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Worcestershire UK Council Launch Support Schemes for Faster Broadband

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 (2:55 pm) - Score 552
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The Worcestershire County Council (WCC) has launched two new schemes to help boost “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) take-up and coverage among homes and businesses in the final 4% of the region, which includes a co-funding initiative with Openreach (BT) and a voucher programme for local businesses.

At present the Superfast Worcestershire project is already working with Openreach to push their FTTC and FTTP based “superfast broadband” network out to reach 96% of the county by 2019 (here) and indeed they’ve already reached an estimated 94%. Overall some 69,121 premises have been put within reach of the new network as a result of this programme, although only 58,939 can get superfast speeds of 24Mbps+ from that.

Unfortunately tackling those communities in the final 4% is expected to be extremely difficult. In order to help solve that the local authority has decided to launch two new schemes, which we’ve summarised below.

Local Body Partnership (LBP) Fund & CFP

The LBP is designed to support communities who wish to support themselves in obtaining superfast broadband service by contributing to a traditional ‘Community Fibre Partnership’ (CFP) scheme.

The CFP scheme is BT’s initiative set up to work with a local group of residents or businesses, to find a solution to bring superfast fibre broadband to their area, especially when they are not included in any existing deployment plans. This usually needs to be jointly funded, where BT covers the costs in line with its commercial model and the community provides the remaining gap funding. The network is then built by Openreach, allowing people to choose their preferred service provider. More information is available here.

Worcestershire County Council have set aside an initial £500,000 fund to further support our local communities and co-invest with them to help secure an improved service in their areas. This fund will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Worcestershire ERDF Business Broadband Vouchers (WEBB)

The Worcestershire European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Business Broadband Voucher Scheme (WEBB Voucher Scheme) is designed to to support local SMEs in obtaining superfast or ultrafast broadband service by contributing to a match funded business voucher.

The Council has set aside £73,500 as a result of a successful application for funding to ERDF to support local businesses and co-invest with them to help secure an improved service to their premises. This fund will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

The WEBB Voucher Scheme will provide a maximum of £1,500 voucher (excluding VAT) to help eligible SMEs, charities and voluntary organisations get improved broadband connections installed.

We should point out that several other UK councils have also setup their own voucher scheme for local businesses and they too have a similar fund to help bring down the cost of Openreach’s existing Community Fibre Partnerships. Sometimes the latter can also be combined with additional funding from the Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme in order to further reduce the cost of deploying a new network.

Cllr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure, said:

“Bringing the latest technology to the final four per cent of Worcestershire premises is challenging and requires innovative solutions. Our co-funding scheme for communities and the voucher scheme for businesses are just two of the ways where we are working hard to ensure that even our most rural communities have access to superfast broadband.

Access to fast and reliable broadband is essential for everyone who lives, works and invests in Worcestershire, and it will ensure that our county is, and remains, Open for Business.”

Meanwhile the council is also continuing to seek further funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which they hope to combine with any future clawback and underspend from existing Broadband Delivery UK contracts in order to further extend the coverage of superfast broadband.

The future introduction of the Government’s 10Mbps minimum broadband speed as part of a new legally-binding Universal Service Obligation (USO) may also help, although the final model for that has yet to be announced (here).

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Moses Jonson

    We need our country to be fully connected and have higher quality of internet anyway, it’s about dang time, every single council in the uk uts the investment into the 5th gear

  2. Avatar NGA for all

    Schemes like these a mix of public, BT and customer contributions conducted under the state aid rules would help write a much better B-USO, by defining the parameters of reasonable demand for a full fibre connection where copper based solutions fail to deliver.

    Good to see. I hope owed can be can be converted into supporting schemes like these in every county and DA.

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