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Government £1 Billion Short On Broadband Plan?

The government's pot of cash set aside for its broadband push isn't enough to achieve the coalition's lofty roll out goals, a new study has suggested.

The report on superfast broadband in the UK, prepared by the London School of Economics, claims that there's a big £1.1 billion shortfall when it comes to meeting the government's plans.

Those plans are to achieve full access to "fast" broadband (better than 2Mbps) for the entire country, and 90 per cent of the nation to have access to superfast fibre (in excess of 24Mbps) by 2015. The cost of this, the LSE estimates, is £2.4 billion, with only £1.3 billion in funding put aside.

The billion pound gap is one which private investors will be expected to fill, the authors of the report note.

The report states: "The government target of 100% coverage by basic broadband by 2015 is likely to be met, but it is less clear when the government targets of 90% coverage by superfast broadband, and 100% coverage by fast broadband, are likely to be met."

"Basic" broadband is a speed lower than 2Mbps, essentially saying that an area has some kind of broadband service, albeit a snail's pace affair.

The report urges the government to invest further in broadband infrastructure, with one of the authors, Paolo Dini, stating: "In this year's budget the government allocated £200bn for transport infrastructure and £50m to broadband. That doesn't seem quite right."

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport fired back at the LSE and insisted the targets were going to be met. He said: "We are confident of completing the roll-out by 2015. All local authorities except two met the government's timeline by submitting their initial broadband plans on time."

"We have always been clear this investment will not meet the full cost but will help make it economically viable for telecoms companies to roll out broadband to areas that would otherwise be left behind."

Source: BBC