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Staffordshire UK Nears 96% Superfast Broadband Coverage Target

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 (9:47 am) - Score 820

The Superfast Staffordshire project with Openreach (BT) claims to have extended the local coverage of FTTC/P based superfast broadband (24Mbps+) networks to 95.7% of premises, which is within striking distance of their 96%+ goal for the end of 2018 (here). But there’s still no firm plan for what comes next.

Overall the state aid supported £32m+ deployment claims to have helped to make the faster connectivity available to an additional 75,000 premises in 300 communities (481,000 when combined with fibre roll-outs under separate commercial programmes), which might otherwise not have benefited without their intervention.

The latest communities reached include: Adderley, Caverswall Common, Kingsley Moor and The Boundary near Cheadle in the Staffordshire Moorlands; Bishop’s Offley and Wootton near Eccleshall; Dunkirk near Newcastle; Coton-in-the-Clay, Hanbury Woodend, Leese Hill and Lower Loxley, Marchington Cliff and Forest Road, Wootton near Ellasatone in East Staffordshire; Ivestey Bank, Lower Penn and Patshull Park in South Staffordshire; Morston Court in Cannock Chase and Blithbury.

Councillor Mark Winnington, Staffs Economic Growth Leader, said:

“In just four years we have seen a huge transformation in Staffordshire by ensuring that tens of thousands of properties have the ability to connect to superfast broadband – making a big difference to people’s day to day living. The Superfast Staffordshire programme is a top priority to the county council as it supports independent living, opens up opportunities and boosts economic growth and prosperity.

We are of course determined now to continue our drive to find solutions for the final five per cent of properties. We’re using a combination of technologies and co-funding solutions to ensure even residents and businesses in the smallest, most remote parts of our county have access to this essential technology.”

On top of that the take-up in related areas is also high, running at around 45% in Phase One and 31% in Phase Two (December 2017 figures), which means that BT (OR) will eventually return a good chunk of the public investment via clawback (gainshare) to help further extend coverage. The scheme is being funded by £8.06m from the council, which is match-funded by £9.62m from Broadband Delivery UK and a further £14.77m from BT.

The big question now is what comes next? The county council has already run an Open Market Review (OMR) to help them identify network coverage and slowspots up to 2021, although they’ve yet to reveal precisely what their plans are for addressing the remaining gap. We have seen hints of a bid for funding from the new rural broadband fund (here) but little else.

Meanwhile a quick search through the most recent council meeting documents did indicate that they were seeking to extend the coverage of superfast broadband to 98% of premises, although this remains contingent upon how much funding they can find. The current timescale suggests we may learn more by October.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all says:

    The Chris Townsend/EU secret side letter which limits the re-use of clawback to £130m needs to be revealed and challenged. Running endless procurements for smaller and smaller amounts of in-fill while expecting LA to borrow money against money they are already owed must be annoying for all concerned.

    Neither BT nor BDUK provided any substantive updates this quarter on monies owed or progress.

    While BT relationship directors and MDs gamed this process thus contributing to this sub-optimal position, the opportunity remains to achieve a terrific upside for rural.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Sorry Mike but you really don’t appear to understand either contract terms nor State aid rules. You have suggested for several years now that there is something untoward with the BDUK contracts but without providing any meaningful evidence, your report disappearing without trace. Are your assertions based on a misunderstanding of such matters?

    2. Avatar NGA for all says:

      New_Londoner State aid has little meaning if it is not enforced. 1.1m overbuild of VM and the lack of mapping of subsidised assets are 2 of 19 potential breeches of the original state aid measure.

      Contracts ought to be relationships of trust, which is problematic when the cost inputs were inflated in the manner they were.The lack of trust is likely to means handing capital intended for rural networking being handed back to local authorities.

      The evidence exists and is available to all, but it is not being acted upon.

      Secret side letters are not part of a contractual process, which is why it should be published and challenged. The actions of temporary CEO’s should not have a lasting impact on the UK’s infrastructure.

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