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BT Commit GBP6.4m to Rollout Superfast Broadband in The Black Country

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 (7:31 am) - Score 514
fttc street cabinet under construction

As expected BT has been chosen as the supplier for a £12.2 million Broadband Delivery UK based project in The Black Country (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton – England’s West Midlands), which aims to make fixed line superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds available to 98% of local premises by mid-2017.

The Black Country regions chose to sit out the first round of national BDUK funding because much of the area could already access a Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband service and only around 7% were left to suffer from sub-24Mbps speeds, with just 0.4% getting sub-2Mbps.

However the situation changed after BDUK allocated an additional £250m (funding phase 2) across the United Kingdom and raised the “superfast” coverage target from 90% to 95% by 2017 as part of its Superfast Extension Programme (SEP). This triggered the relevant councils to pursue a new programme through the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership; a related consultation document can be found here (link).

Sajid Javid, Culture Secretary, said:

Today marks the beginning of an incredible transformation of broadband in the Black Country. Government fully appreciates that access to fast and reliable broadband is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity, which is precisely why we are funding projects like this one all over the UK.”

The funding commitments have also changed since our preliminary report earlier this month (here), although both BDUK and the local authorities continue to commit the same contribution of £2.9m (each). Previously it had been reported that the chosen supplier (BT) would only commit £1.5m, yet today’s press release states that they’ve actually contributed £6.4million (more than matching the public investment).

Overall the development will require BTOpenreach to, among other things, upgrade 400 street cabinets in the area. As usual the operator will now begin its planning and survey work, while the first services aren’t set to become available until the end of 2015.

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Mark Jackson
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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7 Responses
  1. For the first time public subsidy of £5.8m /400 cabinets = £15k subsidy close to rural Northern Ireland, compared to the average of £46k for most BDUK projects. This would reflect a switch to something closer to actuals if those numbers can be relied upon.

    BT ‘investment’ I assume includes operational costs over some undefined period! Can you check?

  2. Avatar Matt Driver

    Hopefully the amount invested by BT will mean that the Dudley exchange will finally be upgraded to fibre. This will give those of us in Dudley with no access to Virgin Media faster broadband ( mine is currently only 2.5 meg ).

  3. This looks mis-leading if 1m popoulation, therefore premises including business no more than 350k – 9% of which in the intervention area = 31,500 / 200 = 157 cabinets = subsidy of c £37k. BT’s estimate self certified capital contribution of £57 per premise passed = 1800000/31500 is more typical.

    • Avatar No Clue

      It makes perfect sense if you are BT and can not count

    • Avatar Gadget

      But the Press Release quotes 400+ cabinets, and since the ones not touched by the commercial programme are likely to be smaller I don’t see the point of the original calculation to estimate the number of cabs using an assumed figure of 200/cab. Using the Press Release figure drops the subsidy to circa £14.5k/cab

    • @Gadget I wish it was true. If subsidy was £14k and (as it was in NI pre BDUK) and not an average of c£46k (includes USC-take-up Risk) as identified by NAO then all 44 BDUK contracts would need to be refreshed which would be fantastic.
      200 customers served is for illustration. Total intervention is 5.3m served by approxed 30k cabinets = 176. So there must be an error, fantastic if it is not.

    • Avatar Gadget

      I cant see why the number quoted should be wrong especially since previous schemes in areas like business parks reveal a very small number of premises per cab – http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/01/bt-segro-help-450-businesses-get-superfast-broadband-slough.html.

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