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Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire UK Sign Extended Fibre Broadband Deal

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 (3:32 pm) - Score 659

The state aid supported CSW Broadband project has signed a new £10.73m Phase 2 Broadband Delivery UK contract with BT, which will help a further 17,000+ premises to receive “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) and push total coverage to “nearly” 94%. But worryingly the project will not complete until summer 2019, well behind the Government’s end of 2017 target.

The new deal is funded by £3.68m from Warwickshire County Council, £0.38m from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, £4.06m from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) and finally BT will also be contributing another £2.61m towards the total.

Apparently planning and surveying for the new phase will begin in 2016, and engineers from BTOpenreach should start connecting the first premises towards the end of 2016. The upgrade work will then continue during 2017, 2018 and into 2019. Aston Cantlow, Berkswell, Eastcote, Over Whitacre, Sambourne, Tysoe and Willoughby are just some of the communities that will benefit.

Ian Courts, Deputy Leader at Solihull Council, said:

This new deal is extremely important to Solihull, helping to bring faster connectivity across the borough and particularly to the more rural area east of the M42 motorway. Good quality broadband is critical to the vibrancy of the borough, both for economic growth and social inclusion. Solihull was recently ranked as the best place to live in the UK, partly because of the good broadband we have. So, I am delighted with the progress we have made and look forward to seeing this additional investment bring real benefits to the businesses and residents of Solihull.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s MD of NGA, said:

It’s great news that through this investment we are able to extend fibre coverage further into the rural communities of Warwickshire and Solihull, enabling residents and businesses in these communities to enjoy the benefits of high-speed broadband. Whether running a business, working from home, completing homework for school or simply keeping in touch with friends and family, access to the internet is key to us all.”

Predictable we do have an issue with the language used in CSW’s announcement, not least because the original Phase 1 contract clearly aimed to ensure that 91% would get “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+ by spring 2016. But in that context today’s target to push “fibre broadband” coverage to 94% seems confusing (i.e. do they mean 94% coverage for “superfast” speeds or 94% including sub-24Mbps speed areas?).

It’s frustrating that these announcements persistently fail to clarify such important issues. Mercifully a quick glance at the projects website does at least offer a little more detail, specifically that the total number of premises that will be able to connect to the new network under contract 2 is 17,247 and 14,610 of those can expect “superfast” speeds. An updated coverage map has also been published to reflect the new plans.

UPDATE 4th Feb 2015

According to BT the 94% figure is for “superfast broadband“, which sounds about right given what we know of the premises passed in contract 1 and planned for contract 2. We just wish they’d say this in the press releases.

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Mark Jackson
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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12 Responses
  1. Avatar adslmax

    Mark Jackson wrote ‘But worryingly the project will not complete until summer 2019, well behind the Government’s end of 2017 target.’

    I am pretty sure there wil be all done by the time in 2017 target. BT probably bring more workforce men.

  2. Avatar DTMark

    At least we can be thankful it isn’t a fibre roll out, that would take years.


  3. Avatar Steve Jones

    This seems incredibly slow, even if work doesn’t start until 2016. I wonder if the solution is predicated on a cost-effective FTtDP solution. Perhaps g.fast, as the trials will presumably not be complete for a year or so.

  4. Avatar MikeW

    The FAQs for the original contract were 91% superfast and 93% fibre coverage, taking it from 86% commercial coverage (but unclear whether that figure is superfast coverage or just fibre coverage).

    I think the 93% amounts to 448,542 properties, so the total premises will be just shy of 500,000.

    They mentioned that 43,421 premises would be subsidised. They also mentioned that 96% are within 1km of the cabinet.


    The 15,000 extra superfast lines are ~3%, and the extra 17,000 will be close to ~3.5%.

    So the new contract’s figure of 94% must mean superfast coverage, and the new fibre coverage figure will be ~96.5%

    • Avatar DTMark

      How do the numbers look when they’re adjusted for line quality?

      Example: Round here, the average ADSL sync rate for the lines I have data on, is about 55% of what it ought to be based on line length alone. There is only a partial correlation between line length and speed because the quality of the ancient wiring is very mixed.

      What sort of adjustment is made to the numbers to take this into account?

    • Avatar DTMark

      No answer on that one then. The elephant is sitting quietly in the corner.

      It’s simply that this could drive a complete coach-and-horses through those numbers.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Good question Mark, but almost impossible to answer.

      I have experience of 3 different fibre lines
      – One was flawless under ADSLmax, but needed DLM on fibre. It still got the right speeds for distance though (60Mb @ 650M).
      – One was fairly poor under ADSL2+, but very decent behaviour on fibre. Correct speeds for distance (80Mb @ 350M)
      – One was really bad under ADSL2+, but great behaviour on fibre. Correct speeds for distance (80Mb @ 100M)

      I’ve seen similar anecdotal evidence, but its entirely unquantifiable.

      My overall gut feel though, is that it seems that the copper from the home to the cab is more reliable than the full length to the exchange.

      That’s also backed up by commentary on the wiring by engineers: that the E-side is the more delicate, more ancient copper; that the D-side tends to be newer copper, with newer insulation and newer water-ingress protection, and more likely to have had maintenance attention.

    • Avatar No Clue

      Currently DLM’d, Interleaved, 60Mb download, less than 250M (248M to be precise) from cabinet ACTUAL cable length. DLM system that can not make up its mind one minute 70+Mb the next 60Mb. 6 Engineers out in the space of less than a year, less than half of them even bothering to check for faults the rest just reset the line.

      Hows that blend in with your alternate reality?

    • Avatar MikeW

      Yup. Faults happen in the d-side too. Crosstalk as well, which is by far the bigger general problem. Hard to say what factor applies in your case.

      I did say that I had one line that behaved worse than that – where DLM stayed intervened. Doesn’t change my overall view though.

      Itll be interesting to see what impact the g.INP rollout has to DLM interventions.

    • Avatar No Clue

      All your over estimated examples the line performs better than my example so either your claims are nonsense or you have just seen good lines.

  5. Yet again, Coventry are doing nothing. Change the organisations’s title and stop the pretence.

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