Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored Links

Government Hails Alternative UK Rural Broadband Pilots a Success

Wednesday, Feb 3rd, 2016 (12:19 pm) - Score 1,449

The Government has today published a new report on the “successful” outcome of their recent Market Test Pilots, which were setup in 2014 to help trial alternative network solutions (fibre optic, satellite, wireless etc.) for bringing superfast broadband (24Mbps+) to remote rural areas.

The original £10 million Innovation Fund actually contained 8 pilot projects (details), which were all intended to test alternative approaches to the normally BT and Virgin Media dominated national infrastructure solutions. However MLL’s project to create a common wholesale OSS / BSS platform for integrating / aggregating via a rural fixed wireless network hit “unforeseen implementation complexity and commercial risks” and eventually pulled out.

The remaining 7 pilot projects include Avanti and Satellite Internet, who are using 24-30Mbps capable satellite broadband; Airwave, Quickline and AB Internet, who are using fixed wireless access networks; and Call Flow and Cybermoor, who are using a mix of fibre optic and fixed wireless technologies. Officially the pilots must all be deployed by March 2016 and a couple have only just started to roll-out.

broadband_uk_market_test_pilots

Overall the report found a positive outcome to the pilots and noted that some of the related networks, such as those run by Call Flow, Quickline, Airband and AB Internet, have already become involved in several regional state aid supported contracts (examples here, here, here and here).

Key Findings of the Pilots:

* Suppliers can successfully mix technologies to deliver cost-effective superfast broadband solutions in hard to reach areas;

* Smaller suppliers can bid for, win and deliver open public procurements at competitive costs, including meeting the necessary EU-wide State aid requirements for receiving public funding;

* Communities can work together with suppliers to create viable commercial conditions for small projects; and

* New partnerships have been fostered, including with other network providers such as Janet and Network Rail Telecom, which will lead to new opportunities to deliver services once the pilots have ended.

At present the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme is already aiming to make superfast broadband (24Mbps+) services available to 95-96% of the United Kingdom by 2017/18, albeit mostly via contracts with BT. But once a new state aid agreement has been reached (here) then the likelihood is that altnets will play a bigger role in plugging the final 3-4% (BDUK Phase 3).

The Government is now said to be “discussing with suppliers how to ensure the long term sustainability of their projects” and how the lessons learned can be applied to help local authorities extend the rollout of superfast broadband to those places not yet covered by existing plans.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said:

“The Government’s rollout of superfast broadband is the fastest of its kind anywhere in the world and is a truly massive engineering project. Our pilot scheme has demonstrated that alternative technologies can help us take superfast speeds to the hardest to reach areas of the UK and I’m very pleased that smaller suppliers are now competing for, and winning, contracts for the next phase of the rollout.”

Andy Conibere, Managing Director of Call Flow, added:

“Participating in a large scale project like the Market Test Pilot programme, has enabled us to improve our processes, as well as driving change in the industry. As a result, we have been able to successfully bid for, and win, significant State Aid funding to build similar solutions in Berkshire.

Call Flow are now planning to build on this experience, and will be bidding for the State Aid funded opportunities in the coming months, with contract values exceeding £50M. Additionally, we are exploring funding options to take advantage of the significant commercial opportunities that still exist that do not require State Aid intervention.”

A full summary of the pilots and their progress can be viewed online, although we’ve also done a quick list below to show what was achieved and some of the costs involved. How much of an impact this will have going forward still very much depends upon the level of flexibility in state aid that the Government can secure from the EU.

Equally it will require local authorities to relax some of their risk aversion to smaller altnet operators and give them greater consideration, as opposed to being dependent upon BT which has become increasingly reluctant to tackle the most remote rural areas where their economic model is harder to develop or sustain.

We’d also add that some of the pilots are still in the early deployment phases and so it’s important to consider that when looking at uptake, similarly a few of the older networks are still deploying to new areas. Likewise the BDUK programme has already shown that take-up needs a year or two to mature before you can start to properly gauge the impact of a new service.

Airwave

NGA technologies: Point-to-multipoint broadband fixed wireless access at 2.4Ghz or 5.8Ghz, Wi-Fi at 2.4Ghz, LTE small cells, and TV white space.
Locations: The Esk Valley and The Upper Dales.

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 376
Forecast premises passed by the pilot : 270 (72% of the intervention area)
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 60 (22% of the premises passed)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £1,286,133
Total infrastructure capital costs: £1,614,204
Public subsidy per premises passed: £3,421
Cost per premises passed (intervention area): £5,979

AB Internet

NGA technologies: Fixed wireless superfast rural broadband network.
Locations: Monmouthshire

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 1,696
Forecast premises passed by the pilot: 1,600 (94% of the intervention area)
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 288 (18% of the premises passed)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £593,200
Total infrastructure capital costs: £636,159
Supplier contribution: £42,959.78
Investment ratio: 93%
Public subsidy per premises passed: £370.75
Cost per premises passed (intervention area): £397.59

Call Flow

NGA technologies: FTTP, FTTC, FWA
Location: Hampshire

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 1,670
Forecast premises passed by the pilot: 1,610 (96.4% of the intervention area)
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 225 (14% of the premises passed)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £1,258,560
Total infrastructure capital costs: £1,258,560
Public subsidy per premises passed: £782
Cost per premises passed (intervention area): £782

Cybermoor

NGA technologies: FTTP, FWA
Location: Northumberland

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 287
Forecast premises passed by the pilot: 287 (100% of the intervention area)
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 215 (75% of the premises passed)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £350,0005,6
Total infrastructure capital costs: £550,000
Public subsidy per premises passed: £1,220
Cost per premises passed (intervention area): £1,915

Quickline

NGA technologies: Testing a range of line of sight, near line of sight, and non-line of sight technologies to build a superfast wireless network.
Locations: North and North East Lincolnshire

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 4,211
Forecast premises passed by the pilot: 4,211 (100% of the intervention area)
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 2,305 (55% of the premises passed)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £2,000,000
Total infrastructure capital costs: £2,447,037.87
Public subsidy per premises passed: £475
Cost per premises passed (intervention area): £581

Satellite Internet

Basic technologies: Satellite backhaul with fixed wireless distribution; satellite direct to home.
Location: Exmoor (x 2) and Mendip (x 1).

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 420
Forecast premises passed by the pilot: 280 (66% of the intervention area)
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 200 (48% of the premises passed – Note, this may well be lower given smaller areas. Take up was expected to reach circa 25% which would give 105 premises connected)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £84,750
Total infrastructure capital costs: £84,750
Public subsidy per premises passed (Avg): £313.00

Avanti

NGA technologies: Satellite broadband wholesale platform
Locations: Northern Ireland: Antrim and Fermanagh; Scotland: Aberdeenshire; Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

Project size
Premises cleared for State Aid (intervention area): 23,472
Forecast premises passed by the pilot: All of the intervention area plus most of the UK.
Forecast premises connected by March 2016: 1,000 (capped by project)

Summary project costs
BDUK funding for infrastructure capital costs: £850,000
Total infrastructure capital costs: £954,000 with supplier contributions to date.
Public subsidy per premises connected: £850 (expected to reduce to circa £550 with state aid clawback)

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
Search ISP News
Search ISP Listings
Search ISP Reviews

Comments are closed

Cheap BIG ISPs for 100Mbps+
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
Sky Broadband UK ISP Logo
100Mbps
Gift: None
Virgin Media UK ISP Logo
Virgin Media £27.00
132Mbps
Gift: None
Plusnet UK ISP Logo
Plusnet £27.99
145Mbps
Gift: None
Zen Internet UK ISP Logo
Zen Internet £28.00 - 35.00
100Mbps
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest ISPs for 100Mbps+
Gigaclear UK ISP Logo
Gigaclear £17.00
200Mbps
Gift: None
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
BeFibre UK ISP Logo
BeFibre £19.00
150Mbps
Gift: None
YouFibre UK ISP Logo
YouFibre £19.99
150Mbps
Gift: None
Hey! Broadband UK ISP Logo
150Mbps
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 15 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (5628)
  2. BT (3541)
  3. Politics (2570)
  4. Openreach (2320)
  5. Business (2297)
  6. Building Digital UK (2261)
  7. FTTC (2051)
  8. Mobile Broadband (2006)
  9. Statistics (1807)
  10. 4G (1694)
  11. Virgin Media (1649)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (1481)
  13. Fibre Optic (1413)
  14. Wireless Internet (1407)
  15. FTTH (1382)
Promotion
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact
Mastodon