Super-fast broadband cost blow

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PLANS to equip more homes in East Dunbartonshire with lightning-fast internet access would cost local taxpayers a whopping £1.2m, it has been revealed.

The Scottish Government wants three-quarters of all homes and businesses to have Next Generation Broadband (NGB) coverage by 2015.

It is estimated that East Dunbartonshire will meet that target – through coverage from the many private suppliers and support from the Government if needed.

However, aspirations to have 85 per cent of local homes covered by NGB would need a significant sum from East Dunbartonshire Council.

Additional investment of £1.2m would be required from the council to hit the 85 per cent target.

That price-tag is way too pricy for the cash-strapped authority, which is looking to save around £7million over the next two financial years.

The council’s policy and resources committee recently voted to reject a request from the Scottish Government.

Head of development and enterprise, Thomas Glen, confirmed: “The committee decided it was unable to support an additional investment of £1.2m to meet the Scottish Government’s aspirational target of achieving 85 per cent broadband coverage.

“The council has already made an indirect contribution as part of a £40m contribution to the national NGB funding resource from local authorities’ share of national capital budget allocations.

“East Dunbartonshire currently has a relatively high quality of broadband coverage and, according to the 2011 OFCOM report, was rated second best local authority in Scotland for broadband, alongside East Renfrewshire.

“It is expected that the four main towns in East Dunbartonshire will meet the initial shared commitment of the Scottish Government and COSLA to have 75 per cent broadband coverage in all premises.

“However, coverage levels are still being finalised by the Scottish Government and broadband operators.

“The council agreed that if there were any changes to the anticipated level of coverage this would be reported back to committee.”

Members of the committee were told: “The quality of coverage is not universal and some of the small villages and rural areas in particular have relatively poor connection speed.”

* NGB is considered important as it helps communities, firms and homes to fully use facilities such as video conferencing, remote file storage and remote working.