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Openreach Boosts UK Community Fibre Broadband Grants to £30,000

Thursday, August 24th, 2017 (1:24 pm) - Score 1,234

Openreach (BT) has announced that 160 homes at two villages in Devon (Hockworthy and Holcombe Rogus) have become the first to benefit from a boost to grant funding under the operator’s Community Fibre Partnerships scheme, which works with locals to roll-out new “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) networks.

The programme is designed to help communities in the final 5% or so of the United Kingdom, specifically those that have yet to benefit from a faster “fibre broadband” service (urban or rural). The setup is based around a joint funding arrangement, where Openreach covers the costs in line with their commercial model and the community then self-funds the remaining gap.

Communities can sometimes also make use of government subsidies (e.g. the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme) in order to help bring down the cost, while some local authorities may similarly chip in with their own grants (example). Until recently Openreach also offered grants worth up to £20,000 to help, which could be used in areas where the new technology would benefit a “local school or similar organisation.”

The good news is that the operator recently increased their additional grant funding from £20,000 to £30,000 until 30th September, which makes it a lot cheaper than before to get upgraded. For example, in the Devon scheme over £26,000 was awarded towards the cost of making faster FTTC available to the local school – Webbers Church of England Primary School in Holcombe Rogus – and the two villages (2 x new VDSL2 cabinets). Sadly we don’t know the total deployment cost but it’s probably north of £30k.

Steve Haines, Openreach MD of NGA, said:

“We’ve already made fibre broadband available to more than two million homes and businesses across the South West thanks to our own private investment and partnerships with the public sector and local communities – and we are determined to go much further. Recent improvements to the Community Fibre Partnerships programme have included increasing the maximum grant available to £30,000.

This exciting technology is providing a vital boost for households and businesses across the region because whatever you do online you can do it better with faster broadband.”

So far 334 similar Community Fibre contracts have been signed (up from 200 earlier this year) and tens of thousands of premises are already benefitting, with more set to follow. Apparently Openreach’s roll-out to the Devon villages will complete in 2018.

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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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17 Responses
  1. adslmax Real says:

    Why is openreach always biggest target for those in Devon and Cornwall for FTTP? What so special about this areas?

    1. TheManStan says:

      They bribe BT with all that clotted cream…Mmmm… clotted cream!

    2. baby_frogmella says:

      It is/was due to these areas getting European Regional Development Fund handouts from the EU which has been used to fund FTTP on a larger scale (~30%).


    3. Joe says:

      I suspect that part of it in Devon (where EU money is not much help) is some simply the distribution of exchange locations which seem to make for more than average FTTP cases

    4. CarlT says:

      Is Devon especially heavy with FTTP?

    5. Fastman says:

      these are not FTTP – ADSLMAX you could fund FTTP yourself iF you really wanted

    6. Joe says:

      @Carl: Yes – higher than most

    7. MikeW says:

      Going by TBB’s “Local Broadband Info”, you get Openreach FTTP percentages of:

      Cornwall – 31.9%
      Devon – 1.8%
      Dorset – 0.7%
      Somerset – 0.9%
      Wiltshire – 0.3%
      Herefordshire – 10.1%
      Gloucestershire – 1.7%
      Surrey – 3.9%
      Suffolk – 1.2%
      North Yorkshire – 2.6%
      Cumbria – 1.0%
      Northumberland – 1.3%

      Devon’s percentage is definitely higher than quite a lot of counties, but not all, and not in a significant way. I don’t think I’d try to tie it with Cornwall particularly.

    8. CarlT says:

      Thanks. That ERDF cash, and the early use of it, makes quite the difference.

      I’m sure given their historic enthusiasm to invest in the regions Westminster will take up the slack.

    9. MikeW says:

      No alt-nets. That’s why I said Openreach FTTP; most counties seem to have a small additional percentage of non-Openreach FTTP too, and Devon seems to be the same.

      Gigaclear haven’t started their BDUK project in the CDS area yet. They do have an area around the Blackdown hills, that is non-BDUK but was looking for EU subsidy.

  2. Rms says:

    Are these locations exactly where Gigaclear are planning to do under Phase 2 BDUK?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I think they only signed the contract in mid-July and so we’re still waiting to see a detailed roll-out schedule.

  3. Andrew says:

    Really just another scheme for Openreach to get people to pay them more money to do what they could choose to do themselves anyway

    1. Fastman says:

      these were not in any commercial plan as these were beyond the commercial case as clearly advised — these are no FFTP these are FTTC (VDSL2) new cabinets — FTTP does not have cabinets

    2. Lee says:

      Which isn’t commerically viable. People always seem to forget that Openreach are a shareholder profit driven business. They don’t owe anyone anything.

    3. Fastman says:

      so what actually do you think they could they have done them selves in this instance

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