Next phase of fibre funding may be announced soon
One of the issues with the BDUK process is that it was having to rely on estimates and vague promises of commercial coverage levels as each project drew up its plans. The way that original £530m of funding was allocated is likely to not be improved as the procurement process for 2015-2017 starts to get underway.
We have known that funding was available for the 2015 to 2017 period for some time and now it seems shortly we can expect more detail on how the next wave of funding (more correctly money shaved off the top of the BBC Licence fee) will be shared out between the various areas of the UK. The problem facing the accountants in control is that the current BDUK projects are far from complete and thus it will not be fully clear which areas will need more money. Of course the pressure for improved broadband is such that campaigners do not want delays, with the end result most likely being another fairly simplistic round of bidding with extensions to existing projects.
Ed Vaizey who is quoted in the Darlington and Stockton Times has announced some interesting figures for the North Yorkshire BDUK project which is set to complete in 2015, namely that of the 95,000 premises that can order from the 370 cabinets deployed by the scheme, around 86,000 (90.5%) can get speeds of 25 Mbps and faster which ties in almost too nicely to the ratios of expected speeds from VDSL2 we published a long time ago.
The big unknown with the next round of broadband investment will be how prepared are county council's to invest another chunk of money, some counties should if their current projects deliver hit the 95% figure and have no interest in further funding. Even if the procurement is opened to more providers, the geographically diverse nature means we are expecting the BT Group to see the majority of the money.
One word of advice to the politicians, be very aware that the volume of complaints from those living in cities that are either outside a Virgin Media footprint and/or blessed by an exchange only telephone line meaning they are unable to get FTTC is increasing. It is looking likely that by 2017 that you are more likely to get a faster connection living in a reasonably sized village than a 15 year old flat in a city.