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BDUK Consults on Gigabit Broadband Coverage in Cambridgeshire

Sunday, May 9th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 1,296
Cambridgeshire_gigabit_map_bduk_may_2021

The Government’s Building Digital UK team has begun a new consultation to identify any existing or planned commercial coverage of gigabit-capable broadband ISP networks in Cambridgeshire and nearby areas (England), which helps to establish the areas where public investment may be needed to deploy the service.

At present the existing Connecting Cambridgeshire project with Openreach (BT) has already helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to around 97% of premises in the county. But the focus is now turning to future gigabit (1000Mbps+) capable connections under the Government’s new £5bn Project Gigabit programme.

NOTE: Commercial rollouts of gigabit networks could push coverage up to 80% of UK premises by the end of 2025. The current UK figure is over 37% and rising fast (here).

Project Gigabit aims to ensure that at least 85%+ of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable connection by the end of 2025 (here). The effort for this will primarily be targeted at the final 20% of premises (i.e. the hardest to reach rural and some sub-urban areas), where commercial investment models tend to fail.

In England the new programme will be much more centrally managed than the original Superfast Broadband (SFBB) scheme and that explains why the consultation for Cambridgeshire is being run by BDUK, rather than the county council. In any case the first step is in identifying precisely which areas are not currently expected to benefit from gigabit speeds under existing deployments, or any plans for the next 3 years.

Interestingly the Connecting Cambridgeshire project already initiated an Open Market Review (OMR) for Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and parts of adjacent areas (Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Suffolk) in December 2020.

The aforementioned OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 438,960 premises within the next 3 years, and would therefore leave the remaining 140,432 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband (‘white areas‘).

The new consultation, which will be open to responses from the public and stakeholders until 8th June 2021, will probably end up reinforcing that but does still need to be conducted as the framework for the new scheme has changed. Readers may recall that Cambridgeshire and adjacent areas (LOT 5) have already been announced as being among the first (Phase 1) expected to benefit from Project Gigabit (here and here).

The new Public Review includes a map to help visualise areas that may be in need of intervention (public support) under the new project.

Cambridgeshire_gigabit_map_bduk_may_2021

Assuming all goes to plan then the first contracts under this could be awarded by early 2022 so that work can begin, but such things can be complicated, and we wouldn’t rule out some delays. The Government have also forewarned that they consider the final 0.3% of premises “could be prohibitively expensive to reach” via even their gigabit programme (i.e. the same sort of area as their 10Mbps USO was supposed to fix and that has suffered problems). A separate consultation is currently considering how to tackle those.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. MrTruth says:

    Don’t get me started, those with sub 10Mbps are going to be left even further behind as BDUK projects re-focus on the low hanging fruit of the new target of gigabit capable broadband.

    Sort those with 10Mbps first before improving properties who already have Superfast broadband.

    1. Craggle says:

      Subsidised Starlink or OneWeb for those in the hardest to reach areas maybe? Until they can sort out a fibre connection.

  2. Value for Money says:

    What is the Gov business case for subsidising those on 30-80Mbps services to receive full fibre services? Those now investing expect a premium for full fibre while BT has a deal for area 3 from Ofcom. The consultations do not prioritise those so far excluded, makes no reference to the outstanding funds, the relationship with the Ofcom area 3 deal, and fails to state specifically the case for overbuilding 30-80Mbps services.

  3. Leave a Reply says:

    This Connecting Cambridgeshire website is a joke. It wont’t recognise my new postcode with OFNL installation.

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