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Barnsley Council signs £1m deal to use Digital Region network
Tuesday 19 October 2010 11:25:35 by Andrew Ferguson

The Digital Region project is set to cover 97% of South Yorkshire with fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband and offer a guaranteed 25Mbps to homes covered by the network. Barnsley Council has now signed a five year deal worth over £1m that will see council buildings and schools connected into the Digital Region network.

"Our network 'future-proofs' the Council's communications, providing a technology foundation that greatly supports Barnsley's vision of getting its residents and businesses online by 2012. Barnsley now has the infrastructure to support a thriving digital economy, which creates employment and enables residents and businesses to benefit from cutting edge services. We greatly look forward to working with new and existing companies in South Yorkshire to make this vision a reality."

David Carr, Chief Executive, Digital Region

The Digital Region project is not part of the Openreach FTTC/P roll-out but a project that is a partnership between Yorkshire Forward, Sheffield Council, Barnsley Council, Rotherham Council and Doncaster Council that aims to place South Yorkshire at the top of connected places to live and work in the UK. The goal of 97% FTTC coverage is a lot higher than any current plans by Openreach, which should reach around 66% coverage.

For residents in South Yorkshire, the postcode checker on the Digital Website is currently offline, with a new and improved version in development. In the meantime there are four service providers offering service in the region, who should be able to field enquiries about obtaining the service:


Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
So FTTC can cover 97%, higher than some would have us believe?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
course it can. it depends where they put the cabinets. BT only put them in areas of high population density. It would be cheaper to run fibre to the home than put hundreds of cabinets I would have thought. Maybe its just a stopgap until they can do that? If they own/lease their own fibre they can put as many cabinets as they like on it can't they?
Posted by KarlAustin over 7 years ago
I do love it when companies take an existing facility offline whilst they develop a new one - tells you a lot about them.
Posted by New_Londoner over 7 years ago
Interesting to compare the number of service providers with those already offering FTTC from Openreach. The last time I checked (it was a while ago), the prices and bandwidth options for the "Digital Region" project were not exactly competitive, although this may have changed now?

Interesting also to see the apparent 97% coverage figure for South Yorkshire (with a number of very large conurbations) compared to the 66% figure for FTTC/P for the UK as a whole - hardly like-for-like numbers!
Posted by joe_pineapples over 7 years ago
I see /FAIL written all over this (from Doncaster myself). Wouldnt they need a big player like Sky to come onboard, if this were to have chance of succeeding? (which I dearly wish they would).
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
SYDR did get over 90 million from the EU and are covering a totally different area demographically, not really comparable to BT's deployment.

CD - Cabinets are colocated near existing ones. Difficult to do this where there are no cabinets and in more remote areas there are no cabinets just amazingly long pole mounted lines.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
I thought yorkshire forward was for the chop under the condems?
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
YF knows how to spend:

In one of the most blatant vanity projects, Yorkshire Forward, a regional development agency, hired the musician Midge Ure, a Scotsman born in Lanarkshire and living in Somerset, to hand out awards. Ure, who co-wrote the Band Aid single Do They Know It’s Christmas? and had a hit with the song Vienna with his group Ultravox, was one of three celebrities paid £73,000 in total.
Posted by haydnwalker over 7 years ago
Ripwires residential offering is £25/month. I'm from Doncaster, and I'm DR is available now on my exchange, however, we're thinking of moving house so don't want to lock myself into a 12-24month contract :)
Posted by joe_pineapples over 7 years ago
Which exchange are you on Haydn?.

Posted by haydnwalker over 7 years ago
I'm on the Balby Exchange
Posted by KarlAustin over 7 years ago
@New_Londoner - No it hasn't changed in regards to their pricing IMHO, it's silly what they are asking when compared to the wholesale options from more established players like Be etc. As are the 18 month min terms on the DSL side.
Posted by joe_pineapples over 7 years ago
Posted by haydnwalker about 5 hours ago
"I'm on the Balby Exchange".

Same here. Didnt realise it had been enabled. Does this mean Sky would have access to that, should they choose, or is it soley DR equipment?.
Posted by tikka69 over 7 years ago
DR are a wholesale provider and are not an ISP, so any ISP could have access to the SYDR network if they signed an access agreement with them.
Posted by haydnwalker over 7 years ago
Its only the ISPs listed in the full article that have access to the DR network. Sky/Other ADSL ISPs haven't signed up as yet, but I spoke to DR not long back (couple of months) and they were "in talks" for a major ISP to use the network, however, they wouldn't divulge who that was.
Posted by deburca over 7 years ago
Business case etc. for Digital Yorkshire is available here:
Posted by deburca over 7 years ago
Business case etc. for Digital Yorkshire is available here (ignore previous link!)
Posted by New_Londoner over 7 years ago
@tikka69 "...any ISP could have access to the SYDR network if they signed an access agreement with them."

But what about the cost to the ISP of connecting - physical connectivity and of course re-working back-office systems etc. Judging by the small number that have signed, it can't be commercially attractive or there would be a lot more.

I suspect this is why most small systems like this become defacto monopolies, which is why community projects like the so-called digital pumps are so unlikely to work too.
Posted by billyliar over 7 years ago
I think many local authorities across the UK should take a lead from South Yorkshire. Too many seem to be offloading the problem by writing cheques to BT.
Posted by KarlAustin over 7 years ago
The interconnect fees are silly IMHO - especially as you've then got to put BT fees on top to actually access your interconnect and then you've go to backhaul your transit (not just handed off in a major connectivity hub like BT/Be/etc. do to make transit costs peanuts).
Posted by tikka69 over 7 years ago
@Karl Austin

Well the small ISP's that have signed up seem to have managed it without any problem.

I am sure it would not therfore be cost prohibitive to a large ISP if they wanted to sign up. Plus, the fact that most of them already have LLU kit in all the core exchanges.

You do seem very negative about this whole project all the time, I am curious why ?
Posted by PeteK over 7 years ago

The small ISP's that have signed up are white labelling someone elses service AFAIK and are not actually interconnecting their own services, with the exception of the "4" numbered one. It is all well and good white labelling these packages, but at the wholesale costs, I suspect these are sale prices until they actually have some customers then the costs will rocket.
Posted by PeteK over 7 years ago
And why is Karl negative? Well let us put it this way, the EU funded a good chunk of this, the regional councils the second chunk and a bit from Government coffers. Barnsley council were on TV the other day having signed up to the services themselves and the closing comment was we aren't getting anything we didn't have before. What was notably missing was "we dissed VM to use the SYDR network we are funding and saved a bloody packet in the process".. Take that as you will..
Posted by rainman100 over 7 years ago
And pigs can fly !(Barnsley resident).
Posted by haydnwalker over 7 years ago

How can these ISPs be "White Labelling" another ISPs service? They were the first providers to sign up? The DRSY Network is Wholesale, and BT/none of the other large ISPs are involved AFAIK yet. Prices may well be at a point where they want people to join, but so would you if you'd invested in it?
Posted by New_Londoner over 7 years ago
Given the vast sums of public money invested in this, you'd surely have expected something more as a result? A service offering which is more expensive and with lower bandwidth, lower guaranteed throughput than FTTC is hardly compelling!

It will be interesting to compare with Northern Ireland and Cornwall in due course to see the relative value for money.
Posted by tikka69 over 6 years ago
None of the ISPs are "white labelling" this service, they have there own infrastructure I think you will find.

As for the comment above, I fail to see how this service is offering lower bandwidth or throughputs than FTTC ? 40 / 10 would seem a fair comparison to BT's offering to me ?

Posted by PeteK over 6 years ago
One of the partners in the installation is indeed a large ISP themselves. For those that cannot muster the cash to deliver themselves you can rent virtual facilites from them. It is a weird double edged sword to be honest and there is something not quite right about the whole thing...
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