Public Consultation period (NOW CLOSED):
24th September to 24th October.
Shropshire Council recognises that an effective, reliable, secure and fast communications infrastructure is increasingly essential because of the wide range of social and economic benefits that it delivers. Shropshire Council is committed to ensuring that all Shropshire residents and businesses have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband.
In 2011, the Government launched the national Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative to co-ordinate broadband infrastructure improvement across the country. BDUK has awarded Shropshire an £8.2 million grant for the project. Shropshire Council has also invested in the project from its Capital programme. Any delivery partner selected for the project will also be expected to commit significant funding.
The project aims to deliver the following:
- Enable 100% of Shropshire access to a minimum of 2mbps which will provide most residents and businesses with a fast reliable broadband service that meets their daily needs
- Deliver superfast broadband to as much of the county as possible which will mean that the infrastructure will be able to cope with the growing demands for broadband well into the future
- Support businesses and residents in using broadband
- Open infrastructure – which means that you will have a wide choice of companies to buy your broadband packages from
Using the BDUK national framework Shropshire Council will procure a single or lead private sector delivery partner to co-fund installation of broadband infrastructure across the area. This will provide a wholesale access broadband network allowing new retail broadband services to be available to businesses and residents to purchase.
State Aid rules
European Community Member States are subject to rules in relation to “State Aid”. State Aid is where a public body provides financial support to an ‘entity’ that is engaged in an economic activity e.g. a private sector company. The State Aid rules, subject to certain exceptions, prevent such financial support where that support could distort market competition or affect trade by favouring certain entities/businesses, which could ultimately affect customers if there is a resulting lack of competition in certain markets. An exception to these rules where State Aid can legally be granted in order to achieve European Community objectives is in the promotion of access to broadband.
The European Commission (EC) requires that as public bodies, local authorities would only be able to provide State Aid compliant financial support in areas where they can demonstrate there is no current, or planned (within the next three years) deployment of either standard or superfast broadband by the private sector. These are termed “white areas” i.e. those where it is possible to invest with public subsidy. As part of the procurement following the public consultation an application to invest public funds will be submitted to the Department for Media Culture and Sport (DCMS).
The two maps in the attachment 'State Aid Consultation Summary for Residents' show in white, at postcode level, our current understanding of the potential areas where the Council may be able to provide assistance under this project.
In the map entitled ‘Basic Broadband’ the areas marked as white reflect broadband performance at less than 2Mbps and is where this project are permitted to support investment to ensure that a 2 Mbps service is available.
In the map titled ’Next Generation Access broadband’ the areas marked white reflect our current understanding of the potential areas where NGA broadband is not expected to be provided by 2015 and where this project may be permitted to support investment to assist the availability of NGA broadband where our current understanding of the future proposals for superfast broadband is correct.
The consultation we are undertaking at the moment will test and challenge our current understanding of the eligible areas so it is very likely that these maps will change.
Broadband providers are being consulted on their existing superfast broadband networks in Shropshire and if they have any plans to deploy basic or NGA broadband in the area over the next three years. This consultation is to check that the information the Council is using as a basis for the consideration of ay financial support. It is not the Council’s intention to duplicate the provision of superfast broadband services by providers who may be operating outside of the procurement, nor is it the intention to provide subsidy where it is not needed.
It is therefore imperative that any broadband provider already delivering or planning to deliver services that exceed what has been detailed in the full State Aid Consultation document make their plans known urgently.
Comments from businesses and residents are also welcome. If you would like to submit any comments or have any information that you think would help us please contact us using the contact details below.
Once the consultation exercise has been completed and the responses considered, the Council will look to procure a delivery partner to undertake the project. The intention is that work will commence during 2013, however due to the scale of the project the work will not complete until 2015. More detailed timescales will be available once a delivery partner has been appointed and they have completed detailed survey work.
Indicative timescales for the project are shown below:
Public Consultation period: 24th September – 24th October 2012 (NOW CLOSED)
Complete procurement and award contract: November 2012 - March 2013
Infrastructure and civil works commence: 2013
Infrastructure and civil works completed: End of 2015