Final phase delay for Superfast Berkshire
Published: Wednesday, 24th October 2018
Superfast Berkshire is a very ambitious programme initiated in 2013 that is using state aid assistance to give properties in even the most rural areas of Berkshire access to superfast broadband.
To date, Berkshire’s superfast broadband coverage in the Royal Borough has risen to 93.8% with even some of the most rural areas gaining access to superfast broadband coverage, making us one of the most digitally connected rural communities in the UK.
When the Superfast Berkshire phase three contracts were signed in July 2017 with BT Group and Gigaclear we were promised that superfast broadband coverage would exceed 99% across Berkshire by September 2019.
However, due to a lack of engineering capacity in the broadband industry and the rapid expansion of commitments on the relative newcomer Gigaclear both suppliers are unable to meet their original contractual delivery targets in Berkshire.
- Gigaclear’s phase two delivery, in West Berkshire, scheduled for completion by October 2017 is now forecast for May 2019, 20 months behind schedule, with 1,530 of 16,011 premises still awaiting their fibre broadband connections.
- Gigaclear’s phase three delivery, for Berkshire, scheduled for completion by September 2019 is now forecast for December 2019, 3 months behind schedule.
- BT’s phase three delivery, for Berkshire, scheduled for completion by December 2018 is now forecast for December 2019, 12 months behind schedule.
Cllr MJ Saunders, lead member for finance and economic development at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead said: “We are disappointed that these two major suppliers are now unable to meet the timelines initially promised to us when we signed the contracts for phase three of the Superfast Berkshire project, which would have seen over 98% of the Royal Borough being provided with superfast broadband by the end of the year.
“We are now working with both suppliers to reduce any further delay to ensure all our residents have the access they deserve to superfast broadband as soon as possible.”
Currently 93.8% of the borough has access to superfast broadband with a further 5% now expected from December 2019.
Some quality issues have been experienced with some of the engineering works already completed by Gigaclear during their phase two rollout and we expect that this remedial work will take at least 18 months to complete and will start in November 2018. This will be a separate programme and it should not slow down the rollout of remaining phase 2 broadband connections nor affect those customers whose connections are already live on Gigaclear’s network.
Mike Surrey, Chief Executive at Gigaclear plc said: “Gigaclear apologises for delays encountered with these deliveries, we are confident that under new ownership and with a new management team in place we will work with the Superfast Berkshire team to complete these projects without further operational delays, delivering Ultrafast broadband to all the properties in our contracted areas”
Any extra programme costs associated with this late delivery and other remedial works will be borne by the contractors and will not come from public funds.