While there has been a spate of local authority/BDUK project announcements recently, not all the projects are at the same stage. Connecting Cheshire which is a partnership of the councils in the Cheshire area has just announced approval from the BDUK to move towards the next stage which is 'pre-procurement'.
The joint project between Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Warrington Borough Council and Halton Borough Council was allocated £3,240,000 by the BDUK, and the councils plan to match this, but are also seeking to obtain some £15m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with the remaining money for the estimated cost for the project of £39m coming from the commercial partner, which will be a fight between BT and Fujitsu.
The aim for the project is at this time to exceed the 90% target for superfast coverage and with some 17% of homes and businesses in the area currently getting speeds of 2 Mbps or less, then this should see significant improvements for many, and hopefully a minimum of 2 Mbps for everyone. Their latest press release suggests that if the project raises £40m that superfast coverage of 100% is possible for the area.
The current timeline suggests that we can expect to learn which company wins the contract in April 2013, which will leave just two years to plan and deliver the service.