The UK government has confirmed that the first three areas to share in its promised £530 million funding for high speed broadband development in rural districts will be Devon and Somerset; Wiltshire; and Norfolk.
The announcement follows a period of extremely hard lobbying by local representatives – including business professionals, MPs and council officials – to secure the much sought-after funding. It is now anticipated that the government funding will be joined by further investment from local authorities and private capital sources.
Emphasising the height of the stakes involved, MP for Central Devon, Mel Stride commented after receiving the news on his area’s successful bid: ‘This investment will create jobs, make companies far more efficient and lead to improved growth for the county’s economy’.
One of the advantages offered by high speed broadband is the ability to switch from making and receiving calls via traditional telephone company line extensions to using business VoIP (voice over internet protocol). The resulting internet protocol (IP) telephony applications often provide for much cheaper voice calls, whilst at the same time allowing companies to re-route calls and add extensions more easily.
Once a suitable broadband connection has been established, companies in these areas should be able to access business VoIP almost immediately and inexpensively by simply adapting their existing business phone systems through enabling technologies such as session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking; and utilising the services of a business VoIP provider or VoIP reseller.
The government’s decision to invest in rural broadband had followed on from concerns that outlying areas would be left behind by private infrastructure companies not willing to expand their broadband developments beyond the UK’s more lucrative urban areas.
The approximate government funding for each of the first three rural areas is expected to amount to around £4 million for Wiltshire; £15 for Norfolk; and £30 million for Devon and Somerset.