The UK Digital Divide gets mentioned a lot, and in theory the various projects funded by the BDUK, DEFRA and other sources should reduce this, but it is not always the have-nots that are seeing the money spent on them.
Colchester Council earlier in 2012 approved upgrades to the fibre network that it runs for CCTV across the city, based on recommendations from FibreStream who said the network needs replacement in 12 to 18 months. The council opted for a deal with ITS Technologies to install a more modern solution that will allow the 5.5km fibre ring to be extended and used for other connectivity beyond the CCTV system. The cost of the project running to £250,000, of which £100,000 is to be invested in the CCTV component.
The reason that the spending is falling into the Digital Strategy for the town, is the promise of town-wide WiFi networks and FTTP options for businesses and homes. The local newspaper the Daily Gazette is keeping an eye on the project, and has raised concerns over the projects progress.
Interestingly if one looks at the services available to Colchester, the majority of it already has Virgin Media who have their 100 Mbps service running in the town, and we are seeing speedtest results showing that Openreach has active FTTC cabinets in at least some parts of the town, with all three Exchanges enabled for superfast broadband.
The question is whether Colchester now needs a third superfast network, particularly as Virgin Media can already offer business services, and Openreach will have Fibre on Demand available in 2013 on top of the Ethernet services for busineses who need guaranteed performance levels. Also one must wonder what studies have been completed into how to get fibre from the fibre ring to the many businesses and how much this would cost. Maybe this is an ideal situation for a Digital Hub, and then the community can connect itself, but one given the choices from the big name providers already how many will?