According to Jeremy Hunt, councils were not putting enough effort into planning their broadband deployment schemes as 11 authorities failed to have their draft proposals approved on time.
As a quick reminder, the UK Government aims to deploy superfast broadband to 90 per cent in every county with the remaining 10 per cent left to use basic broadband of at least 2Mbps.
According to the Authority, superfast broadband gives people access to speeds of 24Mbps and above.
If the Government doesn’t handle the delay appropriately, it may mean that the BDUK office will be forced to withdraw the funds allocated for the counties and use it elsewhere – however this is not yet set in stone.
Mr Hunt found the situation frustrating and said that while the majority was making excellent progress, East Riding of Yorkshire, Essex-Southend-On-Sea-Thurrock (joint) Wolverhampton-Sandwell-Dudley-Walsall (joint), Greater Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Birmingham were slowing down the process. Meanwhile Portsmouth, Telford and Wrekin, Southampton, South Tyneside, South Tyneside, North Tyneside have all withdrawn from the deployment completely:
“Residents and businesses in the Black Country, East Riding, Essex, Portsmouth, Southampton and Telford & Wrekin risk being left in the broadband slow lane unless the councils sort out their broadband plans.
“We’ve put our money on the table and now we need every council to do the same, for the sake of jobs, growth and public services in their area.”
As Mr Hunt mentioned, the withdrawn areas have one more chance to re-join the mission by the end of this month. If these areas fail to come up with a plan or indeed their own funding, they risk being left to put up with snail like broadband speeds.