Newsletter — October 2012 (Special Procurement Edition)

Topics in this edition:

  • A reminder of what we are trying to achieve
  • Pre-procurement phase has started
  • Timetable for the project
  • Open Market Review
  • Surveys and data collection
  • Frequently asked questions
  •  Don’t forget to complete the surveys on our website:

A reminder of what we are trying to achieve

The Coventry Solihull Warwickshire (CSW) Superfast Broadband Project aims to deliver the Government’s 2015 targets, as set out in the December 2010 strategy document, Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future, that every premise should be able to access broadband at speeds of at least 2Mbps and that superfast broadband (defined as providing more than 24Mbps) should be available to 90% of premises in each local authority area.  The intention is to procure open access wholesale network services that:

  • any Internet service provider can use to deliver retail superfast broadband services to residential and business customers;
  • can assist businesses by helping to connect premises and mobile workers to the services they require;
  • can assist any public sector organisation in building Public Services Network (PSN) compliant infrastructure;
  • any community network can use for backhaul.

Our aspirations beyond 2015 are in keeping with the European Commission’s 2020 targets that fast broadband coverage at 30Mbps should be available to all EU citizens, with at least half European households subscribing to broadband access at 100Mbps.  The project will endeavour to deliver infrastructure and services that can scale appropriately to keep pace with the increasing bandwidth demands of new applications and services.

Pre-procurement phase has started

The project has now passed the B-zero gateway which was a significant achievement and reflects the amount of hard work that we (and our Community Champions) have been doing over the past few months to really understand the true state of broadband in our area. We now have the go-ahead from BDUK to enter the pre-procurement phase of our project and can start to engage with suppliers in readiness for a full procurement exercise (see timetable below). This is great news and means that we now enter an exciting time as the project starts to become very real.

However there is still the issue of State Aid to be dealt with. We are informed by BDUK that the EU should be giving its approval for the UK to set up a National Competency Centre “imminently”. This means that rather than the EU dealing with approval requests from all of the UK projects individually they will be dealt with at a UK level, which should speed up that part of the process.

Our timetable for the project

The following indicative timescales are determined by BDUK with the stages following a prescribed process, subject to the State Aid issue being resolved:

Oct – Nov Open Market Review Includes 4 weeks to engage with all suppliers and learn their future roll-out plans, and 2 weeks to update our coverage maps
Nov – Dec Public Consultation Publish maps of our intervention areas and invite comment
Dec – Jan Initial State Aid Application Results from the Open Market Review and Public Consultation used to refine our intervention area
January 2013 Issue final Invitation to Tender This will go out to the two approved contractors on the BDUK framework – namely BT and Fujitsu
April 2013 Preferred bidder choice signed off by WCC Cabinet A required formal process
May 2013 Contract awarded We will work with the successful bidder will start designing our network
October 2013 Design stage sign-off
November 2013 Commence Phase One roll-out We will be actively testing the solutions throughout this phase
February 2014 Commence full roll-out
March 2015 Full roll-out phase sign off

As stated above – these are indicative timescales only. Full updates will be given as the project progresses.

Open Market Review (OMR)

The OMR is intended as a precursor to a formal public consultation document. The OMR, in contrast to the public consultation document, is not a specific requirement under the European Commission’s Broadband Guidelines. However, we consider that early market engagement at this stage is an essential and extremely important part of our early market research. The results of the OMR will assist us with understanding the broadband infrastructure (basic broadband and Next Generation Access (NGA)) already in place and where there are definite plans for investment in such infrastructure in the coming three years and is a significant step in the design of our intervention area.

We are sending the OMR to all known broadband infrastructure and internet providers in our area. It can also be downloaded here:

Click here to download the Open Market Review (OMR)

We invite responses from any broadband infrastructure and internet providers in our area. All responses (as detailed in the OMR document) should be received by Friday 26th October 2012.

We have also provided coverage maps and a list of postcodes for the sub-region which you can access here:

OMR — Coverage Map for USC

OMR — Coverage Map for SFB

OMR — Postcode List (PDF format)

OMR — Postcode List (Excel format)

The maps, which are fully zoomable, illustrate our current assessment of the State Aid status (white, grey, black) for each postcode area in the region – pink has been chosen to represent the “white” areas.  The boundary of the region is shown by a thick red line and the area outside the boundary is the buffer area required by State Aid where communities either side of the boundary may benefit from upgrading the infrastructure.  The coloured dots on the map represent both business and residential premises, with the different colours highlighting our current estimate of the distance of the premise from existing infrastructure (green is near, hence good, red is far away, hence bad).

You will see this evolve as we gather more information from people filling in surveys and crowdsourcing the existing infrastructure.

The postcode list covers all postcodes in the mapped area.  The data is derived from the OS AddressBase Plus dataset released in August 2012.

Surveys and data collection

The survey responses that we have collected so far will provide crucial data to assist in our supplier engagement. We are all aware that Internet Service Providers will advertise and sell a service on an “up to” speed basis – in other words you are unlikely to achieve the headline speeds that are advertised. The survey responses that we have received have enabled us to build a partial picture of what the actual speeds are in many places in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire.

However, we do have some significant gaps in our data and we do need to develop a much fuller picture. So, we would ask all of our Champions and individuals to redouble your efforts to ensure that we get 100% coverage of our survey data so that when we enter into negotiations with suppliers we will be smart clients and can show the picture as it really is rather than as we may be told it is.

Top questions this month:

Q1. When will you know what speeds I will get?

There are so many variables – right down to the wiring in your home or office – that until the roll-out is complete it will be impossible to say exactly what speed any particular property will achieve. However we will be working with our chosen supplier to design a network that will address the issues that we have discovered during our many months of public consultation and data gathering. When we do go out to tender we be using a performance-based specification rather than requiring particular technologies, so it will be up to the bidders to use their expertise to achieve our targets of 100% coverage at a minimum of 2Mbps and 90% at 24Mbps or above.

Q2. Does this mean we don’t need to do the surveys any more?

It is now more vital than ever that we get full coverage with our surveys. Throughout our tendering and design phase we will be looking to achieve best coverage for every area, and we cannot do that unless we know what speeds are actually achieved in each area and what the possible future demand for faster broadband might be.

Q3. I am a community broadband provider – what does this mean for me?

Our project aim is to provide a wholesale broadband network. That means that any ISP can provide services over the network. We have also stated our intention to get fibre as close to every community as possible because that is the best way to provide future resilience. Therefore the final network should provide affordable backhaul for community broadband providers.

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.

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