Hunt threatens to take back broadband cash

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the government would remove up to £530m in funding if local councils fail to deliver superfast broadband by the government's deadlines.Hunt told an all party parliamentary committee on local government that he would act decisively over the plans to improve broadband infrastructure in the UK if there was any attempt to stall the process with paperwork.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the government would remove up to £530m in funding if local councils fail to deliver superfast broadband by the government's deadlines.

Hunt told an all party parliamentary committee on local government that he would act decisively over the plans to improve broadband infrastructure in the UK if there was any attempt to stall the process with paperwork.

"There is £530m on the table to help deliver this, but I have to say that if broadband contracts aren't actually signed by the end of this year I will consider taking this back," Hunt said, according to a Guardian report on Thursday.

In December 2011, Hunt said that local councils that wanted funding needed to submit their draft plans by the end of February, and that a finalised plan needs to be in place by April.

The government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme is offering to provide the money to local councils that can secure matched funding from European, private or own-council investment.

The project aims to bring faster than 24Mbps fibre-based — either fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) or fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) — connections to 90 percent of the population by 2015.

According to Hunt, several authorities told him that they could achieve superfast broadband coverage for 100 percent of the population.

However, more remote areas of the country traditionally struggle to receive high-speed broadband connectivity. In some cases, satellite broadband or 4G connections are being trialled as potential stand-ins for the shortfall in coverage.

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