Berkshire is the latest area of the UK to sign a BDUK contract with BT, the project aims to make high speed fibre broadband available to 91.6% of premises in the county in 23 months time. For those in Berkshire the superfastberkshire.org.uk website should provide updates.
The project comprises of £2.03 million from the BDUK, £2.03 million from Berkshire local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership and £4m from BT. Berkshire already has an extensive coverage of superfast broadband under commercial roll-outs which should reach 87% of properties in 2014 (parts of Berkshire were included in the recent Openreach in-fill announcement).
The number of properties expected to benefit from access to fibre broadband (mainly FTTC, but some FTTP too, plus fibre on demand when fully rolled out) is around 18,875, with around 17,000 expected to get speeds of 24 Mbps and faster. This number may seem small, but that is all that is needed to take the area to the target figures. We expect these figures to vary slightly as until the surveying work expected to start in 2014 takes place, many of the figures are just from paper exercises.
For the remaining parts of Berkshire which still have slow or no broadband the aim is to deploy a mixture of technologies to ensure everyone has access to a minimum speed of 2 Mbps. Berkshire comprises of six unitary authorities and looking at the analysis from our speed test you can see that West Berkshire is area that needs the most work and reflects the divide between rural and urban in the county.
|Unitary Authority||Median Download Speed||Median Upload Speed||Superfast April 2014 (Commercial)||Superfast Sept 2015 (After project)|
|West Berkshire||7.4 Mbps||0.8 Mbps||65.2%||79.2%|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||12.9 Mbps||1.6 Mbps||87.8%||92.5%|
|Reading||17.2 Mbps||1.6 Mbps||93.6%||94.9%|
|Wokingham||17.4 Mbps||1.5 Mbps||90.4%||93.8%|
|Bracknell Forest||17.6 Mbps||2 Mbps||94.9%||96.1%|
|Slough||19.1 Mbps||1.9 Mbps||94.2%||95.4%|
The improvements are expected to be announced in five distinct phases, with the first premises going live in 12 months time.
£8 million to rollout FTTC to 18,875 premises sounds a lot of money, but it works out at £423 per property and this ignores any spending to improve speeds to the basic 2 Mbps USC in the remaining 9% of the County. Rejigging the figures, if around £100 is allocated to each property in the final 9% (around 29,249 properties), that leaves £5 million for the faster 18,875 or £265 per property. These rough calculations reflect the reality that without much higher subsidies from the public purse or a greater commitment from BT dreams of superfast for everyone are some years away.
Update 5:30pmThe Superfast Berkshire website has updated to include some overview maps of the roll-out, and whether an area is part of the superfast intervention area, or in a basic coverage area.
Update Wednesday 9th October: The final calculations were based on a flawed population estimate for Berkshire, which was too large. The result is that there is more money available for the slowest properties (£100 each) if a subsidy of £265 is used to build the fibre network for the 18,875 who will get better speeds. This still means there is a balancing act to be arrived at between improving everyone slightly, or improve to superfast (or very close speeds) and then use less than perfect solutions for other areas in the knowledge more funding is likely post 2015.