AGENDA ITEM 12.1
STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS DISTRICT COUNCIL
Report to Cabinet
29th June 2004
TITLE: Promotion of Broadband
PORTFOLIO: Accessible Services
OFFICER: Corporate Director
1.1 That the current position as to the availability of broadband in Staffordshire
Moorlands be noted.
1.2 That the progress of the Staffordshire Broadband Steering Group be noted.
1.3 That subject to funding from Advantage West Midlands, the Staffordshire
Broadband Group procure a project manager to oversee the co-ordination of a
broadband delivery plan under the Council’s financial procedure rules and that
the project manager liaise with the Head of ICT at the Council for day to day
Reason for Recommendations - The lack of Broadband availability within
Staffordshire is most prevalent in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Residents, community
groups and businesses are at a disadvantage in not having access to affordable
2 Executive Summary
2.1 Fast speed internet access is becoming more and more important for both
Citizens (educational needs, social uses, community groups) and Businesses
2.2 BT has recently announced that it is expanding its broadband availability by
June 2005 for those exchanges that had a trigger level set. This means that 7
of the 12 remaining BT exchanges in the Staffordshire Moorlands, which do
not currently have the capacity to handle broadband, will be upgraded by
2.3 The remaining exchanges of Alstonfield, Rudyard, Blackshaw, Hollington and
Onecote however have no plans for upgrading.
2.4 The Council is a member of the Staffordshire Broadband Steering Group who
will now focus on the remaining rural areas in Staffordshire that will not have
access to broadband by mid 2005. Staffordshire Moorlands suffers from the
greatest deprivation of broadband in Staffordshire and as such the emphasis
of the Steering Group’s work is to focus in on the Moorlands.
2.5 The Steering Group has been in contact with Advantage West Midlands to
request funding for a project manager to co-ordinate the delivery of a
broadband delivery plan for Staffordshire. Subject to funding approval it is
proposed that a project manager be procured for 6 months initially under the
Council’s financial procedure rules. The project manager would report to the
Steering Group monthly but would liaise with the Council’s Head of ICT for
day to day guidance.
3 Evaluation of Options
3.1 Option A (Not recommended): The Council could leave the lack of availability
to market forces but this would most likely lead to no change in broadband
availability to its communities.
3.2 Option B (Not recommended): The Council could attempt to tackle the
problem alone but would not benefit from economies of scale and would most
likely fail in its bid for funding from AWM as they are specifically looking for
‘joined-up’ initiatives to support.
3.3 Option C (Recommended): The Council should work in partnership to deliver
increased affordable broadband availability to its communities and play a lead
role by offering day to day guidance to a broadband project manager procured
by the steering group.
4.1 Community Safety: None
4.2 Employees: None.
4.3 Equalities: The procurement exercise will follow the Council’s
Procurement and Financial Procedure rules.
4.4 Financial: The costs of the project will be met from funding
4.5 Legal: None
4.6 Sustainability: None
ANDREW P. STOKES
Background Papers Location Contact
ICT Services Chris Elliott
Moorlands House Head of ICT
5 Background Information
5.1 Broadband is a common term for a high bandwidth Internet connection. With
broadband, information can be sent concurrently on many different
frequencies or channels within the band allowing more information to be
transmitted in a given amount of time. A common analogy is to think of the
speed of broadband as similar to that that cars can achieve on a high-speed
motorway as opposed the speed of travelling on a ‘B road (the equivalent of a
normal ‘narrowband’ telephone dial-up connection). Broadband can be many
times faster than a normal phone connection but it should be noted that if the
amount of traffic gets too high then the speed of each person on the
motorway can slow down considerably.
5.2 Individuals who require access to the internet but who do not have access to
broadband will normally do so via the use of a normal telephone line together
with a standard modem (a piece of hardware that enables the pc to
communicate with other computers). A number will need to be dialled every
time to connect to the internet. You normally cannot use the phone line to
place telephone calls whilst you are logged onto the internet via the phone
line. E-mails with attachments can take many minutes to download while web
pages with lots of pictures, complex graphics or animations will appear very
slowly. You may also find it difficult to view video on the web or listen to music
5.3 With broadband you are permanently connected to the internet (normally
logging on once only every time the PC is switched on). It has additional
benefits in that it can be many times faster (the norm today at a rate of
approximately £20-£30 for a private consumer is ten times faster than a
normal phone connection speed, but there are much faster speeds attracting
higher subscription rates which many businesses subscribe to). Additionally
the phone line remains free to make and receive telephone calls at the same
5.4 In the home, a broadband connection can open up an additional number of
educational and entertainment resources, including video and music on
demand, online game playing and the fast exchange of files with friends,
family and educational establishments. At work it can be used to improve
marketing and interaction with customers and remote colleagues.
5.5 Broadband is normally delivered through Cable or ADSL. As ADSL runs over
the existing phone line there is no need to pay for an additional telephone line.
In most cases the telephone number can be retained.
5.6 To get access to broadband normally involves contacting an Internet Service
Provider (ISP) that sells ADSL broadband. The main market player, BT, sells
broadband capability to a wide range of ISPs (e.g. AOL) who in turn will offer
broadband access, along with email, web hosting and other services to home
and business communities.
5.7 ADSL requires the installation of some equipment both on the Customer’s
premises and at the local exchange. Not all exchanges have been ADSL
enabled. In the past BT had set trigger levels for these exchanges which
required the public to register their interest in accessing broadband. Recently
BT have abandoned this approach and have committed to upgrade all
exchanges with trigger levels
5.8 BT have therefore announced plans to make available ADSL broadband from
another 1,128 exchanges countrywide by mid-2005, without waiting for
registration figures to be hit. This should give 99.6% UK coverage but it is
believed this will still leave the Moorlands with some “holes” in broadband
coverage where no trigger levels were set.
6 Broadband Availability in Staffordshire Moorlands
6.1 The exchanges in the Moorlands which will be upgraded by mid-2005 are :-
6.2 The exchanges that did not have trigger levels set and for which BT have not
announced any upgrade plans include :
6.3 Alternatives to ADSL broadband are available (e.g. satellite connectivity) but
are usually prohibitively expensive, particularly taking into account the fact
that these areas are rural and by definition are difficult to reach and low in
population. As such these communities will need assistance in gaining
affordable access to broadband.
7 The Staffordshire Broadband Steering Group
7.1 The Council has for some time recognised broadband as being fundamental
to both improving access to services (public or otherwise) and to sustaining
new business growth in the area.
7.2 Due to its importance, ICT Services have been working with a number of key
partners, including Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the Staffordshire e-
Government Partnership (SeGP) with broadband availability being an
important agenda item.
7.3 Subsequently it was agreed to initiate a Staffordshire Broadband Steering
Group whose role would be to find new ways of improving broadband ICT
provision within the borders of Staffordshire for all communities within the
7.4 This group is chaired by Nigel Senior of the Staffordshire County Council
Economic Regeneration Development Services Department and consists of
members from the County and District Councils, Moorlands CVS, AWM,
Business Link Staffordshire, Staffordshire & Black Country Innovation Centre
and the Rural Regeneration North East Staffordshire Partnership.
7.5 The agreed objectives of the Staffordshire Broadband Steering Group are:
To direct and co-ordinate partnership activities associated with improving
access to Broadband ICT services across Staffordshire’s communities.
To identify, liaise and engage with existing Staffordshire Partnerships and
activities (i.e. Village Agents) to identify demand for access to Broadband
To identify priority areas for intervention through Advantage West
Midlands Regional Broadband Initiative.
To secure funding for direct investment in appropriate Broadband ICT
infrastructure and access solutions.
To promote the availability of and take up of Broadband services through
local media and other forms.
To provide the principal link between local communities and businesses
with AWM, Business Link and other relevant agencies and public/voluntary
sector organisations, associated with providing and promoting Broadband
To monitor and evaluate the impact of Broadband ICT in relation to
supporting businesses and providing access to public information, on-line
learning and other associated benefits of access to Broadband ICT.
7.6 It is proposed that the above objectives be delivered in project mode subject
to appropriate funding from AWM. As the bulk of the broadband availability
problem lies in the Moorlands, this is where the project will concentrate its
7.7 The Staffordshire Broadband Project will co-ordinate an action orientated
delivery plan of integrated actions, which will: -
Support the development of existing and new businesses especially in
Provide access to on-line training opportunities
Provide access to a wide range of public information and advice services
Develop and diversify the rural economy
7.8 The Project will operate within the context of local, sub-regional and regional
economic regeneration strategies as well as specific strategies related to
7.9 The Project will reflect the different circumstances, conditions and constraints
to developing access to Broadband ICT services across Staffordshire. It will
identify how the proposed actions will benefit deprived and isolated
communities, both urban and rural.
7.10 The Project should make clear how progress is to be taken forward, including
for each proposal the identification of key partners, timescales, and potential
funding. It will also assess the availability of baseline information, and identify
the arrangements for evaluation and review.
7.11 The Steering Group has proposed to AWM that the project be fully funded
with the procurement of a project manager for a 6 month period initially who
would report to the Steering Group on a monthly basis but who would report
to the Head of ICT at Staffordshire Moorlands on a day to day basis using a
hot-desking approach. The indicative project costs would be £39,000.
7.12 It is proposed that the tender be managed by Staffordshire Moorlands District
Council under its local procurement and financial procedure rules with the
Broadband Steering Group evaluating the responses and being responsible
for the appointment of the project manager.