The Cornwall County Council in South West England has agreed to create the “Superfast 3 – Inclusive Growth” broadband project at a total cost of £5.853m, which could extend the reach of “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) to “at least” 2,700 additional premises (mostly homes and 546 businesses).
At present the existing Superfast Cornwall project, which is supported by Openreach (BT), still has a long term aspiration to deliver 99% coverage of “superfast broadband” by the end of 2020 (they’ve got a long way to go as they’re currently closer to 92-93%).
The last contract (Phase 2 extension) to be agreed for this project was signed in 2017 (here) and is currently expected to exceed the target of 7,500 premises by the end of 2019. Most of that is being deployed using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.
However the council predicts that, upon completion, the current rollout could still leave an estimated 11,400 premises, including 2,000 businesses, with “slow broadband access under 15Mbps” (note: such figures can change due to the constant addition of new build properties). As a result they’ve decided to try and shrink this further by launching a new project.
The new procurement will target:
* Slow existing broadband speeds (sub 15Mbps);
* The most deprived areas, e.g. according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD); and
* Future proofed solutions capable of providing speeds of 100Mbps+.
In practice this is likely to mean more FTTP, although the new plan will only reduce the remaining figure of 11,400 premises by around 2,700 and that’s still likely to leave a fairly big gap left to fill. Nevertheless the council has agreed to allocate £1.635m to this from the economic development match fund reserve, which will then be supported by £4.200m of European Regional Development Funding (ERDF).
A supplier has yet to be chosen but the council predicts that project delivery for this contract could commence in April 2020 and run until June 2022. The timescales align with the completion of the 2017-2020 Superfast 2 programme, which they claim is “on target to deliver 30+Mbps broadband to more than 7,500 [extra] premises by June 2020.”
Overall it’s predict that the new rollout phase could support the creation of 40 new jobs (net) and £1,583,223 (net) of Gross Value Added (GVA) for the local economy by March 2024.