I have just received the following statement on the latest position from Superfast Surrey, following completion of the first stage of the OMR.
“Surrey County Council has now finished the main phase of its Superfast Surrey Broadband programme to bring fibre broadband to those areas in the county not included in commercial roll outs.
In December 2014 it was decided that before any further decisions could be made with regards to the outcome of slow speeds review, the Superfast Surrey team had to focus on the completion of the main phase of the contract and identify options for using any remaining funds to enable a decision to be made on the future scope of the programme. Options were developed that not only acknowledged Openreach’s analysis of premises with slow speeds in the Superfast Surrey deployment area but also took into account feedback from residents and businesses in the commercial rollout area that were not covered by the fibre network or who were on slow speeds.
As a result, and to ensure that Surrey County Council fully understands the extent of the remaining challenge, Surrey County Council has now embarked on an Open Market Review (OMR). This is the only way to establish a clear understanding of the latest position regarding existing and planned fibre coverage throughout the county. The review will identify all premises throughout Surrey without a fibre broadband connection or those covered by the fibre network but unable to access a fibre service.
Surrey County Council will be seeking State Aid Approval for plans to further extend broadband coverage across the County within the constraints of available funding following a process laid down by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
The first stage of the OMR, which involved requesting current and future broadband coverage information from existing infrastructure providers has finished and the checking process has now commenced. This will take a number of weeks and once the broadband coverage and speed responses are analysed, a map will be produced and uploaded to the Superfast Surrey website as part of the public consultation process. This stage, which is likely to be during Autumn 2015, will be the opportunity for residents, businesses as well as any other infrastructure providers to contact the Superfast Surrey team by email to provide additional information that may further inform the understanding of broadband coverage across the County.
Prior to this stage in the OMR process, any information submitted by members of the community relating to broadband in their areas will be retained for consideration as part of the public consultation process.
Following the public consultation phase, the Superfast Surrey team will then agree with BT Group, as part of the existing contract and within the constraints of available funding, how to target those areas identified as not having current or proposed broadband coverage or access to download speeds of 15 Mbps or above. The proposed deployment must be signed off by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) as being compliant with State Aid Funding regulations before any deployment can commence.
The OMR, analysis of responses, mapping, public consultation and development of a new deployment plan will take many months and whether or not residents who are currently unable to access a fibre service will benefit from any subsequent deployment will not be known until the above process is completed.
If residents or businesses are not keen to wait for the outcome of the OMR, options could be to look at satellite services or for businesses to consider a Fibre on Demand Service. The third option may be for communities to contact Openreach and collectively fund a community initiative. There is already an established process in place via the Openreach website for enquiries from residents who are interested in investigating options for self-funded initiatives. It is not possible to obtain a quotation or speak to an Openreach representative without following this process due to the significant amount of administration and number of different variables that need to be considered. This form (http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/faq/contact-us-form.aspx) would need to be completed with the community representative’s details. The Details of Enquiry box should include a description of how many residents would be interested in helping fund the initiative and installation etc and needs to include a list of all the names and landline phone numbers of those interested in funding the initiative. It is very important that details regarding all interested parties are included on the form. Once the form has been submitted, Openreach would be in touch to discuss this in more detail.”
I have queried the recommendation of “Fibre on Demand”, since as far as I know this product is not currently available, and no availability date has been announced. I also asked why wireless options other than satellite are not mentioned. Please contact me if you are considering a community initiative, since I have further important information on this.