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£5.3 million extra to virtually eliminate Norfolk digital divide
Sunday 02 August 2015 16:02:32 by Andrew Ferguson

Norfolk is one of those counties where the digital divide appears to be growing and this is because while more people have access to much faster broadband via the phase 1 project, those still waiting are feeling ever more digitally isolated. Thus the news over the last few days of an extra £129m from BT while dismissed as games by some seems to be already benefiting Norfolk, as an extra £5.3m of investment has been announced for the county above and beyond the existing phase 1 and phase 2 commitments.

This extra money is from the claw back clauses of the existing contracts and we should see other areas announcing their extra amounts soon, though it will vary from area to area. The claw back system was designed to operate over a seven year period and thus the £129m announcement from BT was a surprise last week, as everyone expected it to trickle in as dribs and drabs rather than a single announcement at this early stage.

Norfolk had a fairly low target with its phase 1 project of 80% superfast, the £17.9 million phase 2 extension while headlining itself as part of the 95% superfast commitment may actually only be aiming at 90% fibre based which would have left a good number in Norfolk missing out on a superfast experience still, so more coverage is welcome.

thinkbroadband calculation of current fibre, superfast and USC broadband coverage in Norfolk and its Parliamentary Constituencies - 1st August 2015
Council Area % fibre based % superfast
>24 Mbps
% superfast
>30 Mbps
% cable % Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 15 Mbps
Norfolk County 83.4% 75.7% 74.2% 26.2% 0% 1.6% 19%
Broadland 77.6% 65.9% 63.7% 0% 0% 2.6% 26.4%
Great Yarmouth 95.3% 91.9% 91.2% 52.3% 0.1% 0.4% 5.7%
Mid Norfolk 74.7% 62.9% 59.4% 0.1% 0% 1.7% 24.3%
North West Norfolk 83.2% 75% 74% 0% 0% 2.6% 20.9%
Norwich North 98.5% 98.4% 98.4% 88.5% 0% 0% 0.7%
Norwich South 98.1% 97.9% 97.9% 89.2% 0% 0% 0.4%
South Norfolk 66.4% 54.8% 52.4% 2.6% 0% 4% 35.6%
South West Norfolk 83.9% 71% 68.9% 0.2% 0% 2.2% 26.7%

The phase 1 project is due to complete by December 2015 and as 8% fibre based coverage has been added since the start of 2015 it looks almost certain that if the same pace is maintained that the project will break the 80% superfast target.

Comments

Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
It's probably in BT's interests to keep the momentum going with earlier recognition of the higher than forecast take-up of FTTC rather than let the claw-back money dribble in over a longer time. Such a message will be surely popular with local politicians and thus it's far more likely BT will get follow-on phases as it's the easier path for local projects rather than exploring other suppliers and solutions.
Posted by Saurus about 1 year ago
Interesting stats, looking at the worst area of Norfolk (South Norfolk) at 66.4% it seems to directly mirror the appalling Central Suffolk and North Ipswich at 65.1%. In my communications with Better Broadband for Suffolk I was told they had run out of money and there would be no further improvements for another 2 years! Great job Suffolk County Council!
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
There is several sources and more to come. There is the savings from 38% excess modelled costs identfified by the NAO and there is this £129m There is much more to come, more BT capital, and USC premiums to be recycled.
Select Committees will keep probing and more monies will emerge.
Posted by adwol48 about 1 year ago
I actually live in south norfolk in long stratton and must admit i've been quite lucky that this village seems to be getting fibre at a fast rate currently sat on a fttc connection which is a dream come true for me, even before that though i was still getting a 17 Mbps.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
The claw back money gives a very welcome boost to the county projects. But at the end of the day it is simply a commercial investment by BT back into its own network. They will of course in due time make a return on this investment. Maybe the reason that they have made this early announcement is that it is a very good return.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
If customers that have taken up the service (SFB ) on any Cabs should be advertising and pressing ISP,s to contact their customers that the Cabs are open for SFB this gets the clawback money flowing for the long lines ( low speeds ).
It is in the hands of the people of the county to take action and keep pressing all the time BT/Openreach will spend the money.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I reckon @chilting and @euler hit the two nails on the head.

This money is an advance on takeup expectations now being 30%, as actual takeup isn't likely to have reached that high yet: it was 12.7% in December, 15% in March.

That makes the money just new investment from BT ... because it feels more assured of a return ... and it certainly makes sense to spend it in one hit, rather than in dribs & drabs.
Posted by kmendum about 1 year ago
And if BT wants to retain the Norfolk County Council network it will have to expand the superfast footprint. A simple trade, really!
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
The take up rate on BDUK Cabs are much higher as a % where the local councillors have take an interested and cascaded the information to their voters once they know the service is open. Where this has happened the 30% is passed in six weeks.
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