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North Yorkshire UK Makes Progress on Phase 3 Fibre Broadband Plan

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 (3:23 pm) - Score 599

The Superfast North Yorkshire scheme in England, which is working with BTOpenreach to make FTTC/P based superfast broadband (24Mbps+) services available to around 90% of local premises by late 2016, looks to have finally agreed some solid details for a future expansion to reach 95%.

As a quick recap, the first phase of the SFNY project made superfast broadband networks available to more than 84% of local premises and completed in May 2015 (here). Meanwhile the current (second) phase is expected to reach almost 90% by the end of next year, which still leaves around 10% (approx. 40,000 premises) without access to a 24Mbps+ capable fixed line connection.

Meanwhile the local authority has continued to discuss tentative plans for the Phase 3 deployment, which is something that we last touched on in September 2015 (here). At the time the goal was to make superfast broadband available to 95% of the county (benefiting another 21,000 premises), most likely before the end of 2018/19, with 2-3% achieving “high quality broadband” (i.e. sub-24Mbps).

A bit of digging by ISPreview.co.uk finds that the Executive Committee for the North Yorkshire County Council have now agreed to a more concrete outline of the plan for Phase 3, which consists of the following details (note: a final contract agreement must still be reached with Openreach).

NY Executive Committee Meeting Document

Resolved –
That the proposed Phase 3 of the SFNY Project:

(i) the release of the £4m funding earmarked for Phase 3 in line with the Revenue Budget as approved by County Council on 18 February 2015 in order to match against £6m of BDUK funding is approved;

(ii) a further £470k of funding from General Working Balances to continue with demand stimulation work and to match fund a further £320k from BDUK is approved;

(iii) the offer from BT of £7.8m to recycle advanced Overage is accepted;

(iv) the SFNY Project Team, in consultation with Corporate Director – Strategy Resources and Chief Executive of NYnet, enter into discussions with BT to secure Phase 3, using the funding described in (a) to (iii) above, by means of an amendment to the existing SFNY BT Services Contract is approved;

(v) authority be delegated to the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources and the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) to determine the final terms and then execute and complete the relevant to give effect to the amendment described in (iv) above, is approved;

(vi) authority be delegated to the Corporate Director – Strategic Resources and the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) to determine the final terms in relation to BDUK and ERDF grant and then execute and complete the relevant documents to give effect to the amendment described in (iv) above is approved.

It’s worth pointing out that the Broadband Delivery UK contribution of £6m actually forms part of the Government’s existing Phase 2 Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) contract, which originally allocated a total of £10.32m to North Yorkshire (the £3m difference has already been contracted for on-going FTTC/P deployments). On top of that the £7.8mOverage” from BT is really just another name for the clawback linked reinvestment that we first highlighted in September 2015.

County Councillor Arthur Barker also queried the 5% remaining (Phase 4) and asked of this, what percentage would not be on a “fibre” (FTTC/P) network. Scott Walters of NYnet responded by advising that 2 to 3% would need a wireless solution and a previous update also indicated that the remaining 2% or less may end up being stuck on a Satellite service, although there were some concerns about that.

Scott Walters said he felt that satellite was a “good solution for deeply rural businesses“, although he added that it was “less suited to domestic users seeking to download large volumes of data, for example Netflix or iPlayer viewings” (Satellite services often charge a lot for data usage above their limited allowances).

Andy Lister, also from NYnet, agreed that satellite would be “very good” for small and medium size enterprises in rural areas, but he too shared the same concerns about domestic usage. Mind you all of this seems to depend upon the rather weak assumption that businesses won’t require more capable connections than home users.

In any case it’s a little too early for talk about North Yorkshire’s Phase 4 plan, especially before a contract agreement has been finalised for Phase 3 that may tweak the final targets.

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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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