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Openreach Community Fibre Scheme Could Deliver £340m UK Boost

Monday, March 12th, 2018 (10:39 am) - Score 1,100
fibre optic cables on a table

A new study estimates that the Community Fibre Partnerships scheme from Openreach (BT), which offers grants of up to £30K to help co-fund the cost of upgrading an area to receive their FTTC or FTTP based “fibre broadband” ISP network, could deliver an economic boost of £340m to the UK.

Related grants are generally made available to smaller or more remote rural UK communities, specifically those that do not currently have access to an existing “superfast broadband” network or which are not expected to benefit from one as part of a future roll-out.

Essentially CFP is based around a joint funding arrangement, where Openreach covers up to three quarters of the gap cost of the new fibre infrastructure (provided the area includes a school) and then the community self-funds the remaining gap. The grants themselves are worth up to a maximum of £30,000.

Communities can also reduce their own contribution requirements by making use of government grants or voucher schemes (e.g. the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme). Some county councils have also setup special funds to help provide additional financial support to such communities.

Across the United Kingdom more than 500 communities have already signed up to the CFP programme and at the last update we understood that around 60,000 premises were expected to benefit by around the end of 2018 (at the end of 2017 it was around 30,000).

The new “independent study” from Regeneris Consulting, which is often used by BT Group, has taken a closer at the predicted economic impact of all this. In total it estimates that the economic and social impacts generated by Openreach’s CFP will be around £340 million over 15 years. On average, they estimate that £800,000 will be generated per CFP community, although there is significant variation depending on the size of economy and population.

Simon Hooton, Director at Regeneris Consulting, said:

“Despite delivery challenges in more rural areas, high speed broadband is vital to the prospects of communities across the UK. This report shows the breadth and scale of benefits generated when you bring high speed connectivity into those communities for the first time.

The evidence from the latest research, and from residents and businesses themselves, is that broadband opens up new opportunities which enhance people’s lives and can have a positive impact on their health and the environment around them.”

The model appears to assume that take-up of fibre broadband among households and businesses will rise to 60% (currently around 40%) within 5 years, which seems entirely plausible. A slightly lower figure of 35% is adopted for those aged 75+ due to generally lower uptake.

community fibre openreach broadband economic impact 2018

These impacts provide an indication of the larger scale benefits that will be achieved through Openreach’s wider investments in fibre for communities. The findings overall set out a compelling case for continued investment in fibre broadband networks, and in locations that lag the rest of the UK on broadband capability in particular,” said the study.

The news is positive, although it’s always worth taking any predictions of economic impact with the usual pinch of salt because it’s notoriously difficult to produce an accurate model that reflects reality. We tend to see plenty of impact assessments for various other things / sectors / markets too but very few ever do a follow-up after x number of years to establish how close to the mark they were.. or weren’t.

The Economic Impact of CFPs
https://communityfibre.openreach.co.uk/../1520803822_CFP%20Regeneris%20Report%20Jan%202018.pdf

UPDATE 12:57pm

In terms of the regional split, Openreach informs that London’s slice of the economic impact could be £87.6m (40 CFPs are in the city), while Scotland could see £12.2m (35 CFPs) and Wales is expected to gain by just £6m.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. NGA for all

    Quiet a contrast with the piece saying FoD is too hard. I guess it is inevitable pre-survey £3,000 a premise has to be quoted.

    Every County Council will have enough funds to use this scheme and any equivalents to drive FTTP into the final 5% and in-fill where cabinets cannot reach. The issue must be the volume of work that be planned and executed. I hope the final rounds of BDUK contracts permit these to be included in some easy change requests.

  2. chris conder

    And the superfarce rocks on. It will be very interesting to see what percentage of the 500 get real fibre and how many get an obsolete fttc solution… and it will also be interesting to see how many masts are reached on the paths to the 500 villages.

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