Britain’s superfast broadband: who’s paying and when it’ll arrive

The government’s broadband funding programme, Broadband Delivery UK, has hit a milestone, with BT starting work on half of the regional projects.

Britain's superfast broadband: who's paying and when it'll arrive

BDUK is the government agency doling out £530 million in public investment in broadband, designed to give 90% of homes speeds of at least 24Mbits/sec by 2015 – although many of the more recent projects aren’t expected to be finished until 2016.

Here, we’re keeping track of where the funding’s coming from for each of the projects, as well as when the infrastructure work is expected to be completed.

BT’s only approved rival, Fujitsu, dropped out of bidding after failing to win a single project, leaving BT as the only option.

Alongside the government’s £530 million in funding, to win the bids BT has already promised additional investment of at least £415 million for the projects announced so far. Of the total 44 projects, 22 have been announced so far. (See below for details of the projects’ funding.)

Despite the BDUK rollout being a government project, BT has actually committed the most money, accounting for 39% of the total investment. BT will also reap the majority of the profits from any investment, although the recent state aid discussions have ensured there is a way for some public money to be clawed back if costs are lower or take-up higher than expected.

Below, we track the recent wins and chart how much of BT’s own money is going into the UK’s broadband network. If it isn’t displaying, or you’d like to see it fullscreen, click here to view the chart in Google Docs.

The broadband projects

Northumberland – Dubbed iNorthumberland – yes, really – this project will see 660km of fibre laid, giving 91% of homes and businesses 80Mbit/sec lines. Another 4% will receive 25Mbits/sec, while the remaining 5% will be left with at least 2Mbits/sec. BT has pledged to work with communities on the slowest lines at the end of the roll out ” to see if fibre can be extended further through innovative collaborative projects”. The first homes will be connected in January 2014, with the work completed by 2016.

Shropshire – The Connecting Shropshire project looks to roll out 80Mbit/sec fibre lines to 93% of homes and businesses by Spring 2016, with the rest left on 2Mbits/sec. BT added: “During the course of the rollout BT may use Connecting Shropshire as a test bed for developing fibre innovations and other broadband technologies designed to boost speeds even further.”

Northamptonshire – This project features vague targets, with no mention of speeds or coverage percentage in the official announcement, only that there will be “world class fibre broadband speeds to 53,000 Northamptonshire homes and businesses”, along with “a minimum of 2Mbits/sec to all premises”.

Hampshire – This £13.8 million project will see 90% of Hampshire homes on superfast connections by the end of 2015, with the first areas completed by the end of this year. One of the first places to benefit will be the new Solent Enterprise Zone in Lee-on-the-Solent, built on the grounds of a former Royal Navy airfield. BT will rollout fibre to most homes, with trickier rural areas covered by alternative technologies.

South Gloucestershire Council – Working with Wiltshire Council, South Gloucestershire has revealed its £35.6m broadband project, with £12.8m coming from BT. The firm will roll out FTTC and some FTTP, offering speeds of at least 24Mbits/sec by March 2016 – marking another region that’s slipping past the government’s 2015 target. The remaining unlucky homes will have at least 2Mbits/sec, possibly via the use of satellite broadband.

Devon and Somerset – This deal sees work start in Spring 2013 on rolling out Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), with 90% of homes on superfast broadband between 20Mbits/sec and up to 80Mbits/sec by the end of 2016 – well above the current average of 9Mbits/sec. The remaining 10% will have at least 2Mbit/sec connections by the end of that year, suggesting the region may miss the government’s 2015 deadline.

Herefordshire and Gloucestershire – This four-year project will use £56.6m of funding – of which £18.7m is from BDUK – to roll out fibre to 90% of homes and businesses in the two counties by the end of 2016. The remaining homes will be offered at least 2Mbits/sec using alternative broadband technologies. The counties have a secondary target of giving 24Mbits/sec to all premises by 2018. Work is expected to start by the second half of 2013.

Rutland – One of the first BDUK projects, Rutland aims to offer 90% of premises at least 80Mbits/sec via fibre by the end of 2014.

Cumbria – BT was handed Cumbria after Fujitsu dropped out of the bidding. The Connecting Cumbria project will start rolling out fibre in Spring 2013, with a target of offering 93% of premises FTTC by the end of 2015.

North Yorkshire – England’s largest rural county is targeting 90% fibre coverage by the end of 2014, covering 365,000 premises with FTTC offering 80Mbits/sec. The final 10% may not get fibre, but BT said it would try extend fibre as far as possible via “innovative” and “collaborative” projects.

Lancashire – This £62.5m project aims to roll out fibre to 97% of Lancashire by the end of 2014. Most of the connections will be 80Mbits/sec FTTC.

Surrey – This project looks to get the final 20% of Surrey premises onto fibre, aiming to get “within a whisker” of 100% superfast coverage by the end of 2014.

Wales – This massive £425m project will see 96% of Welsh homes and business on fibre at 80Mbits/sec by the end of 2015, with on-demand 330Mbits/sec FTTP available network wide.

Lincolnshire – The Lincolnshire scheme looks to get “at least 88% of all premises to super-fast broadband by April 2016,” with the council aiming for everyone else to have access to at least 2Mbits/sec broadband.

Kent and Medway – The Kent project promises that at least 95% of properties in Kent will have “access to higher-speed fibre broadband” by the end of 2015. However, the length of lines involved means targets will vary, with only 91% having access to speeds of 24Mbits/sec and above. Outside the fibre footprint, expect 2Mbits/sec.

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