Geo Networks acquires remains of Digital Region in South Yorkshire
The Digital Region scheme was exciting when it first appeared many years ago, but never got the traction and interest from residents and businesses in the area to buy the service, and this includes central Sheffield where even now Openreach is not offering fibre services. With the final few connections closing in August a sale of the assets to Geo Networks (part of the Zayo group) may have allowed the councils involved to recover a little of the millions of pounds the project spent that only every had 3,000 customers.
The sale to Geo appears to represent no sign of the FTTC based service being revived as it appears that the cabinets are to be decommissioned and Geo will do what it does best, which is selling fibre based services and metro network connectivity to the business community.
South Yorkshire now has a BDUK project that is set to take over the role of bringing superfast services to many of the areas where Digital Region operated and this seems to have gone to BT, which while more FTTC may seem a low target represents a low risk for the councils since they only supply gap-funding not ongoing subsidy to keep the network operating.
Parts of Sheffield are left in a limbo though, as they look likely to miss out on the BDUK project and with no more Digital Region there will be small businesses and residents who have tasted fast access and are now back on ADSL2+. Quite why Openreach never rolled out to these areas commercially is unclear, the general feeling is that BT always overbuilds competing networks, it is possible the lure of gap-funding is too strong. The total irony is that BT is hoovering up gap-funding because of the hard work of many campaigners who seem to hate BT.