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UPD2 Wiltshire, Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire Sign Phase2 Fibre Broadband Deal

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 (1:49 pm) - Score 680
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A total of three Government supported Phase 2 Broadband Delivery UK contracts have today been signed between BT and the English counties of Wiltshire, Lincolnshire and Central Bedfordshire (inc. Bedford Borough, Luton and Milton Keynes), which will expand the reach of superfast “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) connectivity to many more premises.

The deals all form part of the £250m Superfast Extension Programme (SEP), which represents the second phase of public funding through BDUK that has been designed to help push the national coverage of superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds from 90% by early 2016 to 95% by 2017.

The Wiltshire Deal

At present Wiltshire Online, which is separately connected through the wider Great Western Broadband project with South Gloucestershire, is currently working with BT in order to ensure that 91% of locals can access superfast broadband by March 2016 (all other premises will also receive a minimum access line speed of 2Mbps by this time).

So far some 45,072 additional premises have already benefitted from the project and once completed BTOpenreach will have installed more than 300 new street cabinets and 1,500 kilometres of fibre optic cable. By comparison the new contract will aim to reach the Government’s new target of 95% and add an extra couple of years to the roll-out (2017/18).

Sadly little else is currently known about the plans for Wiltshire’s latest SEP contract and a lot of their public consultation documents seem to have become difficult to locate. However it’s interesting to note that BDUK allocated an additional £3,110,000 of public funding to the new deal, although the council has so far only contracted £2,610,000 (i.e. total public funding of £5.22m). It’s not currently known what BT’s financial contribution is to the new contract is.

The Lincolnshire Deal

Meanwhile the separate Onlincolnshire BDUK project is currently working with BT to roll-out FTTC/P based “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to “at least” 89% of all premises in the county by April 2016. So far this has already helped to benefit an additional 90,000 premises out of the 150,000+ strong intervention area (i.e. areas considered by the big commercial operators to be economically unviable for upgrade).

As above the new SEP contract will aim to achieve the Government’s 95% target by the end of 2017 and this will be supported by £1,800,000 of contracted public funding from BDUK (the original SEP allocation from BDUK is £2,350,000), which will need to be matched by the council for a total public contribution of around £3.6 million. BT’s contribution to the new extension contract is not yet known.

Apparently BT provided a response to the LCC Invitation to Tender indicating that they will extend Superfast coverage across Lincolnshire by an additional 4,801 premises, whilst extending overall access to fibre broadband by a total of 6,098 premises. Precise coverage details should be finalised by July 2015 and the roll-out for the second contract will begin on 1st April 2016.

UPDATE: It’s been noted that West Lindsey District is excluded from Phase 2, but this position may well change in the near future. The exclusion from Phase 2 is a result of a BDUK decision relating to a commercial agreement between West Lindsey District Council and a Fixed Wireless broadband provider. We believe this relates to the Quickline deployment from last year (here).

The Central Bedfordshire Deal

Finally we come to the Central Bedfordshire Broadband project, which only started in June 2014 and aims to make BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network available to around 91% of local premises by spring 2016 (rising to 97% in Milton Keynes). Overall around 40,000 premises should benefit from this work, with over 10,000 already completed, and most of those will get access to “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+.

Separately BT’s existing commercial roll-out has already made fibre broadband available to roughly 195,000 Bedfordshire premises, although today’s new SEP contract aims to go a lot further by pushing the county towards the Government’s 95% coverage target by around 2017/18.

The Milton Keynes Target (SEP Contract Statement)

Under the SEP contract we expect to increase the overall availability of superfast broadband across the borough so that by the end of this new contract we expect to provide superfast broadband infrastructures to 97.8% of premises, up from 96.2% at the end of the current BDUK contract. Our target remains to achieve superfast coverage for all Milton Keynes premises by 2020 and the agreement of this contract provides a significant step towards this target.”

As part of the above BDUK’s SEP contract has committed £3,780,000 of public funding to the area, which is actually an increase of £600k on their originally proposed allocation for the phase 2 deal, and this will be matched by the local authority for a total state aid contribution of £7.56 million. BT’s contribution is not yet known.

The original public consultation can be found here and we understand that the partnership is now already looking to secure additional funding worth up to £4.0m to further extend their planned coverage.

UPDATE 28th May 2015: The official PR for central Bedforshire (here) mentions some conflicting figures for phase 2, although it confirms that the total overall investment, including BT’s contribution, for Phase 2 will be £11.2 million and this should help around 18,000 premises to be put within reach of the fibre broadband service.

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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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