The UK government has announced a £50m investment into broadband infrastructure with the aim of giving the country the fastest network in Europe.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that the funding will be made available to local authorities via the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) agency as part of a planned £530m investment in the UK broadband network.
"Broadband is crucial for the country's economic future, and that's why the coalition government is investing £530m in its infrastructure.
"We want to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, and today's £50m will benefit up to 800,000 homes and businesses.
"This is very much a locally-driven process and we encourage bids from all local people with plans for improving broadband in their local area."
The government has already stated that it wants a minimum connection speed of 2Mbit/s by 2015.
This is somewhat at odds with Osborne's pre-election pledge to have 100Mbit/s connections to most homes by 2017, which followed a Labour commitment to have 2Mbit/s connections nationwide by 2012.
Eclipse internet director Clodagh Murphy said the announcement was nevertheless "great news for rural areas".
"With this investment leading to greater speeds, businesses in these areas
will be more efficient and will benefit from greater access to internet
based technologies," she added.
"This in turn will help them and the local economy."
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