Sheffield Joins Group of 49 Super Connected Cities
The city of Sheffield is wired with a £100 million fibre-optic network that connects some 80% of its homes and businesses. So why is the city so far behind in terms of superfast broadband connections? Because the network was shut down last year due to heavy financial losses. That has all changed now, thanks to Sheffield being awarded participation in the government's Super Connected Cities programme.
The programme will provide vouchers worth up to £3,000 to businesses in the Sheffield region willing to sign up for new fibre-optic broadband. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport will be spending upwards of £40 million on the programme through its Broadband Delivery UK agency. The hope is to get enough companies utilising the network to finally generate the profit that has been elusive for so many years.
The nearly 1,000 miles of data cabling was installed through a joint effort involving four councils in South Yorkshire and the development agency they established known as Yorkshire Forward. The completed network was sold to a US company in the hope that it would attract 120,000 customers and begin generating a profit in just a few years. The exact opposite happened. But not only did the network only attract 3,000 customers, its losses totalled nearly £1 million per month. By the time the network was shut down last year, the total cost to taxpayers was in the region of £160 million. Total losses suffered by the American company are unknown.
High-Speed Is the Future
The demise and resurrection of the fibre-optic network in Sheffield is not evidence that there is no demand for high-speed networking via fibre-optic. In fact, it is just the opposite. The problems in Sheffield were likely the result of poor planning and management rather than low customer demand. The Government expects the resurrected network to more than meet expectations in the coming years.
Overall, the Government is investing nearly £1 billion in improving high-speed networking throughout the UK. And fibre-optic is at the centre of it all. Fibre-optic network cabling is the future of high-speed data communications because it is more robust, faster, and more reliable.
In Sheffield, government officials are saying a further extension of the fibre-optic network will raise the connectivity from 80% to 97% by the end of 2017. Network expansion will also boost local employment by creating new data cabling and network installation jobs. We expect to see similar things happen in other cities throughout the country.
UK Leading the Way
The news out of Sheffield is certainly good for residents and the Yorkshire region as a whole. However, it is also good news for the UK as we continue to work hard to be the world leader in high-speed broadband internet access. No other country is investing the funds we are investing; no other country is creating the jobs we are creating; no other country is pushing fibre-optic networking as fast and as hard as we are.
This is a great time to be involved in the network installation business, working with fibre-optic and copper data cabling. There is plenty of work to go around. What is happening in Sheffield and the other 49 Super Connected Cities is only going to continue spreading across the UK.
1.The Star – http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/business/business-news/40million-cash-for-superfast-broadband-on-offer-to-south-yorkshire-firms-1-7198350