Rural broadband receives Blair boost

Broadband czars to help you get faster net access...

Broadband czars to help you get faster net access...

A new team of advisers and experts will start work in the autumn to help the government's target of boosting broadband in the regions. The new appointments include dedicated regional broadband advisers co-ordinated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). They will play a key role in implementing the government's plan to boost the roll-out of broadband in the regions by getting schools, hospitals, libraries and other public organisations in non-broadband equipped areas to club together to persuade telecoms companies to deliver broadband to their area. The government hopes a unified contract to supply all the public sector bodies in, say, a small market town would make it commercially viable for a broadband supplier to connect up towns which otherwise might not be economically viable to supply. The same company could then supply businesses and consumers as well, using the same equipment. However, the DTI is now looking at the possibility of getting private sector companies to join with the public sector bodies in the initial unified contract, ecommerce minister Stephen Timms told silicon.com. He also announced today the creation of a small team of experts in the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) which will provide hands-on advice for public sector buying of broadband. The OGC will offer a range of pre-established contracts with suppliers, called framework agreements. Rural broadband buyers will be able to sign up for a broadband contract without having to go through detailed negotiations individually. It will try to make sure public sector buyers get value for money. The DTI also announced the appointment of a network of regional broadband advisers, whose role will be to increase the take-up and availability of broadband in the regions. The new appointees will start work in the autumn.