Superfast broadband for Dorset: reality or pipe-dream

Friday February 17th, 2012, 9:30 am

Hot Radio LogoSuperfast broadband for Dorset: reality or pipe-dream

Key points from Friday 17 February 2012 with Geoff Carter on The Bay 102.8 FM

The Current Situation

During the 2012 Olympics Dorset and to be precise Weymouth and Portland will enjoy some of the fastest broadband speeds in the world (let alone  the UK).  This is because BT has installed a mega fibre optic cable to cope with the world’s media and press requirements during the 2012 Olympics.
But what of us lesser mortals trying to run business on what are some of the slowest broadband speeds in the UK?  For many and especially in rural Dorset obtaining even 0.5 MB is extremely difficult and hindering business.  Dorset conurbation is starting to become a hot bed of competition for suppliers of fast and super fast broadband.  And what about the Olympic legacy in terms of this fibre optic cable?  Will Dorset businesses benefit afterwards?  Yes they can  – especially if they are at Osprey Quay.

Fibre optic cableWhat’s the difference between fast and superfast broadband?
Fast is up to 24MB.  Superfast is over 30 MB with some able to reach 100MB.

How can I check my current broadband speed?
Use one of the broadband speed testers like

How can I find out who might be offering faster broadband over the next 12 months?
Use a broadband speed post code like

A number of suppliers are currently vying for your business in the conurbation including:

City Fibre Holdings


Indeed BT have just announced the upgrading of a number of exchanges over the next year either to their fast service or for fibre to the cabinet, their superfast service (infinity) including:

Southbourne, Dorchester, Weymouth, Blandford, Lytchett Minster.

Virgin are promising up to 100MB in some areas.

What if I am based in rural Dorset?

Rural Dorset flora
Rural Dorset

Dorset County is eligible for a £9.44M matched funded grant from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) in respect of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.  Our Local Broadband plan application has been submitted and the initial feedback is that it’s looking favourable – a green light in terms of readiness.  We hope to hear in February /March.  Then a supplier must be selected to match both the BDUK and locally sourced funds.  In total approx £38M is likely to be made available for improving broadband infrastructure, with the project management costs being met by the local partners.  

Will that be sufficient? Will parts of Dorset still have poor broadband?
Yes and No. The extent of the provision of superfast broadband infrastructure will be identified through the procurement process.  The infrastructure will enable access, to but will not provide the “final mile” connecting from the infrastructure point to the premise.  In most instances this will be provided via the Internet service provider (ISP) and the existing infrastructure provision.  Reaching some of the more isolated and remote premises could be more difficult.  In these cases a minimum speed of 2Mbps is the goal, which may be made available through a different type of provision.

We need to drive up demand by demonstrating sufficient demand from businesses of all sizes as well as from residents.  Demand is key to showing that the investment in Dorset will be a viable proposition.  Indeed unless there is sufficient demand for superfast broadband it is possible  that BT could switch off and leave dark fibre behind at Osprey Quay.

Will parts of Dorset still have poor broadband?
Yes, unless we can drive up demand by demonstrating sufficient demand from businesses of all sizes.  Indeed unless there is sufficient demand for superfast broadband it is very likely that BT will switch off the Weymouth and Portland connection leaving just fast broadband.

How can I keep up-to-date about progress?
Follow us on Twitter Digital Dorset and check the Dorset Chamber of Commerce’s news page.

What can I do?
I chair the Digital Dorset Taskforce and am on the BDUK Project Group.  Your comments and input is vital.

Tell me what are the challenges for you and your business. Use the comments box below.  We are lobbying our MPs but we desperately need your help, support and backing if Dorset is not to be left behind.
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