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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Broadband bureaucrats to speed rural take-up
Children at computers
Rural schools could be linked up to broadband
The British Government hopes to boost the take-up of high-speed internet services in rural areas with a network of broadband bureaucrats.

Each of the UK's nine Regional Development Agencies will employ an adviser with the job of co-ordinating the broadband buying power of local health authorities, schools and other public services.

A team of procurement experts will also be employed by the Office of Government Commerce to enable smarter national public sector broadband buying.

"It's all about providing value for money for taxpayers and getting the most out of broadband spending," said a spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Knock-on effect

It is hoped this new efficient approach to broadband will have a knock-on effect for consumers.

"If a school, library and hospital in an area buy broadband together it makes it viable to roll out the infrastructure which small businesses and consumers can then tap into," said the DTI spokesperson.

Newly appointed e-commerce Minister Stephen Timms has expressed his concern that around 30% of the population still have no access to broadband services.

In an interview with BBC News Online, he ruled out the possibility of extending the universal service obligations of telecommunications firms to take broadband to rural areas or the use of government cash to help isolated communities get high speed net links.

See also:

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