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Cambridgeshire and Peterborough UK Launch £5.6m Digital Strategy

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 (8:17 am) - Score 480
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The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has put £5.6m toward supporting the launch of their new ‘Delivering Digital Connectivity Strategy’, which aims to “significantly improve mobile, broadband and public WiFi coverage, whilst securing future proof full fibre [FTTP] and 5G networks.”

At present the local Connecting Cambridgeshire project is already working alongside Openreach (BT) to help extend fixed line “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) ISP network coverage from around 96% of premises in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough today to 97% by the end of 2019 (Phase 3), with today’s strategy confirming that a future Phase 4 contract will aim to reach 99% by the end of 2020.

The existing contract with BT includes a clawback clause (i.e. public investment is returned as take-up rises) and so far this has provided additional funding of over £10m, which has been used to extend the rollout in the current phase. Otherwise today’s announcement doesn’t appear to offer any new details on the funding or plan for Phase 4.

Meanwhile the focus on ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology seems to be largely centred on the £4m of additional investment that was secured via the Government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) scheme. This will help to provide “full fibre” connectivity to around 30 public buildings, as well as increase availability along a “digital innovation corridor” (from St Ives to Linton) and support businesses to access the new network.

Apparently the new “corridor” mentioned above will create a 40km stretch of fibre ducting, which will link fibre optic networks in both new and existing routes and also make it available to commercial operators to help bring 1Gbps capable broadband services to “nearby homes and businesses“.

Elsewhere there’s a general aim to expand public access to WiFi in market towns, so more people can get online in public buildings and open spaces. Likewise the new programme will also aim to help trial future 5G mobile networks, as well as improving the coverage of existing services “so that people can make reliable mobile phone calls and use 4G across the whole geography of the county, including A and B roads, and rail services by 2022.”

Cllr Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said:

“This is a golden opportunity to build on Connecting Cambridgeshire’s experience and track record of successful delivery, which has established Cambridgeshire as a leading digital county.

Take up of superfast broadband in this region is among the highest in the country, showing that the demand and appetite to remain at the leading edge of digital connectivity is important for our businesses and communities.

We live in a digital world where the internet has become the fourth utility. By working together with the Combined Authority and telecoms operators, we can meet the ever increasing demand for digital and mobile connectivity which is vital to support economic growth and help our communities to thrive.”

On top of all this the 4 year strategy will also establish a new Enabling Digital Delivery (EDD) Team, which is similar to the Government’s Barrier Busting Task Force in that it will work to simplify processes, reduce delays & costs, provide a central point of contact for telecoms operators, co-ordinate wayleaves, street works licences & planning and make public sector assets (e.g. street furniture) available for use.

At the time of writing the local authority has yet to publish its complete strategy document in the public domain, although we’ve been told that it will go live sometime today. In the meantime there isn’t a lot of information beyond what we’ve posted above, although the Connecting Cambridgeshire website has been re-organised to display the different goals.

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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
3 Responses
  1. Optimist

    Politicians love to get involved with these schemes, don’t they? It might be more effective, in my view, to help remove the barriers to ISPs expanding their networks by preventing landowners from holding telcos to ransom for wayleaves, and taxing telcos no more heavily than other utilities.

  2. Betsy

    It was amazing to see Bridge Fibre there in force as the local ISP (a majority of the businesses and parks trust in the area). Big things are coming this year!

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