The D2N2 Gigahubs Project
Background to the Project
Nottinghamshire County Council is delivering the D2N2 Gigahubs broadband connectivity project. The aim of the project is to provide ‘gigabit’ (up to 1,000Mbps) internet connections to public service buildings such as schools and libraries situated in rural areas where telecommunications infrastructure can lag behind that available in more built-up areas.
Nottinghamshire County Council has secured £1.2m from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to connect 78 sites within the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership area across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
In order to be eligible, sites must:
- Be classified as a public sector building and perform a public function.
- Be in a rural location (according to a specific ONS definition).
- Have an existing broadband speed of less than 100Mbps.
- Be located in an area where a gigabit capable network isn’t likely to be built commercially in the near future.
- Have no government-funded contract planned or in place to improve the network already.
N.B. All eligible sites have been contacted. Nottinghamshire County Council are not able to include any additional sites within the D2N2 Gigahubs project.
Once these new fibre connections are in place, they will support the improved delivery of public services at each site by streamlining access to web hosted back-office functions and increasing resilience against service interruptions. Upgrading to fibre also means sites will be prepared for the transition to digital voice telephony (VOIP) services when the landline telephone network is withdrawn at the end of 2025.
In addition, there are specific benefits for:
- Improved broadband speeds means quick and reliable access to online digital media resources, fostering greater engagement by students.
- Able to host ‘virtual field trips’ in class with external providers, broadening students’ access to a wider variety of content.
- Research conducted in a number of countries suggests that students with access to high-speed internet in the classroom tend to achieve better academic outcomes.
- Comply with DfE digital and technology standards for schools and colleges which stipulate a minimum broadband download speed of 100Mbps over a full-fibre connection.
- By offering high speed internet to their users, libraries help to bridge the ‘digital divide’ by enabling access to digital services for those who don’t have it at home. This will benefit learners and job seekers, and will enable access to other online and Council-led services.
- Support residents to develop their digital literacy skills.
- Can host online video conference events with authors, poets, etc.
It is also hoped that improved connectivity will become available to nearby businesses and homes as broadband providers utilise the new infrastructure which the project has put in place.
The project contributes towards the UK Government’s overall target to make gigabit internet connection speeds available to at least 99% of premises by 2030. In January 2023, OFCOM reported gigabit availability at around 72%. In order to close the gap, the challenges posed by the high-cost barrier to commercial investment in infrastructure for rural areas must be overcome. Gigahubs projects are one way of helping to achieve that.
The initial phase of the project was focussed on identifying eligible sites across the region and inviting them to commit to participation. This work is now largely completed.
Nottinghamshire County Council ran a procurement process to find a contractor to deliver the required telecoms infrastructure. This is now complete, and work to start rolling out new fibre connections to sites should begin in Spring 2024, with the target of overall completion by the end of March 2026.
The Digital Connectivity Team will release regular progress updates throughout the life of the project.
Is the connection fully funded, or will I have to contribute a percentage of the cost?
The installation of the full-fibre connection is fully funded by the project.
Will my annual internet costs increase as a result of this?
Not necessarily. You may even find that they are cheaper, depending on which provider and level of service you choose.
Will I have a choice of which internet service provider I can use?
Yes. The project only installs the fibre cable to your premises. You will then choose to take up a service from a range of internet service providers.
Do I have to move away from my current internet service provider?
Not necessarily. Many providers will be able to continue to provide your service over fibre, but with higher performance and more resilience.
I am in a contract with my current provider. Do I need to switch provider as soon as the fibre connection is installed?
No. You will have a 2-year period from the date the fibre is installed in which to take up the service. This is to allow any existing broadband contracts you may have to expire.
How long will I have to wait for the new fibre connection to be installed?
That will depend on a number of factors. We will be able to provide more information as the delivery phase of the project gets under way.
Am I likely to incur any other costs resulting from the switch to fibre?
Possibly. You will need a new router, but most internet service providers will include these for free as part of your internet package. Depending on the complexity of your internal Wi-Fi network, it may also require a minor configuration change which your IT provider can perform.
I received an email informing me that my site is no longer included in the Midlands Gigahubs project. What does this mean?
The scope of this project has changed. Sites that are affected have been notified by email. These sites will no longer receive a connection through the Midlands Gigahubs project, other delivery options to get them connected in the most effective and efficient manner are currently being explored.