BT have won the contract to deliver fibre optic based broadband to Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire in a project that is worth £18.06 million.
The news that BT has won the contract is not really of any surprise since they are the only company left bidding for the projects that are receiving funding from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) projects which is government funding to help get fibre based broadband to more rural areas where BT themselves won’t deploy to on their own because it not being financially viable to do so.
The “Connected Counties” project will see fibre broadband being made available to more than 90% of premises in both Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and should be completed in 3 years, by the end of March 2016. This will mean that an extra 52,500 homes and businesses in the counties will benefit, with 38,500 in Buckinghamshire and 14,000 in Hertfordshire. This is on top of the 153,000 in Buckinghamshire and 400,000 in Hertfordshire that already have access to BT’s fibre projects through their own commercial roll out.
On top of this the remaining 10% or so who won’t be receiving the fibre broadband should receive a minimum of 2Mb broadband speeds as part of the governments pledge that that should be the minimum everyone should have access to in the country.
The £18.06 million is being funded in the following way: BT £8.6 million, Hertfordshire County Council £1.61 million, Buckinghamshire County Council £3.7 million (this includes funding from the two Local Enterprise Partnerships) & the Governments BDUK giving £4.15 million.
Broadband speed tests run by Ofcom earlier this year show that currently the average broadband speed in Hertforshire is 16Mb with 9.5% of premises there receiving less than 2Mb speeds. Buckinghamshire has an average broadband speed of 12.4Mb and 11.6% of premises receiving less than 2Mb.
Sky have gone back on the offensive to lure broadband customers to them as they go in a toe to toe battle with rival broadband provider BT by offering 12 months free broadband for Sky Sports subscribers.
BT Broadband started this latest battle by offering BT Broadband customers free viewing of it’s new BT Sport TV channels that will have 38 live Premier League games available that won’t be available on Sky.
Sky have now countered this offer and switched it round a bit and are offering customers who pay for a Sky Sports TV package free Sky Broadband Unlimited for a year, or 6 months free superfast Sky Fibre broadband which usually costs £20 per month. £14.50 monthly line rental will still be charged.
Those who take Sky Sports TV package will receive Sky Sports 1 & 2, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports F1.
The good news for existing Sky Sports customers is that the deal is available for both new and existing Sky Sports customers, Sky are obviously trying very hard to make sure that few of their current broadband subscriber base make the switch to BT Broadband and that also they can maybe try and lure some of BT’s customers over to the “Sky” side.
The roll out of high speed broadband to rural areas has been described as a “train crash waiting to happen” with rumours that BT could be charging up to 80% mark up on the price they are putting on installing rural broadband infrastructure.
The government is to spend around £1 billion to help fund the roll out of high speed broadband to around 12 million UK homes, half the money has been made available in the BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) fund with the rest coming from council tax bills. The government are committed to providing high speed broadband to these rural areas that BT themselves don’t find financially viable to roll out to themselves, however there has been much criticism that as BT are the only company bidding for the government funds now that Fujitsu pulled out meaning that there is no competition to BT to bring prices down or to allow councils to compare what they are paying in comparison to others. This has led to reports that BT are charging up to 80% mark up on the price it costs them to roll out high speed broadband, a claim which BT says is not true.
The people who monitor the spending on behalf of the government, The National Audit Office (NAO), are to publish a report next month and it is believed top say that they don’t know if the taxpayer is getting value for money.
According to The Telegraph newspaper, one source said about the broadband scheme:”a train crash waiting to happen and the train appears to be accelerating rather than slowing down. We will either end up with some sort of meltdown in the next year or so, or there will be significant cost in the next parliament to unpick it.”
Governments high speed rural broadband is “a train crash waiting to happen”