Newsletter — August 2014 — Public Consultation

Special Edition – Public Consultation

Are you in an area where the commercial providers have failed to provide superfast broadband?

CSW Broadband is delivering Superfast Broadband (min 24Mbps) across Coventry Solihull and Warwickshire to places where commercial providers won’t offer a service. This is being achieved by rolling out high speed fibre optic cables and equipment, which is available to Internet Service Providers (ISP) to deliver their products, including high speed fibre optic broadband, to you. This allows you to choose the ISP and the products that suit your needs – and your wallet. What we will be buying is known as Next Generation Access (NGA). This refers to the actual broadband network, as opposed to superfast broadband which is one of the services that will be delivered over the network.

Work is already underway in some areas as a result of an initial round of public funding. Further funds have now become available and to secure them and then to expand the scope of the project we need up to date information about broadband that people receive or is available to them if they want it.

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 CSW Broadband project.  Now that we have the funding and are planning the second stage of our rollout. We need to confirm which areas are eligible for our assistance – and this is where we need your help!

A key part of the consultation is our mapping. The State Aid Intervention Map – NGA shows the State Aid intervention area – in other words where we believe we will be legally able to spend public money. PLEASE NOTE: this is not a broadband coverage map!

The map has four different shadings using seven digit postcode resolution:

  • Black = where two or more providers have stated that they will be providing NGA services
  • Grey = where one provider has stated that they will be providing NGA services
  • Hatched = conditional white. This means that a provider has previously said that they would provide coverage but has not done so yet
  • White (shaded pink on the map) = Areas that we can invest in and which may be included in the Invitation to Tender

Because the map aims to define the Intervention Area it differs significantly from the Superfast Broadband Availability maps we produce to track the rollout.

Consider a postcode where 89 out of 100 homes or businesses have been connected to the NGA network, on the Intervention Map this would be shown as No provider because there are still 11 homes or businesses to be connected. However, on the Superfast Broadband Availability maps it would be shown as Available with our usual caveat that you must check availability for your own home or business using the commercial provider’s website.

By mapping partial postcodes as white (pink) we retain the option to invest in these areas if intervention is required to ensure availability of superfast broadband.

For the planned rollout under the current CSW Broadband project please refer to our 12-month rolling plan and associated map.

BDUK has introduced very strict criteria as to what qualifies as grey, and we have applied this rigorously so as to minimise the grey areas as far as possible. For NGA, each postcode is turned Grey if:

  • BT has upgraded the network infrastructure serving the area AND ALL premises within the postcode have an estimated (VDSL2 for FTTC) Access Line Speed of more than 15Mbps;
  • OR, if Virgin Media serve 90% or more of premises within a postcode;
  • OR, if it is in an area that is served by an alternative fibre-based, NGA fixed wireless or other qualifying technology that meets the requirements of the BDUK NGA Technology Guidelines.
  • Each postcode is turned Black for NGA if it satisfies at least two of these conditions. Postcodes that satisfy one of these conditions is turned grey. All other postcodes remain White.
  • Where 2 operators have declared partial coverage of premises within a postcode, a complete overlap of coverage is assumed, e.g. if a postcode contains 30 premises and operator A serves 10 premises and operator B serves 25 premises with Superfast Broadband, 5 premises are considered to be NGA white.
  • Even 1 premise under 15Mbps would turn a postcode white, even though 99% may have NGA coverage.

BDUK are being pessimistic about expected coverage and this is reflected in the mapping. Furthermore, we are aggressively enforcing white areas to maximise potential coverage.

The priority for CSW Broadband will be to use the available public funding to provide a ‘step change’ in broadband capability for premises currently getting relatively slow broadband speeds (less than 15Mbps). Therefore, in the first instance, the focus of the forthcoming procurement under the BDUK Framework will be the NGA White areas identified in the State Aid Map below. However, the project reserves the right to consider extending intervention to the areas classified as “Conditional White” in the event that the risks of these premises not achieving Superfast Broadband is verified.

When we go to tender the areas to be covered will be refined by taking some postcodes out of scope and not by turning areas grey. This is obviously better as it allows them to be introduced later if necessary.

We need to be able to identify:

  • Any premises that are shaded grey or black on our map that are unable to access broadband with a minimum speed of 24Mbps
  • Any premises that are in the proposed intervention area (shaded pink on our map) and are already able to access 24Mbps or above
  • Any areas that are shaded pink on our map where there are proposals to provide a minimum 2Mbps service or a superfast broadband service within the next three years.

To do this we need to confirm that the information we have is accurate and up to date. For example we believe that some areas which have been marked as grey or black may not have or will not get superfast speeds – and that is where you come in.

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

What we need you to do?

  1. Look on our map to see how your area has been defined – are we showing you as being in an area that has (or will receive) superfast broadband or not? www.cswbroadband.org.uk/consultation
  2. We need to know if we have the designation for your area correct on the map. Please use the BT Broadband checker (www.dslchecker.bt.com) to find out if superfast broadband is available in your area – in which case it will say that speeds of 24Mbps or above are achievable. To use the checker, either enter a BT landline telephone number (including area code) or your address (you need to click the link below the number box). Please do not use the postcode checker as it is not accurate enough to be of any help!
  3. If you are currently subscribing to a superfast broadband service are you achieving the speeds that you should? Check your speed at http://tinyurl.com/l3o8d9s and note the results.
  4. If there is/are alternative provider(s) to BT using fibre, wireless or other technology to bring you services please make a note of them.
  5. If, after carrying out the checks above, you believe that we have your area wrongly designated on the map please complete our survey at www.cswbroadband.org.uk/consultation

Please note that this consultation closes on 18th September, so please respond as soon as possible

Thank you for your help – your responses will help us to ensure that we are able to consider those areas that will not otherwise be upgraded

Questions and Answers

Why are you carrying out another public consultation?

The public consultation is not just some random exercise that we have decided to undertake. It is a requirement for the procurement that we plan to undertake in the autumn. We have already carried out an Open Market Review whereby we ask the providers where they expect to provide superfast broadband by 2017. We know from the previous procurement and consultations where the cabinets are. What we are less clear about is which properties are on exchange only lines or have other issues, particularly those in areas that may have been upgraded to superfast as part of the commercial programme or as part of the CSW Broadband rollout.

Once we have good information we can then use it to challenge the responses that we receive to our Invitation to Tender. We do not expect to simply accept what we are given, but in order to provide a robust challenge we do need accurate information. That is why we are asking people to engage in the consultation process.

In summary, we are only at the beginning of a huge rollout. Our ultimate goal is to achieve the 2020 EU targets of 100% connected at 30Mbps or above, and our aim is to do that well before 2020 (funding permitting). We are doing all that we can to take the fibre connectivity to as many premises as possible and some may take a little longer than others. If anyone is unable to wait for the public network to roll out then there are options to privately fund a connection through BT but that will be expensive – and it is that cost that prevents our project from implementing one-off or small-scale solutions at this stage when there will be better and less expensive technologies available in the future.

Can our village contribute financially to the contract to be sure of being included in the next rollout?

The problem remains that we can’t see any mechanism for ensuring that a particular village or parish would be economically covered. We will go out to tender to achieve a minimum percentage coverage. The bidders will come back with their proposals, which will include the percentage that they will achieve. Last time we asked for 90% and the current rollout should achieve 91%. We then enter into all sorts of contract negotiations which include the total homes passed (THP). BDUK have oversight of all projects and so they are able to advise if we are achieving value for money. Last time we were told that we had scored extremely well on all counts when compared to other projects.

As we do not have detailed knowledge of any providers’ existing infrastructure and are not network design engineers we have to let the contractor design the rollout plan so that they make best use of the available funding whilst achieving the project objectives (fibre as far as possible etc) and the THP. Throughout the project there are clear contractual milestones which are monitored and payment is made on the basis of results.

In theory if there was to be fibre in your area but not covering a cabinet then you could pay towards that, but the cost would depend on where the fibre connection was and any difficulties in standing the cabinet, powering it up, connecting it etc. At this stage there are simply too many variables, but we are aware of communities that have approached BT directly for a bespoke solution and been quoted anything from £20-50k.

We will be asking our partners for support to match the additional £6k, but that will be over a much larger area rather than a specific village or parish.

As we don’t know at this stage what the rollout will look like for the £7.36m that we have bid for, or indeed for any part of the £6m that we are hoping to find match for, we would suggest that now is not the best time for you to be thinking about spending your money. We should imagine that you would be less than happy to commit several £00,000s only to find that it could have been included in the project anyway!

Frequently asked general broadband questions can be found on our website at:

http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/faq

We need to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Please send this email to your contacts and encourage them to send it further. It’s probably best to remove the contact details above our logo at the top of the email otherwise it could get to be a very long string before the email itself appears!

CSW Broadband now on social media – come and join the conversation

We are now on the major social media channels and are already creating a buzz. Join in for up-to-date information and an opportunity to influence how the project develops

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CSWSuperfastBroadband

Twitter: https://twitter.com#!/cswbroadband

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/CSW-Superfast-Broadband-4403473

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