1,458 premises estimated to have got broadband via RCBF so far
The Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) was very ambitious in its hope that the £20 million of funding would stretch to providing superfast broadband to some 60,000 of the more remote and rural properties in the UK. Alas arguments and political battles over getting postcodes de-scoped from the much larger county/BT led projects meant may groups gave up, or may just have folded under the weight of paperwork needed to get hold of Government subsidy.
Back in July the DCMS published an update on the what has been delivered so far, and this report also highlights that the RCBF is likely to only pass around 20,000 to 25,000 premises, since feedback from projects has revealed a higher cost than originally expected. The report features three projects that are delivering now, and there are more RCBF projects underway that got allocated funding just before the scheme closed that may add to the total. NOTE: The figures that follow are a combination of verified installs and predicted installs.
- Fell End in Cumbria who are rolling out a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP/FTTH) network are estimated to have delivered to 29 homes and 29 businesses in 2013/2014. This FTTH scheme is being built by Openreach in conjunction with the local community in FellEnd. With B4RN a few miles to the South this means the North West has two areas ripe for tech start-up businesses and the rise of a protest movement once local rents start to increase. Original aim for the project was just 58 premises.
- Rothbury in Northumberland is a more typical FTTC roll-out, but one outside the expected 90% superfast footprint, and covers 1,430 homes and 107 businesses.
- Northmoor & Bablockhythe is the other FTTH network and is being built by Gigaclear with the aim of covering 518 premises and 1 business in the 2014/2015 period. The first subscriber went live at the end of July 2014. The network construction only started in May 2014.
While easy to scream failure at the RCBF system it is delivering for some people and projects like the one in Buckinghamshire deliver it may in the next year or two look less of a white elephant. A lot of the blame over bid failures is aimed at BT, but it should also be said that bidding for any form of Government subsidy in any area is a long and complex process built up over hundreds of years to try and avoid everyone scamming the system and building a monorail like in a classic Simpsons episode (S4E12).