A MAJOR ?3.7 million expansion to Worcestershire’s superfast broadband project is about to launch in a big boost for rural areas. The cash will reach 3,000 properties in so-called ‘hard to reach’ spots, such as hamlets and small villages – with the exact locations now revealed for the first time. The extension will take 18 months to finish and has been funded from a combination of savings within the existing scheme, help from BT and a ‘clawback’ mechanism with the firm’s contract.
The ?28 million superfast broadband scheme is one of Worcestershire County Council‘s flagship policies under its Tory rule, but in recent months a debate has raged about some rural spots missing out. The areas now due to benefit include parts of Wickhamford, Throckmorton, Wick, Heightington, Teme Valley, Eardiston, Stockton-on-Teme, Holt Fleet, Shelsley Beauchamp and Berrow Green. Councillor Ken Pollock, County Hall’s cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: “The scheme has made a huge difference to people and businesses across the county – they are better connected and able to access greater opportunities.
“Now, the partnership is taking superfast coverage even further than we had originally envisaged.” Ian Binks, BT’s regional Manager for Worcestershire, said: “BT is committed to making superfast broadband as widely available as possible. “Whether you’re working from home, doing homework or online shopping, everything is easier and faster with fibre broadband.”
More than 51,500 county properties are now able to connect to it, with three out of every 10 households taking advantage so far. Matt Hancock, the Government’s minister for digital, said: “I’m delighted that the high take-up rate in Worcestershire means there is now extra funding that’ll help us reach another 3,000 more properties across the county.”
Around ?8.5 million of the scheme’s cost is funded directly from county taxpayers, and the rest from either central Government or BT.
The council’s opposition Labour group has been highly critical of the project, saying BT should not be getting any public subsidy for it.
It will now run on into the middle of 2018, with 96 per cent of Worcestershire’s properties able to sign up.
Worcestershire that is in the middle of working towards a target of 95% superfast broadband coverage figure has announced that some ?3.7 million of gainshare (claw back) money is to be used to add around another 3,000 premises to the roll-out, which should add around another 1% of coverage with work carrying on until end of December 2018.
|Worcestershire||97% (+4.7)||92.1% (+5.3)||91.1% (+5.5)||26.4% (+1.3)||0.33% (+0.3)||0.7% (-0.2)||4.5% (-3.1)|
|Bromsgrove||98.9% (+5.4)||93.7% (+6.8)||92.5% (+7)||23.7% (+2.1)||0.02% (=)||0.5% (=)||2.4% (-1.7)|
|Mid Worcestershire||96.3% (+5.1)||88.6% (+7.7)||87.1% (+8.4)||1.1% (+0.8)||0.83% (+0.8)||0.9% (-0.9)||5.9% (-4.9)|
|Redditch||98.2% (+3)||96.6% (+3.1)||96.3% (+3)||83.3% (+2)||0.20% (+0.13)||0.2% (-0.1)||2.3% (-1.8)|
|West Worcestershire||91.3% (+11.8)||80.3% (+9.5)||77.8% (+9.4)||1.7% (+1.5)||0.88% (+0.81)||2.0%* (+0.3)||12% (-8.5)|
|Worcester||98.9% (+0.4)||98.9% (+1.8)||98.7% (+2.1)||1.5% (+0.3)||0.02% (+0.02)||0.0%** (-0.04)||0.3% (-1)|
|Wyre Forest||97.6% (+2.1)||93.8% (+2.9)||93.2% (+3.1)||50.1% (+0.6)||0.01% (+0.01)||0.5% (-0.1)||3.8% (-1.4)|
* the 0.3% rise (135 premises) in the USC figure for West Worcestershire is down to improvements in our model in the last 14 months and the constant monitoring of what is delivered versus what we see people receiving and feedback from people in the area. ** for Worcester we believe that there are actually no premises left under the 2 Mbps threshold, there are of course some people with ADSL (~3,000 premises) where it its likely to be running at under 2 Mbps but they do have faster options available to them. If you live in Worcester and can only get a sub 2 Mbps service then please get in touch, it may be there are issues such as aluminium we are not aware of, or new build premises on the edge of an exchange area.
The county has moved on since January 2016 as the change figures above show, but we are sure inline with other parts of the country better broadband cannot come sooner for the 1,900 premises who can still only get a slower than 2 Mbps fixed line solution and to a slightly lesser extent the 12,000 only getting under 10 Mbps.
Update Friday 10th March 4:15pm We have heard back from the project team with regards to the FTTC/FTTP split and they said “We expect the mix between FTTC and FTTP to be more heavily FTTP when compared to Contract 1 and SEP”.
- ^ www.superfastworcestershire.com (www.superfastworcestershire.com)
- ^ Council, Constituency and postcode broadband availability checker (labs.thinkbroadband.com)
A Worcestershire MP is urging local businesses to help make the case for better rural broadband. Harriett Baldwin is calling on local entrepreneurs to take part in a survey to help Worcestershire County Council to get more investment to extend the reach of superfast broadband. Three-quarters of homes and businesses in her West Worcestershire constituency have access to fibre connections.
That number is expected to rise throughout 2017.
But some hard-to-reach areas will need extra investment and the local broadband team is helping to build a business case. Ms Baldwin said: “There are quite a few small clusters of businesses based in the rural countryside and I urge them to take part in this survey to help to press for further investment. She added: “A lot of people also work from home or even start up their own enterprise in a spare bedroom or garage.
Ms Baldwin said all of these people would benefit from getting 21st century communications and she wanted to urge them all to speak up.
“I’d also repeat my comments that people who can, should connect to faster internet.
“We are seeing more and more demand on our internet infrastructure and superfast internet will soon become a necessity for most families.
“Every connection means that BT will re-invest back into the community helping as many people as possible to get connected and that re-investment will be crucial to getting towards 100% coverage.”