Newsletter — September 2017

Nearly 59,000 properties able to connect to the fibre network

Topics in this edition:

  • Contract 3 now awarded
  • Areas to be covered by Contract 3, Part 1
  • Coventry to be included for the first time
  • The procurement process
  • Future progress
  • Recent Government announcement
  • Business support
  • Autumn events
  • Calling all parish councils! (3)
  • Copy for your own website or newsletter
  • Questions and Answers

Contract 3 now awarded

Following a rigorous procurement process, the CSW Broadband partnership has awarded all three Lots that comprise Contract 3, Part 1, to BT Openreach. The Contract will deliver high speed fibre broadband to more than 15,000 additional premises in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire. Most of these homes and businesses will get Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology capable of delivering ultrafast download speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and upload speeds of up to 220Mbps.

As with Contract 2, the CSW Broadband team has built headroom into the contract, meaning that if additional funding is secured then this can be rolled into the current contract without the need to go through a lengthy procurement process.

As the fibre broadband network is being installed by Openreach, households and businesses will have a wide choice of fibre broadband providers. Upgrades do not happen automatically. Residents and businesses wanting to benefit from the upgrade will need to place an order with their chosen fibre broadband provider once the work has been completed.

Openreach uses its existing underground ducting wherever possible, minimising disruption and the need to dig up roads and pavements.

Updates on the roll-out are available from: www.cswbroadband.org.uk

Areas to be covered by Contract 3, Part 1

The first locations to benefit are expected to be announced in early October. We are working on a new mapping system that will go live with the announcement of Wave 8. The Contract 3, Part 1, areas will be shown on that map.

Coventry to be included for the first time

For the first time since the CSW Broadband project started, parts of Coventry will be included in the rollout. We are unable to move into the city centre (i.e. inside the ring road) as this is considered to be urban and is outside the scope of the State Aid approval for the current project. However, significant parts of the remainder of the Coventry City Council area will be included in the Contract 3 rollout.

The procurement process

This seems to have been going on for a very long time! It was in early 2016 that we carried out the Open Market Review (OMR), in which we asked all the network operators to tell us (in commercial confidence) about their rollout plans to the end of 2019. For the first time, this included an extension of Virgin Media’s network and four AltNets (smaller providers who use a range of different technologies).

The information was mapped, and a full public consultation was held at the end of 2016, and the results of this were used to inform our State Aid approval for the procurement. CSW Broadband is only able to intervene in areas where there is no planned commercial provision by the end of 2019, which is as it should be as we cannot use public funding to compete with public enterprise.

The areas which are not due to be covered commercially are known as the “white” areas, and these were presented to potential bidders when the Invitation to Tender was issued in February 2017, the potential contract was split into three geographic Lots. This was to encourage smaller companies to bid for the work, and to encourage different technologies that would be most suited to the different geographical and topographical situations across the whole project area.

We received seven bids, using a range of technologies, for the three Lots. A rigorous evaluation process was then carried out. This looked at elements such as the technology proposed; how many premises would be covered and at what speeds; the fit with our strategic objectives; sustainability etc.

Following the evaluation, the preferred bidder was selected, and there then ensued some weeks of contract negotiations. So, we can have confidence that we have the best solution, over a wide range of criteria.

Future progress

As with Contract 2, we have left some headroom in the contract so that if/when additional funding is secured we can bring this into the contract and achieve additional coverage without needing to go out for another procurement in the short term. That is why the current announcement is called Contract 3, Part 1. The CSW Broadband team are doing all that we can to secure additional funding, and with recent Government announcements we are optimistic that this is not the end of the story.

Recent Government announcement

On 3rd September there was an announcement about Local Full Fibre Networks and that Coventry and Warwickshire are to be one of six national pilots. At the time of writing we have no further information on this, and will include any updates in future newsletters. To register for the project newsletters, and to be advised directly on progress in your area, please visit www.cswbroadband.org.uk/register

Business support

The new contract is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund. This includes provision for specialist ICT business support to help businesses throughout Coventry and Warwickshire to make the most of new technologies. The business support will be provided through the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, and further announcements will be made in the near future.

Autumn events

We are planning to run events throughout the project area to show what is happening now, and what additional rollout is planned for the future. We hope to have completed this work and be able to visit each area (Warwickshire Boroughs and Districts, plus Coventry and Solihull) during the late autumn.

Calling all parish councils! (3)

We will be publishing our latest map in early October, which will include the Contract 3 coverage areas. Many of these areas will have had little previous contact with the project, as there was previously no coverage planned. Therefore, local residents and businesses will have a lot of questions, and experience shows that they will be asking their parish councils for updates.

We do all that we can to support parish councils, and to build understanding amongst parish councillors so that you can give informed answers to questions, or at least know where to direct enquiries. Some of the things that we are already doing include:

  • We produce a range of articles (monthly) that can be used for newsletters and website – see below
  • We send out this monthly e-newsletter to everybody who is registered on our system. Please register your details as soon as possible, since this brings additional benefits
  • Once work starts in an area we email everyone who is registered onto our system to let them know what is happening
  • Once the service actually goes live we email everyone who is registered onto our system to tell them that they can order a service from an ISP of their choice, with advice on how to do this
  • We produce flyers to advise people when work is starting and again when the system goes live (but we do need help to get these delivered!)

What would help you, as a parish council, to keep your residents informed about the broadband rollout?

Please drop us an email to broadband@cswbroadband.org.uk, and we’ll develop a plan that incorporates as many of the suggestions as possible.

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 is 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. We now have two versions: a web version with embedded hyperlinks, and a copy for print where the links are typed out in full. Copy can be found on our Copy to use on our own website, newsletters or flyers webpage.

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.

Why are you using FTTP in Contract 3, Part 1?

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) technology is able to deliver much higher speeds (up to 1Gbps), but it is a lot more expensive than a cabinet solution to install. That means that we can’t cover as many premises with the money using FTTP. However, as we get out into the more rural areas, properties are more widely dispersed – and may be some considerable distance from the cabinet to which they are connected by the existing copper telephone network. As broadband speed reduces rapidly over lengths of copper wire, FTTP may be the only way in which to bring faster broadband to some of these communities.

When will we have the detail of the Contract 3 rollout?

In early October we will be releasing our latest map with the Contract 3 information on it. We’ll also update our searchable property database. However, this will only tell you whether a property is due for upgrade. It will not be able to give you any detail at this stage. As with previous contracts, details for Contract 3, Part 1, will be announced in Waves at 3-monthly intervals.

We don’t get superfast speeds under the previous rollout, does that mean we will be covered under Contract 3?

Because of the difficulty in maintaining good broadband speeds over copper cabling, some areas will be connected to a cabinet that has been upgraded, but may be too far away to benefit from superfast speeds. These will have been taken into consideration when the modelling was carried out for Contract 3, Part 1, alongside all of the other areas that have had no work carried out at all. Therefore, some of the more remote properties may well be picked up under Contract 3. Check the new map when it is issued in early October for more detail. We cannot reach everybody at this stage, but Contract 3, Part 1, will take us a lot closer.

You can find more frequently asked broadband questions on our website.

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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