Government to miss 'best broadband in Europe' deadline?

Lobby group warns it is 'unlikely' superfast targets will be met by 2015

Government plans for the UK to have the best broadband in Europe within the next three years may be too ambitious, according to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

The lobby group has warned that a 2015 deadline, to provide 90% of the country with superfast connections of at least 24Mb and the remainder with at least 2Mb, could be missed. More than £500million will be spent as the government looks to bring UK broadband up to scratch.

But the CLA said it was concerned that a "slow" funding process and reliance on fibre optic networks would prolong the UK's digital divide.

Harry Cotterell, president of the CLA, commented: "We recognise that delivering this type of infrastructure is not easy, but it is unlikely the government will meet these objectives.

"The process is too bureaucratic and the allocation of the £530million funding too slow. It would be much simpler if the funding was allocated centrally rather than giving it directly to local authorities because they do not have the resources to plan for a superfast broadband network."

He also warned that reliance on fibre optic technology would only worsen the government's "poor chance" of meeting the 2015 deadline.

Last week, BT announced that its Openreach engineers would be bringing superfast broadband to an additional 98 exchanges, serving almost 800,000 homes and businesses, as part of the telecoms provider's £2.5billion upgrade to its fibre optic network.

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