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BDUK Consult on Gigabit Broadband Coverage in Dorset UK

Thursday, June 24th, 2021 (2:04 pm) - Score 1,104
Dorset-UK-OMR-Gigabit-Broadband-Map-2021

The Government’s Building Digital UK programme has started another Public Review, this time for Dorset in England, which aims to identify any existing or planned commercial coverage of gigabit broadband ISP networks. This should help to establish the areas where public investment may be needed to deploy the service.

Just to recap. The Government’s new £5bn Project Gigabit programme 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.

NOTE: Commercial rollouts alone look set to push gigabit network coverage to c.80% of UK premises by the end of 2025. The current UK figure is over 37% and rising fast.

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 the south coast county of Dorset is being run by BDUK, rather than the local authority. 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.

On this front, it’s noted that Dorset Council initiated an Open Market Review (OMR) for the county in March 2021. The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 187,172 premises within the next 3 years, but that would leave the remaining 101,344 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband (so-called ‘white premises‘).

The new consultation, which will be open to responses from the public and stakeholders until 23rd July 2021, seeks to validate the outcome of the aforementioned OMR in order to confirm the eligibility of related premises for government subsidy.

Readers may recall that Dorset has already been announced as being among the first areas (Phase 1a) expected to benefit from Project Gigabit (here and here). The new Public Review also includes a map to help visualise areas that may be in need of intervention (public support) under the new project, which we’ve pasted below.

NOTE: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole now exist within Dorset as a separate authority.

Dorset-UK-OMR-Gigabit-Broadband-Map-2021

Assuming all goes to plan then the first contracts for this could be awarded by early 2022, but such things can be complicated, and we wouldn’t rule out 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
6 Responses
  1. M says:

    Trouble is these ‘areas’ don’t include many properties, as we’ve seen you’ll have a road where on one side they get fibre to the door, but not on the other side and it’s basically tough luck as the ‘area’ is being served.
    I await the outcome of this but won’t hold my breath for my tiny town.

    1. JmJohnson says:

      I’m pretty sure that the requirement is premises served, not areas.
      This is BDUK we’re talking about here, not a commercial rollout.
      Looking at LOT2 (Suffolk) all of the metrics were based on properties with each household able to claim a £1.5k voucher to have their home connected if missed.
      Based on this you won’t have BDUK allowing a tenderer to miss one side of a road as it would cost less than £1.5k to connect them to the deployment on the other side.

    2. M says:

      @JM, thank you for explaining that, gives me a bit more faith in it. Is that £1500 towards the cost though? Or is the total cost of connecting your house less then that or has a maximum allowable cost of £1500?

    3. JmJohnson says:

      The vouchers are towards… so if it’s less or equal you’d pay nothing. If it’s more you’d pay the remainder.
      What you need to consider is that most of the cost is civils so if a village was covered but someone was missed then most of the ground works would already have been done… ergo cheaper.

  2. M says:

    Is there anyway to get a bigger version of the map posted here? And what do they mean by ‘under review’?

  3. A. Anonymous says:

    You can find out if your property is due a voucher by checking your postcode then each property within the postcode by using https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
    That may give you some idea on if you can get a voucher at the moment. This recently announced Dorset public review may result in your property/site being included in the tender in which case DCMS will locking an area and no vouchers can be allocated to a property/site if it is included.
    Suggest you establish if you are eligible for a voucher now and then approach DCMS to try and establish if your property is already included (or not). And then decide if you would like to tell DCMS to make sure your property is to be included in the Dorset public review – respond to the public review contact points.

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