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BT picked to save South Yorkshire from Digital Region superfast omnishambles

As was anticipated, BT has been handed a contract to connect 98 per cent of homes and businesses across South Yorkshire to superfast broadband. 

It’s not known yet how many properties will be able to order next-gen broadband once the project is completed, but it will build on the 242,500 homes and businesses across South Yorkshire that can already order FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services.  

FTTC connections provide top download speeds of 80Mbps, although as with traditional ADSL broadband the actual speeds you’ll get are based on your location – the further away your house is from a green fibre cabinet, the slower your broadband speeds will be. 

South Yorkshire's superfast tank is currently on empty - BT is coming to fill it up
South Yorkshire’s superfast tank is currently on empty – BT is coming to fill it up

BT will make FTTC available to the majority of premises throughout the project, providing faster FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines to a small number of properties. Properties located in the last 2 per cent of South Yorkshire will be able to access a basic broadband service providing download speeds of up to 2Mbps at all times. 

Bill Murphy, Managing Director at BT Group, said: “Superfast broadband is a key part of the present and future success of the whole of South Yorkshire. The technology is vital to modern life whether you are a high-tech start-up or an established family firm in a traditional industry such as manufacturing. It will become even more essential in the increasingly ‘connected world’ of the future.”

The Superfast South Yorkshire project is due to be completed by the end of 2017 and will cost just £22 million – roughly one seventh of the cost of the Digital Region omnishambles that was wound down earlier this year. 

Digital Region was a brave but doomed attempt to see South Yorkshire become the best connected region in the UK. 

It was a small network that allowed local residents and businesses to connect to FTTC lines delivering download speeds of up to 80Mbps and pick from a number of different service providers. Poor advertising led to a lack of interest from locals which led to Digital Region being unable to break even, let alone turn a profit. 

With running costs – which ended up costing taxpayers over £150 million – spiralling out of control, the plug was finally pulled on Digital Region this August. Even after that, Digital Region was still causing headaches for customers who had trouble leaving and getting broadband from a reliable provider.  

Superfast South Yorkshire is estimated to provide an economic return of more than £270 million once it’s completed. 

The £22 million project is funded with cash from the UK Government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) scheme, money from local authorities in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster and BT. It’s currently not known how the funding is split between BDUK, BT and the councils. 

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