The South Gloucestershire Council in England, which is currently working with Openreach (BT) to extend a FTTC/P based “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network to nearly universal coverage (currently over 97%), has secured another £900,000 from the EU and UK Government’s to reach an extra 100 rural businesses.
So far the state aid supported project has already helped to cover an additional 21,745 premises in the county with “fibre broadband” services (mostly via FTTC / VDSL2) and around 4,000 of those were done with ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. Going forward the local authority would like to achieve near universal coverage and this latest injection of funding, while small, should provide a little boost.
The extra funding appears to have been jointly provided via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). According to the announcement, work has now started to identify the rural businesses which will benefit from this extra money but there are no further details.
We would assume that this extra investment is likely to focus on delivering Gigabit capable broadband technologies (usually “full fibre” services), not least because the UK Government no longer tends to approve investment in slower connection types.
Cllr Ben Burton said:
“We understand how important broadband is for people, especially those running rural businesses, so we are very pleased to welcome this additional funding following our successful bid to government.
So far, more than 21,700 homes and businesses have been able to access fibre broadband as part of our rollout across South Gloucestershire, a substantial number, but one we are focused on improving upon.
We are committed to providing a better broadband service to as much of the district as possible and this latest investment will help us bring connectivity to some of the harder to reach rural areas.”
We did some digging into recent council meetings to see if we could find any additional information. Unfortunately our efforts didn’t turn up much, although one recent cabinet meeting revealed the following commitment: “The next phase of our programme will enable us to further increase superfast coverage to almost 99% once all commercial programmes deliver.”
Meanwhile, in a separate meeting, the local authority said that the delivery of their superfast broadband rollout programme “will continue into future years with funds being claimed as works progress with roll out of the next phase now expected to start in early summer 2019.” Apparently there could be more details on their future Phase 4 rollout plan toward the end of July.