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South Yorkshire’s superfast shambles Digital Region shutting down for good

Digital Region, the superfast broadband shambles which has cost taxpayers MILLIONS, is to be shut down for good on August 15. 

The ambitious broadband project managed to make superfast broadband available to 80 per cent of South Yorkshire but failed to attract enough paying customers. 

Closure of the failed project was announced last year, but word of a final shutdown date has come from Chess Telecom, which sold superfast broadband services in the Digital Region under the name of LittleBigOne

South Yorkshire’s superfast shambles Digital Region shutting down for good
Pulling the plug: Digital Region will power down for good this August

A Chess Telecom spokesperson said: “The closure date is set as 15th May 2014 and the DRL will continue to provide your services for a period of three months following the Termination Date.” 

Chess Telecom says that its customers on Digital Region connections won’t be impacted by the closure. 

Chess also supplies business broadband via BT’s Openreach network, so it’s possible that Digital Region business customers will be offered an FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) service if it’s available. Openreach has already connected parts of South Yorkshire to its upgraded superfast network

Residents and businesses in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham were supposed to be given a head start in the UK’s superfast race, but mismanagement and crippling costs led to Digital Region shooting South Yorkshire in the foot. 

ISPReview reports that only 3,000 customers signed up for Digital Region services, well shy of the 100,000 needed for the project to be sustainable. Over £150 million of taxpayer’s money has been spent on the project. 

The UK government is determined not to let South Yorkshire slide into the superfast relegation zone. New funding from BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) has been set aside for a future contract to make sure 90 per cent of the region can access superfast broadband. 

Given that BT is the only company left in the bidding race, it’s highly likely that it will win the contract, as it has done with every other BDUK contract to date. 

It’s not yet known if the street cabinets set up by Digital Region could be used by BT should it be selected to do the work. Last month, a BT spokesperson said: “BT’s fibre network already stretches across much of the region, and we’d be happy to talk to the Government and South Yorkshire’s local authorities, to see if we can support their push to 90 per cent and beyond.” 

Image: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

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