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Hampshire UK Issues Update on Broadband Rollout Progress

Friday, June 24th, 2022 (8:52 am) - Score 840
Hampshire-Broadband-Map-2022

The Hampshire County Council (HCC) in England has issued an update on the progress of both their previous rollout of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) ISP technology, which has completed, and their expectations for the forthcoming build of gigabit-capable networks under the UK Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit scheme.

According to the council, the original Superfast Broadband Programme (SFBB) under the Building Digital UK (BDUK) framework has – between 2013 and 2022 – helped to lift the coverage of 24Mbps+ capable fixed broadband ISP networks to 97.4% of premises across the county. As part of that, some 261 parishes (115,000 extra premises) saw upgrades and operators (predominantly Openreach) installed 487 miles of new fibre cables.

The figure of 115,000 premises (i.e. those who might not have benefitted for a long time without the public subsidy) includes 12,000 premises that were covered by gigabit-speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) lines, which mostly occurred during the latter (final) phase of the project.

In terms of funding, HCC contributed £12.95m to this project, while district authorities contributed £1.2m and BDUK gave £19.8m. Sadly, there’s zero recognition of the millions in private match-funding that was received in the document, but we recall that BT committed £3.8m to Phase One of the build in 2013.

However, this still leaves around 20,000 premises that are unable to access “superfast” speeds, and the council is trying to tackle some of those by providing top-up funding of £2m (£1.4m of this has already been allocated) to the national gigabit voucher scheme. A total of 80 voucher projects are currently in delivery (21 of those under the newer top-up scheme), which combined will add 8,000 premises upon completion. Current uptake of vouchers is 45% in project areas.

Project Gigabit

The council’s focus is now switching to the forthcoming Project Gigabit programme, although it could be said that HCC is much more of a bystander in this one, not least because – unlike in SFBB that was managed by local authorities – the contracts in England are centrally managed by BDUK.

The authority said they expect gigabit-capable broadband to reach 500,000 premises in the county over the next decade, but some reports have wrongfully attributed all of this to Project Gigabit, when in reality most of that 500,000 will actually come from separate commercial builds. The latest data from Thinkbroadband notes that nearly 65% of the county can already access gigabit speeds via both HFC DOCSIS (Cable) and FTTP technologies.

According to BDUK (here), the Hampshire (Lot 27) procurement under Project Gigabit is expected to award its first contract around April to June 2023 (procurement for this will start by August 2022) and has identified 99,000 uncommercial premises that are in need of state aid support. This has been assigned an Indicative Contract Value of between £120m to £215m.

However, the HCC’s own update suggests that the contract (at least the first one) may only tackle c.70,000 premises, which will be split into two areas – the ‘New Forest‘ and the ‘Rest of Hampshire‘. Confusingly, their summary document of this also uses a second figure of c.65,000 premises on another page, which may or may not be accounting for coverage achieved via the voucher scheme.

As ever, we won’t know the real plan until the first contract(s) are awarded. After that, it will still take a few months to complete the final engineering surveys, before the rollout plan can be published and build can begin. In short, we probably won’t see much in the way of a solid plan until the autumn of 2023, assuming no delays (it’s usually a bad idea to assume no delays when talking about complex and competitive procurements).

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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. Taras says:

    Mark, most of the New Forest Surveys are done, work stopped last year due to a legal wrangle, which pushed back Wave2 projects into Project Gigabit.

  2. Cheesemp says:

    This all seems a like it will be out of date before it published. Giganet and Trooli are installing at a pace in anywhere even vaguely urban in the new forest east currently including some small villages. I suspect by the time UK gov has decided what to do it will already be obvious who isn’t getting a commercial roll out!

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Both ISPs should have submitted their rollout plans, covering the next 3 years, to BDUK by now so that they can be excluded. The rolling Open Market Review may also catch future changes.

    2. Taras says:

      @Cheesemp at the rate trooli are going, they will cover all of the major villages in the new forest before Openreach does.

      Hilariously i have a telephone pole opposite with an openreach cbt on it which has been there since 2020..

  3. NGA for all says:

    You should not be surprised about BT capital. It certainly was not used in scoping any of phase 1 and no sign in phase 2. The capital deferral includes all monies owed and most of this apart from the initial £130m referenced in 2015-16 across all projects will be outstanding.

    This was enabled by the original inflated costs in the Framework, confirmed by the NAO as 38% in 2015, bigger than the BT capital contribution and if FTTP was only delivered as the end BT investment could be withheld.

  4. Geoff Dominey says:

    Can I have some clarification as to what one means when one says ‘New Forest’. Are we talking about New Forest District Council Area. Many thanks

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