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Cornwall UK Sets Aside £5.8m to Extend Superfast Broadband

Thursday, June 20th, 2019 (2:47 pm) - Score 1,248
superfast cornwall

The Cornwall County Council in South West England has agreed to create the “Superfast 3 – Inclusive Growth” broadband project at a total cost of £5.835m, which could extend the reach of “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) to “at least” 2,700 additional premises (mostly homes and 546 businesses).

At present the existing Superfast Cornwall project, which is supported by Openreach (BT), still has a long term aspiration to deliver 99% coverage of “superfast broadband” by the end of 2020 (they’ve got a long way to go as they’re currently closer to 92-93%).

The last contract (Phase 2 extension) to be agreed for this project was signed in 2017 (here) and is currently expected to exceed the target of 7,500 premises by the end of 2019. Most of that is being deployed using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.

However the council predicts that, upon completion, the current rollout could still leave an estimated 11,400 premises, including 2,000 businesses, with “slow broadband access under 15Mbps” (note: such figures can change due to the constant addition of new build properties). As a result they’ve decided to try and shrink this further by launching a new project.

The new procurement will target:

* Slow existing broadband speeds (sub 15Mbps);

* The most deprived areas, e.g. according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD); and

* Future proofed solutions capable of providing speeds of 100Mbps+.

In practice this is likely to mean more FTTP, although the new plan will only reduce the remaining figure of 11,400 premises by around 2,700 and that’s still likely to leave a fairly big gap left to fill. Nevertheless the council has agreed to allocate £1.635m to this from the economic development match fund reserve, which will then be supported by £4.200m of European Regional Development Funding (ERDF).

A supplier has yet to be chosen but the council predicts that project delivery for this contract could commence in April 2020 and run until June 2022. The timescales align with the completion of the 2017-2020 Superfast 2 programme, which they claim is “on target to deliver 30+Mbps broadband to more than 7,500 [extra] premises by June 2020.”

Overall it’s predict that the new rollout phase could support the creation of 40 new jobs (net) and £1,583,223 (net) of Gross Value Added (GVA) for the local economy by March 2024.

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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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45 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    seem to remember superfarce cornwall claiming over £400 million of subsidy a few years back. We said at the time they would waste it on FTTC and so it looks like we were right? It doesn’t seem that long ago they were proclaiming it was a total success…

    • Avatar John

      Feel free to change the record. It’s getting boring reading the same nonsense over and over.

      You criticize every single deployment method used that isn’t full fibre. Even when it is full fibre you criticise the use of GPON.

      We would all prefer to have FTTP but expecting it to be the only way to increase speeds is just unrealistic.

      It’s not exactly “a waste” installing FTTC.
      I’d much rather have the FTTC I have now than the ADSL I had before. If it weren’t for FTTC I’d more than likely still be on 3Mb.

      FTTC delivered a large increase in speed to a large percentage of the population in a relatively short time
      FTTP would have taken considerably longer and they would still be a long way off the current “SuperFast” coverage levels.

      FTTC rolled out in such a way that it takes fibre deeper in the network and can easily be rolled out from the Aggregation Nodes was the right way to go for much of the country.

    • Avatar Fred

      Give it a rest with your negative comments

    • To be fair most of the public funding for broadband in Cornwall over the last decade has actually gone toward the deployment of FTTP, much of which was rural. This is frequently overlooked.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      It is c774 subsidised cabinets, plus how much FTTP? I think 80-90K FTTP? You can count 20 commercially funded cabs in Saltash.

      NO public record of anyone checking BT’s capital contribution!

    • Avatar FibreBubble


    • Avatar CarlT

      You’ve made that £400 million figure up or are very misinformed. The major subsidy was £53.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

    • Avatar CarlT

      NGA: Get on with the judicial review / court case and you can find all this out via discovery. You aren’t going to find the answers posting on every ISPR story referencing public-private partnerships.

      Superfast Cornwall was an innovative and successful programme by most accounts. It accelerated availability of higher speed broadband hugely in a deprived area of the country at no direct cost to the UK taxpayer.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Another instant response from the B4RN spokesperson who doesn’t have a clue.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Carl T – having to make do with 7th Parliamentary inquiry. It is being unpicked that way. The law or how it is applied is part of the problem.

      I admire the Cornwall project, but it could be even better if we get full transparency on the funding.

      The Facts – always good to verify, and more can be delivered as scrutiny increases.

      There is nothing boring about full fibre in the final 10%, it is a remarkable change in mindset brought about in part by challenging very obvious inflation of costs.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – ‘I admire the Cornwall project, but it could be even better if we get full transparency on the funding.’

      How would ‘we’ knowing the numbers enable contractors to be out installing?

      Exactly what numbers do you want?

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “Another instant response from the B4RN spokesperson who doesn’t have a clue.”

      With all due respect, but your constantly posting lame questions here on ISPReview, and your avoidance of coming up with any constructive contributions, doesn’t make you look better.

      Besides, Chris has a valid point, wasting taxpayer’s money on FTTC wasn’t the best approach!

    • Avatar CarlT

      NGA: What business is it of yours or the UK government what happened with the initial Superfast Cornwall project? Did the UK government fund it? Are the UK government responsible for projects funded via the ERDF?

      Last 10% FTTP is extremely dull for the other 90% of us, many of whom are funding better connectivity than they have themselves via their taxes. While there is a fixation with FTTP from some it’s used where it’s the most efficient way available to the people fulfilling the contract as it should be. If an alternative reaches the contract requirements that costs less it should be used.

      I’ll also repeat my ongoing point that where funds are clawed back your contention is that authorities should spend 4-figures per premises funding full fibre to the most remote areas, mine is that that money can likely be better spent, especially if wireless alternatives are available.

      Either way posting on here asking about it doesn’t achieve anything beyond to bemuse. I have no inside knowledge on this and, frankly, I genuinely couldn’t care less about the last 10% getting FTTP or not. Connectivity is merited, whether it’s full fibre or not depends on value for money.

      If that last 10% are entitled to FTTP it’d be rather pleasant if the taxpayer were to fund it for areas like this one. If it’s so transformative and its capabilities are so needed it’ll do wonders for our surroundings here which are certainly poorer than most rural areas.

      As of right now there is very little evidence that FTTP is required or desired, the evidence being the uptake of services >80Mb where available.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Carl T The original Cornwall Contract was BT Group chosen template for BDUK, so it like returning to the original setting. It contrasts with the first NI Contract.

      It is relevant because the BT capital contribution was never reported upon, apart from a ‘contracted’ reference in the CMS 2016 inquiry.

      It is relevant to anyone interested in how you get a privatised monopoly (in rural) to deliver network upgrades.

      It remains relevant as Gov is planning to spend £3-£5bn, when a further £1bn is available today, which if followed through would be much reduced the £3-£5bn proposal.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – are you telling us that nobody in DCMS, BDUK or local councils is tracking the numbers and only you are interested in this?

      @GN – FTTC gave us a 96% figure which means millions have speeds that meet their current needs. If FTTP had been the only option what would the rollout times have been?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      The facts; BT capital contribution has not been reported upon. In January when Audit Scotland 3 was challenged, they said the monies would eventually be paid, but could not confirm it was paid.
      WPQ206211 in January uses new terminology monies due ‘not diminished’.
      BDUK have got on top of the cost, but the use and timing of BT’s contribution should be reported upon.
      CarlT – if the costs were averaged across all the requirement then these marginal costs would not look so bad. If BT’s contribution is also accounted for then, we get a better picture still. The last customers should not be punished for being excluded while costs and capital were being gamed. There is some limit clearly, but budgets have been set high and targets low.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – what level of detail do you want released? Again, why are DCMS, BDUK and councils not dealing with this?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      The 7th Parliamentary Inquiry into Broadband may or may be able to find the answer to that question.

    • Avatar CarlT

      ‘The last customers should not be punished for being excluded while costs and capital were being gamed. There is some limit clearly, but budgets have been set high and targets low.’

      People in the city subsidising this through higher bills and taxes should not be punished for being in cities and should not be made to make do with hybrid networks while paying for full fibre in the last 10%. Neither should they be punished by being made to wait while these subsidised networks are built.

      It seems you would rather Openreach devote all resources to BDUK extension and stop building in our cities. I have no idea why rural areas are entitled to full fibre in your view while it’s quite acceptable for urban ones to both partly fund them and wait for them to be built.

      Lastly you are again accusing BT of fraud. If you have evidence of this it needs to be presented to authorities. I would remind you that BT’s costs on the commercial rollout were about 40% operational expenditure. If anything this is going to be higher in rural areas and may explain the discrepancy. Openreach spent less than a hundred pounds per premises passed on the commercial rollout. The gap funding for rural areas would top this up I imagine.

      Why are you so apparently fixated on this if you don’t mind my asking? Hardly anyone else seems to care, they are focused on the results which have been pretty decent for the most part.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – Why did the 1st-6th Parliamentary Inquiries into Broadband not find the answer to that question.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Cart T – only the monies assigned to rural for that purpose are spent there, not gamed, not hidden, not reported, not lied about, what is wrong with completing the job?

      The God of competition looks after the cities! The public funds were available since 2012 to begin resourcing the projects so in-fill would be completed.

      @Facts – fair question.. ask your MP?

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      As any competent former BDUK employee or contractor would know, state aid rules and contract law both restrict how the money assigned to each contract can be spent. And, as you’ve been told many times before, the local authorities decide whether to continue with deployments once the contracted targets have been achieved, and whether to reinvest any gainshare funds on broadband or to spend them on other activities.

      This is not about gaming the system but about ensuring value for money for us taxpayers. I’m glad that they don’t have your mindset of spending up to the available budget irrespective of value, an old school public sector approach that has thankfully been abandoned.

    • Avatar CarlT

      @NGA Monies weren’t assigned to rural in the first instance I thought. They were defined to areas that were considered eligible for state aid due to being NGA black or grey.

      The gods of competition alongside regulation would have taken care of pretty much everywhere eventually.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      New_Londoner ..LA’s DA were tied to coverage templates designed by BT which resulted in FTTP in-fill being witheld, with BT capital contribution as consequence going missing or arriving very late. LA/DA had to take what was offered and what was offered as has been evidenced based on shoddy mis-representations (on costs) which has needed 7 Parliamentary Committee investigations and counting to unpick, not reverse just unpick.

      The abuses on state-aid was so bad (overbuild, lack of transparency, inflated costs) the original SA could not be renewed but needed to be replaced. The current focus on lotting is a poor substitute for transparency.

      Carl T eventually … like a 100 years time? Eventually implies some appetite to complete the current FTTp in-fill required. Eventually would imply some appetite to publish the current status of capital contributions required by the gap funding model. There is little evidence to support ‘eventually’ in rural.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Not really. It would’ve been inevitable as the costs of maintaining a copper network just for a tiny subset of premises considerably outweighed the costs of deploying FTTP.

      Nothing at all to do with the publishing of any numbers or appetite to complete the in-fill. Hardly anyone apart from you cares about those capital contributions now let alone in 10+ years time when exchanges are being retired wholesale.

      This is actually how FTTP has been working under normal circumstances. You know, where the taxpayers in urban areas aren’t paying for fibre to hyper-rural areas, but instead the telco is being permitted to retire copper. As they retire it in urban areas so maintaining copper in rural areas becomes less and less viable.

      Still what do I know? I’m only going by what’s happening in places where regulatory accommodation and competition are taking care of things. Clearly fixating over taxpayer funding and ensuring every penny possible is spent getting fibre to the farm at the expense of urban areas and essential council services is the way to go.

      So, no: rural areas wouldn’t be waiting a hundred years for fibre. You should be aware of this process, I would imagine you’ve been spending the past few years on wider topics than fixation over BT’s capital contribution to a project where their contribution was based around both CapEx and OpEx and much of the funding is being refunded anyway so it’s a non-issue.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – are our MPs incapable of sorting this out? What is difficult?

      ‘@Facts – fair question.. ask your MP?’

      All overtaken by the latest Ofcom consultation. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-2/investment-competition-fibre-networks-approach-model

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Carl T – Transparency is important to establish the truth. The 7th Parliamentary Inquiry suggest it a wider issue than just a concern I express although any fixation is unhealthy. Unfortunately I contributed to the plan and the budget build including the budget for in-fill.

      I do not see why former colleauges in BT Group should be permitted to make so many mis-representations on costs, and thus as a consequence the capital outstanding on this matter.

      It is a denial of opportunity and there is nothing inevitable about any of this. Good people look the other way and the UK gets economy gets less than it should.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “All overtaken by the latest Ofcom consultation”

      Where, or how, does it address the need for more transparency? Care to enlighten us how commercial viability is defined by BT?

  2. Avatar NGA for all

    How many Cornwall premises can now order FTTP? Is it 80k or 90k of 240k BT lines? Is it part of the BDUK 340K FTTP or in addition too?

    • Most of the Openreach FTTP in Cornwall came from a contract, supported by EU and private BT investment, that pre-dated BDUK’s framework. I think that saw £78.5m from BT and £53.5m from Europe (ERDF) committed, although I’m not sure how much of that was actually spent but around a third of the county can now get FTTP.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      One third is 80k FTTP then? and 760 cabs includes subsequent work. I think it was BT £60m, £40m was reported to CMS inquiry(2016) as capital contracted rather than paid, the rest opex which was low for opex compared to others.

      4 Salisbury’s worth in Cornwall is always worth saluting, better still if the numbers were reported and audited in full.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – why are you asking about numbers, I thought you had been monitoring the numbers for years as you prepare your court case?

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Lets feed the consultants so more free figures so they can charge for them in reports 🙂

      From the figures Mark gave the expectation is to hit 97% superfast when ALL contracts deliver. So expect more extensions to hit 99% ambition.

      Also the figures on FTTP people are guessing are low, 36.6% FTTP coverage so its more like 100,000 and believe 5,000 to 6,000 are commercial (e.g. new build). Finding more each week too.

      VDSL2 cabinets they got that right 760

      All in all actually fairly boring as things are ticking over as I would expect

    • Andrew is correct. The original pre-BDUK contract delivered about 85,000 and the most recent (on-going) BDUK one is doing around 7,500 (not including the commercial build Andrew mentions). For a rural county Cornwall is doing really well.


    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      The premises numbers are from my tracking of whats available rather than any extrapolation of what contracts say will be delivered (just saying for avoidance of doubt)

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “why are you asking about numbers”

      Why not? He’s the same right to ask questions as you do! And his aren’t the lame questions we constantly hear from you.

      Asking for scrutiny and more transparency with regards to BDUK contracts is the right thing to do, especially in view of the fact that BT as a private company had no need for taxpayer’s monies.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @GN – so no private company should receive money for work for government? Do you understand clawback and gainshare as related to broadband?

      NGA has been asking about numbers for years, I would have thought his ex colleagues would have provided them.

      What financial details are released for similar projects?

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “so no private company should receive money for work for government?”

      Another one of your lame questions. You should know that the so-called clawback was introduced so that the successful supplier like BT is not over-compensated. Over-compensation could arise, for example, if demand for the wholesale broadband services is materially greater than originally expected or if the costs of delivering those services are materially less than anticipated.

      The market demands in BDUK areas, in terms of takeup, has been much higher than expected (from BTs perspective, not so much from the users’ end). Therefore, BT would have built most of it anyway as a private company, and if not, other suppliers would have stepped in, without hindrance by these dubious state-aid schemes in favor of BT.

      Monies were wasted which would have been needed more urgently in other areas, like NHS etc. I am sorry if you can’t understand that other posters don’t agree with your hardline BT stance. If you want fibre, then do something about it, this is not the time for lame ‘I’m All Right Jack’ attitudes, not for a ‘Can’t Do’ culture.

    • Avatar CarlT

      The government and those approving state aid were quite aware that BT would have built there eventually. The point was to accelerate that process which it did, profoundly.

      According to that metric BDUK simply should not exist as, at some point, fibre will be deployed to all premises. May be decades away but it’ll happen, so best not invest, right?

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @GN – FTTC gave us a 96% figure which means millions have speeds that meet their current needs. If FTTP had been the only option what would the rollout times have been?

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: Please read this forum thread before asking your lame questions or coming up with unsubstantiated statements like the current network is sufficient for millions. And I didn’t say FTTP was the only option.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Mr Newton: that the current network is sufficient for millions at this time is fact. It’s borne out by the product mix sold by Openreach.

      By all means go check their figures. The split over FTTP should be illuminating. If FTTC is sufficient for such a small minority I would expect everyone to take an FTTP tier out of reach of FTTC capabilities.

      Spoiler: only a minority even take 80Mb let alone 160 or 330 – most use 40Mb and 55.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @GN – CarlT explains.

  3. Avatar 5G Infinity

    Justin Lerse confirmed over on LinkedIn that this will all be FTTP as will all future work

  4. Avatar CarlT

    Good news for the people of Cornwall. A deprived part of the UK getting some investment is great to see.

    Cornwall has led the way for the UK and achieved good coverage with a high proportion of FTTP given the population density.

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