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Leicestershire UK Get Extra Broadband Cash as Contract Retendered

Monday, July 13th, 2020 (8:45 am) - Score 836
engineer bt looking at telecoms and broadband cables

The Superfast Leicestershire project in England has secured a small pot of £100,000 in extra funding to help the scheme spread “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) further, although the details remain unclear. Meanwhile the East Leicestershire contract for Phase 3 has been re-tendered “as no credible bids were received.”

The additional £100k of funding stems from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), which is providing £24.43 million of support from the local business rates pool fund. In the grander scheme of things an extra £100k won’t go very far (barely enough to do a single small village), although we suspect it will be used to top-up with a future Phase 4 roll-out contract.

NOTE: At present around 97% of Leicestershire can access superfast broadband speeds (99% in Leicestershire city).

Interestingly recent documents from the council reveal that Phase 4 of the superfast broadband project is actually a re-tender of the earlier Phase 3 contract for “East Leicestershire.” At the end of last year BT (Openreach) secured the £2.7m Phase 3 extension contract (here), which pledged that “thousands” of extra homes and businesses would gain access to a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) ISP network by around the end of 2021.

However, the Phase 3 extension only seemed to focus on parts of north west Leicestershire, Charnwood, Hinckley & Bosworth and Blaby. Meanwhile the documents reveal that the East Leicestershire side of this Phase 3 programme had to be re-tendered as a fourth phase because “no credible bids were received and the previous main contractor did not submit a bid.”

The loss of the East Leicestershire side from Phase 3 also created a net variance of £0.6m in the council’s capital budget, which gives a rough indication as to how much it was worth. Meanwhile county councillor Maggie Wright has indicated in another document that she expects “contracts [for Phase 4] will be awarded in November 2020.”

The official project site also has a new Phase 4 page that confirms the time-line (here) and notes that the Intervention Area for East Leicestershire includes 5,928 “NGA White” premises (i.e. those with no superfast networks present), as well as 6,132 “Under Review” premises (i.e. these could potentially be brought into scope of the procurement if existing deployment plans are not completed).

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