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BT Pickup UK Superfast Broadband ISP Contracts for Norfolk and Cumbria

Friday, Sep 14th, 2012 (7:54 am) - Score 1,093

As hinted last month both Norfolk and Cumbria county councils in England (UK) have this week awarded their respective £40m and £70m contracts for a county-wide roll-out of superfast broadband (speeds greater than 24Mbps) services to BT, with Gloucestershire and Herefordshire expected to follow suit.

The wholly unsurprising outcome means that both regions will take millions of pounds from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office budget of around £1bn, which will help to deploy a mix of BT’s fibre optic based FTTC (up to 80Mbps) and FTTP (330Mbps) technologies to at least 90% of local people by March 2015 (the national UK target). Additional match-funding will also come from the local authority, BT and possibly also the EU.

However the Better Broadband for Norfolk project clarified that it expects “more than” 80% of local homes and businesses to be able to access superfast broadband services by June 2015 instead of the national 90% target. Otherwise it estimates that around 57% of the county’s premises would not have been able to access a superfast broadband service.

By comparison the Connecting Cumbria project is seeking to ensure that more than 93% of local people can access its identical superfast broadband services by the end of 2015. It’s worth reminding readers that BT’s ONLY rival for the contract, Fujitsu, withdrew from the process during July (here).

Ian Mackie, Deputy Leader at Norfolk County Council, said:

The significance of this deal and this project for the future success of our county cannot be underestimated. This represents a staggering acceleration in broadband provision in Norfolk.

From the start, the County Council realised this was an opportunity that would bring huge benefits to hundreds of thousands of people living and working in Norfolk. Our pledge of £15 million last year signalled our intent to make better broadband access a priority, and, having seized the opportunity, now we can see what this commitment has led to in terms of results for the county. I am convinced that this offers excellent value for money for Norfolk and its residents.

Hard work and determined effort from all those involved has ensured that not only are we on schedule but we are due to become the first local authority to appoint a partner through the national Broadband Delivery UK contract framework, which puts Norfolk in a terrific position. This is the beginning of the end of the huge broadband inequality that exists in Norfolk and I am so pleased that we have stood up for the interests of Norfolk and brought this about.”

Stewart Young, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council, said (North-West Evening Mail):

Being a national pilot means this has been a long, complex and challenging process but the time and resources invested means we are now in a position to make a well informed decision that will drive out maximum benefits for our county and ensure we provide the very best broadband services to Cumbria.”

It’s important to stress that in both cases BT has won “preferred bidder” status, which means that the official confirmation and final details of the operators related roll-out plans for each region will not be confirmed until next week. We will of course bring you all the related details once they’ve been released but don’t expect too many changes from the above.

The Norfolk County Council has also revealed that most of those outside of its 80% target should still receive “significantly higher” speeds than the minimum standard of 2Mbps. It further estimates that 20% of these premises will be able to receive speeds ranging from 5Mbps and 23Mbps, while 49% are expected to be able to access speeds of between 50 and 100Mbps and a further 6% should be able to receive speeds in excess of 100Mbps.

Both Local Broadband Plans (LBP) are likely to require EU State Aid approval before they can access the funding and begin actual development work, which remains a somewhat controversial issue due to the EC’s on-going competition concerns.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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