£31 million Dorset deal will bring superfast broadband to Dorset

Posted on 10 July 2013 by Dorset County Council

A multi-million pound contract to bring faster broadband to thousands more Dorset homes and businesses was signed today (Weds July 10).

Superfast broadband contract signing

Left to Right: Charles Somers (superfast champion), Andrew Carter (BDUK), Spencer Flower (Leader of Dorset County Council), Debbie Ward (Chief Executive of Dorset County Council), James Weld (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Bill Murphy (Managing Director of next generation access for BT)

Dorset County Council and BT have agreed a £31.75 million deal which will see high-speed fibre optic broadband becoming available to 97 per cent of premises in the county within three and a half years.

The Superfast Dorset project builds on BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, which has already made the technology available to more than half of Dorset’s homes and businesses (more than 190,000 premises). The commercial programme will reach more than 260,000 premises by the end of Spring 2014.

The new fibre network will transform broadband speeds across the county and its rural areas. According to the regulator Ofcom in November 2012, the average downstream speed in Dorset was 8.7 Mbps whilst 13.9 per cent of premises received less than 2Mbps.

The partnership will also aim to ensure broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps in the minority of places where fibre broadband isn’t viable.

BT was chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process. The company is contributing £12.87 million towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while Dorset County Council and the county’s district and borough councils are contributing £9.44 million and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) a further £9.44 million. The Dorset councils have invested a further £1.3 million to make sure the benefits of the network are maximised.

Surveying work on the project will start in the autumn and the first locations to be upgraded will be announced later this year.

Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset County Council, said:

“It’s very important this broadband technology is made available to as many residents and businesses as possible. We want everyone in Dorset to have access to reliable and faster broadband within the next three and a half years and I’m delighted by this announcement as it’s a major step forward for our county.

“We know that some residents and businesses are frustrated by slow or no broadband access in Dorset, especially in rural areas – it’s one of the biggest issues facing our county.

“With the contract now signed, work on the project can get underway. This will give Dorset the competitive edge it needs to attract new businesses and will empower our communities by providing access to services, jobs and education.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said:

“This is great news for Dorset. Fibre broadband will provide a strong, reliable connection to the rest of the world – opening new horizons, helping us to be more efficient and keeping us in touch with vital services.

“Faster broadband will help local businesses grow, attracting inward investment and boosting the local economy. If they thrive then everyone thrives – local businesses are the lifeblood of every community, creating jobs and stimulating growth.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:

“Today’s announcement sees Dorset join counties all around the UK already undergoing a fantastic transformation of their broadband services. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and this project will deliver superfast access to 95 per cent[1]  of properties in Dorset, providing a tremendous boost to the Dorset local economy.”

James Weld, Superfast Dorset representative from the Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“Having better, faster broadband will play a major role in strengthening the Dorset business community as well as giving residents greater flexibility to use new technology for learning and entertainment. Improved and faster connectivity will unleash even more of our county’s potential.”

Find more information on superfast broadband.

[1] It is expected that 97 per cent of Dorset properties will have access to fibre optic broadband and an estimated 95 per cent will have access to superfast speeds of at least 24 Mbps. A minority of fibre broadband users might experience less than 24 Mbps even though they will still see a significant increase in speeds. These figures include all commercial roll-out of fibre broadband within Dorset by the private sector. The 95 per cent includes estimates around the potential speeds of the commercial roll-out.



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23 Comments For This Post

  1. dORset Says:

    Whats the end date for the Councils rollout? Not BTs own…

  2. dccadmin Says:

    Thanks for your question. The structure and timescale for the rollout of superfast broadband will be worked through in the next six-nine months, with the rollout scheduled to complete by the end of September 2016

  3. speed1 Says:

    What are your current plans for houses that cannot already get superfast broadband from their fibre enabled exchange? Our phone line is connected directly to the exchange (not too far from us) and cannot have this service. My understanding is that this is because VDSL2 equipment is not permitted by ofcom to run in the exchange (due to possible interference with current ADSL technology).
    There has been talk in other counties of having a fibre cabinet put outside the exchange and the lines connected to this or perhaps event FTTP. What are your plans?

  4. philo Says:

    Is there a list of areas/exchanges that are being upgraded?

  5. james Says:

    “BT was chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process” the other 10 companies that originally were to compete with BT nationally in the fibre rollout have pulled out, so who else was involved in the “extensive selection process”?

  6. Mark Says:

    Are we to assume that higher populated areas will be receiving fibre broadband first? With lower populated areas to follow in the last year or two of the roll out? I live in Stalbridge and fear we won’t see fibre for several years.

  7. dorsetforyou.com Says:

    Hi Phil and Mark, thanks for your comments – we have received this response from Dorset County Council:

    “Dorset County Council and BT will be working together over the next six to nine months surveying Dorset and planning the rollout of superfast broadband. Individual communities will be told it’s coming six months before delivery.”

    Kind regards

    The web team

  8. dorsetforyou.com Says:

    Thank you for your question. You are correct that “Exchange Only” lines require a different solution from lines which pass through an existing on-street cabinet.

    BT will install an additional cabinet outside of the exchange building. Customers requesting a superfast broadband service from their communications provider would be served via the new cabinet.

    Kind regards, Dorset County Council

  9. dorsetforyou.com Says:

    Hi James

    I have received the below response from Dorset County Council to your question:

    “Selecting a supplier involved a great deal of care, time and attention through a competitive national procurement framework and through Dorset County Council’s own procurement processes. This resulted in the selection of a supplier capable of delivering a project of complexity and scale, both nationally and locally.”

    Thank you for your comment,

    Kind regards, the web team

  10. Nichola Ross Martin Says:

    “BT was chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process” made me laugh too.

    I would like to refer dorsetforyou to the recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) – there was never any other supplier according to the NAO. http://www.nao.org.uk/report/the-rural-broadband-programme/

    The NAO may be wrong but I can’t imagine that report would have been published if there was any doubt.

  11. Dave Says:

    Could someone please tell me why the councils and the government are paying a lot of money to BT to upgrade phone lines?
    Everyone with a phone line pays line rental and as far as I know BT have never replaced the lines.
    So they have been receiving income from these lines for years and now both the Council and the government are going to pay them to replace their own lines. Getting paid 3 times, utter genius, that explains the billions that made in profits last year. If you didn’t pay BT they would have to replace the cables anyway or they would start loosing customers very quickly.
    Once this upgrade has been done, do the councils and government get the line rental for these lines until the outlay has been paid back??? Or are BT getting the line rental?
    I think this whole set-up sounds like a big con with the only happy people being BT. Why don’t you keep control of the lines and BT can rent them off of you, that way you get an income for a long period. Think of it as an investment that pays dividends.

    If I have this wrong please let me know how it is going to work?

  12. dorsetforyou.com Says:

    Hi Dave,

    We have received the below response from Dorset County Council:

    “Fast, reliable broadband internet access is essential for homes throughout the country to benefit from online services, and for UK businesses to compete globally. Some areas of the UK have access to faster broadband speeds than others, with many rural areas receiving far lower speeds than cities and urban areas. The government want achieve a transformation in broadband access, with everyone in the UK able to access broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) and 90% of the UK receiving far greater speeds (at least 24Mbps). To make sure everyone in the UK has access to fast, reliable broadband the government are investing £530 million to stimulate commercial investment and bring high speed broadband to rural communities.”

    Thanks for your comment, the web team

  13. Gemma Says:

    Can you please tell me if Merley are included in this…we are under Poole Borough Council BUT our exchange is in Wimborne. This exchange is currently accepting orders however so is Poole but we are unable to get the service. Our current Broadband cuts out all the time and we are unable to use the internet for more than 20mins before having to reconnect.

  14. Dorset County Council Says:

    One good thing about this project is that it includes all of Dorset, so there is no complication for people living in one borough served by an exchange in a different authority area. Merley is right on the edge of the area where we will be working; some of it is covered by the commercial rollout – and may well have superfast available already. If you don’t have it already, you may be in the part of Merley that hasn’t been covered commercially and will therefore fall into our intervention area. I’m afraid that we can’t yet say when we will reach your area; we will publish this information on our website as soon as it is available. We are well aware that people like you need a reliable service; that is exactly what this project will achieve for thousands of homes and businesses across Dorset.

  15. Ali Says:

    Could you please tell me if Sandford will be included and when? I currently live right on the edge of Sandford by Holton Heath, yet my exchange is Wareham, which is nearly 4 miles away. The speed of my broadband rarely goes above 1Mbps and cuts out very often. It is ridiculous that in this day and age half of the internet (video streaming, online games etc) is unusable to so many of us. There should really be an exchange in Holton Heath.

  16. Dorset County Council Says:

    Thank you for your comment, Ali, which explains exactly why we are doing this project. As you say, we all want reliable internet access. This project will provide access to at least 2Mbps to everybody by the end of 2016 and for most people a much higher speed before then.
    Sandford and Holton Heath are right on the edge of the area that will be covered by the commercial rollout which is due to be completed by the end of 2014. The Superfast Dorset rollout will start next year and continue until 2016. You will be able to see whether you are in the commercial rollout area or the project intervention area by checking the map which will be available on dorsetforyou.com again in the next few days.

  17. john newman Says:

    There is a problem here with the project. According to the FT on 21 July, BT has a list of how they are going to implement the roll-out. I quote:
    “BT has agreed to make public which rural areas will be connected to superfast broadband after coming under heavy criticism from MPs for keeping the information confidential. Maria Miller has struck a deal with BT to release the data as part of the arts and culture secretary’s efforts to overhaul the state-backed rollout of rural broadband after the National Audit Office said it was running nearly two years late. Ms Miller hopes that making the information public will make it easier to connect the final 10 per cent of the country, once phase one is completed in 2016. The culture secretary must now persuade local authorities, which co-own the data, to make the information available to keep the project on track. Some councils are nervous of doing so for fear of a backlash from residents if promised connections fail to materialise.”

    So what is Superfast Dorset doing – will it publish and now?

    Please, please advise what is holding the project up?

    John Newman

  18. Dorset County Council Says:

    Thank you for your question.

    We only recently signed our contract with BT and we are now in our mobilisation period. This involves developing a detailed roll out programme. Surveying work on the project will start in the autumn and the first communities to be upgraded will be announced during the winter of 2013/14.

    We are updating our website to include a map of current and proposed coverage; this involves work which we hope to complete in the next two weeks.

  19. Vaughan Ashby Says:

    I run a small business in Cheselbourne for which fast broadband is essential as I frequently have to send large files of 50-100mb. At the momment this can’t be done because of a painfully slow broadband (supposed to be 2mb but rarely much above 0.5mb) and frequent cut outs. Our village is 5km from the exchange in Milborne St. Andrew and we don’t have a cabinet in the village although the smaller nearby village of Dewlish does. As a start, is it intended to ensure that all villages have at least a cabinet to speed things up?

  20. Dorset County Council Says:

    Thanks for your comment. We are very aware that businesses like yours need to know whether our project can help them. This project will deliver access to at least 2Mbps to all premises and will exceed the Government’s revised target of 95% access to superfast by 2017 – Dorset will achieve superfast access of over 95% by September 2016, with more than 97% having access to the fibre network.
    We are creating a map which will give you an idea of whether Cheselbourne is likely to be one of the areas to benefit from superfast broadband. As soon as the map is available, we will put it on the website. The map will be based on the best information we have at the moment; we will also update it as we do more surveying and our rollout plans are confirmed. Please check http://www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast in a week or so to get the current picture.

  21. Dorset County Council Says:

    Thanks for your comment. BT was selected onto the national framework following an extensive selection process. As the NAO report says, other potential suppliers did withdraw and BT was the only company to submit a bid to Dorset. There was then a further lengthy and detailed procurement process here in Dorset before we accepted their bid to ensure we were getting good value for money and the outcomes that we wanted. Dorset will achieve one of the highest levels of coverage of any project under the national programme.

  22. dissappointed customer Says:

    Far too little too late. Can anyone explain why it will take so long to install? As far as I am aware it is only Fibre to Cabinet, which isn’t exactly rocket science. It’s not fair that people in rural areas have to wait so many years to get the same technology others have had for over half a decade

  23. Dorset County Council Says:

    The Superfast Dorset programme is a big engineering project and it will take time for the roll out to move across the county. We will provide 95% of premises in Dorset access to superfast fibre broadband which is a very large proportion of residents and businesses, including many in rural locations. Fibre to the cabinet is the main technology that will be used to provide fibre access and each of the 600+ cabinets need to be surveyed. Highways, planning and land ownership issues all have to be resolved and then the fibre has to be bought from the exchange to the cabinet using existing and/or new ducts, which can be blocked, damaged or difficult to reach.
    You can keep informed of the progress of the project and sign up to recieve an email when fibre broadband becomes available in your postcode here: http://www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast

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