It’s been a while since the last FTTP update and the news from my contact is mixed – some good, some bad.
I started this project in 2021 with the goal of it being funded by the Department of Community Media and Sport (DCMS). That’s why there was the rush to get numbers to pledge and validate Gigabit Voucher Scheme vouchers. You’ll recall that we crept in under the barrier as a round of funding closed.
However, while the project has been running in the background, Openreach has also been announcing direct investment commercial schemes. One such scheme covers us. But with this commercial scheme running the DCMS has decided that we no longer need funding. This is in direct response to competitive providers such as Trooli and Airband being active in the area thus eliminating the need in the eyes of DCMS for funding.
As a result of this commercial investment by other providers, DCMS no longer deem this area unviable and requiring government intervention funding in the broadband market. This, to say the least, is irritating to both myself and my contact.
All is not lost though. I’ve been assured that FTTP is still coming to us, but that (a) the timescale will possibly slip and (b), because the scheme is commercial, Openreach may decide that some outlying properties may not be economic to build to. This matter has been raised and Openreach are trying to include all properties in the original scheme. Any properties that are not commercially viable would likely remain as voucher eligible (as an intervention area subject to DCMS approvals) therefore this can be considered as an option to fund the build of these non-commercially viable properties.
My contact is sourcing a list of properties that under the commercial arrangement will be included (or excluded). The plan is to seek funding for those properties.
I’m sorry this is less than ideal; under the voucher scheme we should have had a completion within a 12-month period from handover to delivery, that is, by May ’23. This target may not be met now but I’ve been told that FTTP is still anticipated later this year.
Ultimately, I can organise the scheme but cannot control its rollout so please don’t shoot the messenger.
Cllr. Adam Bernstein