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UPDATE 39 England Growth Deals Gain £1bn Funding Boost to Help Broadband

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 (2:30 pm) - Score 546

The government has today announced that they intend to invest a further £1 billion into 39 Local Growth Deals with businesses and local authorities across England, which among other things will help to roll-out superfast broadband connectivity to even more homes and businesses.

Apparently the new funding is intended to “significantly” expand the £6bn worth of initial Growth Deals that were struck with various Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) last July (here); back then it was suggested that the eventual investment was likely to reach up to £12bn in the future, which is intended to be match-funded via local investment.

It’s anticipated that the funding will be used to improve business services, education, build new homes, upgrade infrastructure and of course to help the spread of superfast broadband (24Mbps+) around the country. The first £2bn worth of projects are expected to begin between 2015-16 and an Interactive Map has been setup to highlight where the money will be spent.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

Giving local communities the power and the money to unlock growth and development and make the spending decisions that work for them is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain and ensure a recovery for all.

That’s what Growth Deals are all about, backing local people and investing in the infrastructure, housing and skills that will drive forward local economies, create more jobs and opportunities for hardworking people and supercharge all parts of our country.”

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of firm detail on precisely what the extra funding will do, which is largely because some local authorities have yet to post a final plan on those factors; although today’s announcement in Cornwall is one example of how the extra money, at least some of it, will be used (here). A little more detail can be found by looking through the Growth Deals page linked at the start of this article.

The official announcement also makes a vague reference to £6m for the “Heart of the South West“, which will apparently contribute towards tackling the next 5% of premises in “hard to reach areas” (matched with £6 million of local funding); this is a specific reference to superfast broadband improvements.

In keeping with all that we’ve seen the Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, confirm new funding of £7.7m for improving superfast broadband coverage across Shropshire, Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin (i.e. The Marches Growth Deal). “According to estimates by the LEP, this additional element of their Growth Deal could bring super-fast broadband to 39,000 premises,” says the related update.

We’ve further seen Gloucestershire mentioned a few times in today’s news, not least with Bristol seeing an £18m boost. Broadly it seems as if the Government hopes to create a shotgun blast of positive investment news by sending MPs out to make big Growth Deal announcements, albeit absent of some detail, across various different corners of England. But that lack of information makes it feel as if the gun has only been loaded with rock salts.

On top of that it’s always incredibly difficult, especially given the number of deals involved, to know how much of what is being announced today is “new” money and what is merely a re-announcement from the first unveiling last year. No doubt we’ll get more detail as more Phase 2 Broadband Delivery UK contracts are signed over the next few months, although some of the funding might end up being used in a future Phase 3.

UPDATE 4:46pm

The Connecting Devon and Somerset project similarly notes that it’s phase 2 BDUK funding has, thanks to the growth deal, now been boosted from £38m (as confirmed last week) to £45m. But some confusion exists over the targets. Phase 2 currently intends to make superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds available to 95% by 2017, yet today’s PR says, “We will invest this in our project to bring 100% broadband coverage to the area“. We are not sure if they mean the 2Mbps USC, superfast speeds or just “fibre broadband” in general.

UPDATE 30th Jan 2015

CDS has updated us to say that the 100% target is for superfast broadband speeds by 2020, so it appears to be in consideration of future phase 3 deployments too. We note that this news isn’t so big because they’ve spoken plenty of times before about their aspiration to reach 100% by 2020.

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. “…makes it feel as if the gun has only been loaded with rock salts.”

    Cow pooh more like! 🙂

    1. Avatar No Clue says:

      LOL never a funnier but more accurate statement.

  2. Avatar Matt says:

    In regards to the Connecting Devon & Somerset BDUK even if they are only making sure 100% of premises are on the NGA surely that is still a good sign as even if they can’t get superfast speeds at moment it would be easier to add the ability to get them higher speeds easier after the initial build out is done.

    1. Avatar James Harrison says:

      That depends on the technology. 4G and wifi/satellite based solutions such as those being touted as solutions for 100% cover for the USC are not readily upgraded or require complete reinvestment (ie replacement) to upgrade. It only makes upgrading easier if the build is done with decent infrastructure that supports higher speeds in future, which basically means FTTP for most of these highly rural locations, or FTTC/FTTrn/FTTdp in some denser areas. But that would typically be NGA anyway (NGA as in “designed in anticipation of providing up to ~30Mbps to 90% of subscribers during peak hours”, as per the govt spec).

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      True I suppose least we know now that they are getting 100% superfast coverage.

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