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BDUK Start National Rolling Open Market Review for Project Gigabit

Thursday, January 6th, 2022 (4:54 pm) - Score 2,064
Project-Gigabit-UK-Gov-Investment-Scheme-2025

The UK Government’s Building Digital UK team has today “soft launched” a new “Rolling National Open Market Review” (RN-OMR) process for their £5bn Project Gigabit broadband scheme, which aims to do a better job of identifying areas that will benefit from a commercial rollout so that they can more effectively target public money towards those who will miss out.

At present it’s expected that commercial coverage of gigabit-capable (1Gbps+) broadband ISP networks will reach c.80% of the United Kingdom (currently c.65%), while Project Gigabit will focus on tackling the final 20% (5-6 million premises) of predominantly rural areas with support from public investment.

NOTE: So far only £1.2bn of the project’s budget has been released up to 2024-25, but the Government has pledged to released more funding if suppliers show they can deliver.

The target for this project is to achieve at least 85%+ coverage by the end of 2025 and then virtually universal coverage by 2030 (here). As part of this process the Government has been conducting various Public Reviews and Open Market Reviews (OMR), often on a region-by-region basis, in order to help identify precisely which locations will require public investment (i.e. those that won’t benefit from a commercial build over the next 3 years).

The problem with such reviews is that, in a fast-moving market like we have today, they can quickly become outdated and that may result in complications from overbuild between networks (e.g. public investment being used to overbuild a commercial network of similar performance). Such issues cropped up on a number of occasions with the previous Superfast Broadband Programme (SFBB).

The New Process

In response, BDUK has today soft launched a new Rolling National Open Market Review process, which is initially only “inviting a small number of suppliers” to participate in this collection by submitting their coverage plans. More suppliers will be invited to join over the “coming months.”

BDUK Statement

From January 2022, we are asking suppliers delivering gigabit-capable infrastructure to submit national data returns on a 4-monthly basis (January, May and September) to provide detailed build plans at premises level. The purpose of this “Rolling National Open Market Review” is to ensure that we have the most up to date information about suppliers’ existing and planned build over the next 3-year period.

This will support better strategic planning and prioritisation of Project Gigabit Procurement intervention areas, streamline the current local Open Market Review (OMR) process and minimise the risk of BDUK intervening in an area that would disrupt a supplier’s existing commercial plans.

In the longer term, data collected from the National Rolling Open Market Review may also be used to inform GigaHubs and UK Gigabit Voucher eligibility, as well as support the development of other potential BDUK interventions.

We are continuing to run discrete OMRs for specific areas and will invite all suppliers to participate in these as usual. Any suppliers who are joining the Rolling OMR can make a separate submission to a discrete OMR, or they can confirm that we can use their latest Rolling OMR submission for a particular discrete OMR.

As part of the Rolling OMR we will ask participating suppliers to provide supporting evidence with their submission in the same way as they do for any other OMR, i.e. at the same time as their data submission.

The change in approach should improve the reliability of such OMRs for future network builds, although on the flip side it will place a greater admin burden on both suppliers and BDUK to ensure that their coverage plans are as up-to-date as possible. But anything that reduces the risk of unnecessary overbuild, and results in better strategic planning, is generally a good thing.

Specific suppliers, operating on a national footprint, have now been asked to submit data for the inaugural National Rolling Open Market Review, which launched today and will close at 5pm on 15th February 2022.

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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.
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25 Responses
  1. SM says:

    Will BDUK then launch a coverage checker showing which premises are in the plan for rollout by the included suppliers, and which aren’t, so end users actually have any sort of clue what so ever about if they are covered by the Project Gigabit government funded project, or are being covered by (existing) commercial rollout of Ultrafast Gigabit broadband?

    I’ve been told three providers have “plans” to cover where I am, only since the area was confirmed to be in the Project Gigabit area(s). None of them are able to confirm they actually are going to provide coverage. Seems they are keen to suggest they will do it so no one gets government funding, but then simply might not bother delivering.

    1. anonymous says:

      I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. If they do it’ll be unlikely to have much information.

      I don’t recall previous checkers having any information on anything other than intervention areas but welcome correction.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      BDUK do plan to release more information via a new portal, although exactly what data it includes and when it will go live are still uncertain.

    3. Anon says:

      To be fair to BDUK, suppliers will respond to any OMR under strict confidence with NDA’s in place, so it’s probably not quite as simple as you would hope. By trying to provide useful information, even when anonymised, may constitute a breach of the NDA. Supplier’s will need complete confidence in order to disclose their network plans.

  2. Badger says:

    If I’m in a rural area that has been announced as part of Openreach’s commercial build but with a date of ‘by Dec 2026’ then does this mean that my area could potentially fall within BDUK intervention criteria if Openreach don’t actually plan to start building within the next 3 years?

    1. anonymous says:

      No. It’d be a huge misuse of taxpayers’ money getting you FTTP a year earlier than the latest a commercial operator is deploying.

    2. Peter S says:

      Openreach are not providing a firm commitment to build to all these exchange areas and they will probably build to less than 90% of premises in each area they build . The same premises in these exchange areas who missed out on Superfast services are likely to be the same ones who will be omitted by these Openreach FTTP builds (as they are not commercially viable).

      Unless Openreach provide a firm commitment to these exchange areas to build to 100%, premises with sub superfast broadband should still be prioritised with voucher support. Otherwise these neglected areas will be locked out of support for the next 4-5 years until Openreach inevitable drop them from their plans.

    3. PhilipSmith72 says:

      I believe BDUK have a mechanism to address this by adding such properties to a deferred phase when committing to an area rollout, where they check if the commercial plans have been fulfilled once the initial builds have been completed and if not they will potentially be swept into the BDUK project.

    4. Peter S says:

      I appreciate that the remaining premises will be mopped up by the Project gigabit procurements, however some of these procurements will not be delivered for 5 years. For those who have never been upgraded to superfast broadband and are really struggling with their connectivity, the prospect being locked out of BDUK support and having to wait until the commercial FTTP rollouts are completed, is really disheartening.

    5. James Johnson says:

      Commercial – “We’re going to cover this area”
      BDUK – “100% ? Sure you won’t miss anyone ?”
      Commercial – “We’ll aim for 99%”
      BDUK – “Who’s the remaining 1% ?”
      Commercial – “We don’t know yet”
      BDUK – “OK. All we can do then is what until you’ve completed, assess who’s been missed and create a program for them”
      Resident – “I’m sad as BDUK won’t cover me prior to the commercial rollout”
      Observer – “You do realise BDUK have limited funds. If they planned for you prior to the commercial rollout then then commercial rollout wouldn’t happen in that area. This would be repeated throughout the nation, commercial investment would drop dramatically, BDUK wouldn’t have the cash to fund your connectivity with it being diverted to denser populations, resulting in you having nothing.”
      No-one likes waiting but in this case the phrase rings true “better late than never”.
      (Note – I feel your pain. I live on a new build estate where my phase was built just before the FTTP swap over for developments. My street has been missed whilst my neighbours have FTTP. Due to the high % of OR FTTP we were missed from OR’s FTTP rollout plans)

    6. Peter S says:

      James – I am not referring to the final 1% in the extremely difficult and costly areas to build to, but those NGA whites who are often a few miles from a large town or city and need a relatively small subsidy to make viable.

    7. James Johnson says:

      Peter – You’ve confused me now.
      This is what’s happened in Suffolk…
      BDUK consulted with the commercial entities and produced an OMR Outcome report categorised by postcodes stating NGA black/grey/white.
      If the operator doesn’t plan to cover your postcode via commercial investment then your postcode remains on the list and is part of the BDUK scheme.
      Properties that are missed during the commercial rollout due to unseen issues will be pulled back in via BDUK after.
      If a village outside a city/town wasn’t commercially viable it would have been stated at the beginning instead of after. The “mop up” is going to be primarily the 1%.

      So you’ll either have BDUK support or you’ll be covered by a commercial rollout.
      The only other possible argument I can think of here is that you want the vouchers to make your area commercially viable to try to jump the queue but that is effectively what I posted the first time about BDUKs limited funds.

    8. Peter S says:

      James – Yes, I accept what you are saying but my issue is with the part of the process where properties in each exchange area are missed during the commercial rollout due to “Unforeseen circumstances”. I would argue that it is highly predictable that the vast majority of rural premises which are not currently receiving superfast broadband services (but are currently in commercial FTTP build plans), will eventually be omitted from the builds and will require subsidy. I think Openreach currently build to around 80-90% of each exchange area.

      I don’t think it is a case of these premises wanting to jump the FTTP queue – these premises are still sat in the queue waiting for superfast broadband.

  3. cheesemp says:

    The FTTP rollout from all providers is utterly random. Openreach have picked the larger town north of me (with VM and an altnet also looking to be rolling out), and the large village south of me. Yet my small town (10000+ people) has nothing and as far as I can find is not on anyone plans. This really needs to include some way of highlighting the barely commercially viable not spots as well as the non-commercially viable not-spots otherwise I think we’re going to be waiting a long time for someone to cover us as while the profit is just about there its obviously not enough for anyone but openreach.

  4. Bob says:

    The entire FTTP rollout is a mess. There is no overall plan and no real comprehensive and accurate data on which areas will get FTTP and when

    Frequently a when information is give it refers to a broad area but it does not mean al that areas will get FTTP Most site that claim to track the rollout are therefore wildly inaccurate

    1. Anonymous says:

      Tell me about it. I watched openreach pull fibres for 6 months, only for them to tell me nope we’re not doing your street or anything West of you (with over 250 houses).

      Why? Because we’ve got the fabled g.fast thats so awesome openreach stopped deploying it.
      I wish there was an altnet nearby.

    2. 125us says:

      If there was an overall plan someone would be going to prison for contravening the Competition Act. Rival businesses can’t make non-compete agreements or agree to divide customers up between themselves.

  5. Fastman says:

    james johnson shouod have worked with you communuity on your new build to find a solution (Note – I feel your pain. I live on a new build estate where my phase was built just before the FTTP swap over for developments. My street has been missed whilst my neighbours have FTTP. Due to the high % of OR FTTP we were missed from OR’s FTTP rollout plans)

    so di you ask Openreach for a gap fund for the bit not covered as part of commercial deployment / new build

    is your developer still on site buildng homes now with FTTP

    1. JmJohnson says:

      OR said to speak to our developer. Our developer had no interest. OR then suggested I try arranging it through their Community Fiber team but as the roads etc hadn’t been adopted by the council they’d need the developer to be involved.
      I’ve since moved on from that awaiting for lot2 phase1b announcement early this year.

    2. Fastman says:

      sorry thats twaddle you could have done a openreach cfp without the developer (the adoption stuff was noise). thats hogwash —

  6. Fastman says:

    anonymous – GFast was deployed because it was quick easy and enabled significant premises to be significant upgrade relatively simply and easy (as cab gfast is connected to and that premises close to meet commercial case of GFAST so if i understand you you are complaing you dnt have FTTP but you have access to GFAST which means you have circa 160 – 300m today — and your still complaining — if your that unhappy offer to fund the infrastructure difference for your community — now everything is around FTTP and nothing else

    1. GNewton says:

      @Fastman: Please provide sources for your claim the GFast had sufficient takeup to justify the deployment costs. I doubt it was a commercially viable project for BT, except perhaps for large multi-dwelling units. Also, Gfast has not much contributed to better upload speeds, it was only ever offered by Openreach as a non-symmetric service.

    2. Fastman says:

      Gnewton

      Openreach would only have deployed Gfast where it met the commercial case (as there no gfast under any intervention and no Gfast under community funded. so any Gfast installed will have met a suitable number of upliftable premises and the payback of the outlay and installation of additional Pod met the commercial criteria and payback thresholds. Your disagree about MDUS much better solutions than GFAST . so cabs with close proximity of premise would have been considered especially with high uptake of commercial FTTC , would have massive increased the download (doubled or Trebled the download) — some increase in upload (thoough most requirement would have been download of content — not sure why you have this continued manic obsession with things being non symetric you seem to have a very strange view of this most of the time

  7. GaryH says:

    One way to help avoid the BDUK intervention area data rapidly becoming outdated and overbuilt would be to actually focus on the very obvious places that none of the big boys want to touch with a barge pole, theres enough data out there already from the builds so far to come up with a reasonable forcast of whats actually going to be left behind. And its not the odd area or street within an already covered town or city or the smaller towns and villages.

    Our local towns are Buckie Cullen Keith Huntly, they’ll all get done in fact they’re on the plan already its everyone in between that wont see a commercial roll out.

    1. Fastman says:

      So what about r100 then are you not covered by that

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