband programmes “will continue into future years with funds being claimed as works progress with roll out of the next phase now expected to start in early summer 2019.”