Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire is running a joint BDUK broadband project, and while it has not featured heavily in the news, this is mainly because the wave of announcements to date have come from the pilot projects. The slow pace reflecting the standard speed at which local government, and the larger UK and EU administrations operate at.
For residents in the Bucks and Herts area the www.superfastforherts.org website is pretty sparse, but some digging reveals a redacted version of the broadband plan for the area. As with all the plans they make for boring reading, but some crucial snippets are covered below:
"Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have the joint vision of 100% broadband coverage by the end of 2015:
- 90% provision of ‘Superfast’ broadband access (24 Mbps or above) to the majority of premises, except where constrained by specific technical or exceptional affordability reasons;
- 10% provision of “standard” broadband access (2 Mbps) to ensure that every residential, business, community and public premise in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire has access to a basic broadband service."Main aim of the Bucks and Herts Project
Critics will be certain to focus on the careful use of words in the 90% target, but it appears the plan has good reason for this, the implementation as detailed in the project will prioritise delivery of the 100% USC coverage target, with the superfast target being secondary to this. To this effect the plan even details the areas most likely to see work carried out in the first phase:
|Likely areas for phase 1 of project|
|Long Crendon||Much Hadham|
The second phase of the project will be more focused on the infill for exchange areas where Openreach has partially enabled areas for its FTTC service, or in short, where Openreach has deemed a cabinet and its area not commercially viable as part of their £2.5bn upgrade programme.
The BDUK has previously come in for criticism as to how it uses very simple methods of distance plotting to map out premises likely to receive less than 2 Mbps. The Bucks and Herts project has improved on this, and rather than work on radial distance (plus a factor of 1.4) they have taken data for 3 specific phone lines in each postcode and queried this about the BT line length databases. This means for Buckinghamshire, the plan identifies some 40,000 properties, versus the BDUK estimate of 24,000.
A great deal of coverage on the BDUK projects focuses its attention solely on the more picturesque rural areas, but interestingly the data for Buckinghamshire in the report shows that while rural residents are more likely to be affected, in terms of raw numbers the urban areas and towns still win on numbers.
The timetable for Herts and Bucks is such that the winner of the contract will be published in March 2013, leaving a scant two years to deliver the proposed improvements across the two counties. The timescale is not impossible, but if Openreach who to if we are honest are likely to win almost all the projects, if not all of them have a difficult winter due to weather in terms of their commercial roll-out and fault levels, there may be delays taking project completion deadlines into late 2015 and 2016.
|Number & % of homes with sub 2 Mbps|
|Urban > 10k||20,600||14%|
|Town & Fringe||4,600||15%|
|Hamlet & Isolated||4,100||37%|