The broadband situation in Suffolk is a disaster from some view points and a success for gap funding schemes from other view points. The reality is most likely some where along a sliding scale between these view points that are sometimes defended with the self belief in victory of a Roman gladiator.
Suffolk is the first of the BDUK projects to sign the contract for a Superfast Extension Programme which is part of the Governments ambition to make superfast services available to 95% of premises by the end of 2017. The contract extension is built around £15m from Westminster, £10 million from the County Council and £5 from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Local Growth Fund (the contribution from BT as the commercial partner is unknown at this time) and now the confusion begins, the national Government is working towards 95% superfast, but the contract signed in Suffolk talks of 95% fibre based broadband coverage and unless all 95% are delivered using cable or FTTH the number getting superfast speeds will be lower.
Minutes from a meeting on 14th October 2014 actually add to the confusion, as this appears to declare that the fibre based coverage in the county via commercial projects is 45% and this lines up with Ofcom data from 2012 but we all know that while Openreach is far from perfect they will have delivered more cabinets in Suffolk since then and while the commercial roll-out is almost over, there are still delayed cabinets going live across the country every week.
Update Monday 3rd November 2014 We have had confirmation from the County Council that the new contracted target is 95% of premises at superfast speeds. Which of course aligns with the Westminster led targets. Looking further forward Suffolk is highlighting its aim to have 100% at superfast speeds for 2020.
Suffolk County Council claims that the BDUK project has so far helped 16% of premises in the County and with a contracted target of 85% to be helped in the first phase there is a very long journey ahead if the 45% figure is correct (we believe it is not) but confusion over figures like this and offers such as the council believing the national target for superfast broadband was 85% in the first phase of projects only adds to the level of anger thrown at council members and BT over the state of the projects.
Hopefully once the weekend is over, we will be able to obtain some clarity, previous coverage figures from Suffolk have stood up to scrutiny but the minutes from the meeting do not. Also we hope the Westminster politicians will also have been briefed as we are seeing the usual confusion on whether its 95% at 24 Mbps or faster or 95% on a fibre based.