Cornwall has been ahead of the curve for first generation and fibre based broadband, and with 23% of households having the option to buy a FTTP service it has the largest proportion of FTTP in the UK.
The Cornish County Council is set to debate whether to go ahead and match the £2.96m of funding from Westminster to extend the current target of 95% of households having access to a fibre based solution (council estimate is that 85% will get superfast speeds). This 95% target should be reached in March 2015 as more FTTC and FTTP areas go live each week.
The council is considering putting £2.5m from the council’s capital programme EU match funding budget and another £500,000 plus an unknown amount of investment by the commercial partner which one presumes will be BT. This extra money is thought to be enough to take superfast coverage to 99% of households and businesses in the county.
The next round of work will be done in two phases, the first running from July 2015 to March 2017 will focus on getting fibre based broadband to 99% of premises (around 89% superfast) and then another phase will run from April 2017 to March 2019 that will boost the speeds for those already on a fibre based solution to superfast speeds to result in 99% at superfast speeds.
We would expect the first phase to be not unlike the existing roll-outs, with FTTC, FTTP and maybe some of the newer FTTrN for those small communities where FTTP would be too costly. The second phase will be interesting as it is likely to be addressing those who can already get FTTC, but at slower speeds e.g. 5 to 10 Mbps and the Surrey BDUK project with its use of FTTP for infill in slow areas provides a clue as to what may happen.
The geography of Cornwall means that the distance limitations of FTTC are more acutely felt than most other parts of the UK, hence why even official estimates suggest a 10% gap where people do not get superfast speeds. Our own figures estimate that this gap may actually be closer to 15%. For other counties in the UK, the gap is often in the 3 to 5% region and illustrates why so much FTTP has been used in Cornwall already.