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Bromley Council Struggles to Match UK Government’s Rural Broadband Cash

Monday, April 13th, 2015 (6:12 pm) - Score 638
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The Bromley Borough Council in London is reportedly struggling to match an allocation of funding from the central UK Government, which could have otherwise been used to help expand the coverage of superfast broadband to residents of the rural Downe village, as well as Cudham, Keston and Chelsfield.

Apparently the Government has allocated £360,000 to help upgrade the relevant area and some other locations, which currently suffer from broadband download speeds of 2Mbps or less. But the local authority would have needed to more than match this by contributing £586,000 and that’s apparently a problem.

According to a council spokesperson (News Shopper), “Unfortunately we are currently unable to provide the significant level of funding to install super-fast broadband, which commercial broadband providers consider uneconomic to install for a relatively low number of residents in these challenging financial times. Further conversations are continuing with other organisations to see if additional non-Council funding can be accessed.”

Steve Barnes, Vice-Chairman of the Downe Residents Association, said:

I have been campaigning for a year now with the intention of bringing superfast broadband to the villages.

Bromley Council have refused flatly because they say there are more important things to spend their money on. It’s disgraceful that Bromley can’t manage this. I don’t think they fully recognise the need for it, people are very frustrated. It’s not good enough.”

The issue affects around 3,000 residents and 1,000 businesses, although since no firm plan has yet been established to push superfast broadband (24Mbps+) coverage beyond the current 95% goal for the end of 2017 then councils still have some flexibility to focus on the more built up areas first. Such problems are especially challenging for rural areas, where the costs can sometimes be proportionally several times higher than in urban and semi-urban locations due to smaller population sizes.

In fairness the Government has established a £10m Innovation Fund with 7 pilot projects, which aims to “test innovative solutions to deliver superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas“. But these are still being deployed and it won’t be possible to gauge their success until at least the end of this year.

The current Government intends to use these pilots in order to identify how much investment will be needed in order to plug the final 3-5% gap with superfast broadband, although the outcome of the imminent General Election could change all that.

At the same time there’s no guarantee, even if additional funding was made available to reach 100%, that local authorities would be able to match it and indeed some have already struggled to meet the existing Phase 2 BDUK allocations. Credits to Thinkbroadband for spotting the Bromley news.

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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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19 Responses
  1. Avatar GNewton

    This illustrates some of the difficulties of the BDUK.

    Perhaps a better approach would be to change the telecom regulation so that BT must introduce a nationwide fibre-on-demand product, with average radial-distance installation cost of the fibre.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Could and should have been agreed before any BDUK money was spent, providing some kind of future path.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Heads in the clouds again

    • Avatar DTMark

      Why would it be ‘head in the clouds’ to insist that today’s solution will work for tomorrow and that the design of such a solution would support that?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      The idea is sound but nothing else i.e the money to make it happen

      You can’t make a private company do something that will lose them money, this head in the clouds vision might have been possible but would not have covered hardly any ground due to the expense

    • Avatar DTMark

      Er, it’s being given over a billion pounds of free money and has taxpayer guarantees on its pensions which for all I know were are remain mathematical impossibilities.

      I rather think some conditions could be attached to that funding along the lines of future-proofing.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Yes it should have been part of the contract if hasn’t been done.

      Pensions have nothing to do with BDUK or broadband in the UK

    • Avatar fastman2

      the areas in question are in london borough and there fore have no access to to BDUK funding

    • Avatar fastman2

      or the communitues could work together to fund the cabs in question

  2. Avatar fastman2

    DT so your forgetting around the circa 4bn its invested of its own money (2.5 and the rest in BDUK

    Er, it’s being given over a billion pounds of free money — what utter rubbish and mis informaion .

    • Avatar DTMark

      In what way is the statement inaccurate?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      free money would indicate just that, they have been given money for nothing and have to provide nothing.

    • Avatar GNewton

      BT is a commercial company and has never had any need for taxpayer’s money. One of the failures of the BDUK was to give so much public away to BT for no ROI, e.g. BT will own and control all the new assets such as fibre cabinets, and incomes generated from that. Not even the drawback clauses make a difference on that.

      BTW.: Where did you get that figure of £1.5 Billion of BT’s own money contributed to the BDUK projects?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “BT will own and control all the new assets such as fibre cabinets”

      As opposed to what? The government owning some fibre pairs in a bundle and half of a cabinet? Remember that the taxpayer AND BT money went into this, a joint venture.

      How would the government maintain their portion of the assets?

      The more you look in detail at your comments the more ridiculous they sound.

    • Avatar Gadget

      I suppose using the same logic you will be expecting part ownership in the buses provided by companies to run subsidised rural transport?

    • Avatar SSUK

      When did BT invest 4 Billion?

  3. Avatar fastman2

    2.5cn commercial +1 in BDUk and growing

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