To consider South Holland District Council’s contribution to the roll out of Superfast Broadband across South Holland. (Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151) enclosed.)
Consideration was given to the joint report of the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Executive Director Commercialisation (S151) which sought a decision in respect of South Holland District Council’s contribution to the roll out of Superfast Broadband across South Holland with between 95% and 97% coverage.
Members were reminded that the council had signed up in principle to a county wide programme with BDUK which provided match funding. A memorandum of agreement had been signed which set out the principles of the agreement and £606,910 had been included within the budget, though it had been hoped that a lower contribution would be sufficient.
The first phase had been successful and had seen an underspend against the anticipated budget. It was, however, proposed that the Council still contribute the full budget allocated in order to extend the coverage to an anticipated 95%.
Councillor R Gambba-Jones stated the importance of a clear message in that the council was working to provide the infrastructure to enable members of the public to potentially connect to superfast broadband and not actually be provided with direct access as it was down to members of the public to find their own provider in order to connect to the system.
Councillor M G Chandler advised that it was vitally important for the business community and for the rural areas within South Holland to have access to the service. He requested assurance that the authority would be receiving value for money.
Councillor C N Worth pointed out that there had been a phenomenal improvement since the work had started in 2011 and that there would be a further improvement by the end of the programme.
Councillor R Gambba-Jones requested that the Leader and Deputy Leaders use their influence at Government level to encourage developers to provide fibre in new properties. The Lord Porter of Spalding stated that it was not compulsory to install gas and electric into properties and therefore fibre would be similarly treated unless it had a unique selling point.
The Lord Porter of Spalding questioned the fact that the Council was being asked to contribute the full amount despite there being a saving against the budget. As the basis for the decision had shifted he questioned whether Council approval was required. The Executive Manager Governance explained that it was an executive decision as the full amount requested was within the policy framework and budget. The Interim Executive Manager Growth and Prosperity advised that there would be an implication to reducing the Councils contribution in respect of having to pay BDUK back any match funding, pound for pound.
The Chief Executive stated that the contract was not controlled or owned by the Council. It would be for the Council to seek to obtain the best terms it could. She advised that it was necessary to consider the remote areas that were disadvantaged and that the Council’s contribution should be made with assurance from Lincolnshire County Council that the service would be extended to the remote ... view the full minutes text for item 6
To consider South Holland District Council’s contribution to the roll out of Superfast Broadband across South Holland (report of the Executive Director Commercialisation enclosed)
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Commercialisation, which asked the joint Panel to consider South Holland District Council’s contribution to the roll out of Superfast Broadband across South Holland.
The Executive Manager Growth and Prosperity provided the joint Panel with an update on the history of the issue, as detailed within the report. He also advised that the target to bring superfast broadband to 90% of the County (a minimum of 2Mbps to UK premises) by 2015 had been met (this had only been confirmed within the last few days and was therefore not reflected within the report).
The Lincolnshire Broadband Programme Manager outlined the government imposed solution for premises with less than 2Mbps (although he did question the effectiveness of this solution). The premises owner could apply for a subsidised satellite solution – they would be provided with a voucher which could then be used with any of seven providers. If this opportunity was taken up, it would not preclude them from any possible upgrades when Phase 2 of the project was implemented.
The following issues were raised:
· There were some anomalies with regard to the speed available at some properties in that although less than 2Mbps was being achieved, the provider’s records showed that a higher than 2Mbps speed was available.
o The Lincolnshire Broadband Programme Manager advised that even if BT was not the provider, BT’s lines were still used and therefore the speed achieved could only ever be what the line was capable of, and no more. A snapshot of speed tests should be sent through to the Programme Manager to investigate. It was suggested that this could be an issue for a number of people and therefore information on this should be provided on the website.
· Within some settlements, some properties were achieving over 2Mbps speed, whilst others received sub 2Mbps. Would the subsidised satellite solution be the only way to improve speeds?
o Currently this was the only option. However, Phase 2 could provide an upgrade for properties receiving sub 2Mbps speed. The satellite solution could still be taken up even if the property was due for an upgrade in Phase 2.
· When the original presentation had been given to the joint Panel in 2012, concern had been raised with regard to delivery of service to premises. The Panel had requested that it be established that the service must be available to the actual premises, rather than just to the cabinet in the street. Improvements had been seen however, there were still concerns regarding a sizeable number of people who were not able to receive speeds of 2Mbps and over.
o Superfast broadband had been delivered to 30,000 premises, 90% of the County, and there had been a real increase in service. Phase 2 of the project would be trying to address areas where there were any issues. There were issues affecting service, one of them being the standard of BT’s infrastructure (which would possibly not change), and also internal ... view the full minutes text for item 17