Rural communities across the East of England could be enjoying access to super-fast broadband for the very first time with new funding announced recently.
The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has secured half a million pounds through the Regional Development Programme for England (RDPE) to help plug some of the gaps in rural broadband availability. Local authorities, businesses, social enterprises and charities can all bid for a share of the funding to support ‘community broadband projects’. That could be to upgrade existing infrastructure to exceed the universal standard of 2mbps, or to install new hardware needed to adopt next generation broadband with speeds of up to 50mbps.
Deborah Cadman, chief executive of EEDA, said: “The East of England is in real danger of being left in the internet slow lane. Commercial providers overlook us because the return on their investment in rural parts of our region is smaller than in urban areas. Yet the importance of access for us all has never been greater – broadband has become a lynch-pin of modern day society. Local people rely on it to access the services they need on a day-to-day basis and our businesses need access to remain competitive and trade internationally.
“EEDA’s funding will help to bring some of our rural areas out of broadband ‘not spots’, giving them access to internet speeds they will have never experienced before.” The grants of £10,000 or more for rural broadband are part of a wider push by EEDA to get a fair deal for the East of England in broadband provision. Alongside local authorities, EEDA has been working to record demand in this region for super-fast broadband, presenting a commercially-viable picture for those private investors responsible for its installation.
Deborah Cadman added:“EEDA’s funding will not solve the problem of poor access to broadband across our region, but it will provide opportunities for some of our rural communities to catch-up their urban counterparts. Massive private investment is still needed to bring us up to scratch. It is therefore important, that collectively, we continue to present a picture of high-demand and value for money to attract the investment we need.”
To find out more about EEDA’s grants for rural broadband projects or to register your demand for super-fast services, visit www.eeda.org.uk/broadbandgrants.