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									                                                               AGENDA ITEM 12.1


                               Report to Cabinet

                                29th June 2004

             TITLE:         Promotion of Broadband

             PORTFOLIO:     Accessible Services

             OFFICER:       Corporate Director

             WARD:          Non-Specific

1     Recommendations

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
      progress reporting.

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
      June 2005.

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     Implications

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
                                  from AWM.

4.5   Legal:                      None

4.6   Sustainability:             None

                        ANDREW P. STOKES
                         Corporate Director

Background Papers     Location                Contact
                      ICT Services            Chris Elliott
                      Moorlands House         Head of ICT



Interests Declared:

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
      or sound.

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 :-

         Longnor
         Onecote
         Ipstones
         Rushton Spencer
         Wetley Rocks
         Ash Bank
         Werrington

6.2   The exchanges that did not have trigger levels set and for which BT have not
      announced any upgrade plans include :

         Alstonfield
         Rudyard
         Blackshaw
         Hollington
         Onecote

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
          ICT services.

         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
          ICT services.

         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
           rural areas,

          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
       Broadband ICT.

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.


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