Following on from the National Infrastructure Plan updates the DCMS has released some snippets of data on what progress has been made with the public money to increase coverage of superfast broadband beyond the commercially viable areas.
|Table 1: Quarterly cumulative broadband data|
|Cumulative to end of:||Premises with superfast broadband service made available||BDUK funding (£)||Number of premises covered per £million of broadband delivery programme expenditure|
The list of caveats is large, but the key ones are that the premises numbers only includes those expected to get a service with a download speed above 24 Mbps, and this only covers the central BDUK funding, so any investment by the local authority, BT or ERDF are excluded, as are also any costs of running the BDUK. Additionally as cabinet level roll-outs do sometimes overlap with for example Virgin Media cable areas, those premises are excluded from the numbers.
Some may want to draw the conclusion that the first cabinet in North Yorkshire, which was the extent of the roll-out in December 2012 cost £434,735 to deliver, but as with many infrastructure projects the first element is more expensive, and as more infrastructure is deployed in an area the extended roll-out benefits from earlier work. Doing the basic sum, it seems that central Government is contributing £97 for every premise passed up to September 2013 (passed means connected to a green street cabinet that has a fibre twin and is able to order a superfast service at faster than 24 Mbps to avoid any doubt). It is our understanding that if a cabinet shows high take-up and is filled up that Openreach will then add a subsequent cabinet and as demand has been shown to be high this will most likely be done under commercial terms.
One of the reasons BT may have been the last horse standing in the race to the BDUK funds, was that projects do not pay out any money until receipts for work were produced and as far as we know no counties have paid any money to BT.
The small update on coverage levels and cost are welcome, but information on which postcodes had benefited would have been useful to help people understand what is being achieved. To do the analysis on premises passed it is clear that DCMS has this level of information.