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Black Country secures £6m from BDUK for 95 per cent superfast coverage

The Black Country is due to get a superfast broadband boost, paid for by £6 million of local and Government funding.

The cash will fund a rollout of superfast broadband to 95 per cent of residents and businesses in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley. The project, partially funded from the Government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) scheme, aims to deliver download speeds of at least 25Mbps to the majority of doors by 2017.

Only 60 per cent of businesses in the Black Country have access to superfast broadband right now and councillors want this to change. 

Fibre to the Coal scuttles: Dudley will soon be able to replace steam-powered broadband with superfast speeds
Fibre to the Coal scuttles: Dudley will soon be able to replace steam-powered broadband with superfast speeds

Ian Austin, MP for Dudley is particularly enthused about the prospect and is gunning for 100 per cent coverage for the West Midlands town he represents.

Austin said: “Constituents got in touch with me after being told by broadband companies that there were no plans for Dudley to get superfast broadband.

“Places like London have been the first to benefit and I don’t see why Dudley should be left behind, so I’m really pleased 95 per cent of people in the Black Country will now be covered.

A provider for the contract has yet to be announced but given that no other ISPs are in the bidding race it’s a foregone conclusion that BT will snap it up.

Should BT come in to claim the contract, it’ll be expected to top the £6 million fund up with an extra £1.5 million. How much more money would be needed to make sure every property in Dudley can get superfast broadband is another matter.

As we’ve seen with every other BDUK project, it’s likely that the majority of premises stand to be able to order FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband once the project is finished.

FTTC lines on BT’s Openreach network currently provide download speeds of up to 80Mbps and uploads of up to 20Mbps. Due to the nature of the technology, the actual speed you end up getting depends greatly on the distance between your house and the green fibre street cabinet – the longer that last mile is, the slower your speeds will be.

With the BDUK contracts it wins, BT normally delivers FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband to a smaller number of properties. BT’s FTTP currently provides download speeds of up to 330Mbps and top uploads of 30Mbps. As it’s a pure fibre optic line, speeds don’t decrease over distance.
BDUK is a national scheme that is planning to deliver superfast broadband to 95 per cent of all UK homes and businesses by 2017.

As of June this year, BDUK schemes had connected 888,000 properties to superfast broadband, although earlier figures from Ofcom indicated that superfast services are available to 75 per cent of British homes, suggesting that the scheme is on target.

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