Superfast rural broadband may be rolling out to many in the sticks but a recent redraw of the map has left some cheesed off with the Connected Cheshire project.
Originally, Connected Cheshire would have seen 100 per cent of the county connected to superfast broadband speeds by 2015. Funding from multiple councils across Cheshire would’ve been spent on getting the entire county connected to speeds above 30Mbps by 2015.
Not it emerges that only 90 per cent will get superfast, with those stuck in the 10 per cent getting speeds of at least 2Mbps.
Read Recombu Digital’s feature on Rural BroadbandResidents of Over Peover, who have been campaigned for years to improve speeds in the village, currently get speeds of around 0.5Mbps to 1Mbps. Kathy Doyle, broadband campaigner for Over Peover said “everybody is very disappointed as our speeds are very slow and we had been relying on the promises of Cheshire East to improve them.”
Though this is bad news for many, the truth is that most UK council’s superfast broadband plans are shaping up like this. Money from the UK Government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) fund has seen BT awarded contracts to connect around 90 per cent of a county or region to its FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) products. These deliver top download speeds of 80Mbps and 330Mbps respectively.
Read Recombu Digital’s feature on Fibre Broadband and BDUK
Connecting Cheshire was due to buck the trend, but since the axing of the North West Development Agency in 2012, funding for the last 10 per cent dried up.
Cheshire East Council says that its currently looking for a private sector partner to make sure the last 10 per cent get back on the map. Councillor David Brown, speaking to the Knutsford Guardian said, “To achieve the maximum coverage we need a private sector partner to financially contribute to the project and deliver the technology in its entirety,” adding that “we are currently in the middle of a procurement process to select our private sector delivery partner.”
Tender responses are expected in the next few weeks and an announcement is expected shortly after.
This isn’t the first rural broadband plan to fall afoul of the North West Development Agency’s closure. Last year we reported how the Cumbrian village of Duddon had lost its broadband lifeline after the NWDA was shut down, paving the way for satellite broadband provider Bentley Walker to come to the rescue.