Birmingham plunges into £10m dark fibe network
Birmingham has won the EU’s permission for a £10m bung from the UK government’s city broadband scheme that will see it put in a new open access fibre network to provide dark fibre, 40Gbps managed services, 1G/100Mbps Ethernet, colocation services and backhaul for wireless networks by 2015.
The European Commission’s competition authority, which is sitting on BDUK’s rural broadband procurement framework proposal because its targets are too low, gave the nod to the release of €6m in public funds “because it will be genuinely open to all operators and will therefore promote competition”, it said in a statement.
Phase one will include an initial 37km duct for FTTP (fibre to the premises) project, in the city’s Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth/Eastside that passes about 5,000 businesses. Phase 2 will hook up other “digital districts” , notably in the Eastern Corridor.
The commission said service providers will have open access for at least 25 years instead of the required seven. And the network will be wholesale-only. “Finally, all possible wholesale access products will be offered to third party operators, including dark fibre, which is one of the most pro-competitive wholesale access products,” it said.
A £100Mbps symmetric service could cost £200-£300 a month, a quarter of present prices, according to the the Birmingham proposal. The city expects a 30% take-up by Year Three.
The city expects to select a partner by January 2013, for work to start that March, and to be finished by March 2015.