Wednesday, December 6, 2017

News: Funding proposal for extending South Yorkshire broadband project

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Finance from local authorities is being finalised for a proposal to further extend Superfast Broadband across South Yorkshire.

Rothbiz reported in June on plans that were being developed for the "white areas" of South Yorkshire that struggle to receive decent broadband speeds.


Superfast South Yorkshire is a partnership between the authorities of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield and BT, which secured £22m to ensure 97.9% of South Yorkshire will have access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017. Securing additional funding, plans are in place to reach 98.7% by 2018.

The project is part of the government's BDUK initiative which is based on a gap funded subsidy approach, where the private sector invests alongside a public subsidy to provide broadband to areas where there is not otherwise a viable commercial market.

Following a review, it is estimated that 30,897 premises in South Yorkshire will be without broadband up to 30MPS when phase 1 ends and now Superfast South Yorkshire intends to conduct a further procurement in respect of the remaining areas without next-generation access (NGA) broadband infrastructure.

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The four South Yorkshire Councils and the Sheffield City Region have identified that a further £4.3m is needed in order to make fibre broadband available to as close to 100% coverage as technically possible.

£800,000 is available from external funding leaving a £3.5m match funding requirement for the South Yorkshire councils to contribute.

Rotherham Council's cabinet is being asked to approve its part of the funding on a basis of it being cost neutral to the Council.

The funding of the proposal revolves around £3.5m of National Product Investment Funding being used by SCR to replace borrowing costs within the existing Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) capital programme and the cost savings released being used to reduce the PTE levy payable by the councils.

The SYPTE works in partnership with the local councils and transport service operators to manage public transport infrastructure, run the local bus, train and tram services and provide walking and cycling routes. Funding comes from the Government and levies from South Yorkshire's four local authorities.

The Government announced the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund in the Autumn Statement 2016 to fund infrastructure and innovation projects over the following five years.

The proposal allows the councils to utilise the levy savings to fund the financing costs of the £3.5m capital investment in broadband match funding on a cost neutral basis.

Rotherham Council's share of the levy reduction would be £45,000 which is sufficient to fund the annual financing costs of the Council's £670,000 capital share of the broadband proposal.

In November, the Government announced a £200m Challenge Fund under the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Programme which aims to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks.

Superfast South Yorkshire website

Images: Department for Culture Media & Sport

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