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Response from Openreach

I have been trying to get an update on the progress of our application for Gigabit Voucher funding and have had the following response from Openreach.

Hi Tony

I am afraid there are delays in processing these. There is a large backlog. We are seeing this clearing at the moment but I would expect yours to still take a few more weeks I’m afraid. I will see if I can give it a nudge though

 regards

 Chris Priestley

 Rural Engagement Manager

Wales/Shropshire/Herefordshire/Worcestershire/Gloucestershire/Hampshire/Berkshire

Openreach

 

August Update

At present, we are still waiting for a formal response from the DCMS to The South East Alresford Gigabit Voucher Submission. This was submitted at the end of June with the expectation of a reply within 6 weeks. That has now been exceeded. However, the August holiday period may well have affected response times and we are aware that the Martyr Worthy Gigabit Voucher Submission is still waiting for a reply after more than 12 weeks - so this delay, while undesirable, is not necessarily unexpected. The DCMS has also been finalising its Project Gigabit procurement strategy for Hampshire and this may also have put Hampshire voucher submissions on hold while it was doing this. I intend to start chasing our submission at the end of the month.Otherwise, there have been three recent developments:

1. Hampshire County Council have approved a further £1M of funding for Gigabit voucher top up funding. An EMail has been received from HCC confirming the following:

"On 13th July the cabinet approved an additional £1m of top up funding for the voucher scheme, to be issued on a first come first served basis.

The voucher scheme is administered by BDUK (the government department responsible) in direct liaison with the supplier, there is no need for a separate application to HCC.

The top up fund increases the maximum voucher value for residential properties from £1,500 to £3,000.

Further details can be found on or website: https://www.hampshiresuperfastbroadband.com/alternative-solutions/gigabit-broadband-voucher-scheme/"

This should ensure that the South East Alresford scheme is fully funded.

2. The DCMS published its Summer Update to Project Gigabit on 2/8/21.

See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/project-gigabit-delivery-plan-summer-update

This document provides more detail about the Project Gigabit Rollout and, specifically, Phase 1b, which includes Hampshire. It confirms that the procurement start date for Hampshire is not until Feb 2022, with award of contract in Jan 2023. If the voucher submission is not successful then it may well be that we would not get FTTP here before 2024/2025.

However, the document also goes on to state that

"Now that we have started delivery through other Project Gigabit measures - Local and Regional Supplier procurements - we are specifically looking for new voucher projects to :

offer the potential for better pace than Local / Regional / Cross-Regional Supplier procurements, particularly in premises which cannot currently access superfast(>30Mbps) speeds or are otherwise priority areas. Therefore, and especially in areas where a Local Supplier or Regional Supplier procurement is planned imminently, we will need to have confidence that vouchers will be requested promptly and that consumers can expect the relevant voucher supplier/s have the necessary commitment, capacity and capability to deliver promptly."

which should be encouraging in terms of getting our submission accepted.

3. The DCMS (19/8/21) launched a UK Gigabit Programme: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Public Review, seeking “information and supporting evidence about gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure within the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.”

See https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/uk-gigabit-programme-hampshire-and-isle-of-wight-public-review

The review document states that

“BDUK’s goal is to ensure the parts of the country that need government investment are accurately targeted. Each contributor to this public review will help to optimise the use of public subsidy in helping to provide faster and better connectivity across all parts of the UK.”

My current intention is to reply to the review on behalf of the campaign.

 

 

Draft response to the DCMS Request For Information

I have prepared a draft response to the DCMS Request For Information that is part of the public review process (19th August 2021 to 20th September 2021) for Project Gigabit - Hampshire and Isle of Wight. This may be downloaded from the following link.

Draft response to the DCMS Request For Information

The purpose of this submission is to inform the DCMS and BDUK of the information learnt by the campaign about the local area, its broadband infrastructure and the attitude of residents towards both broadband itself and issues involved in broadband rollout. It is hoped that this information will be of use in planning the rollout of broadband under Project Gigabit, both in Hampshire and other areas.

I would welcome any comments and suggestions for the response prior to submitting it. We have until 20th Sept. However, I would like to submit it at the beginning of September and I would anticipate a large number of corporation responses at or near the due date.

Tony Whyman

Our Voucher Requests have been submitted

Yesterday, our list of DCMS Gigabit Voucher Requests was forwarded to Openreach. There were 197 voucher requests in total, including 22 SMEs. The computed value of the vouchers is £339,500.

This represents a shortfall on the £387,330 for the full cost of the scheme. However, now that Hampshire County Council are likely to make available another £1M in top-up grants, I believe that we should be able to secure the funding with HCC help.The council meeting to formally agree the availability of the top-up funds is on 13th July.

Openreach should now forward the vouchers to the DCMS and to Broadband Digital UK (BDUK) - part of the DCMS. BDUK will then verify each voucher. They may write to each resident requesting confirmation. Once the vouchers have been validated, a decision is made on the HCC top-up and hopefully then our scheme will then be approved, and we can get a date for the upgrade.

Openreach have advised that it will take BDUK six weeks to validate and approve the scheme.