Will publicity for Northamptonshire Open Market Review help open up UK broadband market?

Northamptonshire has announced an “Open Market Review” to help plan an invitation to tender to provide broadband services to those who will not be covered by its Phase 1 and 2 BDUK contracts. The intention appears to be to assemble a premises (not just post code) level map of coverage. It it is not the first attempt but it is the first for which I have received a copy of the notice (via INCA) and a clearance (from Atkins) to publish in this blog.

Similar maps for the City of London and the Greater London Boroughs could start a gold rush among those who would see just how many opportunities there are to make money out of providing fibre to the flat or workshop (including voice over IP), at less than the price tenants and small firms are currently paying for an elderly copper/aluminium telephone service (with or without “broadband”).  [I plan to blog separately on how the lack of incentives for BT to upgrade the networks serving most Londoners have left them so far behind those living and working in its main commercial rivals, Hong Kong and Singapore].   

The text of the Northamptonshire OMR notice is as follows:

“Atkins is supporting Northamptonshire County Council in the Superfast Northamptonshire project which aims to secure access to Superfast Broadband to all business and residential premises by 2017. In addition to the fibre deployment plans under Contract with BT, the County Council is pursuing other initiatives under the Superfast Northamptonshire project to extend superfast broadband. In particular the County Council intends to run a new public procurement. This will not be tendered under the BDUK Framework which has now expired and instead will be advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
 
The County Council currently intends to release an ITT in early 2016, after completion of this OMR and consequent State Aid Public Consultation and approvals for the area of intervention. Further details can be found in the attached OMR Request.
 
We are sending the attached OMR request to all broadband infrastructure owners known to have infrastructure in the County following the previous OMR exercise and those known to the Council since. This document requests details and supporting evidence of any current or planned investment in broadband infrastructure (basic broadband and NGA broadband) in Northamptonshire for the period up to December 2018. The OMR will be followed by a formal Public Consultation Process with the information received used to determine the eligible Intervention Area for the forthcoming procurement.
 
It is important for you to notify the County Council of your commercial plans through this OMR to ensure that future public investment does not result in overbuild of your commercial deployment.
 
Full details of the information requested can be found in the Annex of the attached OMR Request. Responses to the questions set out in the Annex are required by close of play Friday 18th December 2015.  A full OMR response template incorporating a spreadsheet with all of the premises within the OGA will be released to providers once the attached Ordnance Survey PSMA Contractor licence has been signed and returned. This is a requirement of the County Council’s license with Ordnance Survey in order to share the base data with suppliers. Please ensure that the relevant company details are provided where highlighted in the Contractor license document before returning.
 
When responding, we would be grateful if you could confirm your organisation’s name and address, as well as the name, position and contact details of the person responding on behalf of the organisation.
 
Please send your responses via e-mail to Chris Bond (Chris.Bond@atkinsglobal.com).  If you need to discuss the requirements further, please contact me by email or by phone on the numbers provided below.

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