Rutland County Council has selected BT to roll out fibre to 90% of residents by the end of 2013 in a project that is set to cost £3 million.
Some 17,000 homes and businesses will benefit from a network that will largely use fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, which can achieve downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps. The average downstream speed in the rural East Midlands town is currently 6Mbps.
Rutland is hoping to increase the coverage of the project to 97% of residents, within the same timescale, but would need to secure additional funding and it is likely that this will run under a separate procurement.
BT is contributing £800,000 to the project, with £2.2 million coming from Rutland Country Council and an additional £710,000 coming from Broadband Delivery UK, the government body charged with allocating public sector funds to the national fibre rollout.
“Rutland is a sparse, rural area and getting high-speed affordable broadband to 97% of the county will make a huge different to the long-term prospects of the area and quality of life for all,” said Terry King, deputy leader for Rutland County Council.
“Broadband coverage in Rutland is poor and in some areas very poor, which is why we need a solution like this for the whole county addressing ‘not spots’ and areas the market will not penetrate.”
King added that the deployment would bring benefits to the wider community by enabling education through technology, as well as giving residents access to new models of care and social interaction.
Rutland and BT also plan to use ‘alternative broadband technologies’ in a small percentage of areas that are harder to reach with a fixed fibre line. It is likely that these technologies could include satellite broadband or white spaces, but assessment will be made on a case-by-case basis.
The government has committed a minimum of £730m up until 2015 to support the rollout of next generation broadband networks across the UK, in a bid to meet Chancellor George Osborne’s aim of creating the best superfast network in Europe by then.