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UPDATE Norfolk Sign BT Deal to Expand Fibre Broadband Coverage to 90%

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 (12:01 am) - Score 1,645

The Better Broadband for Norfolk project in England, which currently aims to make BT’s superfast broadband (FTTC/P) service available to 80% of local premises by the end of 2015, has today signed a second (Phase 2) contract worth £17.9m that will extend the services reach to 90% of the county’s homes and businesses.

The original (BDUK Phase 1) contract was worth £41m, while the new deal sees another £6m of central Government funding from the Broadband Delivery UK programme being matched by £5m from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and £1m from the Norfolk County Council. BT will also be contributing £5.9m over the term of the contract.

In addition to the latest £17.9m deal, another £6.4m is said to have also been committed to help Norfolk contribute to the Government’s national target of making high-speed broadband available to 95% of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2017.

Apparently half of the £6.4m has been pledged by five of Norfolk’s district councils (Breckland, Broadland, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk and South Norfolk) and the remainder from central government. At present though this extra funding is still a matter of on-going discussions and further details about how it might be spent are not due to be announced until summer 2015.

Bill Murphy, BT Managing Director for NGA, said:

We are pleased to have been selected as the preferred partner for this project. This will build upon the success of both our own commercial roll-out in the county as well as our existing partnership with Norfolk County Council. In total we’ve already provided more than 290,000 Norfolk homes and businesses with access to high-speed fibre broadband and we look forward to extending this even further to bring the benefits of fibre broadband to even more parts of the county.”

George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said:

The difference the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme is making, particularly to those living and working in our villages and market towns, is remarkable. The broadband inequality that has previously existed in Norfolk is being whittled away and, with this extension, will be nearly eradicated. The whole county stands to benefit from the knock-on effect, with at-home learning and working and rural entrepreneurship among the opportunities that will be unlocked.”

Meanwhile the current (Phase 1) BBfN programme is set to continue until December 2015 and has so far made the service available to 119,000 local homes and businesses. The table below also gives a useful breakdown by district, and also a total for Norfolk, for the number of premises connected to the fibre broadband network as a result of commercial coverage (i.e. no public funding used) and as a result of the current BBfN contract and the second contract (rounding may vary total coverage by plus/minus one per cent within any district).

norfolk uk fibre broadband

It’s worth pointing out that the current 80% target represents “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) coverage (i.e. raw fibre broadband coverage, including sub-24Mbps areas, will no doubt extend even further beyond the 80%), while today’s 90% is spoken alongside the more generic phrase of “fibre broadband” and this may or may not reflect superfast speeds. We have asked for a clarification, although at the time of writing one had not yet arrived.

UPDATE 29th Jan 2015

According to a BT spokeswoman, the new 90% target merely reflects “fibre broadband” coverage (i.e. includes sub-24Mbps FTTC areas). In other words the reach of superfast broadband (24Mbps+) is probably a few percentage points lower, likely to be around 85-87% (this is our guesstimate).

Norfolk will clearly miss the Government’s 95% target, although these days they tend to promote it as a national average or something along those lines.

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar digi457 says:

    Good to see Norfolk will be pushing superfast services out beyond the current 80% total coverage as this would still leave far too many on slow speeds, I would have liked to see closer to 95%/98% coverage but as we are in such a rural county I guess that would be very costly and with limited funding there will always be compromises. All things considered this is great news for thousands of us in small villages with no mobile phone coverage other than flaky 2G reception at best who rely on broadband for their internet connections.

  2. Avatar dragoneast says:

    I don’t want to deprive anyone of getting a good internet connection, but the forgotten issue is how we use the internet to improve the quality of life and compensate for all the other cut services. How can the internet provide the personal care that we can’t afford for the frail elderly, should schooling become part time, since so much of it is PC based anyway and can be done from home, why do people need to travel for work, unless it is manual labour which for most of us, it isn’t (and the kids could then be looked after at home). More tax can be raised from travel, which is less necessary, as is investment in roads and rail. Why do we need libraries, even perhaps museums; they can be virtual. How much of the NHS can we replace, the GP network for instance?

    This is the means, not the ends. What is that, exactly? Doesn’t it have to be more than playing games and watching films and TV? And we’re not all going to become software developers, and in an international context are we that much good at it anyway? The Chinese, Indians and South Americans seem pretty hot, even without superfast broadband.

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      And the other biggy is of course to replace university tuition with home based courses. When we start to make that sort of financial return for the public sector then the investment makes sense.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      It’s an enabler for all sorts of things. Working from home (saving costs of travelling, pollution etc.). It’s possible to do things like video conferencing. Then there are things like remote learning. This should help avoid extra expenditure on transport infrastructure.

      It allows for more online services, both commercial and government, which should be more efficient and allow resources to be moved elsewhere. It also means some economic activities dependent on good networking access are feasible in the countryside.

      As far as services are concerned, then there is work going on (all over the world) on things like remote monitoring of the elderly and infirm using the Internet.

      It’s also important to put the public money figures into context. If this amounts to £1.8bn over 4 years, or £450m per year, that’s about 0.06% of government expenditure (over £723bn per year), or about 0.5% of the NHS budget. Even then it’s not that full amount as some of the expenditure will return in the form of tax on the direct and indirect economic activity. So the calculation is the government will, eventually, get much more back in than the spend. Also, this is not a recurring expenditure either.

      Personally, I suspect that a different regulatory regime could have done the same job without public expenditure. However, it would have involved systems of cross-subsidy from urban to rural areas (as happens on many services) so the users would have paid. Unfortunately, the regulatory regime chosen does not allow for that (save at the basic line level) so we are were we are.

      The intention is that it will ultimately increase economic activity and government income, not be a net drain. Ultimately this comes down to political priorities and, as imperfect as they may be, we live in a democracy where there are ways and means of influencing policy, albeit that it can take the opinion of many.

  3. Avatar DTMark says:

    So what’s to be done about the breach of contract?

    The contract between the LA and BT would have been set up along the lines of the BDUK objectives, so that’s 90% to get superfast speeds. Wouldn’t it? So BT are in breach. Aren’t they?

    Here we’re talking about an extension so that 90% can get VDSL and that won’t achieve those speed objectives either necessitating a third tranche of cash which still might not meet those speed objectives. Was the wrong supplier chosen? The wrong tech?

    Let’s see the contract.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      The contractual targets are individual to each area. The BDUK guidelines are exactly that. Guidelines, not contractual details. To establish if there was a breach of contract, you’d have to examine the details in each one, not a national framework.

      Of course there are some terms which are common across all BDUK contracts, like the requirement to wholesale services. But coverage details are per area.

    2. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Here you go.

      http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/view/cabinet170912item8pdf

      It is anticipated that by 2015, 89% of premises in Norfolk will be served by Next
      Generation Access infrastructure providing major speed uplift with 83% of premises in
      Norfolk receiving speeds in excess of 24 Mbps by June 2015

      It is anticipated that by 2015 a minimum of 2 Mbps will be available for 100% of premises
      in Norfolk by June 2015

      http://www.betterbroadbandnorfolk.co.uk/shares/sitefile_136.pdf

    3. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      @ignitionnet

      Of course that’s not quite a contract, but a summary. One point to note is the news article slightly misstates what the BBfN project web site says.

      “which currently aims to make BT’s superfast broadband (FTTC/P) service available to 80% of local premises by the end of 2015”

      whilst the BBfN site says

      “This first phase of funding meant that by the end of 2015 more than 80% of Norfolk’s premises are expected to be able to access superfast broadband”

      It’s that “more than” part which might be important given the “cabinet report” says

      “with 83% of premises in Norfolk receiving speeds in excess of 24 Mbps by June 2015”

      So the “more than 80%” and the “83% of premises” are (with a bit of a following breeze) just about compatible, although there may be a hint the original time scales might slip some months at it now talks about the end of 2015 and not June 2015. (A lot will depend on when the contract actually got signed and under way – often there are time slips at the start).

      Of course there’s often a bit of a gap between a project’s stated targets and what’s written into the details of a contract. I’ve no doubt there are all sorts of caveats and dependencies.

    4. Avatar No Clue says:

      Oh dear idiot boy loses his so called logical argument again…
      “UPDATE 29th Jan 2015

      According to a BT spokeswoman, the new 90% target merely reflects “fibre broadband” coverage (i.e. includes sub-24Mbps FTTC areas). In other words the reach of superfast broadband (24Mbps+) is probably a few percentage points lower, likely to be around 85-87% (this is our guesstimate).”

  4. Avatar hmmm says:

    the cowboy van supplying british tripe superslow broadband lol

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