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West Oxfordshire District Council plumps for 100% coverage via Cotswold Broadband
Friday 09 May 2014 14:08:29 by Andrew Ferguson

Last year Cotswold Broadband was close to starting a FTTP roll-out to areas around Chipping Norton but that all fell apart with the failure of an RCBF application. It now seems that the central Government plans to invest extra money to take superfast coverage to 95% of UK premises at some point in 2017 and the need for local authorities to decide whether to join that scheme or use an alternate method has given a major boost to the plans of Cotswold Broadband.

West Oxfordshire District Council has opted to ignore the larger programme and back Cotswold Broadband in a co-investment scheme that aims to bring high speed broadband to every premises in West Oxfordshire. The aim is to cover the roughly 4,000 properties across the district that fall outside the larger county led BDUK project with a variety of technologies to ensure 100% coverage.

Update 5pm Hugo Pickering has pointed out the coverage footprint is around 4,000 premises, the original 2,000 we mentioned would be the final 5% but project is aiming to push the gap from 90% to 100%.

The £1.6m is still subject to final approval but the aim is that will be in the form of a loan that will attract interest and is to be repaid after the project has completed. Importantly the return on investment is expected to be £80,000 per year, or £40 per year for every property in the foot print. From reading the report of the chief executive that is on the council website the prospect of a ROI compared to going with the counties 95% scheme along with worries over how the final 5% would be served were key aspects for picking the co-investment scheme.

The Cotswold Broadband model appears to be based around an open access model and we have asked for indications on pricing and whether an anchor retailer is already on board. We are a little worried that the council is talking of just high speed broadband, the presumption seems to be this means superfast, and while Cotswold Broadband holds aloft the FTTH/FTTP flag the paperwork talks of the most appropriate technology, which means we may see the most rural properties served by fixed wireless with some FTTP serving the clusters of premises that exist in the final 10%.

If every property in this final 10% was getting no broadband now, or less than 1 Mbps the desire to upgrade will ensure high take-up, but for those who perhaps only use their Internet connection to do online banking speeds above 2 Mbps may be of no interest, particularly if the pricing is significantly more than their existing service.

The UK political landscape is generally one of risk avoidance, so this decision in Oxfordshire will be keenly watched and we sincerely hope the timing of the announcement has nothing to do with local elections. We look forward to watching the roll-out and the completion of another bit the UK Broadband patchwork quilt.

Comments

Posted by hugop over 3 years ago
A few facts to straighten out here:

1. the project will provide superfast broadband infrastructure to complement the county/BT roll-out, which would have left 2,000 premises in the no-build areas, but we will be working on the entire 'final 10%' totalling 4,000 or so homes and businesses.

2. Pricing is down to the market as the project earns wholesale rates from ISPs.

3. Wireless is a complementary technology to reach the most difficult premises, not the majority, which will be served by full fibre.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Okay so the 2,000 is the final 5%, and 10% is 4,000 properties? Not clear from council coverage at all.

Pricing, while market may determine the retail price, knowing whether wholesale price is £10/m or £35/m is an important thing at this point, so that prospective providers can get excited about project.
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
In the report from the chief executive, he includes the option of hitch onto the OCC/BT project to go from 90% to 95%

Doesn't that kinda presume that the OCC project has already decided that their SEP money will be spent on phase 2 with BT?

I haven't seen other counties make that presumption yet. Even NYCC (a pilot, much further on) haven't made any decision about where to spend the SEP funding yet.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 3 years ago
Thank goodness, at last a council with some brains. Lets have more innovation and more competition. Go for it, and lets make the incumbent stop pratting around with copper and start doing full fat fibre too. Even wireless is a damn site better than anything a phone line can do. And if its fed with fibre a lovely fiwi pie can result. Where one council leads hopefully more will find the guts to break free.
Posted by GMAN99 over 3 years ago
" Even wireless is a damn site better than anything a phone line can do"

Seriously?

It will be good to see the pricing on this install/rental.

Its all good though the more that get involved the better.
Posted by lessthan1mbps over 3 years ago
Wombat, OCC has info on its website about calling-off additional coverage from the existing BT contract, and/or procure a separate contract(s), decision by June to fit in with SEP. The cabinet’s decision is hard on communities in West Oxfordshire that would have been included in the county plan under 95% coverage. They'll be faced with paying to connect. They are also shut out of price competition on the Openreach platform. It'll be a monopoly retail price on top of CB's wholesale price. How many taxpayers wrote in to WODC asking for Cotswolds Broadband?
Posted by mdar5 over 3 years ago
Here is the link to the new OMR being conducted by OCC

http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/open-market-review-2014
Posted by awooster over 3 years ago
As I pointed out on Twitter, the network not only appears to be open access but will be fully open. Wholesale pricing will be announced well before launch but will be benchmarked against the market, covering both installation and monthly charges. This isn't just a commercial promise but a legal requirement as soon as public funds are invested.
It is also a legal requirement that we approach the project being technology neutral but we can say that fibre Wil be used as far as possible and that all solutions will deliver fast, reliable superfast services.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
So are they expecting to install a mostly fibre connection to 4,000 premises for £1.6m?
Posted by lessthan1mbps over 3 years ago
The CE's paper says CB is in discussions with BDUK on £1.6m funding to deliver high speed broadband to approx 4,000 properties in West Oxfordshire using a variety of different technologies. WODC investment of £1.6m is in addition. Private sector investment unspecified.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
On the CB website it says:

Q: How much will it cost to get fibre-optic broadband services?

A: Please bear in mind that we are an infrastructure provider, not a service provider, so the price you pay for your broadband is set by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). As a result the prices for these services are dictated by the competition between ISPs, so you can expect to pay a competitive price.

I can't see many ISPs wanting to train their staff to take on the support of a few fibre optic conections.
Posted by berbles over 3 years ago
Yes, well this is all very well but utterly short on detail.
The hi-res county rollout plan has been restricted by the council website, nowhere on Cotswold Broadband's site is there anything approaching a map of what they are going to do and where, and the lo-res plans I have been able to find show the Oxford county boundary in the wrong place, specifically excluding one of our clients who desperately needs superfast broadband but is in limbo about who/how/when.
I think it's about time Hugo puts his money where his mouth is and starts telling us what he's going to do and where.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Anyone know if this went through a procurement exercise to ensure the council selected the best supplier or partner?
Posted by ahockings over 3 years ago
So let me get this straight. Jeremy Clarkson (who doesn't even know how to turn a computer on) is going to get superfast, whereas I (a self employed computer maintenance engineer who desperately needs it to remain competitive) am going to be stuck on 1.7Mbps because I'm 5200 metres from my (active) FTTC cab.
Oh, that's ok then.
Arrrggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!
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