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BDUK Publish Batch of New Gigabit Broadband Coverage Reviews

Friday, August 20th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 1,608

The UK Government has just launched several new Public Reviews at once, this time for Shropshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Suffolk and Norfolk in England, which aims to identify any existing or planned commercial coverage of gigabit broadband ISP networks. Such reviews help to establish the areas where public investment may be needed.

At present the Government’s new £5bn Project Gigabit programme aims to ensure that a minimum of 85%+ of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable connection by the end of 2025 (here). The effort for this will 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 could push gigabit coverage to c.60% of UK premises by the end of 2021 and c.80% by the end of 2025. The current UK figure is 42% (here).

In England the new programme is much more centrally managed than the original Superfast Broadband (SFBB) scheme and that explains why these consultations are all being run by Building Digital UK (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.

Each of the four new consultations, which reflect deployments that have already been confirmed under Phase 1b of the Project Gigabit rollout (details here), will be open for feedback until 20th September 2021. The reviews also contain details from recent Open Market Reviews (OMR) in each region, which include information on how many ‘white‘ and ‘under review‘ premises exist. We’ve contrasted that below with the number of modelled premises identified under Project Gigabit as being “uncommercial premises in the procurement area.”

NOTE:White premises‘ are those with no gigabit network infrastructure and none likely to be developed within 3 years. ‘Under review‘ premises are those where planned commercial coverage exists, but those plans are potentially at risk of not being completed.

Shropshire Public Review

OMR White and Under Review Premises: 151,472

Project Gigabit Uncommercial Premises: 66,700

Project Gigabit Indicative Contract Value: £61m – £104m

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Public Review

OMR White and Under Review Premises: 361,760

Project Gigabit Uncommercial Premises: 150,900

Project Gigabit Indicative Contract Value: £148m – £251m

Suffolk Public Review

OMR White and Under Review Premises: 249,152

Project Gigabit Uncommercial Premises: 92,000

Project Gigabit Indicative Contract Value: £89m – £151m

Norfolk Public Review

OMR White and Under Review Premises: 291,409

Project Gigabit Uncommercial Premises: 118,700

Project Gigabit Indicative Contract Value: £115m – £195m

Assuming all goes to plan, the first procurements for these four regions could start in February 2022 and then contracts would commence from around January 2023. 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.

All the aforementioned Public Reviews are seeking views from both the public and other stakeholders with regard to existing or planned gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure in each area.

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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.
Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. adslmax says:

    My area is on the Grey side – does it mean within next 3 years for gigabit fibre?

    1. CJ says:

      Gigabit fibre or Virgin Media.

    2. Summer Is Here says:

      Gigabit service available or planned by one operator

  2. Cheesemp says:

    So my hampshire town of 10000 is showing white which accurately shows we have nothing and nothing planned. Hoping this means someone might notice us and make plans…

    1. Peter says:

      Conservatives kick it into the long grass FTTP rollout. At this rate the climate will destroy everything before someone cuts the grass and discovers long lost and forgotten inhabitants of rural Britain.

  3. 5G_Infinity says:

    Mark, re % non-commercial hard to reach, Analysis Mason/BSG report into DCMS covers this in detail

  4. adslmax says:

    I was very surprise Shropshire BDUK are including Telford as it normally that Telford are excluded!

    No wonder that Openreach isn’t interesting roll out gigabit fibre in Telford. All spoilt by G.fast largest all over Telford.

    1. CarlT says:

      Nothing at all to do with G.fast. Openreach can and have overbuilt it extensively with FTTP.

      Telford will have extensive gigabit coverage by the end of the year via Virgin Media Gig1.

    2. Fastman says:

      adslmax what are you on about – ridiculous comment

  5. Barney says:

    I wonder if “could be prohibitively expensive to reach” would go through a comparative test – like a “Domino’s Test” – you can get a Pizza sent there but too expensive to build fibre to that house.

  6. Longshot says:

    Mark, I don’t understand where the “Uncommercial Premises” numbers come from in each of the linked public review documents. Or are these numbers from different documents?

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