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Openreach Scoop Suffolk’s Phase 3 Superfast Broadband Rollout

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020 (2:15 pm) - Score 3,475

Openreach (BT) has today announced that they will deliver “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage to an additional 5,000 homes and 550 businesses in Suffolk UK (mostly rural areas) after securing the contract for Phase 3 of the state aid supported Better Broadband for Suffolk (BBS) project, which we assume will use FTTP.

At present the existing £64m state aid supported Better Broadband for Suffolk (BBS) project with BT, which is based off the Building Digital UK framework, has already put “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+ within reach of 96% of homes and businesses within the county. The existing contracts should take this to 98% of local premises by the end of 2020.

NOTE: The first two phases of the programme have delivered a “fibre based” broadband service (mostly FTTC and a little FTTP) to around 150,000 premises and 100,000 of those have taken the service.

The procurement process for their follow-on Phase 3 contract (aimed at the final 2% of premises) began last year (here) and a final decision on the outcome of this was made earlier this year, although the final plan has only just been confirmed today.

In terms of funding, the press release doesn’t state any, but previous meetings mentioned £10m of gainshare (clawback) funding from BT, which is effectively a reinvestment of previous public funding that was put toward the earlier contracts (i.e. public money gets returned as take-up in related areas rises). But we also know that £1.725m from DEFRA will be included and a previous update put the total pot at c.£15m.

Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:

“It is incredible to think that over 100,000 homes and businesses in Suffolk are now using Superfast Broadband as a result of this project. Faster and more reliable broadband is more important now with many of us using digital devices to stay in contact with family and friends or working from home. As Suffolk, and the rest of the UK, begin to move into the recovery phase – Superfast Broadband will continue to play a crucial role. To find out if Superfast Broadband is available in your area please contact your service provider or visit the Better Broadband for Suffolk website.

Our ambition has always been, and will always be, to achieve total Superfast Broadband coverage across Suffolk. With the contract now being signed on the third phase of the programme, we are closer to realising that goal. This will mean that some of the most rural and hard to reach premises in Suffolk will enjoy equal or faster speeds than some major cities and towns across the UK.”

Laura Whelan, Openreach’s Regional Director (East of England), said:

“We’ve already made a great deal of progress across Suffolk, making faster broadband available to thousands for the first time. We know there is more to do connecting up the most remote areas, and that’s why we’re delighted to be working with Suffolk County Council on extending that reach even further. Openreach has an important role within the East of England, with more than 3,400 of our people living and working here. We’ve also recently announced a great deal of work to build full fibre in some of the most ‘hard to reach’ rural areas, including Bungay, Saxmundham and Kentford.”

Matt Warman MP, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:

“We’ve invested almost £30 million into this project to deliver faster broadband to rural homes and businesses across Suffolk. I am pleased so many people have taken up superfast and full fibre internet connections for the economic and social benefits they bring.

But there are more homes to connect in Suffolk and across the UK, so we have pledged a further £5 billion to make sure people in hard-to-reach areas get the high-quality broadband they deserve.”

Apparently the Phase 3 deployment will begin as soon as the current Phase 2 contract completes at the end of this year, with completion on Phase 3 then being expected to follow by September 2022. In theory Phase 3 could push local coverage of superfast broadband to nearly universal levels.

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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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15 Responses
  1. Avatar Danny

    I’m guessing most of this will be accomplished using FTTP so will most likely end up been ultrafast which is excellent news for those receiving the upgrade.

  2. Avatar Tom Husband

    30Mbps qualifies as “superfast”?

  3. Avatar Graham Long

    BT will put in as little FTTP as they can get away with, relying on the old copper wherever possible and yes, Tom Husband, 30Mbps still qualifies as “superfast” when the rest of the world focusses on FTTP and 100Mbps. matt Warman and BDUK need to up their game.

    • Avatar NE555

      I’ve seen a lane with around 20 houses getting an FTTC cabinet. It seems pretty mad to me, when instead of a powered cabinet they could put a passive FTTP splitter. I guess there was a reason – maybe there were direct-buried cables instead of ducts?

    • Avatar Fastman

      Really

      more disinformation as ever

    • Avatar joe

      A cabinet for 20 houses sounds v odd given the costs involved.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      Presumably that was before Fibre First came along?

      I agree with @Joe that the economics of VDSL would be questionable for 20 houses by the time power and civils came into play.

      I’d far rather see a phone pole(S) with a connectorised DP on top of it(them).

    • Avatar joe

      A_Builder Even under BDUK of the past they were going fttp in similar circumstances in many cases – inc my own house!

      “I’d far rather see a phone pole(S) with a connectorised DP on top of it(them).”

      Pros/cons Ducts collapse but they don’t get flailed by farmers unlike fibre on poles!

    • Avatar gerarda

      In rural suffolk the recent BDUK stuff has been nearly all FTTP from what I have seen and heard. Presumably its a lot cheaper to sling a cable along existing poles than provide an FTTC cabinet.

      Having said that the list of premises to be covered is very weird. Isolated farmhouses, or groups of two or three premises are on there whilst a lane near to us with with a dozen properties in a stretch of less than 200 yards getting sub 1mb ADSL is not. This despite it being within half a mile of existing FTTP provision

    • Avatar 125us

      What gets built is what the council asks for in the contract.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @125us

      After posting that I discovered the reason the lane isn’t included is that it is marked on the intervention area as having superfast coverage, contrary to reality and the dsl checker.

    • Avatar Jake Court

      @Graham Long – have the last 2 years just passed you by? Look at any of the recent announcements with more detail on successful BDUK tenders for Openreach or Airband and you will see that its virtually always FTTP. You need to up your game.

  4. Avatar samuel

    @gerarda same here with my connection across the sea in Essex.

  5. Avatar Rob

    BBS website states install superfast broadband (24m) as quickly as possible and appears they are extending existing FTTC and installing some new FTTP.
    If that was the contract criteria then OR would obviously win.
    If the criteria was to have FTTP throughout then perhaps the outcome would have been different. This is OR using their dominance in the market.

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