Double boost for Worcestershire households and businesses wanting to get their broadband up to speed
Worcestershire County Council today launched two new schemes to help more local businesses and residents not yet earmarked for a high-speed fibre broadband upgrade. The first is a co-funding partnership scheme, working with Openreach. The second is a business broadband voucher initiative.
Worcestershire County Council today announced two new schemes designed to help even more of the county’s households and businesses to get high-speed fibre broadband.
The first is a co-funding initiative, where the costs of deploying the expensive infrastructure is shared between the County Council, Openreach and local residents wanting to upgrade.
Meanwhile, local firms wanting to improve their broadband speeds can apply for one of the County Council’s new business broadband vouchers to help them with the cost of upgrading.
These two new schemes are part of the authority’s drive to reach the final four per cent of county households and businesses not yet covered by any public or private sector roll-out programme.
Stuart Yorke-Brooks, a resident of Broughton Green near Droitwich, who plans to use the co-funding scheme to benefit his community, said: “Broughton Green is a tiny village and would never be economically viable for connection through the Superfast Worcestershire programme or commercial deployment.
“The co-funding scheme is a way communities like ours can get some financial support, which we can combine with our own funding to get our village connected. We are delighted to be part of Worcestershire County Council's continued commitment to connect isolated and rural communities to 21st century technology.
"Having the option of Worcestershire County Council contributing to getting us connected will reduce the cost to our community even further. High-speed broadband promises to touch and improve on nearly every aspect of modern-day life. This will have a significant impact on all members of our community, whether they are school children accessing online educational material, companies running businesses or residents working from home.
"I’d definitely recommend that any communities that are not included in the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out get in touch with the County Council. This new scheme will ensure our community gets connected, and effectively gives those previously isolated communities a voice and identity in the digital landscape."
The co-funding scheme – known as a Local Body Partnership (LBP) - aims to bring high-speed broadband to more of the county’s smallest, remote communities not yet earmarked for any public or private sector roll-outs, by sharing the infrastructure and installation costs, which would otherwise be too expensive. The County Council has set aside £500,000 to support communities through the scheme, which can be used to contribute towards money raised by eligible communities to make the technology available.
Currently 94 per cent of county premises can access superfast broadband. This is as a result of the Superfast Worcestershire programme, which is being led by Worcestershire County Council and BT Group, as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
The Business Connection Voucher Scheme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund, will help local businesses get connected by offering a voucher of up to £1,500 to each eligible business in need of faster fibre broadband. The scheme will assist businesses to meet up to half of the costs of installing a fibre broadband connection to their premises.
In addition to the new schemes, that allow communities and businesses to take control of their future broadband provision, Worcestershire County Council is seeking additional funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The County Council is committed to taking coverage further by also investing elements of underspend or other funds arising from earlier contracts to extend superfast broadband infrastructure further into Worcestershire.
Cllr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member responsible for Economy and Infrastructure, said: "Bringing the latest technology to the final four per cent of Worcestershire premises is challenging and requires innovative solutions. Our co-funding scheme for communities and the voucher scheme for businesses are just two of the ways where we are working hard to ensure that even our most rural communities have access to superfast broadband. Access to fast and reliable broadband is essential for everyone who lives, works and invests in Worcestershire, and it will ensure that our county is, and remains, Open for Business."
The County Council’s new co-funding initiative complements the one run by Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest telephone and broadband network.
Steve Haines, Openreach’s Managing Director of Next Generation Access, said: “We know how vital fast internet is to communities. Bringing new technology to tiny, remote communities can be challenging and expensive, which is why these kinds of initiatives are becoming increasingly important and popular.
“Whether it’s streaming TV in the home, doing homework online, or downloading large files in the office – superfast broadband makes doing anything online faster. With a choice of many broadband providers and the variety of services and prices they offer, the Openreach network provides real choice.”
Residents and businesses in the affected areas should consider which option is most suitable for their community. If in doubt, the programme team can be contacted on email@example.com.
Notes to editors
The Connection Voucher Scheme can only be used by Small to Medium size Enterprises as defined by the European Commission, and enables Worcestershire County Council to co-invest with businesses and will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.Vouchers will be capped at a maximum of £1,500 per business.
The scheme will assist businesses to meet the costs of installing a fibre broadband connection to their premises. In addition to securing a fibre connection, business will also be able to use the funding towards networking within the business (either wireless or cabled) or to potentially fund equipment to implement transformational business changes
The same rules apply to charities and not for profit organisations.
- SME based in Worcestershire
- Employ fewer than 250 people or volunteers
- Turnover of less than €50m and/or have a balance sheet of less than €43m
- Business has received less than €200k in public grants in the last 3 years
- Business does not operate in a sector which is excluded from the Scheme
- Business does not have a parent company or linked enterprise which does not meet the eligibility criteria
- Business has no broadband connection or poor connection, and the solution being offered can demonstrate a 'step change' in speed (detailed below)
The Local Body Partnership Scheme enables Worcestershire County Council to co-invest with communities and will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.
Support funding will be capped at a maximum £80,000 per community; however communities above this limit will be taken into consideration and reviewed on a case by case basis.
Worcestershire County Council has also set aside £500,000 to support communities through a Local Body Partnership Scheme (LBP), which can be used to contribute towards money raised by eligible communities to make the technology available.
The LBP Scheme is thought to be one of the first local authority-led initiatives of its kind and will give participating properties access to superfast broadband through an already well established Community Fibre Partnership scheme run by Openreach.
The solution will be planned to achieve a minimum of 24Mbps for every property or business in scope. The solution will be designed to be the most affordable, and could be Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), or Fibre to the Remote Node (FttRN). It is not possible for a community or business to request a preferred solution.
About Superfast Worcestershire:
Superfast Worcestershire is a partnership between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. In the first phase Worcestershire County Council is contributing up to £8.5 million, with an additional £8.9 million from BT Group, and a further £4.45 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds through the Superfast Britain initiative (please see below) to make a total of £21.85 million.
A further contract to extend the programme was signed in March 2015 to increase the percentage of homes and businesses able to access fibre-based broadband in Worcestershire to more than 95 per cent when the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the technology is included. The total amount of funding available for the extension to the programme is £6.2 million, comprising £2.39 million grant funding each from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal, and £1.42 million from BT Group to make a total of £6.2 million.
This next phase, Contract 3 announced in November 2017, will increase the percentage of homes and businesses able to access superfast broadband in Worcestershire to more than 96 per cent when the private sector's commercial roll-out of the technology is included.Superfast broadband is defined as speeds over 24Mbps. The total amount of funding available for Contract 3 is £6.2 million, comprising grant funding from the Government's Broadband Delivery UK programme of £1.5 million, £1 million from the Department for Communities and Local Government European Regional Development Fund and £3.7 million from BT Group to make a total of £6.2 million.
The Superfast Worcestershire roll-out is using a mixture of technologies. These include Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), which provides download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), which is capable of delivering download speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and upload speeds of up to 220Mbps. In addition there are some premises that are currently connected directly to the telephone exchange rather than via a green roadside cabinet, sometimes known as Exchange Only (EO) lines. In order to connect EO lines, further roadside cabinets have to be installed.
Speeds referred to are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all broadband service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.