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BT Pickup UK Superfast Broadband ISP Contracts for Norfolk and Cumbria

Friday, September 14th, 2012 (7:54 am) - Score 1,053

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.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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17 Responses
  1. I wonder if Openreach has actually got permission to use all of their huge new cabinets as advertising sites?

    1. FibreFred says:

      Isn’t it the same as advertising on their (dwindling in numbers) phone boxes?

    2. Quite possibly, but I’m sure they must have formal approval for those as the ads are generally not BT related.

      However, the way the FTTC cabinets are springing up all over the place, with large Openreach “adverts” on them would not suprise me that they are trying it on to see if anyone objects.

  2. nicknick says:

    And Fujitsu may be out of the running entirely http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/small-business/3380683/fujitsu-blacklisted-from-future-government-contracts/ although they weren’t really credible in any case

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Fujitsu UK has separate divisions for IT contracts and Telecoms and from a government perspective they’re not quite the same thing. When we asked Fujitsu about this they wouldn’t comment much but did say that there had been no change to their BDUK role, which is echoed by DCMS.


      In practical terms it won’t make any difference since I don’t know anybody who can identify a BDUK contract that they thought the firm capable of winning away from BT. But that’s another issue.

  3. Rob Turner says:

    Well I for one am very happy with this result for Norfolk.
    I like many others have worked hard in my village to get people to register their vote for this and although it is not a perfect solution, it is a great stepping stone and I am sure will lead to further improvements in super-fast coverage in the years to come. Without this investment a large part of Norfolk would still have very poor sub 2mbps coverage or in many cases no broadband connection at all.BT take so much flack over the government subsidy however they are a private company and are investing vast sums of money themselves, without this investment we would be left high and dry as no other telcos seem willing or able to take on such a huge challenge, just my opinion.

  4. Except Rob that BT would have done it anyway even without the subsidy – as they did in the end with adsl (though I accept that this will speed up the process a little).

    I don’t blame BT one bit for this – they are pulling a blinder over the government and good luck to them. BDUK on the other hand…

  5. Rob Turner says:

    Except Wirelesspacman adsl still does not reach large pats of rural of Norfolk even now so hoe long would we wait? sorry but this is fact.

    1. nicknick says:

      Yes, but according to BT we have 99.8% coverage of ADSL. So as you know (as you have just said) this is a lie. So are you now going to believe their next lie…..

      If you cannot get ADSL today, the BT FTTC solution is unlikely to give you anything more. It needs a cabinet to exist, and most lines that can’t get ADSL are direct exchange lines. So maybe if BT (as promised – but is that another lie) puts in new copper cabinets you might then get it

    2. New_Londoner says:

      Quote “…and most lines that can’t get ADSL are direct exchange lines…”

      Really? Even in rural areas? More research needed perhaps! Remember Ofcom stats show approx 90% of us live within 1km of a cabinet. So the vast majority will benefit from speed improvements from FTTC. Sorry but important to refer to facts where available, even if they diverge from opinions!

    3. Old_Londoner says:

      “Really? Even in rural areas?” – YES, in fact (that is FACT) you are more likely to be connected to a cabinet in a town/city than you are in very rural areas (why would BT put a cabinet 1km from an exchange to serve 20 customers……). “More research needed perhaps!” – by you YES, but by me NO, because I have done that research.

      Didn’t your BT colleagues tell you why they are planning to install new copper cabinets outside rural exchanges (because they can’t do VDSL from the exchange, and there are no other cabinets)

      Why not go back to Thinkbroadband where your ‘propaganda’ is more welcomed

    4. New_Londoner says:

      @NickNick (“Old_Londoner”)
      So you can cite sources to show that there are more exchange only lines in rural vs urban areas then? Please do, just to back up your statement.

  6. Phil says:

    Come on Telford & Wrekin Council, get your action out and grab that BDUK project please ????

    I am fed up of this council kept ingorning faster broadband for the future !

  7. Rob Turner says:

    Norfolk county council have clearly stated ther will be 100% coverage with a minimum 2mbps across the whole county but with many getting between 5mbps and 24mbps the remaining 80% will get between 24mbps and 100mbps so weather BT also implement the use of wireless technology I don’t know. What is clear from all this is the massive uplift in speed across a large area of my county which otherwise without this funding would not have happened, at least not any time soon.

  8. bob says:

    BT is now the only bidder for Suffolk, BT have now pretty much got their monopoly back

    1. New_Londoner says:

      If you’re right about Suffolk, surely there is no material change from a competitive point of view? There is still competition amongst service providers, competition with some (wireless?) operators but with Openreach operating the bulk of the physical network? So broadly it would maintain the status quo, but with faster connections for most?

      No saying whether that’s good or bad, but your post implies some change in competition vs today.

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