It appears that the reason that North Tyneside is not racing to beat the deadline for submitting BDUK plan is that the council has gone it alone without recourse to any BDUK funding.
The News Guardian carries an item describing the council as being stunned as being an area slipping behind schedule. Apparently they have been working directly with BT and will ensure 91% coverage of superfast (25 Mbps and faster) broadband by 2015 without the need to access BDUK funds. The remaining 9% will receive a 2 Mbps service.
"I can give a firm commitment to our residents and businesses that we are on target to deliver superfast broadband where it is needed most, by 2015.
"In this instance, given the pressures on resources at the present time, we felt that the benefits of increasing the coverage of superfast broadband across the remaining nine per cent of the borough, would be limited, and therefore a low priority when deciding how best to spend council tax payers’ money."Mayor Linda Arkley
While on one hand a council that is forward thinking enough to have engaged with an operator to ensure coverage is to be welcomed, there is some surprise at the comments about the final nine per cent of the borough. One presumes that collecting council tax from this 9% of the borough is not a low priority.
There is a school of thought that with broadband improvements, those who stand to benefit most are not those already getting 4 Mbps or faster, but that handful of people in each exchange area that are on the fringes and getting under 1 Mbps or perhaps even nothing. An improvement to 2 Mbps would be a big step change, but it still leaves these people behind the curve and unable to access the latest digital services.
With the bulk of the work already done, perhaps there is a case for a smaller BDUK funded solution to improve the speeds of those in this last 9% to match that of those in the more densely populated areas.
We did try and find some information on superfast broadband on the North Tyneside Council website but this drew a blank, which with the high visibility of broadband as a priority in other parts of the UK means that those businesses not located in the area may do similar searches to check what the future will bring and draw a similar blank.