Openreach Community Fibre Broadband Scheme to Reach 60000 Premises

The Community Fibre Partnerships scheme that Openreach (BT) runs, which offers grants up to GBP30,000 to help co-fund the cost of upgrading an area to receive their FTTC or FTTP based “fibre broadband” network, expects to have benefited 60,000 UK premises within 12 months (currently 30,000).[1][2][3][4] The grants are generally made available to smaller or more remote rural UK communities, specifically those that don’t currently have access to an existing “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network or which are not expected to benefit from a future roll-out of similar technology. The setup is based around a joint funding arrangement, where Openreach[5] covers up to three quarters of the cost of the new fibre infrastructure (provided the area includes a school) and then the community self-funds the remaining gap.

The grants themselves are worth up to a maximum of GBP30,000 and this comes from a pot of GBP2 million that has been allocated by the BT Group. Communities can also reduce their own contribution requirements by making use of government grants or local voucher schemes (e.g. the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme). Some county councils have also setup special funds in order to help provide similar financial support to local communities.

Today Openreach has announced that the 200th community to benefit from this is the rural village of Follifoot near Harrogate (North Yorkshire, England), which is home to around 580 people. Sadly we’ve not been provided with any information about the cost of this deployment, although the operator did rollout a new 76Mbps capable FTTC[6] network to the area and 11 homes have since subscribed.

Derek Richardson, Openreach’s Programme Director (Yorkshire), said: “This small Yorkshire community has marked a major milestone in the success of a national scheme, which is bringing superfast broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging locations.

We know how important fast internet is to communities and are determined to make this exciting technology as widely available as possible. Whether it’s streaming TV in the home, doing homework online or downloading large files in the office, superfast broadband makes doing anything online faster. With a choice of many broadband providers and the variety of services and prices they offer, the Openreach network provides real choice.

It’s great to know that this new internet connection is helping to improve the quality of life for these families. I’d appeal to any community which isn’t part of any current fibre plans to get in touch with us to see what we can do for them.”

So far the vast majority of deployments under the CFP scheme have involved slower FTTC solutions, although around 10% did opt to go with the usually more expensive “full fibreFTTP[7] service. Of course not everybody will be happy with the idea of having to pay thousands of pounds in order for Openreach to upgrade the local broadband connectivity, which many would today regard as being nearly as important as water or electricity.

The alternative for such communities is to wait and see how the Broadband Delivery UK[8] programme plays out in its quest to reach 98% of UK premises with 24Mbps+ broadband by 2020.

Lest we forget about the Government’s proposed 10Mbps+ USO, although not everybody is always prepared to wait several more years while being stuck on stone-age broadband speeds (particularly if they fear that the end result may be an inferior Satellite[9] connection).

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References

  1. ^ Community Fibre Partnerships (communityfibre.openreach.co.uk)
  2. ^ Openreach (www.openreach.co.uk)
  3. ^ FTTC (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  4. ^ FTTP (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  5. ^ Openreach (www.openreach.co.uk)
  6. ^ FTTC (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  7. ^ FTTP (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  8. ^ Broadband Delivery UK (www.gov.uk)
  9. ^ Satellite (www.ispreview.co.uk)

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