The next chapter in the story of getting better broadband to the Bath and North East Somerset area continues, last week saw the council decline the BDUK scheme due to the match funding requirements. This week sees a review being forced on this decision, with the weight of some 14 councillors querying the previous decision.
"By deciding not to join with our neighbouring councils in their bid for Government funding to improve local broadband the Liberal Democrats are sacrificing an important opportunity for our area and could leave Bath and North East Somerset trailing behind the rest of the west country. Are we really content to be confined to the slow-lane of the information superhighway?
It is true that the council would have to put in its own funding alongside the Government investment, but at a time when we need to encourage jobs creation, the economic benefits this would bring clearly outweigh the costs."Councillor Martin Veal
Councils around the UK are all strapped for cash, but broadband is often seen as a utility by many people, and with the superfast coverage already available in Bath, Saltford and Keynsham then the other areas where people do not live on top of the telephone exchange run the risk of becoming a 21st Century ghost town. Good broadband speeds make it cheaper to offer good connectivity in small business parks, bed and breakfasts and for the larger town centres may help to reduce the traffic volumes if people can work from home.
It is possible that the review may judge that a cheap fixed wireless solution that offers superfast broadband is possible, and by going direct to a supplier a suitable solution may be feasible without as big an outlay as the BDUK process requires. A key part of the BDUK process is that the network be available on a wholesale basis, something smaller wireless providers may find more difficult to achieve and also eat into any profit margins needed to ensure a service survives for more than a couple of years.