The local authorities do not have long to come up with a basic plan as to how to use their new funding, with just a month for them to decide apparently. This extra money (though we have known it has been coming for a couple of years) is being offered by the Government as part of its push to get 95% of UK premises with the option of buying a superfast broadband connection.
North Yorkshire was the first area to deploy a BDUK gap funded cabinet back in December 2012 and is roaring ahead, with even actual signs that exchange only lines are being addressed in at least some areas. The project was given an extra £3m back in November 2013 (believed to be out of the BDUK contingency budget) and the council hoped to use this to increase the number of premises from the current target of 90% to perhaps 93%. The Yorkshire Post has been talking with the person in charge of the North Yorkshire project John Moore and trying to find out what the council intends to do with the £7.6m of extra funding now available (£4.6m announced in February, plus the £3m from 2013).
"The challenge now is to work out how most effectively to spend the money to get 100 per cent (coverage),” he said. “Our thinking is all about that 100 per cent figure. It just isn’t fair on the areas that are left out otherwise. They are already wondering how much longer they will have to wait."
The feedback we get from rural areas is: ‘just give us 10 or 15 Mbps’. We can deliver those sorts of speeds through wireless or satellite schemes.John Moore, CEO NYNet
The headline in the Yorkshire Post of 'Superfast broadband hope for every home in county' appears to be a hope, that is slightly dashed if you read the article, but it seems that if the council can get enough match funding and a commercial operator to stump up more money too, that just maybe 100% coverage at superfast speeds might be possible. The fall back scenario of hitting 95% with superfast, and rather than very under specified solutions just over 2 Mbps to the remaining 5%, delivering something in the range of 10 to 15 Mbps will be most welcome. Though while satellite can hit this sort of speed now, generally it is hamstrung by the cost per GB if you do anything to really make use of the speed.
Whether North Yorks will simply tweak the contract with BT, as other counties it seems are at liberty to do, or run a new procurement process it seems is very much down to the local authority with only vague guidance from the DCMS.
The arguments over postcode data continue, but with lots of new options from the extra funding, many maps will end up being ripped up and those that thought their only chance as a small business was to relocate may find that better speeds are on the way.