I am grateful to Steve Moore at Kirklees Council for providing an update on broadband delivery projects across Kirklees with which the council is involved. Some information relating to Superfast West Yorkshire remains commercially sensitive for the moment as Phase 2 is currently going through a procurement process.
The Kirklees Core is a new state of the art gigabit speed, pure fibre optic network that will deliver ultra fast connectivity to council offices and local businesses in Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Batley. Construction begins soon on the demand-led network .
You can register your business today to ensure it reaches your area www.kirkleescore.com
BDUK Phase 2 offers each of the six Superfast West Yorkshire authorities a proportion of the £6.89 million Capital Allocation in order to reach the s called 'white' areas of poor provision. Kirklees has been allocated the largest regional proportion at £2.9 million.
Unlike BDUK Phase 1, Phase 2 has no match funding requirement from local authorities.
Kirklees Council estimates 2,300 commercial and 3,000 residential premises will have access to a superfast service of 24mb. This suits the aspirations of the Kirklees Economic Strategy in relation to improved connectivity, infrastructure, enterprising businesses and quality places.
The build period is estimated for 2016 and 2018.
Central government has pledged an additional £2.11 million to Superfast West Yorkshire providing the amount can be matched with European money. Kirklees Council is currently working to secure this money and bid for the European match. No timescales are available but the European 'bid window' is now open and will close in May 2015.
Virgin Media has announced a £3 billion infrastructure roll out and has requested suggestions for deployment. The company is specifically targeting business parks, industrial estates and other business clusters. There are no guarantees Virgin Media will build in these areas.
Kirklees Council submitted a list of relevant postcodes on 18th March and is awaiting feedback.
Please see www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31451174
UK Government Strategy
To enhance further the UK's digital communications infrastructure, the government is announcing a new ambition that ultrafast broadband of at least 100 Megabits per second should be available to nearly all UK premises.
Universal Service Obligation
The government will also take further action to support the delivery of broadband in rural areas, including looking to raise the Universal Service Obligation - the legal entitlement to a basic service - from dial-up speeds to 5 Mbps broadband, and subsidising the costs of installing superfast capable satellite services.
The broadband connection voucher scheme, extended to March 2016, is available in 50 cities from 1st April 2015. Kirklees Council is now part of the scheme, is working closely with the regional delivery team, and actively promoting the project.
For further information please visit https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/superconnected-cities/
The government will provide up to £600 million to support the delivery of the change of use of 700MHz spectrum to further enhance the UK's mobile broadband connectivity. Funds will support the infrastructure costs of clearing the spectrum frequency. This includes support to consumers, where appropriate, and returning broadcast transmitters. This will enable broadcasters to move into a lower frequency and free up the 700MHz spectrum for 4G mobile communications use through the next Parliament. The Government will also centralise operational management of public sector spectrum, and will reset the release target.
To affirm its commitment to the UK's long-term digital future the government is publishing its 'Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy' proposing how best to support market delivery.
EU Digital Single Market
The European Commission is also making some important announcements about the digital single market in May 2015.
What does this mean the South Pennines?
It's now vital that local businesses, community groups and residents get organised and unite together to push the broadband agenda across the region. SPARC is helping to coordinate opinion through a single voice.
There are some difficult questions to ask...
1. Do local businesses, community groups and residents really want improved connectivity?
2. Do they know who their current supplier is?
3. What connectivity do they want, and what for?
4. How much are they prepared to pay?
There are more strategic challenges too. Many businesses don't know just how online technologies (including social media) can enable their processes, identify new markets and embrace new customers. We all know that we want faster broadband. But, we need to understand ourselves how we can use it in a smarter way. If businesses can see the financial benefits of faster broadband, reservations over paying more for a good quality service is no longer a barrier.
Check out our local broadband connectivity heatmap