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Norfolk declares phase 1 superfast broadband project complete
Monday 02 November 2015 15:52:02 by Andrew Ferguson

Norfolk is a county that bounds to the front of the queue when ever poor broadband and mobile coverage is mentioned, and thus the announcement that the phase 1 BDUK project in the county has completed ahead of schedule and under budget will be sure to generate lots of complaints.

We looked at the coverage for Norfolk back in August when the claw back bonus for the county was announced and looking at our coverage tracker shows that the original phase 1 contracted target of 80% superfast has been hit and actually passed both at premises able to get 24 Mbps and those able to get 30 Mbps or faster.

thinkbroadband calculation of current fibre, superfast and USC broadband coverage in Norfolk and its Parliamentary Constituencies - 2nd November 2015
Council Area % fibre based % superfast
>24 Mbps
% superfast
>30 Mbps
% cable % Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 15 Mbps
Norfolk County 89.5% 82.6% 81.2% 26.2% 0.02% 1.3% 13.9%
Broadland 85% 75.1% 73.4% 0% 0% 2.4% 20.1%
Great Yarmouth 96.4% 93.1% 92.5% 52.3% 0.21% 0.3% 5.3%
Mid Norfolk 85.5% 75% 71.7% 0.1% 0% 1.8% 18.9%
North West Norfolk 88.8% 81.5% 80.3% 0% 0% 1.4% 14.5%
Norwich North 98.7% 98.5% 98.5% 88.5% 0% 0% 0.6%
Norwich South 98.2% 98.1% 98.1% 89.2% 0% 0% 0.4%
South Norfolk 81.8% 71.8% 69.2% 2.6% 0% 1.5% 23.9%
South West Norfolk 89.4% 77.1% 75% 0.2% 0% 2.3% 19.4%

"The money saved as part of the first contract will now be reinvested in the next phase of the BBfN programme, which is due to bring faster broadband speeds to even more remote parts of the county. Planning work is already underway and the first services are due to be available from December 2015.

The first areas set to benefit from the second BBfN contract are parts of Burgh St Peter, Barnham Broom, Barford, Bawdeswell, North Creake, Dereham, Ashwellthorpe, Bradwell, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Shropham, Hanworth, Starston, Harleston, Hickling, Sea Palling, Thuxton, Cawston, Bradenham, Southrepps, Gunthorpe, Ridlington, East Ruston, Weasenham St Peter, Little Fransham, Topcroft, Woodton and Wymondham.

Faster broadband services for these areas are set to become available by the end of March 2016.The new roadside fibre broadband cabinets serve very localised areas, usually parts of towns and villages rather than whole communities.

Norfolk County Council on reinvesting savings

The press release does appear to mix and match the use of the words superfast and fibre, but that is very common for all the projects, so while they are declaring that once the second contract has finished 'fibre broadband will reach 90% of Norfolk premises' we believe they mean 90% at over 24 Mbps, particularly given we are seeing a basic fibre based coverage figure of 89.5% today. The difference between the fibre coverage figure and the superfast coverage figures shows the effect that distance has on VDSL2 based services.

While meeting the phase 1 contract may be an occasion for celebration given that 1 in 5 in Norfolk are still on ADSL/ADSL2+ based services celebrations may be seen as in bad taste. Hopefully the pace of roll-out in 2015 will continue, as in first 10 months of 2015 we have seen coverage go from 66.5% superfast to 81.2% at 30 Mbps or faster and if take-up increases there is scope for another wave of claw back bonus and maybe some more FTTP.


Posted by leexgx 12 months ago
ok so not fiber FTTC/VDSL

what is the point of having 25mb or higher and then 30mb or higher
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 12 months ago
Because different projects work towards different goals, some prefer the Westminster figure and others the EU figure.

Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
This is about 1,000 cabinets worth which is a great engineering effort.
There is already £5m clawback on whatever of the public subsidy has been spent.
I am predicting that the £27m addition to the BDUK capital accrual in BT accounts for Q2 should include a pssible £13-£14m capital payment due to Norfolk phase 1!
Posted by WWWombat 12 months ago
The project might not have targeted 100%, but deserves celebration regardless. Under time, under budget is something of a feat for government procurements.

Now, on with more...
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@WWWombat - you should not ignore the inflation of costs confirmed by the NAO.

What is wrong with going further? Fibre access (FTTC or FTTP) is so much cheaper than originally portrayed, so it is not about moving on but dealing with the consequences one of which to complete in-fill activity.
Posted by Blackmamba 12 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
1000 Cabs with a 1000 fibre nodes the cabs services the customers that are at a distance ( post code) that can receive the EU target 30 are all payed for. The others will be over layed with either fibre or G/ fast to cover the above target if the Goverment is willing to pay but must be cost effective.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 12 months ago
@Blackmamba How can you state "will be over layed with either fibre or G/ fast"?

That might happen, but no-one has committed to that as a course yet.

Plenty of cabinets and EO areas that will benefit from plain old VDSL2 too, and in Northern Ireland smaller VDSL2 cabs is serving slow areas.
Posted by chilting 12 months ago
The cost of deploying GFast or FTTP to large areas of rural Britain would be absolutely astronomical compared to the FTTC roll out. The layout and condition of the infrastructure would mean that in many cases it would be necessary to simply scrap the old and install new.
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
It is unlikely G.Fast can be applied in rural due power and density of population.
This suggests the c£400m underspends on phase 1, the £356m BT capex due plus clawback could be used to a make a begining on FTT dp or manifold. Paper available on the bottom of this page for peer review on the numbers.!publications--meeting-reports/c1ziz comments welcome.
Posted by chilting 12 months ago
The bottom line is that any improvements at rural exchanges will have to rely on the currently installed hardware. Vectoring will be of some help and if ADSL is ever removed other technology may be deployed that could give speeds a much bigger boost.
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@Chilting, you must in-fill surely with FTT dp and keep pushing, why would you give up, with the best part of a billion available make significant inroads?
Posted by chilting 12 months ago
Openreach seem to run into considerable problems when they take fibre beyond the cabinet. In our area - FTTC to Amberley for example, they have installed a new cabinet 3km further into the copper than the existing, it has taken 18 months so far and counting. Just take a look at the roadworks info for Amberley, the exchange is at Bury.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 12 months ago
@Chilting seen as FTTP needs that fibre running that distance plus to each premise it sort of adds to the evidence that FTTP might be a slow thing to roll-out.
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@chilting - that is a manpower issue, rather than funding.
The Manpower becomes a shareholder issue as BT without a plan will be underspending and handing much money back while LA's look for Gigaclears. It is a substantial amount forfeited.
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@Chilting it is not underspend, it is the removal of the excess modelled costs imposed in the poxy costs initially used in Wales and North Yorkshire. Across the 45 contacts it is c£400m of the £1.2bn subsidy for phase1.
On top of this is the BT capital contribution which is yet to be extracted. It is a good challenge for BT and industry.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 12 months ago
@ValueForMoney I guess at least BT is not making up to invoices then to match the modelled costs.
Posted by Blackmamba 12 months ago
Hi Chi.
Check the work on Elgin (roadworks) in your area use the 3 month option this gives a good patten to what is going on even fibre runs.
Posted by WWWombat 12 months ago
Looking forward to reading that 20 page document where you get to justify your numbers.

In the meantime, reading comment after comment that lists all these made-up numbers is tedious, even for a mathematician.

The engineer, scientist, IT guy (as well as the mathematician) in me wants to see the facts & justifications.
Posted by WWWombat 12 months ago
What you call "inflation of costs", and might truly be better termed "inflation of estimated costs", BT would probably refer to as solid estimates based on the scale of a single project - with subsequent savings from the eventual sheer scale.

You'd probably help your cause if you chose to use noninflammatory, neutral, language.
Posted by WWWombat 12 months ago
Don't confuse your experience in Surrey with anywhere else in the country.

BT's actions in Surrey are as a consequence of having a phase 1 target of 99.7% - and reaching the last few can only realistically be left to overlaid FTTP.

The really rural counties won't be reaching that percentage even within 4 phases/projects. In the meantime, infill behaviour will be hugely different.
Posted by WWWombat 12 months ago
Who is talking about *NOT* going any further? No one has suggested anything of the sort.

Strange strawman to throw up.
Posted by WWWombat 12 months ago
Ooh... Is that your document on the bottom of the linked page?

Can't read it on a tablet though, so have to wait a few days....
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@WWWombat - 'the excess modelled costs' is the NAO wording - clause 3.7 i think. Inflammatory language would be something different.
Evidence is only as good as the information in the public domain.
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@andrew of the 4.1m premises in phase 1, at least 900,000 are subject to poxy costs - £234 per premise passed in Wales, £177 in North Yokshire, both exlcude the need for BT capital and neither based on itemised costs until a 'true up' occurs.
Posted by ValueforMoney 12 months ago
@wwwombat I am glad there is a plan to go further, can you point to a reference?
Posted by Blackmamba 12 months ago
Hi Wombat.
Please remember Surrey has Cabs in rurial areas some with lines on 8000 Mtres and a few crossover into Hants and West Sussex and will be linked with fibre to the DP where it is econicial to do so thus hitting two Cabs. This will remove the customers that are being effected by the new 10 meg target.
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