“Fast Start” aims to thwart broadband rollout delays
The government is hoping to avoid last-minute hitches in broadband contracts by bringing all stakeholders together at the beginning of a project to iron out potential problems.
The “Fast Start” scheme would bring together local government, engineers and others to deal with planning permission, roadworks issues, and getting power to cabinets. The idea is to identify specific practical problems, such as locations that could be hard to supply with next generation broadband.
The programme will first be trialled in Norfolk, and is in addition to any input from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
“The idea is that if something happens that’s after the contracts have been signed and been agreed they can be sorted more quickly,” a spokesperson for the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) told PC Pro.
“Although the authorities would have submitted a detailed plan, this is about getting all the partners that are going to be involved in the physical rollout together at the very beginning of the process to identifying spots that might cause delays.”
According to the DCMS, the scheme would require no additional funding because the people involved “would already be working in the area,” so would not cut into the £530 million allocated for broadband rollouts.
The move to speed up the rollout process will be welcomed by residents, but raises questions over what the various councils and BDUK have been doing to guard against such problems during a procurement started shortly after the funding was allocated in 2010.
According to broadband minister Ed Vaizey, Norfolk was chosen as a pilot for the plans because it was one of the first to sign a deal with BT, and if successful the scheme would be expanded to work on other regional projects.