Lancashire first to get Government broadband funding
Lancashire has become the first county to take advantage of the Government’s broadband financing, signing an early deal to provide superfast services to 97% of residents.
The county has partially bypassed Government agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to agree a £62.5 million deal with BT to provide 80Mbits/sec fibre to the cabinet services across the county.
According to county officials, BT will contribute £30 million to the project while £10.8 million will come from BDUK, £16.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £5.2 million from local councils.
Lancashire was a bit faster out of the blocks by not going through the full process
The deal marks the first allocation of the Government’s $530 million in funding aimed at providing faster broadband where the market cannot make a viable business case, but was achieved without using the full BDUK procurement framework.
According to sources close to the deal, Lancashire was “a bit faster out of the blocks by not going through the full process”, which underlines previous criticism of BDUK’s slow funding system.
Although fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) will be the predominant technology, fibre to the premises (FTTP) will also be rolled out in some areas, providing 300Mbits/sec connections. It will also be available on demand throughout the fibred area for companies willing to pay the connection costs.
According to the project’s leaders, the work should also address the 15% of Lancashire residents unable to reach the Government’s base speed of 2Mbits/sec, with the project promising to reduce the figure to “virtually zero” – although it has provided no details on how it will fill in slow spots.
“It is important that as many areas as possible benefit, and that is why we have ensured that even the more remote areas of the county see a significant improvement in their speeds,” said Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council.