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£1m from UK Gov to Boost Superfast Broadband in North Lincolnshire

Monday, September 2nd, 2019 (9:26 am) - Score 437
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The North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) has revealed that it could spend the £1m grant awarded to it in June 2019 by DEFRA’s Rural Broadband Infrastructure (RBI) scheme on extending “superfast broadband” connectivity around rural industrial estates on the edge of Scunthorpe.

At present the existing North Lincolnshire Broadband Project (Contract 1 and 2 + extensions) has already extended 24Mbps+ “superfast broadband” (FTTC and some FTTP) networks – with Openreach’s (BT) support – to cover 95% of premises in the region. Oddly the project site conflicts with recent council reports by saying that it has resulted “in 98.5 per cent coverage of superfast broadband by June 2018” (we think they actually mean the raw fibre footprint, including sub-24Mbps speeds, because superfast coverage is not yet at this level).

In any case they recently secured another £1 million of public funding via DEFRA’s new scheme, which as per the original announcement must be “used to support full fibre [FTTP] wherever possible.” Funding under this grant is intended to boost related connectivity for rural businesses and communities.

The Council Leader, Rob Waltham, has now told the Grimsby Telegraph that the RBI investment is likely to be spent around rural industrial estates on the edge of Scunthorpe.

Rob Waltham said:

“The industrial estates on the edge of Scunthorpe are important sites for job creation, so potentially a great proportion of this cash could be used to support major improvements in the area.

The council is already keeping its promise by fulfilling existing improvements and now we can continue to deliver even more in North Lincolnshire.”

A related Open Market Review (OMR) is due to end tomorrow and this has already found that around 4,000 rural premises have yet to be reached by superfast broadband connectivity (i.e. within the final 5%), which is where the new funding will be targeted. We also expect the council to get some more funding back from BT via clawback (gainshare) in the future but it doesn’t look like they’ll be using that for the new contract.

However if they build FTTP then we’d predicted that £1m may do around 500 to 1,000 premises, which obviously still leaves a fairly big gap left to fill. The council’s next step will be to conduct an open procurement in order to find a new supplier, which suggests that they might not merely intend to extend their existing contract with Openreach.

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Mark Jackson
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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