The Superfast Worcestershire Partnership is working to bring superfast broadband connectivity to more than 96% of homes and businesses in Worcestershire by the end of 2019. Whilst great progress has already been made and superfast speeds are available to over 94% of Worcestershire premises, areas without access to superfast speeds still remain.
For those in the remaining 4%, Worcestershire County Council has launched a number of schemes aimed at supporting our communities and businesses.
Summary of the schemes:
- Better Broadband Scheme is an alternative for those not in the current deployment plan and with speeds below 2Mbps and who will not benefit from superfast broadband roll out in the next 12 months. Households and businesses that are eligible to take advantage of the scheme have the installation and hardware costs of their connection subsidized to ensure their first year costs are no more than £400 (please note these vouchers may also be used as part of the CFP scheme.)
- Local Body Partnership & CFP - this scheme allows communities not in the current deployment plan the opportunity to proactively secure a solution by sharing the costs of deploying the new fibre based network between the County Council, Openreach and local residents and business wanting to upgrade.
- The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme - Businesses can claim up to £2,500 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500.
- 5G Testbed & Trials - in December 2017 the Worcestershire 5G Consortium submitted an application into the UK's 5G Testbed and Trials programme. If successful, the £8m, 12 month project will seek to build and operate a 5G Testbed at sites in both Worcester and Malvern; the trials will focus on 'Advanced Manufacturing' and 'Security by Design' amongst other areas and will fully test the boundaries of the emerging networks capabilities.
- Other Projects & future funding including Community Pathfinder Project with Airband, more details on potential future funding, supporting commercial infrastructure providers and mobile operators in Worcestershire
- Universal Service Obligation (USO) - The UK Government is introducing USO for broadband to ensure that the UK has world-class digital connectivity and inclusion by 2020.
Better Broadband Scheme
The Government is committed to providing every home and business in the UK with access to a basic broadband service so that browsing the web and keeping in touch with families and friends is easier.
The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme is a UK-wide government subsidy scheme to provide an affordable, basic broadband installation to homes and businesses that are unable to access a broadband service with a download speed of at least 2 Mbps - and who will not benefit from the superfast broadband roll out within the next 12 months.
Since it's launch in December 2015, the scheme has boosted the broadband speeds of more than 20,000 homes and businesses in some of the hardest to reach areas of the UK.
Households and businesses that are eligible to take advantage of the scheme have the installation and hardware costs of their connection subsidized to ensure their first year costs are no more than £400.
If, after making these checks, you believe your speed is less than 2Mb per second and you have no other options available enter your postcode below to find out how to apply for help.
Taking out a broadband service under this scheme will not prevent your premises from being considered for superfast broadband in the future.
Find out more about the scheme and see if your premises could be eligible here.
The following link is directed at communities wishing to aggregate their Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme codes to bring a fibre option to the community, please click here to access a document that will help inform you of what to do, and answer any questions or concerns you may have: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1XWPo-YE5NzWmN3LVYzb2V0Znc/view.
To apply for this scheme please complete the below form.
The participating alternative service providers (Fibre, 4G or Satellite) are:
- 4G & Satellite Internet
- BT Community Fibre Partnership
- Avonline, Bentley Walker, Broadband Wherever, CorSat, Digiweb, Europasat, ibub communications, Prime Satellite Broadband, Primetech, Satellite Internet, Skyway, B4B btelecoms
Local Body Partnership (LBP) Fund & CFP (funding fully allocated)
Worcestershire County Council has launched the Local Body Partnership Scheme (LBP) to support communities who wish to support themselves in obtaining superfast broadband service by contributing to a traditional 'Community Fibre Partnership' (CFP) scheme.
The CFP scheme is BT's initiative set up to work with a local group of residents or businesses, to find a solution to bring superfast fibre broadband to their area, especially when they are not included in any existing deployment plans. This usually needs to be jointly funded, where BT covers the costs in line with its commercial model and the community provides the remaining gap funding. The network is then built by Openreach, allowing people to choose their preferred service provider. More information is available here.
Worcestershire County Council have set aside an initial £500,000 fund to further support our local communities and co-invest with them to help secure an improved service in their areas. This fund will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis. Details of the scheme and eligibility criteria can be found here.
Benefits of utilising the Superfast Worcestershire LBP Support Fund
- Reduces the community contribution
- For quotes totalling under £400 per premises, WCC will contribute the first £200; each eligible property will then be required to contribute the remaining amount
- For quotes between £400 and £1,700 per premises, each eligible property will be required to contribute the first £200; WCC will then contribute the remaining amount up to £1,500 per premises
- For quotes exceeding £1,700 per premises, each eligible property will be required to contribute the first £200 plus 50% of the total amount above £1,700 per eligible premises. WCC will contribute £1,500 plus the remaining 50% above £1,700 per property (caps apply)
- No need to set up a separate legal entity to contract with BT
- Maintenance of the new infrastructure will be the responsibility of Openreach, BT's local network business
- Project management undertaken by Superfast Worcestershire and BT, therefore it will not be charged against the community.
- No upfront survey fees
- Deployment expected within 12 months of scheme commencing (from contract signature)
Step by step process & timeline
- Community to register obtain a formal CFP quote from Openreach (6 - 8 weeks)
- Community to complete the EOI form for LBP & attach the CFP Quote. Please only complete the EOI form once you have obtained a quote from Openreach.
- WCC review and approve the request confirming the payment details. Community funding required at this stage (2 - 4 weeks)
- WCC requests a formal modeling from Openreach to incorporate the deployment into the existing contract (6 - 8 weeks)
- Final Checks and contract (2 weeks)
- Planning and deployment (12 months)
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
Full fibre broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available, and the government is committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain. As part of this commitment in March 2018 DCMS announced £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
Gigabit vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection. Businesses can claim up to £2,500 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500.
How to get involved in the scheme
If there are businesses and other residents in your area who want to install a gigabit capable connection you may be able to benefit from a voucher worth up to £2,500 as part of a group project led by a supplier.
You can approach a supplier in your area to see if there are any group projects you may be able to join. If there are no projects in your area, you may be able to join up with other residents and local businesses and approach a supplier directly.
5G Testbed trials
Worcestershire has been successful in its bid for Government funding to test and explore 5G connectivity, in order to revolutionise the way future business will operate both in the UK and globally.
The Worcestershire 5G Consortium will begin the country’s most comprehensive industrial 5G Testbed trial with a team of 5G specialists and business experts pioneering the concept of ‘Industry 4.0’, aiming to revolutionary platform for local and national businesses to develop next-generation technology focused on improving the UK’s industrial productivity.
The consortium of partners includes local infrastructure providers, national network operators and research and development facilities. They are: Worcestershire County Council, 5GIC at University of Surrey, AWTG, Huawei, O2, BT, and Malvern Hills Science Park. Click here for more detail.
Future funding & Community Pathfinder Project with Airband
- Future Funding: Worcestershire County Council is constantly exploring opportunities to provide access to improved broadband in all parts of Worcestershire. Current investigations include opportunities through Defra & Local Full Fibre Networks at DCMS. Please register to be kept up to date. Alternatively, How to obtain a better service when superfast broadband isn't available to you guide is also available describing currently available solutions.
- Community Pathfinder Project with Airband: Alongside the Superfast Worcestershire Partnership with BT, Worcestershire County Council identified additional funding for Pathfinder Community Projects in 2012/13. As a result, three communities were successful in their bids for funding from the County Council to provide access to faster Broadband in their areas. Click here for more details.
- 'Supporting Commercial operators in Worcestershire'– Worcestershire County Council continue to work with commercial operators to ensure Worcestershire is an appealing place to invest and operate.
- Working with mobile operators – Worcestershire County Council recognise the importance of mobile phone connectivity in and around the county, recognising that existing 2G, 3G and 4G services can be improved across the county; whether that be improving coverage or optimising the network when it is available. The County Council and Worcestershire LEP have worked with supplier AWTG to undertake a series of drive and static trials in the spring of 2017. Having understood the outcome of these trials we have engaged with the four major mobile network operators EE, 02, Three and Vodafone; working with them to understand and overcome challenges locally. These conversations have already delivered positive responses in the county, with optimisation taking place and new sites being investigated. All four operators continue positive engagement with us and we welcome their ongoing support.
The new USO is a UK-wide measure, intended to fill the gap left by the UK Government’s existing broadband roll-out programs, to deliver broadband connections to the hardest to reach premises in the UK. Ofcom reported that as of May 2017, 1.1 million premises (4%) in the UK would qualify for the USO.
At present around 95% of the UK (and Worcestershire) can already order a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connection and by 2020 this is expected to reach around 98%, which means that the new USO will be primarily focused upon helping to cater for those in the final 2%; estimated to be somewhere around 300,000 to 500,000 premises nationwide in 2020.
How will it be implemented?
The UK Government was considering two options for the delivery of its aim for universal access to broadband connections with at least 10 Mbps download speeds by 2020:
- a regulatory approach implemented by secondary legislation; and
- a proposal by BT to deliver the service voluntarily.
The Government announced in December 2017 that it would adopt the regulatory approach. Under this framework, the USO will be demand-led. This means that consumers will have a right to request a connection. A universal service provider will be obliged to build all reasonable requests up to cost threshold (£3,400 proposed).
When will the USO be implemented?
The Government is aiming for the USO to be in place by 2020 at the latest. Secondary legislation is expected to be laid before Parliament in early 2018. Responsibility will then fall to Ofcom to implement the USO using a mix of technologies that meet the minimum specifications. Satellite connections are unlikely to fulfil the additional quality parameters, but will probably be the only option for some consumers (approx. 0.2%).
Worcestershire County Council continues to extend superfast broadband service to as many Worcestershire premises. The proposed USO will not impact on the programme's current and future aspirations of becoming a 'Connected County' but will provide a safety net for those outside of the current scope.
Full details of the Government’s response to the USO design consultation are now online (here).