Portsmouth looks to talk to providers about its super connected city plan
The idea of the super connected cities was to create islands of ultra-fast connectivity in the cities across the UK. A few weeks ago the funding allocation for the 10 major cities was announced, with a total of £114m spread around the ten, earlier in 2012 a second round of smaller cities was announced for more funding with 10 cities from a shortlist of 27 receiving extra funding.
The original hope from the public and broadband geeks was that this investment would mean exciting projects delivering full fibre to the premises at Gigabit and faster speeds, but as usual ambition and actual delivery are two very different things. This disparity is highlighted by a Prior Information Notice published on TED by Portsmouth City Council.
"Our vision is for the competitive provision of:
The plan requires an open access, wholesale platform across the city offering both fibre-based and wireless solutions, to enable competitive retail service provision to all Portsmouth residents and to manage the technology risk between the evolving fibre-based and interim solutions."
- Superfast Broadband (fixed access), offering typical speeds of up to 100Mbps, to everyone (100 % of homes and small businesses) in Portsmouth by 2013-14. The plan assumes a predominantly fibre-based solution (fibre-to-the-cabinet - FTTC)
- Targeted Ultrafast, offering typical speeds of 300Mbps to targeted business areas and new developments in Portsmouth. The plan assumes a fibre-based solution (fibre to the premises - FTTP).
- City wide wireless coverage, offering full access to the Internet for residents, schools, businesses, visitors, and council staff. Portsmouth City Council will deliver this city plan by using public funding - from the UK Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK); Super Connected Cities programme and local authority funding -in conjunction with further investment by commercial operators (matched funding). Contracts will be awarded through a competitive OJEU procurement process and it is envisaged that the services will divided into the 3 lots shown above.Portsmouth City Council Broadband Vision
The vision sounds like it could have been written by Openreach, designed so that enabling FTTC on those cabinets not covered by their commercial roll-out and subsidies can be offered to businesses in 2013 who want to order fibre on demand. We hope that other telecoms providers will talk to the city and provide coherent but ambitious plans and ideas that actually progress the city rather than just fill in areas where existing providers like Virgin Media and Openreach have simply not decided to visit.
One aspect that is interesting is the idea that FTTC can provide an up to 100 Mbps, in theory for perhaps 5% of lines this might be the case, unless the City is planning on being the first UK deployment of vectoring which would improve FTTC performance.
With the announcement of the 10 second tier cities not expected until the 5th December in the Chancellors Autumn statement, and the cities plans already submitted to meet the 17th September deadline, one can only presume Portsmouth is keen to get its project going and is confident of success.