08 September 2016

Northamptonshire County Council is inviting bids from telecoms suppliers to co-invest and help deliver Stage Three of its Superfast Northamptonshire project.

The project is investing to extend the telecoms network in the county to provide superfast broadband in areas which otherwise would not be served. The ambitious target for the project is to see superfast broadband available countywide by the end of 2017.

The public procurement for Stage Three involves around 8,500 premises of the hardest to reach areas of the county where plans have yet to be secured.

These premises are dispersed across Northamptonshire in the rural areas.

The county council is just the third authority nationally to launch its Stage Three proposals, ensuring that Northamptonshire remains one of the top performing projects in the country.

Who can apply?

Bids are being sought from telecoms suppliers to plan, design, build, operate and maintain high performance broadband networks referred to as ‘Next Generation Access’ (NGA). Network proposals must be capable of supporting download speeds over 30Mbps and at least doubling the speed available overall in the areas served.

The county council is making £6.58m available, including £1.6m from the Department for Culture Media and Sport as part of its Superfast Britain programme.

The public procurement is a key part of the Stage Three approach which was approved by Cabinet in October last year. This also involves exploring what more could be reasonably delivered through the county council’s existing contract with BT, with additional public funding, and continuing measures to maximise commercial telecoms investment in the county.

Cllr Ian Morris, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “We are well on track to exceed the government's national policy target to see 95 per cent superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2017, whilst the Stage Three approach aims to maximise performance towards our full coverage target.

“It’s very exciting to be entering Stage Three of the project. We are asking telecoms suppliers to come up with proposals which prioritise coverage in the rural areas – these can be the most challenging to serve.

“Having a county with excellent broadband infrastructure is essential if we want to be able to compete economically with other areas. Superfast broadband will enable local businesses to operate more efficiently and boost their bottom line, whilst access to faster broadband at home means the whole family can get on-line to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer.”

When is the deadline?

Bidders have been asked to provide ‘whole community’ solutions where technically possible and also to set out how they would serve the many remote premises or small clusters of premises in the rural areas, while achieving value for money.

Telecoms suppliers have until 24 November, 2016 to prepare and submit their bids. The county council expects to award contract in January 2017.