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UPDATE Cambridgeshire Targets 99% Superfast Broadband Coverage by 2020

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 (12:20 pm) - Score 754
bt openreach fibre optic cable and engineer

The Cambridgeshire County Council has today revealed that the next phase of their Connecting Cambridgeshire scheme in England will aim to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) coverage to 99% of homes and businesses in the county by the end of 2020.

At present nearly 95% of premises in the county have already been put within reach of the service, which is largely thanks to a joint public and private investment that has helped Openreach (BT) to expand the reach of their ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) network in the area (a little bit of ultrafast FTTP has also been deployed in some locations).

So far more than 97,000 homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have already benefited from this project, although the local authority has previously indicated that around 18,000 premises will be left stuck in the “final 5%” once the current Phase 2 deployment has completed (here).

The good news is that the next (Phase 3) contract for Connecting Cambridgeshire will aim to put “superfast broadband within reach of 99% of homes and businesses“, whilst also raising 4G mobile coverage, getting ready for 5G and increasing public WiFi access in communities across the county by the end of 2020.

Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, said:

“An up-to-date digital connectivity infrastructure is essential for Cambridgeshire to maintain our position as a leading digital county and for future economic success. Digital technology underpins almost every aspect of modern living across work, travel, leisure and health, and Internet access is now widely viewed as the ‘4th utility’.

Our Connecting Cambridgeshire programme has made great progress and is on track to bring superfast broadband access to 95% of premises in the county by the end of this year. But there is more to do to reach remaining households and businesses, using the latest broadband, mobile and Wi-fi technologies to ensure our connectivity is world-class.”

Tackling that final 5% is normally very expensive (i.e. it usually consists of smaller and harder to reach rural and some disadvantaged urban communities), although the local authority appears to be adamant that it can be done “without extra cost” to the council.

Instead Ian Bates states that the £10m reinvestment from BT (gainshare / clawback), which represents a public investment that has been returned following high take-up of the related FTTC/P services, will be enough to do the job; alongside some extra money from the EU and Broadband Delivery UK programme.

The County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee is due to put the new proposal to a vote on 9th March 2017 and detailed plans for a third contract, which could begin its deployment phase from as early as summer 2017, will be announced shortly.

UPDATE 5:05pm

The documentation for next week’s meeting suggests that Phase 3 itself, which will continue to work with BT, may actually “target 97% by end 2018” and that a later Phase 4 contract would then push to >99% by 2020.

Superfast Broadband Work Stream Phase 4 Rollout

* It is anticipated that this will be the final tranche of rollout for Superfast broadband infrastructure which will provide coverage to as many as possible of the final 3%.

* It is recognised that it is unlikely that 100% coverage to 24mbps+ across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be achieved and that coverage for over 99% premises is ambitious.

* There are approximately 400,000 business and residential premises in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The remaining 3% (approximately 12,000 premises), not covered in Phases 1-3 will typically be in small clusters in relatively hard to reach areas and widely scattered throughout the county.

* The challenges involved in the fourth rollout phase means that a more complex procurement and delivery approach, potentially using new communications technology and innovation, will be required in order to achieve as much coverage as possible.

* Unlike Phases 2 and 3, which are being delivered by BT under change control within the original contract, it is proposed that a new procurement is undertaken and that a procurement strategy is devised with an accompanying “lot” approach to determine the optimum way to provide coverage for the remaining premises. This may also involve inviting communities to contribute funding for a solution in addition to public and supplier funding where it would otherwise be unaffordable and fail to meet state aid intervention rules.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all

    Is this still part of the £18m for EoEngland (part if £133m) or is it beginning to dip into what is now a £325m Capital Deferral?

    Good to see!

  2. Avatar Peterborough Road Resident and fed up with lack of progress

    These figures being banded around like a willy waving exercise.

    In one direction around a mile away, we have Virgin Media in Eye.

    Our BT exchange on Peterborough Road is 3.20km away on few telegraph poles then underground cable to green cabinet in Crowland.

    We are in Cambridgeshire, the BT exchange in Lincolnshire. ADSL Max is terrible with loads of noise through age (used to be reasonable) and 22 BT engineers have not changed the situation. People in village all can have FTTC. We can’t because BT only enabled two existing green cabinets that are within walking distance of the exchange. They put NO new cabinets in, hence why only the village is enabled. Its also too long line length for limited broadband over fibre because the speeds would be similar to ADSL anyway.

    Its hardly the Scottish islands here, and a cabinet or FTTP would suffice the cluster of farms and houses here. A lot more remote and rural areas are getting far better broadband than us near a city. The other exchange from Newborough in Cambridgeshire could literally be connected with a few feet of cable to our telegraph pole.

    I hope this news means FTTP to premises (prob cheaper back to cabinet in village using existing duct) or new FTTC green cabinet to serve the houses. There is no competition around here and the exchange was like that for years until TalkTalk eventually arrived, followed by Sky, just before Crowland got FTTC.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      ^^^
      To ask the obvious question, if it’s important to you, what have you done to try and find a solution other than waiting for the council?

    • Avatar MikeW

      This is very much the portrait of the final 5% of premises.

      Waiting for the next round of subsidy via BDUK, or a similar project.
      Waiting for BT to extend the range of FTTC cabinets through LR-VDSL, if it happens.
      Waiting for funding via a USO agreement in 2020, if one materialises.
      Or investigating self-funding. For example, via BT’s own community fibre scheme.

  3. Avatar Peterborough Road Resident and fed up with lack of progress

    Solution? yes, there is one. Its called all my over priced line rental over the years for a c*** service and my tax payer money to BT – 40% of it!

    What is the solution then New_Londoner…4G? Seen the signal around here – too low, no local wifi service, no VirginMedia as it stops 1 mile away!!!!

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