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£6.2m Deal for Superfast Broadband to 5300 Worcestershire UK Premises

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 (11:47 am) - Score 814

As expected the Superfast Worcestershire programme has signed a new £6.2 million extension contract with BT (Openreach), which will push their FTTP/C based “superfast broadband” network out to reach more than 5,300 extra premises (reaching 96% of Worcestershire UK by 2019).

The project is already working to make “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services available to “more than” 95% of the county “during 2017 and beyond” and they’re currently at about 94%. The raw “fibre” footprint also reaches around 98% when including sub-24Mbps areas, with a total of 50,707 premises being covered as a result of the Broadband Delivery UK supported project (out of 61,248 contracted – June 2017 data).

Several extension deals have already been done to boost the coverage of this programme, with the most recent being the £3.7m contract that was signed earlier this year for 3,000 extra premises by the end of 2018 (here). Back in May 2017 the local authority also sought to further enhance the roll-out by tendering for a Phase 3 contract (here) and today’s news is the result.

The latest phase of the roll-out includes around £1 million funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), an impressive £3.7 million from BT and £1.5 million from BDUK. Interestingly the announcement states that “around” 90% of structures completed in the third phase will be “full fibreFTTP ultrafast broadband, which should be capable of speeds reaching up to 1Gbps.

Matt Hancock, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“As part of the Government’s nationwide roll-out of superfast broadband, Superfast Worcestershire has already reached more than 50,000 local homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out. But there’s still more to do and it’s great to hear that another 5,300 premises will now be able to enjoy all the benefits of a superfast broadband connection.”

Steve Henderson, Openreach Regional Director for Broadband, said:

“This major investment is a vital new chapter in the story which began nearly three and a half years ago when the partnership began connecting its first premises. It will help make the county superfit for the 21st century.

Superfast Worcestershire is already a huge success and now we’re set to go even further as it reaches into some of the region’s most remote areas. The roll-out of high-speed broadband across the county has transformed the way people get online, communicate and do business, with more than 263,000 county premises now able to access superfast fibre broadband thanks to the Superfast Worcestershire partnership and private sector roll-outs by network companies like Openreach.”

The project’s deployment map (PDF) has also been updated to reflect the additional planned coverage and first structures, while the first work on Phase 3 is expected to begin during early 2018 and will then complete “in” 2019 (we’ll assume that means by the end of 2019).

Worcestershire County Council has also committed to take coverage further still by seeking additional funding and investing any underspend or other funds arising from earlier contracts (e.g. clawback and efficiency savings). More details on these projects will be announced in the coming months.

We should point out that this will still leave quite a big gap to fill. An Open Market Review (OMR) conducted earlier this year 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.”

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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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9 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    I wonder if that £3.7m from BT includes any gainshare money? If so, then it’s not quite so impressive as it’s effectively public money anyway.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      There’s no mention of it being clawback/gainshare and I’d be surprised if the local authority allowed public money to be passed off as coming from BT, but you never know.

    2. MikeW says:

      I agree with Mark. Especially as the returned gainshare often appears to be used as matching funds to extract even more out of central government.

      If this was gainshare money, Worcestershire would be missing a trick.

      On the other hand, the list of financial contributors does not actually include Worcestershire!

    3. NGA for all says:

      Indeed, at £700 a premise passed, it is welcome but needs explaining. If much of this is FTTP and half is operational costs, then the £350 is still very welcome and matches a new PSTN line.

      The inconsistency on the gainshare and still no reference to the capital account balances from phase 1 lacks transparency. These monies were allocated for Broadband not to be taken back or withheld, or given back to treasury.

      I would welcome your analysis of the £129m realise versus the £477m available. I left the available evidence on the previous article, showing the monies if available are not being acted upon.

    4. AndyH says:

      “Indeed, at £700 a premise passed, it is welcome but needs explaining.”

      What exactly needs explaining?

      “If much of this is FTTP and half is operational costs, then the £350 is still very welcome and matches a new PSTN line.”

      Why do you think that half is operational costs? I also don’t follow the bit about £350 matching a new PSTN line.

    5. NGA for all says:

      AndyH – As we have learned from all the audits, BT splits its investment operational and capital – about half and half. Why would that change for FTTP?

      FTTP is defined within WLA product definition in the same way as a metal path for cost recovery purposes. So a £350 would be consistent with the cost providing an average new PST line. New builds and refurbs will need to be averaged. Do you have a better number?

  2. Jclarke says:

    Looks as though it says in there that the council will be reinvesting clawback later? Would therefore suggest that none of this is gainshare or underspend. Seems logical to me if other funding comes up they would need some £ to help as match or just to improve the value for money.

  3. John says:

    None of the funding is coming from WCC and none of it is gainshare / reinvestment funding 🙂

    1. Shan says:

      You are right.

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