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Geo Networks acquires remains of Digital Region in South Yorkshire
Wednesday 16 July 2014 16:55:05 by Andrew Ferguson

The Digital Region scheme was exciting when it first appeared many years ago, but never got the traction and interest from residents and businesses in the area to buy the service, and this includes central Sheffield where even now Openreach is not offering fibre services. With the final few connections closing in August a sale of the assets to Geo Networks (part of the Zayo group) may have allowed the councils involved to recover a little of the millions of pounds the project spent that only every had 3,000 customers.

The sale to Geo appears to represent no sign of the FTTC based service being revived as it appears that the cabinets are to be decommissioned and Geo will do what it does best, which is selling fibre based services and metro network connectivity to the business community.

South Yorkshire now has a BDUK project that is set to take over the role of bringing superfast services to many of the areas where Digital Region operated and this seems to have gone to BT, which while more FTTC may seem a low target represents a low risk for the councils since they only supply gap-funding not ongoing subsidy to keep the network operating.

Parts of Sheffield are left in a limbo though, as they look likely to miss out on the BDUK project and with no more Digital Region there will be small businesses and residents who have tasted fast access and are now back on ADSL2+. Quite why Openreach never rolled out to these areas commercially is unclear, the general feeling is that BT always overbuilds competing networks, it is possible the lure of gap-funding is too strong. The total irony is that BT is hoovering up gap-funding because of the hard work of many campaigners who seem to hate BT.


Posted by johnpopham over 3 years ago
Andrew, could you explain that last sentence please? Doesn't make sense to me.
Posted by Blackmamba over 3 years ago
I just hope that the above takes over Cab 22 on Cudworth Exchange as this Cab has been standing for four years unable to take BT customers. The circuit is one mile from Cab FTTC to customer 01226711xxxx. This only happened because Councilers though that could run a Comms network and make some money and turned out the could not run wilke store.
Posted by KarlAustin over 3 years ago
The cabs will be decommissioned, Zayo/Geo aren't in the residential business.

AFAIK OR stated they didn't roll out because they couldn't compete with a state funded competitor (the irony!).
Posted by Mikehague over 3 years ago
John - in a nutshell, Sheffield City Region LEP have recently accepted a Tender from BT to provide 'High Speed Broadband' to South Yorkshire - So basically they're now going to receive funding for something they were already going to do anyway. Furthermore, due to the vagaries of the BDUK rules, despite receiving millions in funding, BT won't be able to supply services in the Sheffield City Centre.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Last sentence refers to the tears of campaigning saying we need better broadband, politicians then do something and the big furm gets the money due to scale of what they are trying to do
Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
So what Andrew would you have done instead of BDUK, and within the constraints of the national budget and procurement law? And with the benefit of hindsight, of course LoL!
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
mike -- they were not going to do anyway !!! or they tried and badly failed -- its onyl because that area is now white that they can benefit from BDUK -- -- not sure why you think city centre whot get any coverage -- most cityy centres are EO and close to exchange or good addsl and poor value to enable NGA as good speed already - one of Key elements is how many sub 2mpbs can you turn to > 24 m/bps

Posted by KarlAustin over 3 years ago
Most of the lines off of the central Sheffield exchange are from cabs and not EO - Otherwise Digital Region wouldn't have been available to most of it!
Posted by gf20 over 3 years ago
The cabs are already being destroyed. The one around the corner from me has literally been took to pieces
Posted by PeteK over 3 years ago
I'm not surprised the cabs are being taken apart. The Dslams were leased from Alcatel (as was most of the backbone, also Alcatel) and I would suggest they want it back if it isn't being paid for...
Posted by KarlAustin over 3 years ago
They'll be taking out the cabs that have no lines on them - which is going to be a fair few of them. Either that or someone is robbing all the kit out of them before they get decommissioned.
Posted by daniellog over 3 years ago
I've recently moved from sheffield but when I lived there I lived just off Granville road, so not far from the centre. I can't understand why there is no fibre in sheffield city centre, it seems like we are going backwards.
Posted by KarlAustin over 3 years ago
There are a lot of businesses in the city centre. There are a lot of businesses paying silly money for leased lines at double the price others do them for. It's no surprise they don't want to do FTTC/FTTP on the central exchange.
Posted by daniellog over 3 years ago
I was thinking more on the lines of residential customers who don't have fibre.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
@KarlAustin which raises the question why do any cities have a BT roll-out at all?

Not rolling out in the Digital Region away breaks the evil BT rule where they ALWAYS over build competition.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
I've heard this conspiracy theory about avoiding city centres before. An obvious question - if it is in fact commercially attractive to provide fibre broadband in city centres then surely other network providers would do so to win new business?

This doesn't appear to be happening, which suggests to me it is actually more complicated than your post implies, and probably not commercially attractive.
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