Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Build for Rural Broadband - A Public / Private Partnership in Cornwall

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Funded by the EU, BT and Cornwall Council, and managed by Cornwall Development Company, Superfast Cornwall is building a brand new superfast broadband network. In this video interview, Nigel Ashcroft, Programme Director for Superfast Cornwall, and Ranulf Scarbrough, BT's Director for the Cornwall Programme, discuss why a public/private partnership makes sense for rural broadband.

  • In October 2011, BT announced an acceleration of its rollout of fibre broadband services. The company now plans to deliver fibre broadband to two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014, one year ahead of its original target of 2015. To help achieve this, BT will recruit a further 520 engineers to assist with the deployment, most of whom will be ex-armed forces.

    “Our roll-out of fibre broadband is one of the fastest in the world and so it is great to be ahead of what was an already challenging schedule. The acceleration reflects the success of the programme to date and is testament to the hard work and innovation of our people.. We are investing when others are merely talking about it," stated Ian Livingston, CEO of BT Group.

    “Thousands of our engineers are busy installing fibre broadband across the UK at an astonishing pace. The recruitment of an additional five hundred engineers will help us go even faster and ensure we are ready to help supply other areas should we win BDUK funds. We are proud that most of these jobs will be filled by ex-armed forces personnel.�?

    BT noted that its roll-out of fibre broadband is well underway, with six million premises already having access to the technology. That figure will leap to ten million in 2012 and then two thirds of premises by the end of 2014. BT’s network can be used by all companies on an open wholesale basis and so underpins a fully competitive marketplace.

  • Earlier in October 2011, BT's Openreach division significantly cut prices for pole and duct access as well as breaking down many of those products into their component parts. Other carriers are encouraged to use such infrastructure to deliver fibre broadband to rural areas. Openreach said its new prices are significantly lower – in some cases more than 60 per cent lower - than the draft ones issued in January when there was a limited understanding of the costs and challenges incurred with providing such access.

  • Also in October 2011, Openreach, the wholesale access division of the BT Group, launched its initial 110 Mbps Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) service and announced plans to boost this capacity to 300 Mbps starting next year. The company's first commercial FTTP connections are launching in Ashford in Middlesex, Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes, Highams Park in North London, Chester South, St Austell and York this month. Trials of 1 Gbps connections are also underway. Openreach also revealed a third boost for broadband speeds by saying it now has approval from the relevant authorities to roughly double the speeds delivered by Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) broadband. This development will see FTTC downstream speeds roughly double from up to 40Mbps to up to 80Mbps.

  • In September 2010, BT announced a £132 million project to bring fibre access to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The FTTP network will be open to all communications providers on a wholesale basis. BT is providing £78.5 million in funding for the project and there will be ERDF Convergence public investment of up to £53.5 million.