New minister for broadband to cut red tape

“We are determined to cut through the bureaucracy that is holding us back”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) introduced its new minister to the broadband industry today, who wants to speed up deployment of superfast connections across the UK, which is currently being hindered by bureaucratic planning rules, as the DCMS admitted, thereby “jeopardising the country’s economic recovery.”

The first proposal announced by Maria Miller, who takes over from Jeremy Hunt following prime minister David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, is to allow service providers to install street cabinets or other broadband infrastructure without having to receive permission from the local council involved, unless it is a site of scientific interest. The department hopes to legislate very soon to enable these powers for the next five years.

Previously, ISPs such as BT had been forced to remove cabinets – after installing them without consent – when councils received complaints from residents. This happened in Muswell Hill and Kensington and Chelsea, in London.

“Superfast broadband is vital to secure our country’s future – to kick start economic growth and create jobs,” Maria Miller said.

Miller has also promised to cut the cost and paperwork of laying cables in the street and installing on private land, as well as enabling overhead cables to be installed in any area without planning permission.

“The government means business and we are determined to cut through the bureaucracy that is holding us back,” said Miller.

The DCMS promised to work with mobile operators, local government organisations and any other interested parties to streamline the planning process and enable more mobile connectivity to be rolled out, as well as fixed line broadband.

The proposals have received the backing of ISPs and industry groups alike while local councils have yet to voice their opinions.

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