The Cambridgeshire County Council has announced the completion of their Phase 2 Broadband Delivery UK contract with Openreach (BT), which has successfully expanded the coverage of FTTC/P based fixed line “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to 95% of local premises by the end of 2017. So far more than 120,000 extra homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have been put within reach of the new service (note: you have to order the new service in order to receive faster speeds) and take-up in related areas stands at 50%. The effort has been supported by the construction of 700 new “fibre broadband structures” (we assume they mostly mean VDSL2 street cabinets / DSLAMS) and over 1200km of fibre optic cable.
Last year the Connecting Cambridgeshire project revealed that completion of Phase 2 could still leave around 18,000 premises to be unserved by superfast speeds, although a new Phase 3 contract was signed in March 2017 to address this (here). Under the new deal it’s expected that coverage will be expanded from 95% to 97% by the end of 2019 and this would then be followed by a future Phase 4 that could aim for over 99% by the end of 2020.
Matt Hancock, UK Minister for Digital, said:
“It’s great news that Connecting Cambridgeshire has exceeded 95 per cent coverage and I’m delighted to hear of the programme’s ambitions to extend the rollout and reach everyone who wants high speed broadband. We know there’s still more to do but this government is committed to ensure that 100 per cent of the UK can get affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020.”
Steve Count, Cambridgeshire County Council Leader, said: “Digital technology underpins almost every aspect of modern living across work, travel, leisure and health fast, reliable Internet access is now widely viewed as the ‘4th utility’.
I am proud that Cambridgeshire has maintained its position as a leading digital county by exceeding the national target of 95% superfast coverage several months early, which is testament to our strong working partnership with BT and Openreach. We know there is more work to do to fill the remaining gaps and the high take-up of fibre broadband means we can now extend the rollout at no extra cost to the County Council with money that the County has secured from BT and has returned to the programme for reinvestment. Connecting Cambridgeshire continues to have high aspirations and is also bidding for further funding to improve digital connectivity so that our rural businesses can grow and compete, wherever they are based.”
We note that Phase 4 is expected to focus on upgrades for around 12,000 premises and, unlike Phases 1 – 3, the local authority has said they would need to conduct a new procurement.
The strategy for this has been devised with an accompanying “lot” approach to determine the optimum way to provide coverage for the remaining premises, which could attract alternative network providers like Gigaclear (FTTP) or Airband (Wireless) etc.
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- ^ Cambridgeshire County Council (www4.cambridgeshire.gov.uk)
- ^ Broadband Delivery UK (www.gov.uk)
- ^ Openreach (www.openreach.co.uk)
- ^ FTTC (www.ispreview.co.uk)
- ^ Connecting Cambridgeshire (www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk)
- ^ here (www.ispreview.co.uk)
- ^ Openreach (www.openreach.co.uk)
- ^ Gigaclear (www.ispreview.co.uk)
- ^ FTTP (www.ispreview.co.uk)
The Connecting Cambridgeshire project, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, is conducting an online survey1 for businesses about their broadband connectivity. The aim is to identify remaining gaps in superfast broadband coverage, especially in rural areas. Feedback will be used to support bids for future funding to bring connectivity to more businesses.
Businesses are being asked to complete the survey by 16 October.
The online survey is being carried out by the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, which has already rolled out superfast broadband to thousands of homes and businesses that would not be able to get it otherwise. Connecting Cambridgeshire has previously helped almost 2000 businesses across the county to get connected, buy the latest technology, gain vital digital skills and create jobs, through several Government and European Union funded grant schemes, which have now closed. Feedback from the survey will be used to support bids for future funding to help more businesses benefit from fast and reliable internet connectivity.
Councillor Ian Bates, Chair of the County Economy and Environment Committee that oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said: “Superfast broadband is essential to the economic growth of Cambridgeshire because it means our businesses can thrive and compete in an increasingly digital world.
“We know that there are still some gaps in superfast broadband coverage for businesses, especially in rural areas, and the results of this survey will help to show where further work is needed to ensure they get future proof connectivity.”
Businesses are urged to complete the survey by 16 October at http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/connecting-businesses/1 or call 01223 703293 to be sent a questionnaire.
- ^ http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/connecting-businesses/ (www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk)