Kent County Council was ahead of the curve on rural broadband, and offered grants to improve speeds in a number of rural areas some years ago and by and large a fixed wireless service was opted for and these have generally delivered. Alas not every project succeeded, and while we covered the Selling FTTH project extensively a year ago, the news that it will finally turn off in May 2014 gets it into the news again.
The Faversham Times covered the project recently and also revealed some more information about the project. The basic grant of £50,000 from Kent County Council, plus around £130,000 from Internal Communications Systems Ltd (ISC) was meant to serve around 200 premises, but over the course of four years the network cost over £500,000 and is still not finished.
At its peak some 39 customers were using it in the village, but that is now down to 13 customers, and if any remain in May 2014 they will see the service cut off. Alas unlike some FTTH networks in the United States, Google has not offered to buy the project for a nominal fee.
The project seems to have been encumbered with perhaps too much emotion rather than cold business logic and unfortunately now exists as an example for the large operators to use as an example of why community led schemes are not the perfect model for the whole country. In areas where a community is well versed in working together and has the expertise available projects like this stand a much better chance of success.
Moving forward the Kent BDUK project is aiming at 96% coverage of a FTTC fibre based solution (there may be a little FTTP) by December 2015 and we looked at the coverage information for Selling (Vicarage Lane, ME13 9RD) on the Kent project website and even we find the answer confusing.
"Please note that due to the complexities inherent in upgrading rural broadband provision, these details are subject to change and that this information will be updated as the rollout progresses. (Further information on why plans can change can be found in the Frequently Answered Questions section in the Broadband Update Section.)
Based on current project projections, the 2292 premises in ME13 9R should receive the following after rollout:
- 95% of premises should get fibre and/or superfast broadband
- 5% of premises should get basic broadband
Given the project size, it is not possible to plan every area at the same time, so some areas will be planned and enabled before others. Your area is planned for Phase 5 and work should start between January 2015 and June 2015."Kent BDUK postcode checker results for ME13 9RD
The postcode ME13 9RD clearly does not cover 2,292 premises, and our estimate for ME13 is that the wider group is some 9,000 premises, the estimate for ME13 9R is 75 premises and ME13 9 is 1700. This means that it is not really possible to say with any certainty whether the 200 or so properties in Selling will see a replacement service via the BDUK project, it all depends on exactly where the 5% of slow premises will be.