The Chancellor’s Announcement About Rural Broadband – Eventually You Get Proved Right

Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a further funding programme for rural broadband. This is designed to take faster internet connections deeper into the “difficult to reach” parts of the countryside.

There are two notable things about the proposed strategy here. The first is that it is based on what is called “full-fibre”. That means fibre optic cable right into the premises, not, as has mainly been the case to date, running fibre to street cabinets and then relying on the ancient copper cables to take the signal the rest of the way. This can be for miles in some rural areas, and the signal degrades over copper, whereas it doesn’t over fibre. Some of us have been calling for a “full-fibre” strategy for years, and, at last the Government has caught up with this, but only after wasting millions of pounds on propping up the antiquated copper telephone network.

The second notable element is that the new strategy is based around connecting up public sector buildings, especially schools, to the fibre network, and then connecting up the remainder of the community from there.

In 2011, redoubtable broadband activist Lindsey Annison had a plan identical to this to connect up the community of Warcop in Cumbria. Below are some videos I took on the Fibre Walk she led over the proposed cable-laying route. This plan could not be implemented because we were told that it was not feasible for schools to share the connections with non-educational sites. That policy has now been over-turned, but only 7 years later. How much time and money has been expended in pursuing temporary solutions till now?

It is good to be proved right, but why does it have to take so long?

4 thoughts on “The Chancellor’s Announcement About Rural Broadband – Eventually You Get Proved Right

  1. One might suggest “easily swayed” might be interpreted in our Ewhurst Broadbanders case by Parish Councillors** signing a non-disclosure agreement with BT so that the remainder of our group were unable to examine the non-compliant “quotation” from BT which did not even contain any estimated costs. That also resulted in our SEEDA-approved RDPE grant of £180,000 being withdrawn thus destroying (and seriously delaying) our project we had meticulously prepared with our chosen vendor, the then Vitesse Networks. It also forced Vitesse out of the FTTC business.

    ** In my opinion it is quite likely that both Waverley Borough and Surrey County Councils were probably aware of these proceedings.

    These happenings caused me to travel from Surrey up to Warcop for that event and was the trigger for my investment in B4RN as their first shareholder so that very dark cloud has now got even a golden lining !

  2. Gosh, 7 years since the FibreWalk?! It is also 14 years since The End Game FTTH Conference was planned in London for property developers, planning agencies and broadband providers to resolve the new-build issue, which is also only now being fully addressed.

    It is a shame to once again see money being proposed for rural pilots. We all know how to do it now with the success of B4RN and similar projects. That £200M could connect 1/4 million (266,000) rural properties based on now established costs and financials. Undoubtedly, as in the past, the money will be spent on lengthy reports that will languish on some shelf in Westminster, unread and purposeless, and some “innovative trial” that has already been done and/or is a FOAF of a bod in Whitehall. Sigh.

    Thank you John for a reminder of my village. I left, as did my children and many others, and lack of future-proofed broadband has played a huge part in that. It was a typically groshy (damp) Cumbrian day but huge fun!

    I do look back and wonder just how we managed to be SO FAR AHEAD of the curve out in the sticks, (Need? Frustration?) and yet UK is still so far behind internationally, all these years later.

    If only, occasionally, someone in Westminster would LISTEN to grassroots voices….. And put the money where it will do most good. We have more than proved our value now, I believe, yet I doubt a penny of the £200M will find its way to any of the rural community initiatives it could really benefit.

    Ah well. Better JFDI without them then, as we have been for over 2 decades now 🙂

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