A new government body has started work on a commitment to deliver 2Mb broadband to every household in the UK by 2012, and 'next generation' access to 90 per cent of the country by 2017.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has been launched as a major report forecasting the future reach of next generation broadband across the UK is published by the Government.
The report will help inform public authorities looking to invest in superfast broadband and will also be considered by BDUK in prioritising the communities who could benefit from the Next Generation Fund.
Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain, said: "Taking advantage of new technologies is vital to the growth of the UK’s economy and it’s important that all homes and businesses can access the opportunities faster speeds bring.
"This report makes clear that without public intervention, some rural areas and less well off communities will be left behind and unable to reap the economic, health and education benefits superfast broadband offers. Our proposed £1billion Next Generation Fund will help bring the benefits of super fast broadband to more communities.
"We do not want to risk the digital gap widening, which is why we have put a team of experts in place to ensure further investment is targeted at those people without adequate access."
The report looks at the reach of next generation access across the UK up to 2017 based on three possible scenarios: a purely market-led approach, a network subsidised by the Digital Britain ‘Next Generation Fund’ and local interventions like the Yorkshire Forward Digital Region initiative in South Yorkshire which supplements a subsidised network.
Rural Affairs Minister, Dan Norris said, "The availability of next generation broadband to rural communities and businesses is vital for their growth and social links. The research published today will help public bodies and BDUK identify what areas need attention so that solutions can be developed for these communities to benefit from faster broadband services by 2017.”
Minister for Regional Economic Coordination Rosie Winterton said, "It's crucial for the future prosperity of our most disadvantaged communities that they are able take advantage of all the new developments that next generation access will bring including access to new skills, new employment opportunities and innovative health care.
"To be successful we will need effective cooperation at regional level in these areas and I am pleased to see that this research recognises the great contribution that Yorkshire Forward's Digital Region strategy will make in safeguarding the future of South Yorkshire."
Research from the report supports the levying of a 50p monthly duty on all fixed lines.
BDUK will offer subsidies from a £1 billion cash pot to telecoms companies to encourage them to offer broadband access in rural areas, where they normally wouldn't bother because of the distances involved, and low density of potential paying customers.