A recent report by the London school of economics suggests that there is a £1.1 billion shortfall in funding to reach government plans for 90 per cent access to super-fast broadband by 2015, which is expected to cost £2.4 billion in total, with current government funding offering up only £1.3 billion of this amount.
To clarify the situation, 'Super-Fast' means speeds of above 24Mbps AKA fibre, whilst the terms 'Fast' means anywhere from 2 up to 24Mbps and 'Basic', up to 2Mbps. The report suggests that whilst we will likely reach basic coverage for 100 per cent of the population by 2015, targets to reach 100 per cent fast coverage and 90 per cent super-fast coverage won't be met.
With past reports indicating that GDP per Capita can rise by 0.9 to 1.5 per cent for each 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration, one of the report's authors, Paolo Dini, stated that the government should be spending more on broadband, "In this year's budget the government allocated £200 billion for transport infrastructure and £50 million to broadband. That doesn't seem quite right."
In Europe, the UK is currently in the top two or three in terms of central spend on broadband, though, historically, has lagged behind other countries that have already implemented large-scale roll-outs, likewise, in comparison to Asia, the entire western world is lagging behind, which, given the UK's reliance on intellectual property, the collaboration and exchange of ideas, figures and data, as opposed to heavy industry, is perhaps a not the best position to be in.
A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport denied that targets were being missed, however, "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."
So perhaps the question is, are there enough agreements and safeguards in place to ensure that private investors foot the country's remaining broadband bill or will funding end up becoming a source purely for areas that were already economically viable?
We'd love to know our readers' opinions on the matter.