UK councils have until the end of February to submit requests for funding from the government's £530m broadband pot to help roll out superfast fibre networks.
Downing Street said it could not guarantee that local authorities will receive any funding if plans are not received by this time, as it has to ensure that the entire allocation is spent within the Spending Review period ending in 2015.
Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state at the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), claimed that the deadline is adequate, and warned that he will "not allow the UK to fall behind in rolling out superfast broadband".
"I am confident local authorities will be able to meet the timetable and provide businesses and residents with the broadband access they need," he said.
"Superfast broadband is fundamental to our future economic success. Businesses need it to grow [and] the public will need it to access new services. Some local authorities will find these to be challenging targets."
The government explained that submissions for February have only to be draft plans, and that the final proposals will be worked on with the government for April. However, any successful plans have to include equal fund matching.
The DCMS confirmed to V3 that this is the first formal deadline it has set, but that the department has already been offering guidance to local authorities on a rough timescale they should look to meet before this announcement.
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