New Somerset Broadband – here we go again!
Government today announced a consultation on the delivery of a £5bn new broadband package. Government is consulting with industry providers about competition to roll out new broadband capacity. The plan is to roll out what it calls “gigabite capable broadband.” These connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available. If you live in Somerton and Frome constituency, you are probably still hoping for any broadband at all.
However Government has identified Somerset as one of the areas of the country where subsidy will be needed. We can only hope the delivery will be more effective than the last program under Connecting Devon & Somerset.
The new funding anticipates 26 large regions of England that are most likely to require subsidy. Commercial operators will be happy to supply easy to reach areas. however in each region the hardest 40,000 to 80,000 premises will need government support to get connected. The government expects larger broadband suppliers to bid for these areas and prioritise people with slow speeds.
The areas in greatest need are identified as: Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Worcerstershire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Sussex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
Smaller contracts to connect around 1,000 to 8,000 premises, will also be available. The idea is to stimulate competition across a wider range of small, medium-sized and rural specialist telecoms providers. Again the areas where this is anticipated to be needed are: Cumbria, Westmoreland, Yorkshire, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Kent and Sussex.
Whilst the intent is good, we have to remind readers of the last attempt to do this in Somerset. Only two providers made bids, Fujitsu and BT. Fujitsu then withdrew from the contest. The deliver was late. new contracts to try and get to the harder to reach areas were even less successful. Despite having £100m of public money, many areas of the county still cannot decent broadband at all.