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South Yorkshire UK Finish Phase 1 Superfast Broadband Rollout

Monday, September 23rd, 2019 (1:31 pm) - Score 2,183

The Superfast South Yorkshire project has today announced the official completion of their £27m Phase 1 rollout contract with Openreach (BT) and the BDUK programme, which helped to make “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) ISP networks available to 95,000 extra premises (over 97% coverage of the county).

Readers with a long memory may recall that SSY was setup in 2014 – following the dramatic failure of the alternative Digital Region network – to help improve broadband connectivity across Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield (here). BT ultimately won the contract and began deploying FTTC, as well as a little FTTP, to help close the gap.

Since then the coverage has been extended to around 95,000 extra premises (homes and businesses) and take-up in the intervention area has been extremely strong, with some 55,000 choosing to sign-up. A Phase 2 contract was also agreed at the end of 2018 (here), which aims to bring Gigabit-capable “full fibre” (FTTP) technology to almost 10,000 extra premises by Spring 2021.

The first connections under Phase 2 are due to go live from 2020 around New Lodge in Barnsley, Bessacarr in Doncaster, Sunnyside in Rotherham and High Green in Sheffield. Several business zones will also benefit including the Denaby Industrial Estate in Doncaster, Moor Valley in Sheffield, Steel Street in Rotherham and Wharncliffe Business Park in Barnsley.

NOTE: Phase 2 is funded by £3.2m from councils, £550,000 from the Broadband Delivery UK programme and £7m from BT.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach Partnership Director, said:

“Openreach has delivered one of biggest feats of civil engineering undertaken in South Yorkshire in recent years.

The Superfast South Yorkshire team and all the Openreach engineers who have worked alongside them should be very proud of making this happen and for the overall success of the programme so far. Our work in South Yorkshire continues and we look forward to bringing better broadband to thousands more residents and businesses.”

Matt Gladstone, Executive Director for Place at Barnsley Council, said:

“It’s a real achievement that the first phase of Superfast South Yorkshire has been completed.

We’ve seen a real appetite from a significant number of homes and businesses in South Yorkshire, and we expect that more people will want to take advantage of some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.

This will enable communities across South Yorkshire to increase their connectivity and access a range of online services. It’s a fantastic project that provides the opportunity for people to be digital first, not only for this generation, but also for generations to come.”

The Phase 2 contract should get South Yorkshire closer than most regions to a universal level of superfast broadband coverage, although it’s worth noting that the extra 10,000 or so premises won’t completely plug the gap.

The last Open Market Review in 2017 reported that the SFSY Intervention Area included 27,254 NGA White premises, which could include up to an additional 15,043 “Under Review” premises. Coverage will have improved a bit since then but equally so will the quantity of new build homes.

Nevertheless the councils will no doubt feel as if this is a much better result than the flop that was Digital Region, which toward the end of its life became somewhat of a black hole for public money. Admittedly there’s a touch of irony to be had here since the local authorities only setup Digital Region after BT and Virgin Media failed to upgrade more of the area to faster connectivity.

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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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