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Northamptonshire to offer secured loans to build faster rural broadband
Tuesday 26 November 2013 15:06:54 by Andrew Ferguson

Northamptonshire is doing things a little bit differently and has perhaps been listening to the rural broadband campaigners who have complained that access to capital is holding them back from building networks in the areas where the current BDUK projects and BT fear to tread.

Northamptonshire is set to offer commercial secured loans (with interest charged) to firms that can demonstrate viable business plans to deliver speeds in excess of 30 Mbps, with the important caveat that any service be available from a range of retail providers. The final decision on offering the loans will be considered by the Council Cabinet in February 2014 and if approved full applications can be processed.

In terms of square miles there are large chunks of Northamptonshire that will miss out from superfast broadband improvements under the BDUK process, these areas are the most sparsely populated parts of the county. These loans are just one part of the 2015 to 2017 strategy that will see the county work with BT and other suppliers to ensure the county becomes a leading island of connectivity in the UK.

Who knows we may see innovative proposals to put full FTTP into a couple of core villages and use fixed wireless to reach the more widely dispersed properties and businesses.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 3 years ago
This is excellent news. Well done, at last we have a county with fibre. Moral fibre. Willing to fund alternatives and get the best for its people rather than just hand over public money to an incumbent who will continue what it has done for many years... leaching the remaining assets from an ageing infrastructure built for telephone calls and then proudly proclaiming everyone is passed with 'superfast'.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Does this count as state aid? Or if it's the same as a standard commercial loan, where is the benefit?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 3 years ago
I don't think a loan counts as state aid, which will save masses of hassle. The benefit is that new startups can't often get a loan from the standard commercial sources, so Northampton is helping the new innovative networks to get a foot on the ladder. Its a great idea. Its also good for the council as they will get their networks and their money back to fund even more.
Posted by themanstan over 3 years ago
The main issue is building a business plan where there is sufficient return to allow wholesale.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
and where state aid has already been given for the easier to reach places - denying the new comer economies of scale
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
"Suppliers would need to demonstrate viable business plans **and be financially stable**".

"All loans offered at preferential rates (soft loan), are treated as State Aid under EU rules" but at commercial rates with no fiddles and no risk taken on by the Council it doesn't count.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
"Access to Finance (A2F) involves secured loans offered to commercial providers with a track record of delivery "
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
LA's tactically using suppliers to in-fill and establish cost benchmarks for FTTP/FTTC is second best to proper cost transparency, but needs must.
If was in Openreach I would be tearing my hair out with BT Group not releasing the information needed to prove VFM for each and every county.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
I am surprised that Fixed Wirless providers have not teamed up with 02 (Cornerstone)to assist in meeting/exceeding the 4g coverage obligation. This would help to keep the subsidies to a reasonable level at the edge of network.
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