While broadband more than ever is seen as the fourth utility and is becoming ever more crucial to the success of different parts of the UK economy not everyone sees broadband as critical to an areas success.
It seems there was a bit of a battle in Worcestershire about how the council would handle the return of some £3.2m million by BT as part of the clawback system, though this money has really only become available at this stage because the BT Group announced the clawback sum because it had adjusted its model based on the level of take-up it is starting to see (if take-up continues it is possible that further lump sums will appear). The clever part is that BT has not actually dumped the money randomly in any council bank accounts, but is saying 'we have rejigged our model which leaves £x million pounds spare, that under the contract would be paid back in a few years time, or we can roll that money now into the project and keep rolling out exceeding the contracted targets'.
The Labour opposition in Worcestershire attempted to block this re-investment and are keen to get the money returned to the council to help balance the books or spend on other council services (ISPreview spotted the original newspaper item first). Fortunately for those yet to benefit from broadband improvements in Worcestershire the move was defeated and while take-up of superfast services may be well behind that of exchange based ADSL/ADSL2+ services for business and people moving to the area access to faster broadband will be a key decision maker and if a council exploits the widespread availability of broadband there is lots of potential for reducing costs and redeploying staff.
"What really annoys me, and many others in this room is not getting our priorities right.
Since when has it been this chamber's priority to throw millions after millions at a private company?"Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader
The part that meant we covered this in more detail than just the classic claw back re-investment was a Peter McDonald saying that the spending on broadband is just to help those who "live out in the sticks with the badgers and rabbits".
Leaving these comments behind as the clear message we get from people is they care little about the politics they just want something faster to arrive yesterday, so that it will let me stream video, do online shopping easily and stop the kids from blaming their dodgy internet connection as for why their homework takes ages to do.
|thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast,
USC, USO and Fibre Broadband Coverage in Worcestershire
Data from 10th November 2015
|Area||% fibre based||% superfast
24 Mbps or faster
30 Mbps or faster
|% cable||% Openreach FTTP||% Under 2 Mbps USC||% Under 10 Mbps USO|
The official target for the phase 1 project is described as 90% coverage of high speed fibre broadband, which based on what is known about other contracts usually translates into coverage at 15 Mbps and faster and the indication is that the project is on schedule to hit that target and in six months if current delivery rates continue could be looking at 90% coverage at 24 Mbps or faster.
The phase two project that extends into 2017, is targeting 94% superfast coverage with 95% fibre based coverage, though if the current split of FTTC/P is carried on to hit 94% superfast would mean fibre based coverage approaching 99% or higher. The £3.2m that is being recycled should allow for around another 2 to 3% with access to superfast, or could be used to target a small number of premises but deliver FTTP to ensure that rural business is not left behind or tempted to cross county borders to a better served area, taking both business rates and jobs elsewhere.