Lincolnshire councils prepare joint bid for broadband rollout

By Derek du Preez
26 Jul 2011 View Comments
Fibre optic broadband

North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire Councils are collaborating on a programme that aims to see superfast broadband deployed to 100 per cent of all businesses and residents in the South Humber region.

The council's have indicated that government funding will be required to support the rollout, and an expression of interest has already been submitted to the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

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They plan to submit a formal joint bid for funding to BDUK, the body charged with allocating finances for broadband rollout, by October 2011.

North Lincolnshire currently has a less developed broadband infrastructure than its partner North-East Lincolnshire, with only 41 per cent of homes and businesses in the area with access to superfast broadband. This compares with 90 per cent of homes and businesses in North-East Lincolnshire.

The programme document states: "Much of the South Humber risks being significantly left behind the knowledge economy, particularly when other parts of the region, country and even the world have a much higher standard of broadband infrastructure.

"The area needs help and this programme intends to coordinate activities and source funding to ensure that all homes, businesses and communities are able to access superfast broadband."

BT Openreach provides a lot of the region's core infrastructure through 26 exchanges. However, the councils want the programme to be a "patchwork of projects and initiatives" and that there is "no preferred method" regarding how to best achieve the 100 per cent rollout.

The rollout proposal points to a mix of technologies, including fibre-to-the-premise, fibre-to-the-cabinet, wireless and satellite, being used to ensure the whole of the South Humber region is covered.

As the councils anticipate that they will receive funding from BDUK, and potentially European Funding, it will need to fulfil the EU Digital Agenda target of 30Mb/s broadband for 100 per cent of residents by 2020.

The UK government pledged £530m last November to ensure that 90 per cent of households in each local authority could access super-fast broadband as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review.

The first wave of the government's funding was agreed in October 2010 for four UK-based pilot projects in North Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Cumbria and the Highlands – to establish a model for broadband provision in rural areas. Each project was allocated between £5m and £10m.

Further projects in Devon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Norfolk were unveiled in May 2011.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has also gone out to tender for up to 12 suppliers to participate in a framework agreement that will support the roll out of rural broadband until 2015. The framework is set to last for up to four years and is estimated to be worth between £750m and £2bn.

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