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British government cuts broadband "red tape"

The government has announced plans to fast track high speed broadband rollout, while UK citizens express a lack of confidence in promises to offer Europe’s fastest broadband by 2015.

Newly appointed culture secretary Maria Miller made promises today to cut red tape in order to enable the swift rollout of high speed broadband. 

“Superfast broadband is vital to secure our country’s future – to kick start economic growth and create jobs,” Miller said of the government’s plans to invest £680 million in broadband infrastructure. 

“We are putting in the essential infrastructure that will make UK businesses competitive, and sweeping away the red tape that is a barrier to economic recovery,” shesaid.

Measures to aid faster deployment of high speed broadband include the ability to install broadband cabinets in streets without the need for council approval, as well as reduced bureaucracy in laying street cables and under private land.

Prime Minister David Cameron stated that superfast broadband is “an essential building block of a growing economy, so we are cutting the red tape”.

In a Coalition cabinet reshuffle earlier this week Conservative Maria Miller was appointed at the helm of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and received backing from the prime minister to prioritise the roll out of high speed broadband. 

“I want the culture department rolling out broadband…This is a Government who mean business, and we have got the team to deliver it,” the Cameron said in parliament earlier this week.

The drive to attain the best broadband speeds marks a departure from earlier plans by former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to deliver the “best” broadband network in Europe, formerly stating that “Our goal is simple: within this parliament we want Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe”. 

Hunt said last month that the onus would now be on supplying the “fastest” broadband instead, claiming that “to be the best you need to be the fastest”.

Plans to upgrade broadband infrastructure involve increasing the rollout of fibre to the cabinet broadband, aiming for “headline access speed of greater than 24 Mbps, with no upper limit”, according to Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) minister Ed Vaizey.

However, according to a survey from thinkbroadband.com, 83 percent of 1,100 survey respondents in the UK think that plans to rollout the fastest broadband in Europe are unlikely to be achieved, with only five percent having faith in the government delivering on promises to achieve this.

Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com, said that there is little optimism that the government can achieve its aims.

“The results illustrate that broadband users seek higher speeds but are not optimistic, with confidence in the government’s plans at an all time low,” Ferguson said. “The new culture secretary should take note of this and ensure they keep on track with the ambitious plans or risk lowering public confidence even further.”

Ferguson said that with Hunt out of the frame, the question now is whether his replacement, Maria Miller, will support his “bold goal”. 

He added that, with current UK broadband speeds lagging behind the rest of Europe, the government will need to propel the UK from the bottom of the pile “to the top of the broadband charts”.