Rural UK broadband
The fund will be used to invest in pilot schemes to bring superfast broadband to the UK's most rural addresses. Reuters

The government is to make a £10 million fund available to pay for pilot schemes intended to bring superfast broadband to the most rural parts of the UK.

Culture secretary Maria Miller hopes that alternative technology providers will use the money to come up with innovative solutions for getting high speed internet to remote locations, where installing current technologies is prohibitively expensive.

The fund will be used to investigate the use of 4G mobile broadband, fibre connections directly to premises or to nearby exchanges, and satellite broadband.

Superfast broadband

Rural communities often miss out on superfast internet connections - a term given to download speeds of at least 24Mbps - because of the high costs associated with installing traditional copper wire or fibre connections to small and widely distributed communities.

"We need to focus on the hardest to reach communities...we need to think imaginatively"
- Maria Miller

The government is already investing £1.1 billion into bringing superfast broadband connections of at least 24Mbps to 95% of the UK; the extra £10m fund will be used to investigate solutions for getting the remaining 5% up to speed.

Miller said: "An estimated 10,000 homes and businesses are gaining access to superfast speeds every week but now we need to focus on the hardest to reach communities.

"If we want to ensure that all communities can benefit then we need to think imaginatively about alternative technology, and the pilots enabled by the £10m fund will be instrumental in helping us overcome the challenges of reaching the final 5% of premises."

UK yet to offer a single 'superfast' town or city

But it isn't just rural communities that are forced to make do with below-average connections; an investigation by price comparison website uSwitch last October found the UK is yet to offer a single town or city capable of delivering an average speed of 24Mbps to all of its residents.

The town of Telford in Shropshire has the fastest average connection, at 23Mbps, but major cities are struggling, with London's average speed of 17Mbps placing it 26th in the list of 50 towns and cities surveyed.

Almost a fifth of Londoners see download speeds of less than 3Mbps, a speed endured by a quarter of the UK's population; the nationwide average is 14.5Mbps, according to uSwitch.

It was also announced by Miller that Chris Townsend, formerly the commercial director of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be the new chief executive of the UK Broadband Delivery programme, which includes the £10m pilot fund.