Zayo swoops on defunct South Yorkshire fibre network

US fibre optic network owner Zayo has bought the defunct fibre assets of Digital Region in South Yorkshire

Zayo Group, the US-based fibre network owner that recently purchased British competitor Geo Networks, has bought a 1,000-mile fibre network in South Yorkshire for an undisclosed sum.

The network was previously owned by local fibre scheme Digital Region, which collapsed in 2013 amidst escalating costs, and was described by the then minister of state for business and enterprise Michael Fallon as “deeply flawed”.

Digital Region invest heavily, including £30m of European Regional Development Fund cash, in building a fibre network across South Yorkshire to connect around 550,000 homes and 40,000 businesses to 25Mbps broadband.

However, it attracted barely 3,000 customers and the project was shut down last summer, leaving Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield councils and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills liable for over £80m between them.

The fibre network was due to be decommissioned in August 2014 following a managed transfer of the few customers remaining.

A Zayo spokesperson said: “The assets will be transferred over to Geo Networks and decommissioning work will commence following the migration of all Digital Region customers from the network in August 2014.

“Zayo plans to incorporate the fibre assets into the nationwide Geo network, and provide high-bandwidth fibre services to businesses and datacentres within the South Yorkshire region, as well as carrying out the decommissioning of the existing Digital Region street furniture.”

While Zayo does not provide any consumer broadband services itself, it supplies fibre-bandwidth services to a number of telcos around the world, including TalkTalk in the UK. The firm was unable to comment on whether or not it the Digital Region network would remain open to ISPs.

BDUK, which, due to Digital Region’s presence, was previously absent from the area, is now understood to have awarded BT a £20m contract to deliver superfast broadband to three of the four South Yorkshire councils but not, according to the Sheffield Telegraph, to Sheffield.

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