BT Agrees £31.75m Dorset BDUK Deal

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Dorset BDUK deal to bring fibre broadband to 97 percent of the county

BT has agreed a £31.75 million deal with Dorset County Council to provide access to fibre broadband to 97 percent of all homes and businesses in the county under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative.

The company will put £12.86 million towards the Superfast Dorset project, which will also receive £9.44 million from central government for the rollout of fibre in areas where it is not commercially viable to do so.

This figure has been matched by Dorset County Council and the county’s district and borough councils, who have also invested a further £1.3 million to maximise the benefits of the network.

Dorset BDUK Deal

Corfe Castle DorsetBT’s commercial deployment of fibre already reaches 190,000 premises and is set to expand to 260,000 by the end of Spring 2014, but this latest investment will ensure that nearly all residents can benefit from superfast broadband.

Superfast Dorset has also committed to ensuring that anyone who misses out on fibre can  receive at least 2Mbps, speeds which 13.9 percent of the county are currently unable to receive.

Council figures welcomed the announcement, claiming it will rectify one of the biggest problems facing the county and will result in a range of benefits for Dorset.

“It’s very important this broadband technology is made available to as many residents and businesses as possible,” said Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset County Council. “We want everyone in Dorset to have access to reliable and faster broadband within the next three and a half years and I’m delighted by this announcement as it’s a major step forward for our county.

“With the contract now signed, work on the project can get underway. This will give Dorset the competitive edge it needs to attract new businesses and will empower our communities by providing access to services, jobs, education.”

Economic boost

Business leaders have said the improvements will benefit the local economy.

“Having better, faster broadband will play a major role in strengthening the Dorset business community as well as giving residents greater flexibility to use new technology for learning and entertainment,” said James Weld, Superfast Dorset representative from the Local Enterprise Partnership. “Improved and faster connectivity will unleash even more of our county’s potential.”

BT has so far won all of the money available under BDUK after Fujitsu withdrew from the procurement process earlier this year. This has led to questions about whether the initiative is providing the taxpayer with value for money, but BT is adamant that its experience and resources make it the ideal candidate to deliver such projects.

Yesterday it announced another BDUK deal with the Scottish government that will see it deliver fibre to 95 percent of the country by the end of 2017.

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