Digital Region

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Digital Region
Type of project High-speed broadband network
Location South Yorkshire, England
Owner Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

Digital Region was a project in South Yorkshire set up to establish a high-speed broadband network in the region, with 98% coverage expected by the end of 2012. It is the first of its kind in the UK. The project was co-ordinated by Digital Region Ltd., owned by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (having taken over the role from the now defunct Yorkshire Forward), and the four local authorities that encompass South Yorkshire, these are Sheffield City Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.[1] Thales Group was chosen to design, deliver and manage the project on behalf of Digital Region Ltd..

On 15 August 2013, it was announced that the project would close, due to the ongoing financial issues it has been facing.[2][3]


The hope of the project was that it would eventually become self-financing, however loans and grants were used to enable the project to start. The project received:

  • £44 million grant funding from Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund.
  • £40 million loan funding from Yorkshire Forward and the 4 local authorities.
  • £10 million loan funding from the project technology partner, Thales Group.[4]

Due to low takeup,[5] the project suffered a very significant operating loss; not even taking into account the substantial interest payments due on loans for capital construction.


The project area covered the city, towns and villages of Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham and was expected to serve around 1.3 million people, 546000 homes and 40000 businesses.[6]


While the project was built out substantially, it had a low takeup. None of the 6 major consumer ISPs were signed up to resell services on the network, and after a number of significant startups on the Digital Region network enjoyed success with Superfast Fibre in South Yorkshire, the incumbent telephone operator British Telecom, deployed its own fibre-based broadband services, attracting many more users due to an existing user base upgrading and the wide variety of ISPs available (PlusNet, Sky, TalkTalk and BT).[7]

The Digital Region network closed finally on August 15, 2014,[8] with many of its resellers closing at that point. Origin Broadband acquired many of the customers who were on the Digital Region network,[9] and succeeded the defunct network with their own bespoke ADSL2+ network,[10] while other ISPs went on to be resellers for other network operators.


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