North Yorkshire got the BDUK ball rolling back in December 2012 with the delivery of the first fibre cabinet and has continued its roll-out and the council is now reporting on the progress of the first phase of the roll-out.
Financially the first phase that had an intervention area of some 160,500 premises has cost North Yorkshire County Council nothing since it is funded by the BDUK, ERDF and BT, phase 2 is sees the council match funding the BDUK amount and if phase 2 completes the combined cost to NYCC will be £19 per premise that will have superfast services available. For those wanting more detail a copy of the report made to the North Yorkshire County Council executive is available.
The Phase 1 contract which was to supply improved broadband to 171,000 premises (of which 149,944 would have access to superfast speeds - 25 Mbps and faster) is running some 13 weeks behind schedule and has delivered 151,499 premises passed (130,199 superfast). In theory this means BT has failed the contract but the project has decided to use this as leverage on BT and this has seen three cabinets that had been dropped from the commercial roll-out to be brought back with a ready for service data of March 2015. BT requested an extension that will see 146,292 premises with superfast by the end of 2014 and the remaining 3,652 done by March 2015.
What is interesting is the reasons for the delays, problems with expertise needed for the Exchange Only (EO) cabinet builds (doing the EO work when the telephone network is live adds to the complexity) and a lack of civils contractor resources are cited.
The phase 2 project (scheduled to end December 2016) is much smaller but will still leave some 41,500 premises in North Yorkshire without superfast (some 12,000 are those connected to FTTC but are beyond the 1.2km range the project considers to be the point where FTTC stops being superfast). The end of phase 2 should mean 90% of North Yorkshire has superfast access but that final 10% is not forgotten work is underway with Airwave to pilot wireless NGA broadband with the BDUK providing £1.5m of funding, oddly the agreement Airwave has with BDUK means that Airwave can walk away if they feel the commercial case to carry on the networks operation is not proven. Since the Digital Region debacle councils and Government are risk averse to ongoing subsidy arrangements.
The phase 2 work in North Yorkshire is interesting as it will feature FTTrN (Fibre to the Remote Node) and while this will only be at VDSL2 speeds the kit will look very similar to the G.FAST hardware we saw recently and it looks like households in Ulshaw new Leyburn may be the first to enjoy the extra speed with a service date of December 2014.
FTTrN is seen as a solution that is in between the cost of FTTC and FTTP but the Ulshaw trial has used the same type of power supply as a full fibre cabinet increasing the cost. Once BT can get the cost down of FTTrN power supply it is possible we may see an expansion of the phase 2 roll-out, with areas original destined for FTTP getting FTTrN and the savings used to push coverage further.
To help illustrate the progress made by the project and that people are buying the services once available we have included three charts of results from our speed test, showing the speeds in North Yorkshire and York. We have included quartile bars which help to illustrate the difference made and that if people upgrade they are getting significantly better speeds generally.