November 2016 update
New coverage coming soon!
We are making great progress with the work to extend superfast coverage still further. As you will read below, we have a potential £2m being modelled as part of Contract 2, Part 2, which could start to roll out imminently. We also have up to £20m (dependent on funding bids) to go into Contract 3, which we anticipate will take us up to 98% (or more) superfast coverage. There is even positive news about broadband connectivity on new developments!
Contract 2, Part 2
We reported in our last newsletter that we were awaiting modelling for £9.5m coverage, which would form Contract 2. When the modelling was received the coverage failed to meet our value for money test, and so the majority of the funding will be moved to Contract 3, where a wider range of providers will be invited to tender (see below). Contract 2, Part 2 will now have a value of £2m, and we are awaiting modelling to that value. It is hoped that this will be received shortly so that the Invitation to Tender for Contract 3 can be issued without delay.
Contract 3 – exciting new opportunities!
As previously reported, Contract 3 will be a full OJEU procurement, meaning that we can invite a wide range of suppliers to tender, and that some will be offering different technologies from those which have been used before. This offers new opportunities to reach those communities that have previously been inaccessible to the fibre broadband network, and to extend the superfast broadband reach still further.
We have always stated that our ultimate ambition is to achieve at least 98% coverage, and that superfast would be redefined as 30Mbps (EU definition) rather than 24Mbps (previous UK definition). We anticipate achieving both of these targets with Contract 3.
Another change with Contract 3 is that we will be dividing the project area into Lots, this is because some technologies may be better suited to different geographies or topographies, and to bring forward the delivery by enabling a number of suppliers to be working at the same time. At the moment we are looking at 3 Lots, and these have been well-received in our early discussions with prospective bidders:
Lot 1: North Warwickshire, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Rugby, Stratford District east of the M40
Lot 2: Coventry (excluding the City Centre) and Solihull to the east of the M42*
Lot 3: Warwick District and Stratford District to the west of the M40
* We are not able under the current State Aid approval to go into the most urban areas, so Coventry City Centre, inside the ring road, and the urban parts of Solihull are excluded from this contract, but may be covered under different funding (which is not part of this project).
Things are progressing well with Contract 3, and we expect to issue the Invitation to Tender in the next few weeks. We should know which areas are to achieve superfast speeds by the summer of 2017.
Public consultation for Contract 3 procurement
We have now started the pre-procurement work for Contract 3, and the first formal part of this is our Public Consultation.
We can only use public funding for places which will not receive Superfast Broadband as a result of earlier rollout i.e. installed by a supplier in the normal course of their business, or through the first two stages of the CSW Broadband project. Now that we are planning the third stage of our rollout, we need to confirm which areas are eligible for our assistance – and this is where we need your help!
Please visit our Public Consultation page to see how you can respond.
Please respond to this consultation even if you have previously completed one of our surveys, as this information forms part of our formal procurement process
First community cabinet goes live
Residents at Westwood Heath were disappointed not to have been included in the original CSW Broadband rollout – so took matters into their own hands and set about funding their own cabinet.
Many months of hard work on the part of the local Champions followed, to generate local interest and to persuade people to pay towards the cost of the upgrade. BT’s Regional Partnerships Director came to their help with a co-funded project framework that gave the Champions the ability to set up a self-funding project with certainty over costs. This latter point was critical, as it transpired that the work was more complex than anticipated, but Openreach stood by the cost cap they had given the community.
Initially, the plan was to share the costs between the local community and BT/Openreach of two new fibre broadband cabinets and the fibre optic cabling back to the exchange. The necessary £26,000 was raised in two rounds of funding within the community and a contract was signed in August 2015.
However in a stroke of good fortune, just prior to going-live a year later, CSW Broadband spotted that the recent changes to the DCMS Better Broadband voucher scheme made the Westwood Heath project eligible for this funding source. BT were very quick in supporting this and driving it through to completion, much to the relief of local residents!
Local Champions Tony Leatherdale and David Warlow applauded CSW Broadband, which is lead by Warwickshire County Council, who have been supportive and provided advice and guidance during the 2-year project. Tony said: “Without CSW Broadband’s support, we would have found this a lot harder. Spotting the change to the voucher scheme, and connecting it to our project, has shown real commitment and concern for local communities”.
The project with Openreach turned out to be bumpy in places as delivery was delayed several times by technical complexity but Tony and David are the first to recognise that Openreach had the necessary technical skills to overcome the complications. Tony said; “We looked at several options for superfast broadband but the best long term solution for us was to get us back onto the BT fibre technology infrastructure as it will continue to evolve as part of the wider national network.”
Tony and David are keen to thank their fellow residents and other supporters in Westwood Heath. The whole Westwood community is very keen to thank the team at CSW Broadband, as well as the DCMS Program Manager behind the voucher scheme for his rapid support.
If you want to find out more about community-funded project, visit http://www.communityfibre.bt.com However, we would advise waiting for a little while to see if your area is to be covered under Contract 2, Part 2 or Contract 3.
Good news for future new-build developments
As regular readers will know, one of our constant bugbears has been the lack of superfast broadband connectivity on new developments. There is no legal requirement to provide superfast broadband (unlike a requirement to provide a copper telephone line), and many developers and builders have failed to recognise the importance of connectivity to residents and businesses. This should change for future developments.
We have worked closely with all of the Local Planning Authorities to get superfast broadband policies built into their Local Plans. This should now be part of the planning approvals as we move forward. In addition, many of the larger infrastructure providers are now offering packages to developers to ensure that they get their networks onto new developments.
Our advice remains, however, to check before moving home whether superfast broadband is available (or will be in the near future), and if possible to get this in writing. Unfortunately, there are still a high number of homes being built with no connectivity – and, especially in areas where the roads have not yet been adopted, it is not possible to install the traditional fibre cabinets and other infrastructure. This may, however, be different if alternative technologies come into play in Contract 3. We will advise on this as things progress.
Copy for your own website or newsletter
We regularly produce updates of around 350 words that can be used on your own website or in newsletters. There are a selection of articles available for download and you can select the most appropriate depending on where your particular area is in the rollout pipeline. Copy can be found at: http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/about-the-project/copy-to-use-on-your-own-website-newsletters-or-flyers/
Questions and Answers
Here are some of the Q&A’s raised recently. Our website has a full set of Q&As, which are regularly updated.
How will people find out when their area is due to get fibre broadband?
As information becomes available it will be published on the CSW Broadband website. We have published a Rolling 12-Month Plan and we provide quarterly updates to this and to the map.
The best thing is to register for more information through our website. We will send you our e-newsletter, which comes out once a month and contains project updates, information about local meetings and events, broadband news, FAQs, and more. By providing us with your landline number and address we can also send specific information as we learn more about what is happening in your area.
My phone line has been connected to a cabinet that is not upgraded. How can I get it moved to a fibre-enabled cabinet?
It is an operational matter for BT as to which cabinet they connect your landline to. There is a legal obligation to provide a copper telephone connection, but not for a fibre broadband connection. Therefore you would technically be considered by our project to be in a white area – i.e. awaiting additional funding.
As more money becomes available we will move into Contract 2, Part 2 (and Contract 3), and additional coverage will be mapped. We are doing all that we can to bring in additional funding to take the network further, as it is in everyone’s interests that we gain maximum efficiencies by carrying out the installations in a single programme. We have also offered the Boroughs and Districts the opportunity to invest to extend the superfast broadband coverage within their areas
What are all-in-one cabinets?
An all-in-one cabinet is a combined copper and fibre cabinet. The advantage is that rather than installing two separate cabinets only one is required. The downside is that these cabinets cannot support as many connections as the more usual two-cabinet solution so they are not suitable for use in all locations.