Are Cambridgeshire broadband improvements at risk?
While the contract may have been signed between Cambridgeshire County Council and BT the press in the county is highlighting the risks to the broadband improvement scheme along with other capital projects in the county.
It appears that the new council leader feels the borrowing of £90m for road repairs, £20m for superfast broadband, £29m for Ely bypass and £77m for children's services may have been over ambitious. It seems some or all of these may be at risk of cutbacks unless a deal to allow the council to keep more tax revenue locally is agreed with central Government.
The Connecting Cambridgeshire project last month published maps for the project that is aiming to get 98% of the premises in the county connected to a FTTC or FTTP based connection. Our own estimates suggest this will mean 83% of premises getting speeds of 25 Mbps and faster, the massive unknown is what proportion of FTTP will be used, and if used tactically it could boost the percentage getting superfast speeds significantly i.e. by being deployed on the clusters of premises that have very long cabinet to premises telephone lines.
The question for the councils and the political leaders as they change is whether they accept the projected benefits in terms of revenue to the council that better broadband will bring to a county. In the case of Cambridgeshire the consultants projection was that broadband improvements would be worth £500m over five years to the local economy.