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Somerset UK Finds GBP2.18m to Boost Superfast Broadband Coverage

Tuesday, Jul 1st, 2014 (8:02 am) - Score 306

Despite recent funding concerns from the Devon side of the joint £94m Connecting Devon and Somerset project in England, which is currently working with BT to make “fibre optic broadband” (FTTC/P) available to more than 90% of local premises by the end of 2016, the Somerset County Council has managed to find an extra £2.18m to fund expanded coverage.

Earlier this year the region was allocated an additional £22.75 million (indicative) as part of the national £250m Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) Superfast Extension Programme (here), which aims to push the UK coverage target for fixed line superfast broadband availability from 90% by the end of 2015 to 95% by the end of 2017.

The extra funding could help CDS to achieve, or at least get close to, their long-term goal of 100% superfast broadband coverage by 2020 (i.e. matching the EU’s Digital Agenda target). But some councils, particularly on the Devon side, have faced difficulties with finding the necessary investment to match-fund with the Government’s latest allocation.

Never the less Somerset County Council’s Cabinet has now “agreed” to allocate an additional £2.18 million to the central funding pot, which it’s hoped should enable the county to match the national target.

David Hall, Cabinet Member for Business, Investment and Policy, said:

I cannot stress how important superfast broadband is to Somerset – for its residents, businesses and our economy. We are committed to delivering superfast broadband to our hardest to reach areas and this extra investment from ourselves, partners and government will help us achieve just that. If we get the go ahead in September, the scheme with Satellite Internet will build on the work already being undertaken by Connecting Devon and Somerset to look at how we can bring new technological solutions to benefit our hardest to reach areas.”

The CDS project should find out in September 2014 whether or not their application for additional funding has been a success, although we’re sure it will be approved. The only question is over how much total investment will be approved and how far that will be able to go in such a rural region.

At this point it’s interesting to look back at the first round of BDUK funding for the CDS scheme, which shows that the projects original funding split was rather unusual in that most of the investment actually came from BT.

CDS – Original Funding Split
BDUK = £32m
Devon and Somerset Councils = £10m
BT = £41m

It’s often complained that in a number of other BDUK projects the funding from BT’s side is considerably lower than everybody else’s, although equally the opposite appears to be true in areas like Devon and Somerset. In any case it’s probably fair to assume that this round of investment will be similarly proportional to the first, although this also assumes that BT are once again picked to continue the contract (highly likely).

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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