New Northumberland scheme to offers more superfast broadband
Northumberland as a county covers some 5,000 sq kilometres and by our count has some 141,000 premises in it, and as broadband becomes as important as mains gas and mains sewage to people the complaints from those parts of the county yet to see commercial or BDUK gap funded superfast rollouts are getting louder. The complaints are not about whether its a wet piece of string delivering the service or full fibre but people just want something better than they have now.
Into the breach left by the continuing BDUK roll-out across the county a new scheme has been launched that will allow communities to club together and receive funding on top of what they can locally raise to deliver superfast or ultrafast broadband to a community. The fund is a joint effort between Northumberland County Council and BT with some £2.2 million available that is hoped with help another 2,000 premises get decent broadband. The scheme is centered around private funding (individuals, local firms or community) matching the central fund, and the fund will allow up to £2,000 of matched funding if superfast is being delivered or £2,500 for ultrafast, with a cap of £100,000 per community.
Apparently a number of communities are already lining up to access the funding and these include Nunnykirk, Stanton near Netherwitton, Bolam, Pauperhaugh and Styford.
So what has the council and BT already acheived in the county, the easiest way is to compare February 2014 when the BDUK project started delivering and where things stand today.
thinkbroadband analysis of Northumberland
|Area||% fibre based|
24 Mbps or faster
30 Mbps or faster
100 Mbps or faster
|% Openreach FTTP||% Under 10 Mbps||% Under 15 Mbps|
The SEP project is still delivering and there is a goal of 93% superfast coverage by the end of 2017 which means delivering to around another 1,552 premises which is possible if more VDSL2 cabinets and patches of FTTP are delivered.
The PR material indicates a hope that the community scheme will take coverage to an eventual total of 98% but that seems a tall order as the difference between 93% and 98% is some 7,000 premises and this would only be possible if the scheme delivers with gap funding levels of around £315 per premises.
VDSL2 is criticised for not delivering superfast connectivity to everyone on a cabinet and the gap between 'fibre' based and superfast has opened up in the last 3 years in Northumberland and looking at the two main project phases for the VDSL2 areas in phase one 85.7% were able to get above the 24 Mbps superfast threshold and its currently running at 86.1% in the SEP phase two contract. At the end of the day it comes down to the value for money and time to delivery criteria and hopefully as the phase two project continues more FTTP will fill in those slow areas that are getting well below the superfast threshold.