Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said local authorities must submit their plans to the government by the end of February 2012.
The government has allocated money from a £530m fund to English local authorities to provide 90% of homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband and everyone with access to at least 2Mbps.
Superfast broadband was fundamental to economic success, said Mr Hunt. Businesses needed it to grow, the public would need it to access new services.
"Some local authorities will find these to be challenging targets. But I will not allow the UK to fall behind in rolling-out superfast broadband.
"Superfast broadband is simply too important for creating the growth we need to allow the roll-out to be delayed."
Mr Hunt said he was confident local authorities would be able to meet the timetable and provide businesses and residents with the broadband access they needed.
The government published its strategy for rolling-out broadband in rural areas in December last year. It announced how much funding had been allocated to each area in August this year.
Local authorities now have until the end of February next year to submit a draft Local Broadband Plan.
Final plans must be agreed with the government by the end of April. Local authorities will need to have match-funding in place with this money coming from their budgets, European programmes or other sources.
Mr Hunt said the government could not guarantee funding would remain available to areas that couldn't complete this process by the end of April.
The £530m had to be used within the Spending Review period so if projects were not ready in time, the funding may be used elsewhere.
Once the plans had been approved, the government would work with local authorities as they prepared for procurement. This work should be completed within a further three months.
The government said it would consider running a national procurement for areas not ready by the end of July. Details of the progress made by each local authority would be published in January.