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Staffordshire UK Commits £400k to Co-Fund Rural “Fibre Broadband” with BT

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 (2:20 pm) - Score 417
staffordshire community fibre fund

The Staffordshire County Council has established a new £400,000 Community Fibre Partnership Support Fund (CFPSF), which aims to help remote rural communities to raise enough investment to get a “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network installed by Openreach (BT).

At present the state aid supported Superfast Staffordshire project is already working with Openreach to expand the coverage of FTTC/P based “fibre broadband” to 97% of local homes and businesses by the end of 2017. This equates to 95% being able to access “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+ and that will rise to 96% by the end of 2018.

The debate about how best to solve the final few percent of predominantly remote rural areas, which tend to be among the most expensive to tackle, is on-going. In the meantime the Superfast Staffordshire scheme has decided to launch a new fund that will help related communities to get their local areas upgraded.

The fund adopts a similar approach to BT’s Community Fibre Partnerships, which focus on communities that aren’t yet planned to benefit from any other upgrade programme. BT’s scheme then offers those communities the option of a joint funding arrangement, where the operator covers the costs in line with their commercial model and the community self-funds the remaining gap.

Similarly any money raised by households and businesses in an eligible community can now be matched by investment from the new CFPSF. On top of that additional funding may also come from Openreach, as well as BT’s own Community Fibre Partnerships. This approach has already been piloted in two communities – Cotwalton village and the Brookside Business Park, near Stone (these are due to complete by the end of 2017).

On top of that 50 premises in Cold Norton can also expect to get an ultrafast 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network from Openreach installed, which is due to complete within the next 12 months.

Clive Fenton, Community Lead for the Community Fibre Partnership, said:

“It was hard to accept that our community was not going to automatically have access to high speed broadband and that, to get this technology, we would need to make a contribution towards the cost. We looked at all the options but could see no sustainable solution.

However, we were able to make a strong connection with BT and the Superfast Staffordshire team, who were determined to find an achievable solution for the community, and it is fantastic that the ultrafast fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology to be installed will future proof Cold Norton’s access to high speed communications.”

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire Council’s Economic Growth Leader, said:

“Staffordshire is leading the way with a unique solution to connect our most hard to reach communities to superfast fibre broadband. The Superfast Staffordshire partnership has been a resounding success and will enable 96 per cent of properties to access fast broadband by the end of 2018.

We have always said we would do all we could to reach the final four per cent and the Community Fibre Partnership Support Fund initiative is one of a number of ways we can do that. It is the first of its kind in the UK and other areas are already looking to follow our example. Access to superfast broadband improves quality of life and means businesses can thrive and that is why connecting communities is a priority to us.”

We assume there might also be some scope for further co-funded investment to come from the Government’s rural Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme scheme too (here), which has previously been used to help expand various fixed wireless, satellite and even some of BT’s own Community Fibre Partnership based networks.

Further details about the new fund can be FOUND HERE, although by the looks of it they’re only making this available for BT based solutions and appear to be shunning alternative network providers.

To be eligible for Superfast Staffordshire CFP support..

* Eligible premises must be within the Superfast Staffordshire intervention area, ‘final 4 per cent’.

* Support funding will only be allocated to existing premises within the intervention area, and will not be allocated to planned premises or partially built premises.

* Support funding will be allocated based on the number of eligible premises gaining access to superfast broadband services (>24 Megabits per second) through the BT CFP programme.

* Support funding will be allocated up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the required gap funding (community contribution) as identified in the BT CFP quotation.

* Support funding will be capped at a maximum of £1,500 per eligible premise.

* Additional checks may be required if there is any possibility that other network providers have plans to deliver superfast broadband services in the coming 12 months.

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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.
Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all

    This is good to see – more FTTP and customer contributions can benefit from the state aid scheme.

    • Avatar Optimist

      So ket’s get this clear – the government comes up with scheme to subsidise installation of broadband infrastructure and finances it by increasing the business rates on broadband infrastructure…

      You know it makes sense.

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