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Dorset UK Scraps Costly Kcom Built Fibre Optic Public Sector Network

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 (8:41 am) - Score 1,286

Rising costs and a lack of uptake have forced Dorset County Council to give up on their Dorset Public Sector Network (DPSN), which became operational via Kcom (KC) in 2012 and has since exceeded its budget by £340k. Another £200k per year could be added to this overspend until the agreement ends in 2018.

According to the Dorset Echo, the DPSN costs around £1.125m per year to run and like most such PSN’s it was designed to connect various councils, schools and other public services around the county.

Apparently the network was deliberately built with more capacity than required so that Kcom could, it was hoped, encourage external businesses to join in order to help balance the costs, but this didn’t happen.

Jonathan Mair, DCC’s Acting Director for Corporate Resources, said:

Despite significant efforts in the first three years of the contract, the Partnership and Kcom has failed to attract any other significant partners, despite engaging with Dorset NHS trusts, Dorset Police and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service amongst others.”

After digging deeper ISPreview.co.uk notes that Kcom was originally selected as the supplier for DPSN services following a procurement process in 2010/12. The network they built includes a 10Gbps capable fibre optic Ethernet core that runs between Dorchester, Blandford and Wimborne (note: these are far from the busiest areas in Dorset, with Wimborne being positively rural).

Outside of the core link there’s a mix of 1Gbps and 100Mbps Ethernet connections, with outlying areas only having access to bog standard copper line 10Mbps services and a few locations are even stuck on old fashioned ADSL lines (the original plan was that these would also be upgraded to support fibre Ethernet, but it never happened).

The plan now is to wind down the contract with Kcom and thus save £100k per year through cost cutting, although this also means that schools and other public services which use the network will need to find an alternative. Luckily this should be easier by 2018 thanks to the Superfast Dorset project with BT, which ironically might be part of the problem since the DPSN has become less attractive as local connectivity improves.

But recent history shows that alterative network developers, such as CityFibre, can often resuscitate defunct fibre optic networks and turn them into more commercially attractive platforms for businesses. As yet there’s no sign of this happening in Dorset and indeed the core network might be a bit too rural to be attractive, but the possibility is there and a thoughtful approach could help to improve rather than worsen local connectivity.

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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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