Rural Broadband Pilots

In the Comprehensive Spending Review on October 20th, the government announced that the four pilot projects to be run by Broadband Delivery UK will be in the Highlands and Islands, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Herefordshire.  The funding for this is essentially being redirected away from the BBC.  £230m is left over from the budget allocated to the Digital Switchover in previous years.  The BBC will be required to contribute a further £150m in each of 2013-14 and 2014-15, bringing the total to £530m.  This could be increased to £830m if the BBC is required to contribute the same amount in 2015-16 and 2016-17 (which is when this current settlement with the BBC expires).

The project to provide superfast broadband to Cornwall is costing £132m, so on the face of it £230m in the next two to three years would not go far when spread across the four pilot areas.  However, we have been given to understand by BDUK that these pilots are going to be subsidised for initial capex, rather than funded entirely, perhaps to the tune of £5-10m each.  It is also expected that they will be able to utilise existing public sector networks in those areas for the middle mile element. 

We expect the relevant bodies to go out to tender for the work as early as this Winter.  It will be fascinating to watch it play out.


About Ayres End Consulting
Telecoms consultant specialising in interconnect, regulation & public policy.

8 Responses to Rural Broadband Pilots

  1. Brian says:

    Just been reading this information to provide all bells and whistles by 2015. Not sure about the validity of the statement when most rural areas can’t even get 2meg and most rural business service are lucky to get 1meg, and only then when the string is damp. I also noticed that certain counties have been allocated a healthy budget for the uplift. I see the chairman for INCA a true Suffolk man got his county allocated a large slice of the pie, Lucky old Suffolk, whilst where I live in deep darkest un developed rural Essex, which surprisingly has infinity going into Frinton, but stuff the rest of us. Frinton, you know? Harwich for the continent and Frinton for the incontinent of sea side fame. I wonder how much of these allocations and priorities are favours called in by the few at the expense of the rest of us? It would be nice if ordinary people had a chance to ask questions and get the answers before all the smart A**** people make these decisions and judgements. But, what would I know, I am 67 years old and have spent the best part of 46 of them working on systems. Its the people that don’t get asked that should be asked and are not.

  2. Chris Conder says:

    any sign of any of these projects, its over a year since they were announced?

  3. Hi Chris, Well quite. I think the most frustrating thing is that these were supposed to be “market testing” and we were supposed to be trying out different models and different technologies to learn from them when we did the rest of the country. Well, we all know how that’s turning out. Not so much “fascinating” as rather depressing. I hope the B4RN project is going well. It’s a glimmer of light in a bleak landscape!

  4. Neil Blake says:

    We’re a small community in the slow/not spot (white) category working hard to get anything. We’ve done market demand surveys on our residents and are ready to make a case to the county for gap funding. But I’ve now read most of the recent DEFRA materials and BDUK “guidance”. Am I the only one registering stark amazement / despair at the new jargon-filled hoops we have to jump through? It is worthy of the EU CAP for obfuscation. To submit an EoI to DEFRA as instructed will outrun the submission deadlines. Could this be just another CYA initiative? The guidelines are still blatantly work in progress. Someone please tell me I’m wrong and how I’ve misjudged DEFRA so ignorantly.

  5. Sorry, this blog is really out of date now! I haven’t blogged for ages. It sounds like you’ve probably seen all the latest info about the Rural Community Broadband Fund – BDUK have proposed 5 business models. Two involve working with the local authority, and three look for private investment as follows:

    o Partnership
    Your community raise some of the finance but need a partner to bring the rest of the investment and to design, build and operate the network on your behalf
    o Concession
    Your community are prepared to raise all of the finance but offer a concession to a company to design, build and operate the network on your behalf
    o DIY
    Your community is prepared to raise the finance as well as design, build and operate the network

    The RCBF Toolkit or “guidance notes” is here:
    The RDPE website is here:
    And the DCMS page is here:

    A good person to talk to would be Adrian Wooster of Or you can find hime on twitter as @awooster. He is working on community projects from inside government.

    • Neil Blake says:

      Thanks for the comments. I’m still left wondering if I’m the only one thinking the emperor has no clothes! I’m sure Wooster will blog advice.

  6. Neil Blake says:

    Looks like your blog isn’t switched onto this topic. Nor is Wooster’s mind on it either: unwilling to comment on DEFRA’s “initiative” beyond suggesting it is a parallel one to the CCs Community Investment Fund track. Anxious not to bite the hand that feeds?

    I’m still rooting for BDUK and County Councils to “fix the worst first”. The news that most County Councils have yet to produce their LBPs (local broadband plans) means we’re paying public servants to sit on their assets. Depressing.
    But MLF’s “Raceonline2012” has at least (and at last) taken an interest in rurally isolated people with its 4G experiment with THREE.

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