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Hampshire UK Signs New BT Contract for 95% Superfast Broadband Cover

Tuesday, Dec 23rd, 2014 (7:59 am) - Score 595

The Hampshire County Council (England) has signed a second £22.2m Broadband Delivery UK contract with BT under the Superfast Extension Programme (SEP), which will push superfast broadband (24Mbps+) connectivity out to an extra 34,500 homes and businesses (i.e. “at least” 95% of the local population) by “mid 2019 or earlier” (well past the national 2017 target year!).

At present the related Hampshire Superfast Broadband project aims to reach 90% of homes and businesses by the end of 2015, which once completed should have benefitted an additional 59,500 premises not covered by the commercial market (so far around 24,000 of those have been completed). As a result of this work an extra 123 street cabinets (FTTC) have been built and 55km of new fibre optic cable installed, although confusingly a slightly older update on their website puts this figure at 103km.

In terms of funding, the original Phase 1 scheme saw BDUK and the local authority invest £10m, which was supported by £3.8m from BT (£13.8m total). By comparison the new Phase 2 contract will see BDUK and the local authority put £18.4m into the pot and then BT will add another £3.8m to reach the new 95% target, although it’s noted that the completion year of 2019 is well past the Government’s stated national target of “by 2017” for the United Kingdom as a whole. This may be reflective of the slower pace and higher costs that occur when you need to focus on the more rural areas of a county.

Roy Perry Leader of Hampshire County Council, said:

It’s very good news for Hampshire that we have been able to push ahead with this significant project and ensure that more people and businesses will have access to superfast broadband services across the county. This is crucial if Hampshire is to prosper, helping people get on with their day-to-day lives, whether it is running a business from home, doing their homework online, or shopping or banking via the internet; as well as demonstrating that Hampshire is a good place in which to invest. It is also our intention to review with BT, and local developers, any scheme which is built – but does not have access to superfast broadband, to establish how best to proceed.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s MD of Next Generation Access, said:

We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Hampshire County Council to further extend the availability of superfast broadband in the county. These are exciting times for Hampshire.

BT is committed to making this technology as widely available as possible. It offers huge possibilities for businesses and households whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and entertainment purposes. This project will build upon the success of our own commercial roll-out in the county as well as our existing partnership with Hampshire County Council. In total, we’ve already provided more than 650,000 homes and businesses in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth with access to high speed fibre.”

So far, so predictable, with most of the local authorities that have signed a Phase 2 BDUK deal choosing to simply continue working with BT. As before the next batch of deployments will be dominated by BTOpenreach’s hybrid ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service and a much smaller amount of 330Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP).

A preliminary map of the Phase 2 coverage has also been published, which is reasonably detailed. As ever the Government is currently developing plans to plug the final 5% and thus reach Europe’s Digital Agenda target of 30Mbps for all by 2020. Mind you, given the 2019 date, Hampshire will probably struggle to achieve the 2020 goal even with additional funding.

It’s worth pointing out that last week saw Northamptonshire sign a similar Phase 2 deal (here) and its completion date was pegged as September 2018. Admittedly there are many more contracts to be signed over the next few weeks and months, but that 2017 goal is already starting to look a little shaky.

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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