Digital Region Project may seek commercial operator to rescue it
The Digital Region Project that was launched at a time when super-fast broadband from Openreach and Virgin Media was still some way off, appears to be getting another round of money from the public purse.
The Yorkshire Post is reporting that some £10m of public money will be added to the £100m already received. The Barnsley Chronicle indicates that Barnsley alone will be adding £650,000 to the project.
The project original launched with a major holding by Yorkshire Forward which was the regional development agency for the area, but with the closure of these the UK Government owns that part of the project.
It would appear that the councils are looking to procure a supplier who will takeover operations and manage the Digital Region network, which has been constructed by Thales using sub loop unbundling to link Digital Region cabinets into the Openreach local loop.
Providers such as littlebigone.com has done its best to promote the service, complete with local billboards that if placed outside a home gives the subscriber a £25 credit onto their account.
Under the funding allocations by BDUK, the original awards announced in 2011, gave nothing to South Yorkshire as the assumption was that the Digital Region network would provide the super-fast target, and also be able to meet the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment. There are now some tough questions to be asked about why the project has got into the position it is, many people viewing the project from outside will say that the initial roll-out was too slow in starting, and by going to areas that had BT rolling out its own fibre service, the take-up for an unknown service was always going to be low. Another issue will be whether the commerical co-operation from Openreach with regards to the sub-loop unbundling has contributed to the current situation.