MILLIONS of rural homes will have to wait two years longer than planned for faster broadband, the government has finally admitted.
Superfast broadband provision will be expanded so 95% of UK premises will have access to superfast broadband by 2017, it said.
Previously the target had been 2015.
Postponing the goal means an estimated 5m households face waiting a further four years for a basic high-speed internet service.
Confirmation of the delay came in an infrastructure announcement by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
Mr Alexander outlined more than £100 billion worth of public investment in infrastructure projects from to 2020.
He made the announcement on Thursday (27 June).
The government was investing up to £250m, locally match-funded, to extend superfast broadband provision from current coverage plans, he said.
It would also work with the communications industry to find ways to get broadband – whether mobile or 4G – to 99% of the population.
Shadow communications minister Helen Goodman said the allocation of £250m was £50m less than a previously promised £300m.
While many communities are having to wait longer for better broadband, others are already poised to benefit.
Seven rural towns and villages named as the first communities to benefit from a £94m Connecting Devon and Somerset superfast broadband partnership.
High-speed fibre optic broadband will start to become available in the towns and villages by the end of next year.
The settlements are Moretonhampstead, Holsworthy, Sticklepath, Bradford on Tone, Bishops Lydeard, Creech St Michael and Monkton Heathfield.
By early 2014, this first phase of the programme is due to have made the high-speed technology available to at least 15,000 homes and businesses in these communities.
Since the partnership was announced earlier this year engineers have been busy surveying the network in order to ensure roll-out of the new technology.
It is estimated that about 400,000 kilometres of optical fibre will need to be laid.
The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme will lead to the delivery of high-speed fibre broadband to around 90% of premises by the end of 2016.
It also plans to ensure a minimum of 2Mbps for all premises covered and is actively seeking more funding to further extend the availability of superfast broadband.
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