South Yorkshire received funding from the European Union to build a world class superfast broadband network, for a number of important reasons.
The future is digital
Prior to the Digital Region network, the existing broadband providers did not plan to deliver ‘superfast’ broadband to South Yorkshire for many years. The consequences of this would have been disastrous for the region and seriously restricted businesses, home users and the economy. Because of this South Yorkshire decided to act.
Council and business leaders came together and began work on finding a solution to the problem.
A proposal was drawn up to build a communications network that would be owned and managed within the region and make South Yorkshire a UK leader in digital communications.
European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) was awarded and South Yorkshire became one of the first areas in the world to embark on a superfast broadband project of this scale.
Partners include Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Council. The project has brought in a staggering £90m of funding, the majority coming from the European Union, the partners and also the private sector.
Building a superfast fibre optic network of this size is a huge undertaking.
The build started in 2008 and ‘phase one’ of the project to reach 80% of homes and businesses in South Yorkshire was completed on schedule in December 2011.
But that’s not where the project ends. The Digital Region network will continue to develop and eventually reach a massive 97% of the entire region.
Thanks to Digital Region, South Yorkshire now has a communications infrastructure to rival any in the world, and the region is in pole position to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital economy.
Watch our video to see how the network can transform South Yorkshire
Tender process overview
Digital Region announced in March 2012 that it would undertake an OJEU procurement process to secure a private sector organisation to operate the network.
December 2012 procurement statement:
“In order to secure a best value outcome and due to the uncertainty of the timing surrounding a number of clarifications required from the EU Commission, Digital Region Ltd has decided not to continue with the current competitive dialogue procurement process (OJEU Reference 2012/S 87-143111 Delivering the Digital Region).
Due to the urgency in bringing the procurement of a solution to a conclusion, Digital Region Ltd is now to procure through a negotiated procedure without the publication of a contract notice under Regulation 14 (i) (a) (iv) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.“
This will allow DRL to continue discussions with the bidders, whilst awaiting confirmation from the Commission.
The intention remains the same – to select a new operator who will be accountable for revenues, for ensuring the network delivers on its original remit of digital transformation across the region, and for providing quality and value for money for residents and businesses in South Yorkshire.