Skip Navigation


Are Cambridgeshire broadband improvements at risk?
Monday 28 October 2013 10:57:30 by Andrew Ferguson

While the contract may have been signed between Cambridgeshire County Council and BT the press in the county is highlighting the risks to the broadband improvement scheme along with other capital projects in the county.

It appears that the new council leader feels the borrowing of £90m for road repairs, £20m for superfast broadband, £29m for Ely bypass and £77m for children's services may have been over ambitious. It seems some or all of these may be at risk of cutbacks unless a deal to allow the council to keep more tax revenue locally is agreed with central Government.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire project last month published maps for the project that is aiming to get 98% of the premises in the county connected to a FTTC or FTTP based connection. Our own estimates suggest this will mean 83% of premises getting speeds of 25 Mbps and faster, the massive unknown is what proportion of FTTP will be used, and if used tactically it could boost the percentage getting superfast speeds significantly i.e. by being deployed on the clusters of premises that have very long cabinet to premises telephone lines.

The question for the councils and the political leaders as they change is whether they accept the projected benefits in terms of revenue to the council that better broadband will bring to a county. In the case of Cambridgeshire the consultants projection was that broadband improvements would be worth £500m over five years to the local economy.

Comments

Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
Revenue isn't the same as budget. Currently business rates go into a national pool and there's no guarantee that Cambs local authorities get back what their businesses pay in. Doubtless we all want the world to be as we think it should be instead of as it is.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
But, the premise of funding from BDUK and BT, means the net loss of investment is greater £45m in total... I'm guessing this goes back in the pot for redistribution if Cambs pulls out. Cambs should see this as a one time investment opportunity for infrastructure.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
On the revenue, in the final paragraph I was using it as more of a catch-all, since councils should benefit from more e-billing with attendant savings.
Posted by phil_w_lee over 3 years ago
But you'd only need a 4% tax take on the half-billion in economic gains in 5 years for it to be completely self-financing in those 5 years, and after that it's all gravy.
Are there any easier decisions on sensible investments? I can't think of many.
Posted by SimonCobby over 3 years ago
The contract has been signed between the County Council and BT for broadband improvements and is going forward as planned. The project is not at risk – even if the City Deal for Greater Cambridge were not to go ahead.
The City Deal would deliver additional infrastructure investment over what is already planned.
Over 90 per cent of residents will have access to superfast broadband (24Mbps+) by the end of the programme in 2015 - not 83 per cent as stated. The County Council and its partners are committed to upgrading broadband across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Posted by nstrudwick over 3 years ago
My understanding from our County Councillor is that, as so often happens, is a media misunderstanding/misrepresentation..
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.