The government has happily announced that two thirds of contracts designed to improve rural broadband in Britain have been signed.
Following the announcement of Dorset County Council doing a deal with BT, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced that 60,000 premises have benefitted from the big £530 million project so far.
While two thirds of contracts have been signed, note that only premises in North Yorkshire, Norfolk, Surrey, Wales and Lancashire have actually been connected so far. Surveying work and traffic planning need to be factored in to before BT can start digging.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Fibre Broadband and BDUKIf superfast broadband has recently become available in your area you’re more likely to have benefitted from BT’s own efforts. In April, BT announced that it had connected 15 million UK locations as part of its own £2.5 billion commercial roll out.
A further 15 projects have yet to be announced. While a formal procurement process is still ongoing, BT is the only company bidding. In a one horse race, there can be only one solid bet.
In last month’s Spending Review, the government had announced a revised timetable for the Broadband Delivery for the UK (BDUK) projects. Previously, 90 per cent of the UK was due to get a superfast connection (defined as providing speeds above 24Mbps) by 2015. This has since been changed to 95 per cent, but the delivery date has now jumped to 2017.
As well as this, the government will be looking at how those in the remaining 5 per cent in hard-to-reach areas will be able to get an alternative, non-fibre based connection.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“We are now exploring with industry how to expand coverage further, using more innovative fixed, wireless and mobile broadband solutions. We aim to reach at least 99 per cent of premises in the UK by 2018.”
The majority of superfast connections that UK residents will get will be FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet). This is not a pure fibre connection, as the last mile is made up of copper wiring. BT is installing FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) in a handful of locations providing much faster speeds and a future-proofed connection. It’s hoped that everyone will eventually be able to pay to upgrade the copper last mile under BT’s FTTP On Demand programme. But as we learned yesterday, this programme is strictly for businesses for the time being.