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UPDATE Staffordshire UK Claims 95% Coverage of Superfast Broadband

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 (1:50 pm) - Score 618
testing fibre

The Superfast Staffordshire project with Openreach (BT) claims to have succeeded in its original Phase 2 contract goal, which aimed to make fixed line FTTC/P superfast broadband (24Mbps+) networks available to order by 95% of premises before the end of 2017 (c.97% in terms of the raw “fibre” footprint).

So far the scheme, which is supported by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, has enabled around 74,000 premises (homes and businesses) in Staffordshire (England) to be put within reach of a superfast broadband network (out of 80,937 contracted under the Phase 1 + 2 deals for “superfast” speeds).

The above figure rises to more than 477,000 when combined with commercial roll-outs by private sector businesses (e.g. Openreach and Virgin Media) and take-up in related BDUK areas has recently increased to 39.7% (June 2017). All of this has been funded by an investment of around £32 million (£8.06m from local councils, £9.12m from BDUK and £14.77m from BT).

Mark Winnington, Council Leader for Economic Growth, said:

“Reaching this important milestone in the run-up to Christmas and ahead of the Government’s national target date is a terrific achievement and shows our commitment to make this important technology available to as many parts of Staffordshire as quickly as possible.

We’re using a combination of technologies and co-funding solutions to ensure even residents and businesses in the smallest, most remote parts of our county have access to this essential technology.”

Steve Haines, Openreach’s MD for NGA, said:

“The broadband landscape across Staffordshire has been transformed in recent years so that the great majority of households and businesses can now get superfast speeds. And we are most certainly not stopping there. We’re committed to going further with superfast and ultrafast broadband.

Increasingly high-speed broadband is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it is a ‘must have’. Reaching this important milestone at this busy time of the year is particularly good news for people wanting to use the internet more than usual for online shopping and ‘click and collect’ services.”

As usual it’s important to point out that the 95% figure (this is up from 70% in 2013) is an estimate and real-world experiences can still differ due to various reasons, such as slow wifi, poor home wiring, local cabinets being full to capacity and general network congestion etc. In addition, the upgrade is not automatic and you have to order the faster service in order to benefit.

A quick look at Thinkbroadband‘s most recent projection, which tends to take a more cautious approach in its data analysis (we like that), puts the figure slightly lower on 94.06%. This is roughly in keeping with other BDUK projections that tend to be roughly 1 percentage point ahead of TBB’s estimates. We believe that, using the Government’s more optimistic gauge, the national UK coverage target of 95% has also now been hit.

However the work in Staffordshire does not stop at 95% and a £1.7m extension deal, which was signed in June 2017, has already confirmed that the next “superfast” target is 96%+ coverage by the end of 2018 (here). The first premises to benefit under this additional deployment will go live from next Summer 2018 and the existing rollout is also still on-going.

UPDATE:

The Superfast Staffordshire team have noted to us in the comments that the 94.06% TBB superfast coverage figure refers to Staffordshire only and does not incorporate the City of Stoke, but you do get to a little over 95% once stoke is factored into the data.

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Mark Jackson

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.

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18 Responses
  1. Clarification: The Superfast Staffordshire programme team have used the Thinkbroadband figures to verify the 95% claim. The 94.06% superfast coverage refers to Staffordshire only and does not incorporate the City of Stoke. When the City figures are included the combined coverage is 95.16%. This programme has delivered upgrades within both the city and county boundaries.

  2. Thank you Andrew, I have been prone to exaggerate periodically. Guilty as charged. Nice to see you agree that we have hit 95%.

    • NGA for all

      What is the ambition now with the underspends, clawback, BT capital? How much FTTP can be delivered in the county? Have you access to your proportion of the £477m (and climbing) or just a proportion of the £129m?

  3. We are looking to extend the fibre network as far as resources allow. There are contractual arrangements in place to recycle gainshare as it becomes available. We have received £2.4m to date.

    • NGA for all

      Thanks, so that’s from the £129m. When are you publishing the investment account balance following the phase 1 true up? When will know that you re-cyle the majority of the clawback? Great to see the progress. Let’s hope FTTP is not withheld from the business parks.

  4. We are just in the process of signing off Contract 1, however the majority of the underspend has already been committed. The gainshare / clawback process is a contractual arrangement operating for 7 years after final fibre deployment.

    As for business parks they should be key beneficiaries of the Gigabit Full Fibre voucher scheme once it has been developed and launched. It will be interesting to see if they apply for the vouchers.

    • NGA for all

      After 5 years, you cannot comment on the status or the amount of the BT capital contribution, or how and when the final clawback can be utilised! I guess that is the nature of the role. It is difficult to make informed decisions when so much is with held.
      Virginmedia reference overbuild in Stoke and elsewhere, have you visibility of the extra capital BT need to contribute where overbuild has been sanctioned?
      Why could business parks need vouchers when there are spare subsidised fibres in the cable installed for FTTC, the agn, and resources at the HO’s points?

    • Gadget

      I think Paul has commented on at least when “The gainshare / clawback process is a contractual arrangement operating for 7 years after final fibre deployment”

      Perhaps the question should be – How much Virgin overbuild has resulted from their own decision to implement Project Lightning, and was that included in their OMR responses that drove the initial contract?

      Since you post as “NGA for All” what is your position on spending contractual and gainshare resources to serve business parks(thay may have requirements for leased lines anyway rather than public broadband) if there are residential properties which could be enabled serving more of you “All” for the same money?

    • I could comment on the final figures and various contributions, but I do not think it would be prudent to do so until it is all signed off and agreed by all parties.
      The project has sought to mitigate overspill, utilising the Open Market Review as the key source of information of current and planned build. Unfortunately VM Project Lightening was not included in the 2014 OMR. We will be repeating the OMR at address level early in the new year.
      Fibre on Demand should be of interest to the businesses on business parks once it is freely available. Again it will interesting to see what the demand will be. Perhaps vouchers will assist with connection charges.

    • NGA for all

      The sign off is at least 6 months late then. The problem in not reporting is that you cannot report all the upsides and what could be done. With subsidised fibre bundles sitting in pits outside business parks, there should no need for vouchers to pull fibre through the last 100-200m of duct. This ought to be covered by reasonable demand clauses in WLA.
      It is BT’s Group commercial interest to withhold FTTP. By reporting transparently fully the good work that has occurred projects can contribute directly to removing the artificial constraints BT Group is imposing. The new Openreach would welcome any transparency that reduces the risk of losing the Capital Deferral back to Treasury.

  5. NGA for all

    Gadget- mis-selling private circuits (as opposed to building PONs) to solve a distance problem is one of the principal BT Group imposed investment hurdles for Openreach to overcome in their business case for FTTP. It is also a barrier to making FoD available to absorb the monies owed.

    Paul – FoD promised nationwide from April 2014.

    • Gadget

      Not sure where you get the idea of mis-selling private circuits from, except perhaps from the thread about the Scottish Hotel on thinkbroadband.

      They are two completely different products, and as has been clarified on that thread the quote requested was for a private circuit to an individual location and not a community solution involving a PON.

      I cannot believe that you would even consider anyone including yourself costing an increased coverage FTTP solution using private circuits – apart from the cost there is also the fibre waste and the mis-match of characteristics.

    • NGA for all

      Gadget – It is always the dumb customers fault! The customer might request a private circuit if the PON extension options was not offered. Private circuits mis-selling to fix the distance imposed problems of copper has been a feature of UK industry for some time.
      Customers rarely ask for a private circuit. It is presented as a solution.
      FTTP although with the WLA production definition is not yet subject to the reasonable demand clauses.

    • Gadget

      a private circuit connected to an internet “gateway” is always a solution if you are prepared to pay to an entirely different internet connection to the mass-market, access-contended GEA/WBC product. It could, also be used by those experienced enough to extend an existing GEA solution from another location, but in and of itself it does not extend a PON making a GEA product available – it can be used as an extender in the same was as a powerline technology in the home.
      But what exactly do you mean when you refer to a “PON extension” – if it is physical infrastructure build then that is in the domain of either the local authority contract or a community partnership.

    • NGA for all

      Gadget – so if it not within the domain of a LA contract or a community partnership, BT is free to sell a private circuit! This is a better effort in Oxfordshire ..www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/cms/content/co-funded-fibre-broadband-partnerships-cfp

    • Gadget

      Nothing more that the standard Community funded partnership from BT, but with the council prepared to help the community – no bearing on your mis-selling hobby-horse!

    • NGA for all

      Gadget – It is different as it covered by state aid and associated value for money processes, so it will be cheaper. It incorporates and uses underspend/clawback and customer contributions.
      It provides a very good means if converting the capital deferral owed into coverage. Properly supported it would be better than the voluntary B-USO offer.

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