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Cumbria Council Reclassifies 146 Postcodes for State Aid Broadband Rollout

Saturday, March 11th, 2017 (1:19 am) - Score 1,059

The Cumbria Council has quietly reclassified 146 postcodes for inclusion into their Connecting Cumbria project with BT after they were originally left out due to a conflict over the commercial coverage of Solway’s wireless broadband network, which meant they weren’t eligible for state aid support.

At present the state aid supported project is working hard to roll-out “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to reach 95% of premises in the county by around mid-2018, most of which are being delivered by the expansion of FTTC and a few FTTP services via Openreach’s (BT) national network. So far nearly 90% of local homes and businesses have already been covered.

However when the original Phase 2 Intervention Area map was published in late 2015 many local people noticed that large areas had been excluded from potential improvements because of claims that a local alternative network provider, Solway Communications, already provided a “superfast” service. Readers may recall that we wrote several related articles on this in 2016 (examples here and here).

Solway typically runs a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network and they do have a 30Mbps option on their website, although quite a few locals of the affected areas found that they were either shielded from a line of sight view of one of Solway’s masts, or they could not buy a connection fast enough to be termed “superfast“.

The EU’s State Aid rules limit the use of public funding in situations where there is a risk of overbuilding another “superfast” capable network. However this didn’t stop locals from launching a 15 month campaign to correct the de-scoping of their areas and include them back into the Connecting Cumbria deployment, which also won the support of both the Hayton Parish Council and local MP Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border).

The good news is that the areas have now been included back into the project.

Connecting Cumbria Statement

In 2015 Cumbria County Council’s public consultation, which sought to identify areas which do not have Next Generation (NGA) broadband infrastructure or where there are no plans to provide such infrastructure over the next three years, closed and state aid Intervention Area was set for the Connecting Cumbria programme. Further to this evidence has emerged that NGA services are not available in a number of postcodes where coverage had been claimed during the public consultation.

Following conclusion of our consultation, conducted between 16th January and 13th February 2017, we can confirm that suitable evidence has been put forward to confirm NGA service availability in the 146 postcodes considered for reclassification as NGA white. On the basis of this Cumbria County Council and Broadband Delivery UK have concluded that NGA services are not available in these postcodes and they should now be reclassified as NGA White thus becoming eligible for publicly funded intervention under the Connecting Cumbria programme.

The bad news is that re-adding the areas back into the scheme will not automatically see them being upgraded, more investment will be required. As Connecting Cumbria explains, “a postcode becoming NGA White does not guarantee that NGA broadband deployment activity will be undertaken … [we will] continue to work as efficiently as possible to reach as many properties as we can across Cumbria with available funding.

However Cumbria has yet to announce how they will spend the reinvestment from clawback (public investment that BT returns as a result of high take-up) and this could provide an opportunity to target at least some of the previously overlooked areas. Speaking of which..

The Postcodes
CA1 2FD CA5 7HL CA7 2QA CA7 8AB CA7 8BX CA7 8NE CA8 9DX
CA15 6RB CA5 7HN CA7 2QB CA7 8AD CA7 8BY CA7 8NG CA8 9EA
CA5 6AA CA5 7HQ CA7 5AA CA7 8AE CA7 8BZ CA7 8NH CA8 9EB
CA5 6AB CA6 4BY CA7 5AB CA7 8AF CA7 8DA CA7 8NJ CA8 9EE
CA5 6AD CA7 0JJ CA7 5AD CA7 8AG CA7 8DB CA7 8NQ CA8 9EG
CA5 6AF CA7 0LU CA7 5AE CA7 8AH CA7 8DD CA8 1LB CA8 9EH
CA5 6BJ CA7 0LY CA7 5DH CA7 8AJ CA7 8DG CA8 1LD CA8 9EN
CA5 6JD CA7 1DE CA7 5DJ CA7 8AL CA7 8DH CA8 1LE CA8 9HD
CA5 6JE CA7 1DF CA7 5DL CA7 8AN CA7 8DN CA8 1LF CA8 9HQ
CA5 6JF CA7 1EW CA7 5DN CA7 8AQ CA7 8DW CA8 1LL CA8 9JF
CA5 7EP CA7 2DJ CA7 5DP CA7 8AR CA7 8LJ CA8 1LN CA8 9JG
CA5 7ER CA7 2DR CA7 5DQ CA7 8AS CA7 8LL CA8 1LT CA8 9JH
CA5 7ES CA7 2JR CA7 5DR CA7 8AT CA7 8LN CA8 1LU CA8 9JL
CA5 7EW CA7 2JX CA7 5DS CA7 8AU CA7 8LU CA8 1LW CA8 9JN
CA5 7EX CA7 2NG CA7 5DT CA7 8AX CA7 8LW CA8 9BS CA8 9JQ
CA5 7HD CA7 2NN CA7 5DW CA7 8AY CA7 8LX CA8 9BU CA8 9LE
CA5 7HE CA7 2NW CA7 5EF CA7 8BL CA7 8LY CA8 9BX CA8 9LG
CA5 7HF CA7 2PD CA7 5EG CA7 8BS CA7 8LZ CA8 9DA CA8 9LH
CA5 7HG CA7 2PL CA7 5EH CA7 8BT CA7 8NA CA8 9DB CA8 9LQ
CA5 7HH CA7 2PQ CA7 5EN CA7 8BU CA7 8NB CA8 9DD CA8 9NF
CA5 7HJ CA7 2PU CA7 5ER CA7 8BW CA7 8ND CA8 9DP

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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.
Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar arthur hodgson says:

    where is ca7 4pb and ca7 4pe i dont think this is ever going to happen in my life time we are lucky to get 2 meg at best overlooked all the time

    1. Avatar AndyH says:

      Looking here http://maps.cumbria.gov.uk/eggp/?dept=broadband&scriptname=Connecting%20Cumbria%20Phase%202%20Intervention%20Area%20-%20next%20generation%20access it shows the postcodes you mention are ‘yellow’ which means ” we are still working with provider(s) to understand if their current or planned infrastructure can be mapped ‘Grey’.”

      The problem is, it seems that a provider has stated they plan or intend to cover your area with NGA speeds and Connecting Cumbria are trying to verify those plans. I am not sure who the provider is (perhaps you can ask Connecting Cumbria?) but this is your stumbling block to getting public funding for NGA broadband unfortunately.

    2. Avatar Stuck InTheSlowLane says:

      Arthur

      You should get in touch with Connecting Cumbria and ask why your postcode is excluded from State Aid. No-one’s going to do a commercial roll-out for your area unless it’s radio, and the only local radio supplier is Solway. It’s possible you’ve been overlooked in the re-classification.

  2. Avatar Clover says:

    Actually Mark the highest speed Solway Communications are currently selling in their website is 20mbps at £162 per month, definitely not an affordable nga package under the eu state aid rules

    1. Avatar MikeW says:

      The response to an OMR isn’t just about current capability, but includes plans for the next 3 years. It still has to be a plausible plan, mind.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Solway did have an affordable 30Mbps option, but the link to it seems to have vanished. I recall it being quite hard to find but we have seen it before.

    3. Avatar AndyH says:

      Clarification needs to be given by Cumbria Council about Solway because it would seem like a lot of areas have been excluded from public funding for NGA because of Solway.

    4. Avatar Stuck InTheSlowLane says:

      Solway’s 30 Mb/s plan magically appeared when the speed definition of Superfast increased. Previously, it had claimed mid 20s I think. You weren’t able to order a wireless service from them on the website which met NGA requirements. You were asked to call instead. I’m not sure how many people were actually able to order it. ThinkBroadband’s speed checker showed the fastest wireless speed through Solway returned just 9.9 Mb/s last year. But some get a faster service from them than they would elsewhere.
      These 146 postcodes have been clawed back into the intervention area presumably because of doubts over Solway’s ability to provide NGA to them. I’m not sure if there are any remaining postcodes excluded because of their wireless service.

    5. Avatar AndyH says:

      If you look at the coverage map on the Solway website, their ‘area’ of coverage is massive.

      Their prices for a residential service are astronomical now. Their OMR submission should certainly be reviewed for a whole variety of reasons. If they do not sell a 30Mbps at an affordable price, they should be removed from the OMR and all postcodes they submitted should be put back for tender.

  3. Avatar NGA for all says:

    All the WISPS need to be using PIA 2 to upgrade and prove their willingness to invest and use the subsidies available or private funds to upgrade their infrastructure.

    The default is BT, their overlay costs should mean they win, but Gigaclear and Callflow have shown it is possible.

    What WISPs cannot do is prevent the extension of fibre services deep into the final 10% should there own services not be robust enough, and PIA 2 is available to create a more robust service.

    What would help I think is the reporting on the budgets now spent in Cumbria and the budgets available and BT capital owed to press on.

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