Local authorities and broadband operators keen to get on with more broadband roll-out using public subsidy have a chance to influence the way the procurement will operate as the BDUK is seeking feedback on a new and improved approach to how the tenders will be handled.
The new approach is the result of discussion with the EU to get new State Aid Approval in place (previous approval ran out in June 2015) and for those waiting on the phase 2 roll-out in Devon and Somerset this is seen as increasingly urgent if two county councils go with central approval, or they can go it alone and operate outside the BDUK frameworks. Responses by email or post need to be in by 24th February 2016, and remember this is just about how the framework will operate, not what providers will offer.
A wider set of funding models are under consideration, along with the option to allow non open-access model to win a tender if there are no qualifying open-access bids.
- Investment Gap Funding: Essentially how the existing contracts with BT for phase 1 and phase 2 projects operate.
- Public private partnership: Joint Ventures could be used to deliver the service.
- Concession to Build-Operate-Transfer: A concession is given to operate a network for a period of time, with it returning to public ownership at the end of the contract term.
- Public sector owned supplier: A company formed by the local authority
A key part of the existing contracts remains to 'maximise coverage for funding available', which means providing point to point FTTH for 3,000 premises in a bid, may lose out to one that is fixed wireless or VDSL2 based that can supply superfast speeds to 8,000 premises with a side effect of may another 1,000 to 1,500 getting improved speeds compared to their current situation.