£645m of funding available to help UK reach 98% superfast broadband coverage
The BDUK phase I and phase II projects are a gift that keeps on giving and we have already seen some projects that have announced extensions to their roll-outs via gainshare and efficiency savings the increased money now available now increase the proportion of full fibre in the roll-outs.
The grand total figure of £645 million that is made up of £465 million set aside by BT as part of the gainshare arrangement based on the latest calculations of take-up (which is at 38% for the combined BDUK project areas) and another £180m from project efficiency savings. Some local authorities have previously announced project extensions using gainshare and to this extent the DCMS press release does highlight that £200m is already committed to taking coverage further.
The big headline figure that we have reduced to paragraph three is that DCMS is now hopeful that with the increase in money they can shift from talking about 97% superfast coverage in a few years to talking about 98%, i.e. the £173 million increase should allow an extra 300,000 premises with access to superfast to be delivered.
|Region||Latest Take-up Figures||Take-up December 2016||Money available for reinvestment by local authorities (projected)|
|East of England||42%||34.2%||£87.7m|
|North East England||37%||29.55%||£27.7m|
|North West England||37%||29.32%||£60.3m|
|South East England||44%||35.59%||£90.3m|
|South West England||39%||29.91%||£79.5m|
|Yorkshire & Humber||37%||31.12%||£44.7m|
We have now brought superfast broadband to almost 94 per cent of UK homes and businesses, and we are reaching thousands more every week. We are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of the year, but we know there’s still more to do. The money that is now being returned to the programme for reinvestment will help us reach that final 5 per cent, and is all part of our commitment to make sure that 100 per cent of the UK can get affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020.Minister for Digital Matt Hancock
The almost 94% is pretty close as we are tracking at 93.7% and if the volume delivered in August is repeated we should hit that in around four or five weeks time and if this pace is kept up then the end of year 95% target is achievable, but this is very reliant on a wide variety of operators delivering, though the bulk will be down to Openreach and a big contributor will be what seems a like a large number of premises in Wales with full fibre (FTTP) in the stages of being built and an expected delivery date of the end of the year.
Local authorities are under no obligation to re-invest all the money made available via gainshare or savings, but many are at least recycling various chunks and hopefully councils will be much more aware of the most problematic areas as those who don't have a superfast option and are stuck with no or slow broadband are getting better at making their voice heard. Alas its impossible to predict where the extra coverage will be and its entirely possible some councils may leave the money with BT and fund projects with other networks providers knowing that once the BT contract finally ends they will get the savings back.
The broadband universal service obligation (USO) is looking very much like it may have to just deal with some 300,000 to 600,000 premises now (1 to 2%) and the variations in the ratio of FTTP versus VDSL2 in addition to infill cabinets mean the previous Ofcom model that was a prediction when coverage levels were at the 90% mark must now be consigned to history. The question now is how long for the superfast coverage levels to move on to the 96, 97 and 98% mark and how big will the tail of people getting more than 10 Mbps but less than 24 Mbps be. One part of the USO we have not seen any modelling done on, is the rate at which people will demand a USO capable connection, as the USO to date has been designed to not be a generalised roll-out but something individuals or groups ask for.
Update 12:05pm For those keen to read the full press release a copy has been released by DCMS.