Council consults telecoms providers on broadband investment plans

Posted on Friday 3rd February 2012 at 4:47 pm by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Council

Council plans to promote access to high-speed broadband throughout South Gloucestershire have taken a crucial step forward with the launch of a new exercise to confirm the areas where internet access should be improved.

The council has teamed up with Wiltshire and Swindon councils to progress its plans and the three councils will be asking broadband suppliers to confirm areas where connection speeds are low and unlikely to be improved by planned commercial investment within the next three years.

Once these so-called ‘white’ areas have been confirmed, the three councils will invite companies to bid to upgrade the areas’ broadband infrastructure, supported by local and central government funding via the national Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme.

South Gloucestershire has been allocated £710,000 through BDUK to support the project, and the council’s Cabinet will be meeting on Monday to make recommendations to allocate £2.2m to the project.

It is hoped that a contract can be awarded to a successful supplier by this summer, with work to upgrade the infrastructure beginning in winter 2012.

South Gloucestershire Executive Councillor for Corporate Affairs John Goddard said:

“South Gloucestershire Council is committed to ensuring that all residents and businesses have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband.”

“By 2015, we want all properties to be able to access at least 2Mbps broadband, and a minimum of 90 per cent of properties to be able to access superfast broadband with speeds of at least 24Mbps.”

“This consultation with providers is a vital step in our plans with Wiltshire and Swindon councils, and will allow us to move on to the next phase of identifying and commissioning a commercial provider to begin the important work of upgrading the broadband infrastructure across the three local authority areas.”

South Gloucestershire is on track to be one of the first districts in the country to begin inviting commercial bids for its scheme, after entering the partnership with Wiltshire and Swindon councils last month.

As well as helping to ‘fast track’ South Gloucestershire’s plans, the partnership will help deliver greater value for money through shared resources and a joint procurement approach.

The provider consultation was launched on 1st February and runs until 16th March. It complements the ongoing business and residents’ survey currently running in South Gloucestershire, which aims to gauge demand for superfast broadband in South Gloucestershire as well as helping to confirm connection speeds experienced by residents and businesses.

Further information, including details of broadband ‘white areas’ in South Gloucestershire, is available from: www.southglos.gov.uk/broadband

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Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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