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Broke Govt seeks broadband-minded partners

The UK's new coalition Government is to hold an open day to discuss ways it can provide broadband to so-called "not-spots" in rural areas - for little or no extra cash.

The consultation day on 15 July will bring together representatives of the broadband industry in a bid to find cheap ways for the cash-strapped administration to provide universal access to internet connections of at least 2Mbps for the entire country by 2012.

The Government posted notice of the day-long workshop on the European Union's Official Journal.

The Government hopes to avoid a "digital divide" by rolling out faster services in rural areas at the same time as installing "superfast" fibre connections in urban areas.

Any ideas presented at the meeting will be assessed by the new government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) organisation, created by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

In essence, the Government wants something for nothing. The project is an effort to see how a mix of different technologies, together with existing public and private sector resources, can be used to spread the broadband network more widely without raiding the taxpayer piggybank.

"Suppliers will be encouraged to reuse existing infrastructure (including incumbent and public sector networks) wherever possible, and third-party access to new subsidised infrastructures and contractual clawback mechanisms to avoid over-compensation will be required to ensure compatibility with state aid rules," the BIS said.