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February 27, 2014

£250m rural broadband fund dished out

The £250 million extra funding by the government for superfast broadband in rural areas has finally been divvied up between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The extra £250m which was announced by the government last year is on top of the £1.2 billion already to be given out by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project which was set up to fund the roll out of superfast broadband to more rural areas that the likes of BT & Virgin Media themselves wouldn’t roll out too on their own because of it not being financially viable to do so.

The £250m is to be split up as follows:

  • England £184.34m
  • Scotland £20.99m
  • Wales £12.11m
  • Northern Ireland £7.24m

The extra funding is being spent to help make sure that the government meets their target of reaching 95% of UK homes with superfast broadband by 2017. Superfast broadband is classed as broadband that works at 24Mb or above. A further fund of £10m has also been set up to look at connecting the final 5% with other technologies that the standard fibre optic network isn’t suitable for. This fund is due to open on the 17th March 2014 for any potential technologies that can be piloted via this scheme.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary said:

Superfast broadband will benefit everyone whether they need it at work or to do to homework or simply to download music or films, thousands of homes and businesses now have access and it’s helping people with everyday tasks. We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband and with this extra £250m that we are investing we will help ensure communities around the UK aren’t left behind in a digital slow lane.

In previous reports and studies the government believe that for every £1 invested in the BDUK scheme that £20 will be delivered back to the UK economy by 2014. Along with this there is also expected to be many tens of thousands of new jobs created because of this in rural areas.

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- Filed under: Fibre broadband,News
- Tags: BDUK, Rural broadband, £250m rural broadband fund
Author: Mark @ 11:02 am

July 30, 2013

Culture Secretary calls for councils to share superfast broadband rollout plans

Local councils have been sent a letter from the Culture Secretary Maria Miller asking them to reveal their plans for next generation broadband rollout in a bid to help smaller community schemes make plans if they are to make upgrades themselves if their area is not to be covered with superfast broadband from BT, the letter has been seen by The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Much of the confusion for local community schemes comes because although BT is set to cover 90% of the UK with fibre optic broadband it is not made clear which of the remaining 10% exactly are not going to be covered and so other local projects are unable to make proper plans as they do not know if they will be covered by BT or not.

During a Public Accounts Committee hearing that discussed this issue a couple of weeks ago, a BT director of strategy, Sean Williams said that local authorities had this information and they were able to pass it on to the smaller projects.

In the letter from the Culture Secretary, it said:
concerns have been raised about whether information on the areas which will, or will not, be covered by the current projects can be made available. This information will help other broadband providers and community groups determine whether it is worth their while to develop local broadband projects to fill in gaps in coverage. It will also help clarify the position of those community broadband projects whose schemes are already planned in some detail. I am keen to see this information made available.

Hopefully if the councils do get on board and share the information then projects that are looking for some of the £20 million in funding that can be provided by the “Rural Community Broadband Fund” (RCBF) will hopefully be able to be finalised and start moving forward.

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July 5, 2013

Superfast rural broadband delivery to be 2 years late

The governments rural superfast broadband plans are expected to not be completed until 2017, 2 years later than had originally been planned and at an extra cost to the tax payer.

Originally the rural broadband deployment that should have originally cost around £1.2 billion with the government funding a large part of it (£530 million) with the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds was due to be completed by 2015, however due to delays it is now expected that the projects won’t be completed until 2017, part of the delays were caused by EU state aid process taking 6 months longer than was originally thought. However, the extra delays mean that the taxpayer are going to have to foot a further £207 million of the bill to get it all finished.

There are 44 local projects up and down the country and only 9 are expected to be completed on time for the original 2015 date. Also, further concerns come up with the lack of competition from companies trying to get all the local contracts, as BT are now the only company bidding for the contracts it means that they can potentially not offer as competitive pricing as they would have had to do if there was more companies after the contracts, it is expected that BT will eventually get all 44 contracts available.

The report from the National Audit Office also said:
The project funding contributed by BT has so far been lower than originally modelled – the Department now expects the company to provide just 23 per cent of the overall projected funding of £1.5 billion, some £207 million less than it modelled in 2011.  At the same time, by the end of the programme, BT is likely to have benefited from £1.2 billion of public money.

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June 11, 2013

Governments high speed rural broadband is “a train crash waiting to happen”

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”

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- Filed under: Fibre broadband,News
- Tags: Rural broadband
Author: Mark @ 9:29 am

November 29, 2011

Only BT left to bid for Highlands & Islands broadband

The Highlands and Islands region of Scotland sees just BT left for the contract to deliver broadband to the region.

Both Cable & Wireless and Fujitsu have both pulled out of the bidding process to bring super fast broadband to the Highlands and Islands. The area was one of 4 rural areas in the country that is to receive between £5-£10m of funding to help roll out a pilot of fibre broadband to the area, however, Fujitsu have withdrawn from the process as they claim that additional investment would be required for the required infrastructure and Cable & Wireless have also followed suit, this just leaves BT left in for the project.

Rhonda Grant, the Labour MSP for the Highlands & Islands, said:

This pilot is of vital importance to every community throughout the Highlands and Islands and it is essential that more public money is invested in this project – so far only 10 per cent of the estimated costs have been secured.”

Alex Neil, the Scottish cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment has previously estimated that the cost of rolling out next generation broadband across the Highlands & Islands region would be in the region of £300m alone.

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September 1, 2011

UK to use “White Space” TV spectrum for rural broadband

The UK is to be the first country in Europe to use “White Space” technology in the TV spectrum to deliver broadband to rural areas after Ofcom gave it the go-ahead.

How the “White Space” technology works is by searching for the “gaps” in the airwaves that have been reserved for use for TV broadcasting, the “gaps” are known as “White Spaces”. These White Spaces are then able to be used to transmit wireless signals which is where they can come in well for rural broadband.

The wireless signals to be used in the White Space of the spectrum will be able to travel greater distances but will work in a similar way to a standard WiFi connection.

Ed Richards. the Ofcom Chief Executive, said:

At an early stage Ofcom identified the potential of White Spaces, which are currently lying vacant all around us.

Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum.

The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximise the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications.

Ofcom state the following new applications that could follow by using this new technology:

Enhanced Wi-Fi: The majority of current Wi-Fi devices operate in spectrum at 2.4GHz. White Spaces could provide new capacity, while boosting the range of devices, potentially enabling Wi-Fi networks that stretch across towns and cities. This is thanks to the lower frequency of TV White Spaces (typically between 470 and 790MHz).

Rural broadband: White Spaces could be used to provide rural locations with broadband services. In practice, this could be achieved by building a network of transmitters that use White Spaces to link remote houses and villages to larger towns that are already connected to the internet. Trials are currently being undertaken by industry to test this on the island of Bute, Scotland.

Machine-to-Machine Communications: A relatively new area of innovation called Machine-to-Machine Communications allows information to be exchanged between devices. Many experts believe that in the coming years billions of devices will be able to connect wirelessly and via the internet for a range of applications. White spaces could be used to wirelessly transmit this information, using its additional range to reach deep inside buildings. This could be especially useful for wirelessly measuring utility meters in consumers’ homes – just one of a wide number of potential applications. Other examples include using White Spaces to keep an inventory of stock owned by a business, or making it easier for scientists to conduct research by automating the measurement of different readings.

It is expected that the White Space technology will launch in the UK in 2013 and it won’t be under licence.

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August 15, 2011

£530m government money to help bring broadband to rural areas

Rural broadband in the UK is to get a boost to the tune of £530m to bring broadband to “not spots” in an announcement due by the government.

The government announcement is expected to announce that it is putting up £530m to help fund the final third of the UK that are considered broadband “not spots” as they have broadband connections speeds of under 2Mb.
40 locations are to benefit when the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, revels the areas that have received funding from the £530m pot. There is also expected to be a further £300m promised after 2015 too.

The Government have set out a target of having a Universal Broadband speed of 2Mb or above for all 25m homes in the country by 2015 and 90% of the country to be with superfast broadband (this is classed as 24Mb or above).

The funding from the government is coming from the money that was left from the digital TV switchover. BT are putting in for many of the contracts to roll out to these rural areas, and providing the government backs each of the council contracts BT says that they will match the money put forward by the government and they would also expect that the councils to do the same.

BT themselves are currently investing £2.5bn in rolling out their fibre broadband network across the UK which for most homes will be via FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet and will offer speeds up to 40Mb. Users can check the speed of their internet connection by running a broadband speed test.

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July 8, 2011

Broadband could be delivered by FM radio spectrum

FM radio waves could be used to provide broadband to rural areas according to Ofcom, the Communications regulator.

Doing this would be similar to other trials which are taking place in the Isle of Bute in Scotland also also around Cambridge where “white space” which is available in the TV spectrum is being used to deliver broadband. With the TV digital switchover due to be complete in the UK by 2012 this means there will be the chance to make use of this part of the spectrum.

Using the radio waves could work out as an ideal solution to providing broadband in rural and remote areas, as radio waves are available in both high and low frequency means that in the case of low frequency these will work well in buildings as other frequencies can’t pass through buildings as easily.

However, although the potential to use the radio waves is an option it is unlikely that we will see a large scale roll out of it as the government still have not announced a date where radio signals will all be switched form analogue to digital (in much the same way we have done with the TV signals).

Ed Richards, the Chief Executive at Ofcom, said:

Spectrum is a resource that is in huge demand, fuelled by the recent explosion in smart phones and other wireless technologies. However there is only a limited amount of it to go around, which means we need to start thinking more creatively about how it is used. White space devices could offer the creative solution we are looking for.

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July 7, 2011

Broadband twice as expensive & slower in rural areas

Poorer people and those living in rural areas are paying more for broadband and receiving slower speeds according to figures released yesterday.

In the study, done by Simplifydigital.com, they found that those customers living in post code areas that are well served payed on average £8.40 per month (not including line rental) for their broadband, compared to those living in post codes that were not well served who were paying around £16.26 per month. The least well served post codes also trended to be in rural areas and many also in some of the poorest areas of the UK.

The reason for these prices differences is due to the fact that broadband providers can install their own equipment into the local telephone exchanges, they mainly choose the areas that have allot of people and more urban areas where there will be far more demand for their services than in rural and countryside areas where they won’t be able to make as good a return on their investment.

This means that prices in the areas where there is not so much competition are higher due to companies not competing for the customers so strongly.
To add insult to injury, customers in rural and more countryside areas also tend to receive slower broadband speeds due to the fact they they are usually further away form their local telephone exchange than those living in towns and cities. This can mean that not only are they paying more for their broadband, they are also getting an inferior broadband speed too.

The study looked at the prices that were charged by BT, O2, Orange, Plusnet, Sky & TalkTalk.

Check the speed of your broadband with our broadband speed test.

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July 5, 2011

North Yorkshire receive £16.4m for high speed rural broadband

North Yorkshire homes and businesses are set to receive a broadband boost with £16.4 million funding from the government.

“Connecting North Yorkshire” project will receive around £16.4 m from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), which is a government run organisation aimed at helping allocate funding for broadband across the UK.

North Yorkshire County Council was one of the 4 places that were successful in their bid for national broadband trials to get high speed broadband deployed in rural areas.

The council will also be working with the European Regional Development Fund and Nynet (the councils broadband company) where they are hoping to match the funding and end up with a pot of around £30 million in investment for the broadband deployment.

Councillor Car Les, said:

Indeed, high-speed broadband benefits a broad demographic of people. Young people, for example, can access e-learning and a broader curriculum, often unavailable to remote, rural schools.

It also enables technology to be used to monitor and provide care direct into individual homes, allowing people to stay independent for as long as possible.

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