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Aylesbury Vale Broadband Sniff GBP500k to Expand 300Mbps FTTH Pilot

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 (1:02 am) - Score 573
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The Aylesbury Vale Broadband project, which has recently rolled out a 300Mbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to part of North Marston in Buckinghamshire (England) and they’re now heading towards Granborough, may soon secure another £500,000 for further expansion.

According to a recent update from the Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), the new broadband service has already been taken up by 40% of the properties in North Marston that were reached by the pilot (this actually equates to just 14% of all available properties in that area) and the average subscription cost is £36 per month, with projected income for March 2016 of £2,300.

At this point it’s worth highlighting that rural North Marston is home to around 800 villagers and Granborough has 600. On top of that customers of the new network can expect to pay from £30 per month for an unlimited usage 30Mbps service (symmetrical), which rises to £38 if you want a 100Mbps connection or £135 for the top 300Mbps.

AVDC Update (March 2016)

In December 2014 the Council had committed £1.536m of New Homes Bonus funding to support the rollout of broadband across the district. £200,000 of this had been used to run a pilot project and to create Aylesbury Vale Broadband (AVB) to provide a service to the North Marston and Granborough area.

AVB was 95% owned by AVDC and 5% owned by Ironic Thought. AVB was being funded by a commercial loan from AVDC, repayable by 2022 and with an interest rate of 7.5%. The ambition set out in the original business plan was to start to make an operating profit by the end of the second year of the whole pilot network going live. The company is on track to achieve this.

Since the last Committee report, the network had gone live in parts of the North Marston area in November 2015 and was currently being extended to Granborough. There had been a 40% take up for the areas currently served in North Marston, which was significantly higher than the take up for the Connected Counties programme for example, which was just under 20% (“take up” is the industry standard measurement for the percentage of properties using the service out of the households the network reaches). The aim was to increase this take up to the 60% set out in the business plan and increase the take up as the rollout continues.

The broadband service had been extended to the North Marston school which was allowing the school to utilise on-line resources that had previously been inaccessible. It was also reaching farming properties, some of which were up to 3kms from the centre of North Marston. A free public Wi-Fi spot was being offered around the church in North Marston and in the coming weeks free Wi-Fi access would also be provided to the village hall and shop area. This would help to encourage the use of community facilities as well as addressing the issue of mobile black spots in the village.

Furthermore it’s also claimed that AVB’s presence has driven an additional estimated £600,000 investment by other broadband providers (both fixed and wireless), although no firm examples have been provided to help confirm the validity of that figure. Meanwhile AVDC is currently consulting upon the prospect of future deployments by both BT and or AVB.

However this week AVDC sent out a new letter, which has been seen by ISPreview.co.uk. The letter appears to confirm that “further investment” worth £500,000 will soon be “agreed to expand [the AVB] pilot scheme into the next phase of delivery, focusing on areas adjoining the initial phase“.

The news may not go down well with AVB’s local rivals, including fixed wireless ISP Village Networks that has previously made no secret of their frustration with the project (here). We assume the extra £500k would come from AVDC’s current pot of £1.536m and the council states that the details of their next roll-out phase will be revealed by the end of May 2016, which should also confirm precisely what is happening with the funding situation. In short, it looks as if FTTH will be coming to many more people in the area.

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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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