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The Government is pressing ahead with plans to aggregate public sector demand for broadband with the announcement that nine regional bodies will be set up in October.

The Regional Aggregation Bodies (RABs) - set up in partnership with Regional Development Authorities (RDAs) - will be responsible for buying broadband services for public sector organisations while cutting costs for the public sector.

It will be the jobs of RABs to join up individual public sector broadband requirements (from individual schools, GP surgeries etc) and present them as one bigger package to the market.

The theory is that this aggregated demand will entice operators to provide broadband in areas currently deemed commercially unviable for such investment. At the same time, it's hoped that the pooled demand will mean that the public sector gets value for money.

In a statement eminister Stephen Timms said: "The Government and public sector will be spending £1 billion on broadband over the next three years. The RABs will ensure that we make the most of that substantial buying power.

"Not only will this mean maximum value for money for the taxpayer, but it will also bring broadband to parts of the country that otherwise might find it difficult to get access."

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael added that the RABs should help extend the availability of broadband in rural areas.

A 'pathfinder' project run by the East Midlands Development Agency, demonstrating how the RABs will work, begins next month. ®

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