Kent County Council have published an invitation to tender for rural broadband with plans to spend £44.3 million over the next 3 years on the project. 6.5 percent of households in Kent live in broadband not-spots and cannot get access to broadband while 40 percent are not able to meet the 2meg universal service commitment (USC) and thus the council are stepping up to ensure that services are improved in the area.
The money will come from various places, with £42 million predicted from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the UK body overseeing allocation of central government funds of £530m that has been allocated to improving broadband. £1.5 million will also come from the council's Regeneration Superfast Broadband Pilot and a further £0.8 million from the Community Broadband Grant Programme.
Current plans are for the framework to commence on the 15th of August with plans to review it every 12 months with a possible renewal for a further 3 years at the end of the contract.
Funds will be split out for different access types and bidders can choose to tender for any combination. These include, fibre, other wired, wireless and innovative / emerging submissions. Likely candidates to bid for this will include BT who could use the funds to extend their fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) rollout, as well as the Fujitsu collaboration who are keen to deploy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) to more of the UK. Winning bidders are likely to be those who can prove their solution is future-proof whilst also value for money.