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BDUK Publish Next Batch of Gigabit Broadband Coverage Reviews

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022 (5:12 pm) - Score 2,688
Project-Gigabit-UK-Broadband-Investment

The Building Digital UK team has today published another batch of Public Reviews (PR) for Surrey, Lancashire, Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire (inc. Swindon), Derbyshire, East Sussex and Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes under the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout.

Just to recap. The project seeks to ensure that a minimum of 85%+ of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable broadband ISP connection by the end of 2025, before possibly reaching “nationwide” coverage (realistically c.99%) by the end of 2030 (here and here).

NOTE: Commercial builds alone – mostly in urban areas – have already pushed gigabit coverage to c.65% of UK premises, and they’ll reach 80%+ by the end of 2025 without public investment.

Project Gigabit itself will be targeted at upgrading those in the final 20% of the UK (5-6 million premises), where commercial investment models tend to fail (i.e. the hardest to reach rural and some sub-urban areas). But so far only £1.2bn of the proposed funding has actually been released for this, and the Government says that more will follow if the industry shows it can deliver (i.e. depending on the response to their procurements).

In England the new programme is centrally managed and that explains why these consultations are all being run by BDUK, rather than local authorities. The first step – before procurements can begin and contracts be awarded to suppliers – is to identify precisely which areas are not expected to benefit from gigabit speeds under existing commercial builds, which covers related plans for the next 3 years. Only once you have the answer to that, can you identify where public funding will be needed to help address market failure.

The new reviews cover several regions across England under the Project Gigabit programme. Most of the details for these areas, including those from earlier phases, have already been revealed (here and here), but the final Public Reviews should confirm the exact intervention areas. We’ve summarised the latest additions below.

NOTE: The Public Review process aims to validate the outcome of earlier Open Mark Reviews (OMR) and BDUK’s mapping, hence PRs are the final review stage before procurement. In addition, the PRs below enable us to see the outcome of earlier OMRs (i.e. how many premises will need support).

Latest Batch of Public Reviews for England – March 2022

Surrey (Lot 22)

The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 400,662 premises, and would therefore leave the remaining 211,251 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

Estimated contract commencement date: Jul – Sep 2023
Indicative contract value: £101m – £171m
Estimated number of uncommercial premises: 99,400

Lancashire (Lot 9)

The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 473,519 premises and would therefore leave the remaining 393,883 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

Estimated contract commencement date: Jul – Sep 2023
Indicative contract value: £90m – £153m
Estimated number of uncommercial premises: 82,000

Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire (inc Swindon) (Lot 30)

The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 442,134 premises, and would therefore leave the remaining 442,134 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

Estimated contract commencement date: Jul – Sep 2023
Indicative contract value: £85m – £145m
Estimated number of uncommercial premises: 84,800

Derbyshire (Lot 3)

The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 297,976, and would therefore leave the remaining 278,331 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

Estimated contract commencement date: Jul – Sep 2023
Indicative contract value: £64m – £110m
Estimated number of uncommercial premises: 57,000

Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes (Lot 12)

The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 555,745, and would therefore leave the remaining 261,652 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

Estimated contract commencement date: Jul – Sep 2023
Indicative contract value: £84m – £144m
Estimated number of uncommercial premises: 81,300

East Sussex (Lot 16)

The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband would reach approximately 154,953 premises and would therefore leave the remaining 298,597 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband.

Estimated contract commencement date: Jul – Sep 2023
Indicative contract value: £49m – £83m
Estimated number of uncommercial premises: 41,200

All of the above Public Reviews are due to run from today until 5pm on 29th April 2022. Some readers will also notice that the “estimated number of uncommercial premises” above differs significantly from the OMR figure for “remaining premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband,” which is because the prior OMR figure also includes “Under Review” premises into the total (i.e. premises where suppliers have reported planned commercial broadband coverage, but where those plans have been judged through the OMR as potentially being at risk of not being completed).

In addition, any suppliers (network builders) that failed or were not yet ready with their plans to respond to the earlier OMR phase can still respond via the final PR phase in order to be included. This is important because the current market is rapidly evolving, with new networks and deployment plans seeming to crop up quite frequently.

We should point out that BDUK recently soft launched a new Rolling National Open Market Review process, which should in the future make it easier for them to keep track of new developments in commercial builds of gigabit broadband networks. But in the meantime, they still have to run through the existing OMR and PR process.

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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
6 Responses
  1. Gigabit says:

    When will the earliest lots start kicking off? Will we get any information in April?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      The first contract awards (local suppliers) for North Dorset, North Northumberland and Teesdale are expected during August 2022, while the first big regional award (Cumbria) is due to take place in September. Assuming no further delays.

  2. SM says:

    My prediction is most of this government funded money will go to connect (local) government places, community places. Most of the areas will have one or more fibre networks claiming they plan to build at some point in some period of time in the coming years, subject to it being financially viable and all the usual get-out clauses that don’t commit themselves to anything. Dates will get pushed back, some places will have multiple networks building in a race to beat each other, and all of those places will miss out on the Project Gigabit funds available because they are all of a sudden “commercially viable” and in plans to be covered. Small pockets here and there will get some of the money spent, far less value per connection completed via the scheme than if they had of connected places that had no commercial rollout even started until there was a chance for providers to jump at starting their rollout and prevent rivals from getting a slice of the Project Gigabit funding.

    And Nadine will then claim much, if not all, of the success for everything that gets announced relating to faster fibre broadband as commercial providers do their non-government funded rollout…

    1. Summer says:

      Not sure Nadine could claim her missing handbag 🙁

  3. Jason says:

    Any idea when the map for West Yorkshire and parts of North Yorkshire (Lot 8) will be released?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I imagine it won’t be long, as they just finished the OMR earlier this month.

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