BDUK consults on Gigabit broadband coverage in Cornwall UK

The UK government has just launched another public review, this time for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in southwest England, which aims to identify any existing or planned commercial coverage of gigabit broadband ISP networks. The review will help identify areas where public investment may be needed to roll out the service.

Currently, the new government £ 5 billion Gigabit project The program aims to ensure that at least 85% + of UK premises can access a gigabit compatible connection by the end of 2025 (here). The effort for this will be primarily targeted at the bottom 20% of locals (i.e. the hardest to reach rural areas and some suburban areas), where business investment models tend to fail.

NOTE: Commercial deployments alone could bring gigabit coverage to around 60% of premises in the UK by the end of 2021 and to around 80% by the end of 2025. The current figure in the UK is 42% (here).

In England the new program will be run much more centrally than the original Superfast Broadband (SFBB) program and this explains why the consultation for the south coast county of Cornwall is managed by Building Digital UK (BDUK), rather than the local authority. Either way, the first step is to identify precisely the areas that are currently not expected to benefit from gigabit speeds under existing deployments, or any plans for the next 3 years.

On this front, it is noted that an Open Market Study (OMR) was recently conducted in the region, which indicated that the expected commercial coverage for gigabit broadband would reach approximately 96,019 premises over the next 3 years, but that would leave the rest 206 622 premises without gigabit compatible broadband access (so called ‘White‘and’in the study‘ local).

the new consultation, which will be open to responses from the public and stakeholders until August 16, 2021, aims to validate the result of the above-mentioned OMR in order to confirm the eligibility of the premises concerned for a government subsidy.

Readers may recall that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were previously advertised as part of the early zones (Phase 1a) is expected to benefit from the Gigabit project (here and here), which suggested that 40,000 to 60,000 premises in East Cornwall (including Launceston, Callington and Looe) and 30,000 to 50,000 premises in West Cornwall (including Cambourne-Pool -Redruth and Penzance and the Isles of Scilly) could benefit.

The new public review also includes a map to help visualize areas that might require intervention (public support) under the new project, which is pretty basic but we’ve pasted it below.

Cornwall-UK-OMR-Gigabit-Broadband-Map-2021

Assuming everything goes according to plan, the first contracts for it could be awarded by early 2022, but things like this can be complicated and we don’t rule out delays. The government has also warned that it considers the last 0.3% of the locals “could be prohibitively expensive to achieve”Via even their gigabit program (ie the same type of zone their 10Mbps USO was supposed to repair and which has suffered from problems). A separate consultation is currently examining how to tackle these issues.

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About Marco C. Nichols

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