There seems to be a distinct lack of ambition about providing a competitive broadband architecture in Cambridgeshire. Current plans are to provide between 2Mbps and 30 Mbps by 2015. Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) are providing £6.75 million, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and Peterborough City Council (PCC) are providing £23 million. Full project costs are estimated to be £70 million to £100 million.
An OJEC notice was issued on 27 Jan 2012 and an RFI was issued on 20 Mar 2012. Responses are expected on 20 Apr 2012.
Cambridge is seen as the UK’s leading city in terms of the Knowledge Economy and was specifically mentioned in The Work Foundation‘s “A plan for growth in the knowledge economy” paper in June 2011. A pre-requisite for leadership in the “knowledge economy” will be a competitive information/communication infrastructure.
In a Global context the current Cambridgeshire plans are completely inadequate. The UK is currently 25th in the EU and 36th in the World in terms of our broadband infrastructure. Jersey has just completed rolling out a 1Gbps (1000 Mbps) infrastructure to all businesses which is now being rolled out to all homes. Scandinavia, Germany and the Far East are leading implementation with even higher speeds.
4th Generation mobile broadband was rolled out in Stockholm 2 years ago. This LTE technology provides a download speed of 100 Mbps and an uplink speed of 50 Mbps. Advanced LTE provides a download speed of 1Gbps and an uplink speed of 500 Mbps.
It is clear that the UK’s plans are “not super” and definitely “not fast” Cambridgeshire needs (at least) 100 Mbps Broadband if it is to remain competitive in the Knowledge economy.
Dr Peter Cochrane, former CTO of BT gave some fascinating evidence to a parliamentary Select Committee.
He makes a very strong case for providing regulated access to existing Fibre-Optic networks. The term “Dark Fibre” is used to describe the huge amounts of “just in case” capacity which already exists.
There is also a very strong argument for supporting small businesses in the broadband sector. He specifically refers to a number of small Cambridge based “start ups” that were forced out of business by the Telecom “Monopolies/Cartels” that exist in the UK