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Worcestershire UK Tenders for New £2.62m Superfast Broadband Rollout

Friday, May 12th, 2017 (7:57 am) - Score 443
worcestershire uk broadband

The Worcestershire County Council in England recently slipped under our radar when they issued a tender for Phase 3 of the Superfast Worcestershire project, which will commit up to £2,627,415 of public funding to expand the local availability of “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+).

At present the council is working to make “superfast broadband” services available to “more than” 95% of the county by the end of 2017 and they’re currently sitting at about 92%. The raw “fibre” footprint also reaches around 97% when including sub-24Mbps areas, with a total of 65,684 premises being covered as a result of the Broadband Delivery UK backed project (this falls to 54,772 when only looking at superfast speeds).

Since then another £3.7 million extension deal has been announced (here), which will see Openreach (BT) rolling out their FTTC and a bit of FTTP broadband technology to a further 3,000 homes and businesses in the county by around the end of 2018.

Otherwise the purdah (pre-election) period usually means that we don’t hear about new state aid supported broadband contracts or procurement announcements, at least not until after the General Election (8th June 2017), although it looks as if Worcestershire has recently managed to slip another proposal out to tender.

The latest tender appears to be partly based on the feedback that WCC received following their last Open Market Review (OMR), which was conducted between 3rd September 2016 and 3rd October 2016 to establish existing and planned (within the next 3 years) coverage of broadband infrastructure across Worcestershire (details here).

The OMR identified that 25,156 premises weren’t currently covered by existing or planned superfast broadband networks, while a further 5,972 premises had been marked as “under review” because they “have previously been indicated to have planned commercial coverage for NGA broadband (i.e. mapped as grey or black NGA), but those plans have been reported through the OMR as being ‘at risk’ of not being completed.”

The OMR noted that total public funding of up to £9.5 millionmay be committed via the forthcoming procurement,” although the new Phase 3 tender currently only has confirmed funding of “up to£1,127,415 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £1,500,000 from BDUK.

Sadly we don’t get a lot of detail from the procurement documents, although it does state that the funding will be focused on “eligible business premises.”

Worcestershire Tender Summary

Worcestershire County Council has previously invested significant public funds through two separate contracts (Superfast Worcestershire and Superfast Extension Programme) to extend the availability of NGA infrastructure in areas where no existing commercial deployment existed or there were no imminent plans for further deployment from the telecommunications market.

Phase 3 aims to extend NGA coverage even further by selecting an infrastructure provider to build an NGA network to the remaining unserved ‘white’ premises, focusing on the eligible business premises and utilising the public funding that is available in a ‘gap funded’ model. The eligible ‘white’ premises in the intervention area have been qualified formally through an Open Market Review and Public Consultation processes with the supplier market.

The Contractor will be expected to provide investment in the network, as part of the ‘gap funded’ model, and to own and manage the risks associated with developing and operating a wholesale broadband network, including but not limited to take-up risk.

The initial expressions of interest by suppliers are expected by 26th May 2017 and the contract itself is then expected to be awarded by 9th August 2017.

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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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