Bid to improve our broadband

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RESIDENTS and businesses need to keep up the pressure to ensure South Holland does not end up the “poor relation” in terms of available broadband speeds.

The district council’s new portfolio holder for business development Coun Gary Taylor fears the area’s economy could suffer unless South Holland keeps up with the rest of the country in achieving fast internet access.

A Lincolnshire County Council committee will today consider a bid to Broadband Delivery UK for a slice of a £530m funding pot to improve broadband coverage. If unsuccessful a report to councillors says it is “almost 100 per cent” certain that firms such as BT will not deliver superfast broadband here by 2015 due to the rural nature of this area and costs involved.

Coun Taylor said that although some areas of Spalding do not fare too badly and can achieve reasonable speeds, other areas of the district are “not-spots” and unable to get broadband, or “poor spots”, with only very slow connections.

He said: “It affects the whole economy of the district. Businesses particularly rely on an internet connection and businesses create jobs.

“We need to create more jobs in South Holland but we risk becoming the poor relation if the rest of the country has high speed broadband.”

He said businesses, residents, schools and colleges and other organisations need to work together to create a convincing argument to get more investment in internet infrastructure.

If the county’s overview and scrutiny management committee agrees the bid it will be considered by the council’s executive next week before being officially submitted on July 8.

The bid document, which shows that 15 per cent of all residential and business premises have connections of less than 2mbit/s, outlines how important high-speed digital connectivity is. It would:

nImprove access to services;

nOpen up access to online training and courses;

nAllow people to work from home more easily;

nReduce social isolation (eg with home shopping and banking).

Figures also suggest superfast broadband could bring an economic uplift of between £47m and £66m per year to the county.

The BDUK funding bid aims to provide everyone in Lincolnshire with direct connection to “standard” speed (2mbps) broadband and a 90 per cent mobile broadband coverage of the county by 2015, as well as superfast broadband (30mbps) by 2017.