>> Superfast Broadband
By the end of 2017, the Superfast Dorset programme will make superfast broadband available to 90,000 premises in Dorset. Compared with similar rollout programmes nationally, Dorset is due to be one of the best connected counties in the country with 97% of premises with access to speeds above 24Mbps, and even more with access to fibre broadband.
The final 3%:
The current £37 million programme is not designed to reach 100% of Dorset’s properties. The rollout plan is based on a model that maximises speed and coverage in Dorset. It is dynamic and fluid, meaning that areas may be removed or added to deployment plans during the lifetime of the programme in order to maximise benefit overall. This means that there will be local issues, and some communities will not benefit within current plans.
Plans are illustrated on the Superfast Dorset coverage map, with the yellow areas indicating parts of the final 3%. However, being coloured yellow on the map means we do not currently have plans; it does not mean a community will never have access to better broadband. The programme is developing plans to extend speed and coverage into these areas, and with rollout efficiencies,additional funding and changes in technology within reach, this yellow area will become smaller.
‘Value for money’
The budget must be allocated in the most efficient way to maximise benefit in Dorset.In other words, the rollout must provide the greatest number of properties with access to superfast speeds (24Mbps and above). The £37 million budget has been allocated and committed, based on a value for money model. This model does not differentiate between residential or business premises, nor does it prioritise any specific community.
Again, as work progresses, additional funding becomes available and technology improves, some of the areas in the final 3% will become within scope.
Greater take up leads to reinvestment
Another potential source of additional funding is dependent on earlier and higher levels of take up that will bring investment back into the programme to reinvest in areas not in current plans. Everyone can help influence greater take up in communities where fibre broadband is available, whether it is in your community or within your parish group, by promoting the benefits and encouraging the people who have access to take it up.
The rollout of faster, more reliable broadband is part of a long-term agenda. Some communities may not want to wait for a solution to be provided through the Superfast Dorset programme. Some alternatives are available for consideration:
- Alternative technologies:In some cases, accessing fibre broadband will not be possible for those properties that are a long way from the fibre network. However, there are other ways of getting a faster, more reliable internet connection. If your area isn't shown in the Superfast Dorset programme yet there are a number of alternatives that can significantly improve your current speed or provide a connection while you wait. Visit the Superfast Dorset website for more information.
- Self-funding: For some communities not currently covered by the rollout, gap-funding may be an option. Some rural areas are very difficult to reach and therefore much more expensive, while others may need different technology solutions altogether. The gap funding model is where Openreach pay the economically viable cost and private funding covers the remainder. Visit the Openreach website for more information.
Why can’t the success of Marshwood Vale be repeated everywhere?
Communities in the Marshwood Vale will gain access to faster, more reliable broadband thanks to a community-led project that successfully bid into DEFRA for funding that “allowed communities in hard-to-reach areas to secure funding for projects that will give them the potential to receive superfast broadband.” The Marshwood Vale project was one of 4 projects in Dorset that bid in to this fund. Dorset County Council supported all of these projects at some stage in their application, with the Marshwood Vale project ultimately being successful, although funded by another part of government. This fund is now closed to new projects.
(Document added January 2016)