State Aid Public Consultation into Faster Broadband Coverage - Closure Note

The Connecting Cheshire Partnership is striving to extend the availability of Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband infrastructure to meet the Government’s target for full fibre coverage by 2033 [1]. To support achieving this, Connecting Cheshire intends to procure further coverage of  NGA broadband infrastructure (capable of delivering download speeds of at least 30 Mbps) in areas within its Programme Area where such broadband is currently unavailable, by the end of 2023.

Geographically, Connecting Cheshire covers Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington Borough Council areas. The overarching aspiration of Connecting Cheshire Local Broadband Plan is to deliver ‘ NGA for all’. We are now looking to provide  NGA access to further premises across our area.

The Public Consultation Outcome

The Partnership carried out a public consultation from 6 March to 6 April 2020 requesting information on, and supporting evidence for, any current or planned (within the next 3 years) investment in broadband infrastructure across the Connecting Cheshire Area, where this may not be already included within the proposed  NGA and Basic broadband intervention area. The public consultation followed an Open Market Review (OMR) with the telecoms market in September and October 2019, where suppliers provided information on existing infrastructure and commercial plans in the project area.

Following the public consultation process, the eligible Intervention Area for the project has been determined. These are labelled ‘ NGA white areas’ under state aid colour code naming practice. The final state aid maps for  NGA Broadband and Basic Broadband are included below. 

The Procurement

Connecting Cheshire intends to conduct a procurement in respect of the remaining area without  NGA broadband infrastructure, which comprises around 21,920 premises.

Timeline

The table below summarises indicative dates for key stages for the planned procurement. More detailed information would be available in the chest procurement portal.

Planned procurement for NGA
 StageIndicative Date 
Issue of Contract Notice  June 2020
Closure of Expressions of Interest  July 2020
Code of Conduct Acceptance July 2020
Clarification Question process June to August 2020
Bidder response due August 2020
Evaluation and Clarification August 2020
Preferred Bidder Notification  September 2020
Standstill Period  September 2020
Contract Finalisation and Governance October 2020
Contract Signature November 2020

Revised State Aid Maps

The following criteria have been used to determine the  NGA classification of areas:

  • a postcode is classed ‘grey’ if there is only one broadband infrastructure operator providing  NGA services (supporting minimum speeds of at least 30 Mbps) to all premises in that postcode
  • a postcode is classed ‘black’ if there are at least two broadband infrastructure operators providing  NGA services (supporting minimum speeds of at least 30 Mbps) to all premises in that postcode
  • all other postcodes remain ‘white’ (no  NGA service)

In addition, the proposed Intervention Area includes a number of “under review” areas (coloured blue on the map). These are areas where there is uncertainty that  NGA services have or will be delivered, or have been reported through the  OMR as being ‘at risk’ of not being completed.

Areas that potentially have  NGA white premises but where individual premises cannot yet be identified have also been marked “under review”. These areas will be subject to continued monitoring and verification of operator plans by Connecting Cheshire within a 3 year period and in the event that these commercial plans fall-away, or it is confirmed that there is no coverage, these premises will be mapped as  NGA white and may form part of the eligible Intervention Area via this aid measure.

The mapping analysis of existing and planned coverage (within the next 3 years) has identified remaining ‘white NGA ’ areas. The outcome of the Public Consultation is summarised below in terms of  NGA White, Grey, Black and “under review” premises in  NGA White, Grey, Black and “under review” postcodes.

postcode status
Postcodes statusTotal number of postcodes Number of black premisesNumber of grey premises Number of white premisesNumber of under review premises 
NGA Black 7,291 162,844 0 0 0
NGA Grey 18,863 14,890 309,959 0 0
NGA Under Review 466 8 4,353 0 1,511
NGA White 3,692 0 24,423 21,920 582

The Connecting Cheshire Intervention Area includes 21,920  NGA White premises, however there are an additional 2,093 Under Review premises that could potentially be brought into scope of the procurement if plans are not completed and this is confirmed by the monitoring team.

There are 32 postcodes believed to have no access to a Basic Broadband service through existing commercial operators. 

State Aid Maps

Next Generation Access Cheshire Region April 2020

Cheshire Basic Broadband Map April 2020Status of Intervention Area

The State Aid Public Consultation is now closed. The Connecting Cheshire Team have submitted a State aid (Part 1) notification to the National Competence Centre (part of the Department for Culture Media and Sport) which oversees the UK National Broadband Scheme. A decision on the eligibility of the proposed Intervention Area is expected in June 2020. If clearance is granted, the Intervention Areas mapped above will be confirmed as eligible for public sector intervention for the forthcoming procurement.

Contact details

If you have any queries on the process please email:info@connectingcheshire.org.uk