West Yorkshire is the latest part of the UK to announce the signing of its BDUK contract. This contract is worth some £21.96 million in total and involves four local authorities Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council.
The project has the aim of ensuring 100% of businesses and households will have access to a 2 Mbps or faster connection by and building on the existing commercial fibre coverage take those able to use a fibre based connection to 97% of premises.
The project draws on £3.79m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund, £4.64 million from the BDUK, £970,000 collectively from the councils and £12.58 million from BT.
"This is an important day for West Yorkshire as we take a vital step forward in the digital age. Fast and reliable internet is becoming crucial to daily life and for residents in West Yorkshire, it will provide an equal opportunity to access essential online activities such as council services, healthcare and other public services as well as offering new leisure and educational opportunities.
I believe it will help us strengthen our economy by giving small businesses a means to develop their potential and achieve their ambitions as well as encouraging new start-ups and job creation.
This pioneering project will be of real benefit to many residents and businesses in West Yorkshire and we are continuing to work hard to bring the whole of West Yorkshire up to speed."Councillor Keith Wakefield, chair of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities (AWYA)
We did ask about the percentage likely to hit the magical definition of superfast broadband, but no figure was available at this time, we presume that once the proper planning is underway the council and BT will be willing to discuss that sort of thing. Certainly measuring the amount of superfast broadband is very important to central Government if it is to sing its praises of the BDUK projects.
Ignoring the various politics involved, for businesses in West Yorkshire as with other areas these improvements will be welcomed, particularly as the FTTC products generally offer significantly better upload speeds than the normal ADSL2+ services. There will be the option at a later date for businesses to order the Fibre on Demand (full FTTP service, with customised setup fee) to further boost download and upload speeds and while the costs for this service would make the average consumer wince, for a small business using their Internet connection a lot the fibre on demand service is significantly cheaper than traditional leased line solutions, though perhaps at the expense of some things like strong service level agreements and guaranteed zero contention.
For those living or working in West Yorkshire the www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk should be the best place to get coverage and roll-out information and the site does promise more detailed maps showing the phased roll-out. For now the best map is an overview of the areas where the project is operating. Interestingly the project does recognise that the need for better broadband is not purely a rural (i.e. classic newspaper image of sheep in a field) issue but covers some 132,000 premises in the area which are a mixture of urban and rural.