The great news for Leicestershire is that 97% of all homes and businesses will soon have access to superfast fibre broadband.
But what about the remaining 3%?
The County Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in Leicestershire has access to the broadband speeds they need.
Our aim is to ensure that fibre broadband is available as far as possible but this is becoming increasingly challenging, particularly as we attempt to reach ever more rural areas.
We have significant further funding available to bring superfast access to many more properties in this final 3%, however we do know that this won’t be enough to upgrade everyone.
Currently, Superfast Leicestershire includes two rollout phases, our Contract 1 and Contract 2 deployments. We will have a Contract 3 rollout and we are in the process of developing plans for this.
How much funding is available?
£5.6m. This includes £2m in early gainshare funding and £3.6m from programme efficiencies and other committed funding we’ve not previously allocated.
What is gainshare?
The County Council’s contract with BT includes a ‘gainshare’ mechanism, which means that the more people that take out a broadband service provided through the programme, the more money is returned to the Council to be reinvested in expanding broadband further.
Once take-up passes 20%, we start to accrue ‘gainshare’ which BT are obliged to pay to the Council six years after each rollout phase finishes. The first payment was due in 2022 but as take-up has been so much better than expected, BT has agreed to pay £2m early.
Will more gainshare funding become available?
Yes. As long as take-up of superfast broadband continues to grow, more money will be returned to the Council by BT for reinvestment.
Will a potential ‘Contract 3’ rollout involve alternative technologies such as wireless broadband?
Possibly. To bring fibre broadband to every single property in Leicestershire would likely cost tens of millions more than has already been invested. Within current funding constraints it is very possible that we will need to seek alternative technology solutions
Which areas are going to benefit?
We don’t yet know. We’re currently developing proposals for new rollouts. You can register for us to keep you updated, here.
What can we do in the meantime?
If you currently receive less than 2Mbps then you may be eligible for our Better Broadband Subsidy scheme. There are also new wireless operators expanding their networks in the county as well as some new fibre based commercial deployments. Click here for more information.
What about the Government’s USO plans?
In November 2015, Government announced their intention to implement a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). This would give people the right to request an affordable broadband connection, at a minimum speed of 10Mbps, from a designated provider, up to a reasonable cost.
The USO is planned to come into force in 2020, however it is no yet known how this will operate.
The USO is different from the Universal Service Commitment (USC). The USC is a Government and County Council promise to provide all Leicestershire properties with access to broadband of at least 2Mbps. The USC is being achieved through our Better Broadband Sudsidy Scheme.