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BT Sign £56.6m UK Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Broadband Contract

Monday, December 17th, 2012 (1:38 pm) - Score 761

BT has today officially signed and detailed the joint £56.6 million Borders Broadband project, which uses public money to help make superfast broadband (24 to 30Mbps+) services reach 90% of homes and businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire by the end of 2016 and 100% by 2018.

It’s claimed that the project will benefit more than 140,000 local homes and businesses and could even boost the local economy by almost £42m a year. Some £18.17m of the funds will come from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office, while £10.1m is expected from Herefordshire Council, £7.5m from Gloucestershire County Council and £20.9 million from BT.

BT states that the majority of homes and businesses covered by this project should ultimately be able to enjoy speeds of 30 Megabits per second or more, with speeds of “up to 80Mbps being typical“. As usual this will be delivered via a mix of the operators up to 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) and 330Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technologies, with the last 10% having to put up with speeds of at least 2Mbps until 2018.

Bill Murphy, Managing Director of BT NGA Broadband, said:

It’s great to see Herefordshire and Gloucestershire working in partnership to bring the best possible broadband to their rural communities. We’re delighted to have been awarded the contract and look forward to working together on this exciting project which will provide a powerful, sustainable platform for growth.”

John Jarvis, Herefordshire Council Leader, added:

Today’s announcement will see Herefordshire becoming one of the most fibre-enabled counties in the country, after struggling with slower broadband speeds in the past. This project will really put the county on the map, attracting more businesses to the county, helping existing ones grow and enabling rural properties become less isolated.”

It’s interesting to note that BT’s press release appears to reference two superfast broadband targets, which is perhaps symbolic of the government’s inner turmoil over changing definitions and targets. For example, it starts by saying that the “ultimate aim [is] to provide access to broadband speeds of [24Mbps] or above for all who want it by 2018” and then later mentions that “the aim of the councils’ partnership … is to have a majority of homes and businesses covered by this project able to enjoy speeds of 30Mbps or more“.

In any case BT will now enter a “period of planning” and the first work is then expected to start on the ground during the second half of 2013, which should be completed by the end of 2016. We note that this is somewhat later than the government’s spring 2015 target window for 90% coverage and we further note that the government’s official 90% BDUK figure relates to “people in each local authority area“, while today’s press release talks specifically about 90% of premises and not people.

It’s still excellent news for the area but there seem to be a lot of mixed and potentially conflicting messages being given about the various targets and definitions.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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