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
|% cable||% Openreach FTTP||% Under 2 Mbps USC||% Under 15 Mbps|
|North West Norfolk||88.8%||81.5%||80.3%||0%||0%||1.4%||14.5%|
|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.