This morning Community Interest Company (CIC) NextGenUs announced that it has secured £10m funding to provide rural fttp broadband access to up to 10,000 homes across 24 communities in the UK. This is private cash unassociated with the government’s Big Society initiative that uses (or should I say is trying to use) BDUK as a delivery mechanism.
NextGenUs is the organisation that provided 100Meg Fibre To The Premises delivered on a 1Gig bearer to Ashby de la Launde in Lincolnshire. The model is to light up broadband Notspots with the cooperation of the community using a local POP known as a Digital Village Pump. Community participation lowers costs and removes barriers such as the negotiation of wayleaves and planning permissions.
This funding is important because it will allow NextGenUs to demonstrate that it can deliver connectivity on a scale greater than a single community. Even 10,000 homes however is pretty small beer. The real issue is how can community based organisations deliver to the one third of UK homes that currently fall into the category of broadband impoverished.
For rural areas there is a lot riding on the NextGenUs model because the alternative is to leave it to the inefficient combo of government assistance and incumbent self interest. The former provides a future proofed solution with the interest of the community at heart but has uncertain scalability and the latter would eventually deliver a compromise.
We should all be offer our support to NextGenUs. Theirs is truly the Big Society at work.