Government to ‘fast-track’ superfast broadband

New plans are "poorly thought out knee-jerk measures," says the LGA

Maria Miller, the new culture secretary, has wasted no time getting to work, announcing plans to "fast-track the roll-out of superfast broadband" just days after being appointed.

The drive to meet broadband targets shouldn't force poorly thought out knee-jerk measures

After replacing now health secretary Jeremy Hunt following a cabinet reshuffle last week, Miller has said the new measures will "cut through the bureaucracy that is holding us back".

Under the new plans, broadband street cabinets and other infrastructure can be installed without the need for prior approval from the local council, apart from in Sites of Special Scientific Interest - nature conservation areas.

Also, companies laying fibre optic cables in streets, such as Openreach, the division of BT responsible for managing the national communications network, will now face less cost and bureaucracy in doing so.

Finally, cables and cabinets can now be installed on or under private land without "the bureaucratic burden of long-running negotiations".

The government will also facilitate discussions between broadband infrastructure providers, energy suppliers and energy regulator Ofgem to thrash out a deal to supply the national broadband infrastructure with energy.

Dido Harding, chief executive of broadband provider TalkTalk, welcomed the new plans, describing them as a "positive step" and calling on the government to "devote similar energy to ensuring competition and encouraging accessibility for all".

However, the plans were far from warmly received by the Local Government Association (LGA), who said: "The drive to meet broadband targets shouldn't force poorly thought out knee-jerk measures that spoil local environments and needlessly damage roads."

What do you think of Maria Miller's proposed changes - "positive step" or "knee-jerk reaction"? Let us know in the comments section below...

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