A range of commercial networks exist in many parts of the UK, offering a range of broadband products and speeds. Typically these networks cover urban areas, where there are sufficient potential customers to justify commercial investment in the networks.
However, big network gaps exist primarily in rural areas, where the relatively high cost of installations together with the relatively small number of potential customers does not offer an attractive commercial return.
The Government has decided that the economic benefits for the UK of having much greater Superfast Broadband coverage justify public investment to either extend existing or develop new broadband networks.
UK Broadband offers wireless broadband services to businesses and homes in parts of Swindon and central London under the name Relish. UK Broadband is a UK company wholly owned by Hutchison 3G Limited.
Under BDUK rules there is no requirement to repay either the Government or Swindon Borough Council grant funding. UK Broadband has modeled its revenues for this project over its lifecycle. If the revenues are higher than anticipated due to high levels of demand, the Swindon Council will receive a portion of its investment back as per the agreement.
BDUK has acknowledged that in order to achieve the Government's aim of delivering 100% Superfast Broadband coverage across the UK, it will be impossible to secure a full fibre solution for all areas of the UK.
More cost effective alternatives technologies, such as wireless 4G LTE, are now also being used to meet the UK's ambitious plan.
In accordance with state-aid rules, Swindon Borough Council could not specify a particular technology solution and the one bid received was for a 4G LTE wireless solution.
BDUK has investigated and approved the proposed technical solution. The Council has undertaken an independent technical and project assessment implementation plan to make sure the programme runs to time.
In order to qualify for the BDUK funding, the Council had to follow a formal procurement process where any provider could put forward a proposal.
An OJEU open procurement process was undertaken to identify the best value for money solution that would secure the greatest possible coverage across the Borough within the funding available.
The Council contacted all current network providers in the Borough to draw their attention to the opportunity being offered through its arrangement with BDUK.
The alternative would have been to consider a restricted framework developed by BDUK. This was rejected due to national and local concerns about evidencing value for money, given that BT has been the only provider to win work through the BDUK framework.
Through the procurement process the Council set out:
BDUK had to give approval to any technical solution before confirming it would qualify for its grant funding.
Following publication of the required OJEU procurement notice by the Council on 30th October 2014, 13 organisations initially expressed an interest in the scheme. Of those, 8 returned a non-disclosure agreement giving them access to the tender documents.
UK Broadband were the only supplier to submit a proposal and following a detailed evaluation process were awarded the contract to build a network that will increase Superfast Broadband coverage to 99.4% of households in the borough of Swindon by 2016.
The key benefits of the UK Broadband proposal are:
If you require any further information with respect to the Contract please complete a Freedom of Information request on the Swindon Borough Council website.