GPs are set for broadband access at double the current speeds, as the Department of Health plans to install 21 DSL technology in up to 7,000 GP practices by March of next year.
The GP Next Generation Access Project will update the current broadband network N3, which underpins services such as Choose and Book, to double its current speed using 21 DSL technologies.
The plans will see surgeries benefit from increased speeds on primary and backup links, and remote-hosted GP systems.
The new technologies are fibre to the cabinet (FFTC), meaning they use fibre-optic cables to give faster broadband speeds, and where possible will give speeds of up to 40mbps. Where FTTC is not available, ADSL 2+ will give speeds of up to 20mbps.
The project was funded by Connecting for Health and will be delivered by BT. The NHS Informatics Business Plan 2012/13 says the update will be rolled out to 70% of practices by March 2013.
The switch will require up to three visits per site, with around an hour of internet downtime per visit. Practices will also receive new equipment.
A DH spokesperson said: ‘The GP Next Generation Access Project will increase the bandwidth of the N3 broadband network and allow GP practices evenfaster access to information.’