The notional final 10% is being eroded bit by bit and if funding is agreed in North Yorkshire the final 10% in that area may become the final 7%. Apparently there is a new funding available from the BDUK and ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) totalling some £5 million, which would be available to the North Yorkshire project if the County Council finds £3.1m of its own money to show a commitment to pushing coverage further.
The contract for North Yorkshire was signed in July 2012, and delivered the first cabinet in December 2012, with the original aim being to extend superfast broadband coverage to 90% of premises, and the remainder to get at least 2 Mbps. This new funding is apparently expected to allow the 90% to be extended to 93% connected at 25 Mbps or faster and our sums tell us this is an extra 11,370 that will benefit.
Good news if you are one of that 3%, but now the question will be who should benefit and who decides this. Is it BT who have the contract for North Yorkshire, or should the County Council have control over this aspect.
We are sure that there will be lots of questions asked over why money would appear to be being handed to BT yet again, when the existing project has as yet not delivered on the 90% figure. Part of this will be a desire to ensure that the BDUK money is handed out and used before the EU State Aid approval expires.
The question many will be thinking is whether this is throwing good money onto a bonfire, or will investment of some £8 million on broadband infrastructure for 11,370 properties be worthwhile. The figure per property is approaching £700 each, but it should be remembered that ERDF spending is usually ring fenced for small business purposes, so while 3% will benefit overall, it may be that the extra investment may be skewed towards ensuring that rural businesses in the last 10% benefit the most.