Superfast Worcestershire Public Consultation 2013

Submissions from Communications Providers, businesses and members of the public are no longer accepted for the Broadband Public Consultation. The deadline for submissions was 05.04.2013 at 4pm. More information about this consultation and updated intervention maps are available.

Background

Worcestershire County Council recognises that an effective, reliable, secure and fast communications infrastructure is increasingly essential because of the wide range of social and economic benefits that it delivers. Therefore it is committed to ensuring that all Worcestershire residents and businesses have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband.

In 2011, the Government launched the national Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative to co-ordinate broadband infrastructure improvement across the country. BDUK has awarded Worcestershire a £3.35 million grant for the project. Worcestershire County Council is also investing up to £8.5 million from its Capital programme. Any delivery partner selected for the programme will also be expected to commit significant funding.

In addition, the following funding has also been allocated in Worcestershire:

  • Sustainable Transport Funding £300,000
  • Green Infrastructure Funding £400,000

Programme Objectives

The project aims to deliver the following:

  • Everyone in the county to have access to broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps by 2015
  • Superfast broadband available for 90% of the county by 2015
  • 90% of businesses in Worcestershire to have the ability to access superfast broadband by 2015

Using the BDUK national framework Worcestershire County Council will procure a private sector delivery partner to co-fund installation of broadband infrastructure across the area. This will provide a wholesale access broadband network allowing new retail broadband services to be available to businesses and residents to purchase. This means that Worcestershire residents and businesses will have a wide choice of companies to buy broadband packages from.

State Aid rules

European Community Member States are subject to rules in relation to “State Aid”. State Aid is where a public body provides financial support to an ‘entity’ that is engaged in an economic activity e.g. a private sector company. The State Aid rules, subject to certain exceptions, prevent such financial support where that support could distort market competition or affect trade by favouring certain entities/businesses, which could ultimately affect customers if there is a resulting lack of competition in certain markets. An exception to these rules where State Aid can legally be granted in order to achieve European Community objectives is in the promotion of access to broadband.

The European Commission (EC) requires that as public bodies, local authorities would only be able to provide State Aid compliant financial support in areas where they can demonstrate there is no current, or planned (within the next three years) deployment of standard broadband by the private sector. These are termed “white areas” i.e. those where it is possible to invest with public subsidy. As part of the procurement following the public consultation an application to invest public funds will be submitted to the Department for Media Culture and Sport (DCMS).

The accompanying maps show in white, at postcode level, our current understanding of the potential areas where the Council may be able to provide assistance under this programme. In the map entitled ‘Basic broadband Black / Grey / White' the areas marked as white reflect broadband performance at less than 2Mbps and is where this project are permitted to support investment to ensure that a 2 Mbps service is available. In the map titled 'Next Generation Access Black / Grey / White’ the areas marked white reflect our current understanding of the potential areas where NGA broadband is not expected to be provided by 2015 and where this project is permitted to support investment to assist the availability of NGA broadband where our current understanding of the future proposals for superfast broadband is correct.

The consultation we are undertaking at the moment will test and challenge our current understanding of the eligible areas so it is possible that these maps may change.

The Consultation

Broadband providers are being consulted on their existing broadband networks in Worcestershire and if they have any plans to deploy basic or NGA broadband in the area over the next three years. It is not the Council’s intention to duplicate the broadband provision by providers who may be operating outside of the procurement, nor is it the intention to provide subsidy where it is not needed.

It is therefore imperative that any broadband provider already delivering or planning to deliver services that exceed what has been detailed in the full State Aid Consultation document make their plans known urgently.

Comments from businesses and residents are also welcome. If you would like to submit any comments or have any information that you think would help us please contact us using the contact details below.

Responses to this consultation should also be returned using the contact details below by 4:00pm on 5 April 2013. After the consultation has closed the two intervention area maps will be updated and they will be available at www.worcestershire.gov.uk/broadband

Next Steps

Once the consultation exercise has been completed and the responses considered, Worcestershire County Council will look to procure a delivery partner to undertake the project. The intention is that work will commence during 2013 however due to the scale of the project the work will not complete until 2015. More detailed timescales will be available once a delivery partner has been appointed and they have completed detailed survey work.

Indicative timescales

  • 21 January 2013 Open Market Review (4 weeks) – Now Closed
  • 05 March 2013 Public Consultation (1 calendar month)
  • April 2013 Initial State Aid Application, Issue final Invitation to Tender
  • July 2013 Preferred bidder choice signed off

Documents available for download

Superfast Worcestershire Public Consultation document

Maps

Worcestershire Context Map - Programme Area (with background)

Worcestershire Context Map - Programme Area (without background)

How to respond

Worcestershire County Council will accept written or electronic responses. Please post written responses to:

The Broadband Team
Worcestershire County Council
Spetchley Road
Worcester
WR5 2NP

Please email electronic responses to: broadband@worcestershire.gov.uk

All responses must be received by 4.00pm on 5 April 2013.

Contact details

Should you have any queries or require further information in respect to this Public Consultation in Worcestershire please email: broadband@worcestershire.gov.ukor telephone 01905 766 432.