Frequently Asked Questions about the Make Kent Quicker Project
- Why is this project needed?
This project is focusing on delivering better broadband services to rural parts of Kent and Medway that will not benefit from commercial roll out programmes because of the costs involved in upgrading rural broadband infrastructure.
- Who is involved in delivering this project?
This project is being led by Kent County Council, in partnership with Medway Council and the Government’s broadband agency, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
- What is this project seeking to achieve:
This project has two aims:
a) to ensure that all properties have access to a basic broadband service of at least 2mb/s – the minimum speed that the Government says should be available in every home and business.
b) to provide significant levels of speed uplift to provide superfast broadband (i.e. a speed of least 24M/s) for as much of Kent and Medway as possible.
- Which areas will benefit from the project?
Kent County Council has undertaken extensive consultation with operators to map existing and planned coverage for basic and superfast broadband over the next three years. This has enabled us to identify which properties will benefit from current commercial roll out plans and which properties are in areas of ‘market failure’ ‐ where it is deemed not viable by commercial providers to fund infrastructure upgrades. The ‘Make Kent Quicker’ Project will focus on providing upgrades to those properties – which would not receive better broadband services without Kent County Council’s intervention.
- Why is this project not delivering superfast broadband for all properties?
The government, through its agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), has made £9.87m available to upgrade Kent and Medway’s broadband infrastructure in line with their targets of securing superfast broadband for 90% of properties within each county and the delivery of a service of at least 2mb for the remaining 10%. KCC has committed a further £10m towards the ‘Make Kent Quicker’ Project to secure the funding and it is anticipated that the network operator who wins the right to build the network will make a significant contribution towards the costs of delivering the project. Due to geographical remoteness, it will not be possible to deliver superfast broadband in some locations for either cost or technical reasons. We currently estimate that delivering superfast solutions to all premises across Kent would require additional public sector investment of at least £30m due to the costs involved. We remain committed to working with the successful supplier to ensure the best outcome for these areas and will be encouraging the Government to release additional funding accrued from the licence fee resettlement for enhancing solution in these ‘hard to reach’ areas.
- My property is in the project area. When will I get better broadband?
We will not be able to confirm the delivery timescales until we have completed the procurement exercise and appointed a supplier – although we anticipate that:
An infrastructure supplier will be appointed in April 2013
Work will start in 2013
The first services will come on line in 2014
Services will become available to all properties during 2015
It will not be possible to confirm the geographical phasing of the rollout until after the procurement has been completed and initial survey work has been undertaken.
- Why can’t the project be delivered faster?
This is a major infrastructure project and will involve spending almost £20 million of public funding. As a result, we need to abide by legislation surrounding procurement and state aid. We are acutely aware of the frustrations that many rural communities and businesses have with their current broadband connections and are committed to delivering this project as soon as possible. We are working closely with the Government’s broadband agency BDUK to make this happen and are using the Government’s procurement framework which offers the shortest route to select a supplier (under current procurement legislation). We are delighted to have secured an early slot on the Government’s procurement pipeline to use this framework. This means that we will be able to upgrade our rural broadband infrastructure ahead of many other areas.
- Will my community have to apply for funding to get better broadband from this project?
No – the project will automatically be rolled out throughout all areas of Kent and Medway eligible to benefit from the BDUK project.
- How will I know when the new services are available?
Once a supplier has been appointed, Make Kent Quicker Updates (available on this website) will keep you up to date with project progress and will tell you when to look out for Internet Service Provider advertising and marketing campaigns. We will also be working with a range of partners, including Kent Libraries, Kent Association of Local Councils and Action with Communities in Rural Kent to disseminate information about the rollout for those people without current access to a reliable broadband connection.
- Will the supplier who is appointed to install the infrastructure upgrade also offer the new broadband service?
The infrastructure upgrades being funded by this project will be ‘open‐access’. This means that any Internet Service Provider can choose to use the infrastructure to provide customers with new services.
- Will my existing Internet Service Provider offer me the new broadband services?
Any Internet Service Provider can choose to use the infrastructure to provide customers with new services.
- Which supplier will install Kent’s new broadband infrastructure?
Kent County Council is required by law to undertake a competitive procurement exercise to select a supplier to build the new infrastructure. Given that we are committed to delivering this infrastructure upgrade as soon as possible, we are using the Government’s national procurement framework established by BDUK as this offers the quickest route for appointing a supplier – and reduces the cost to the Kent taxpayer of undertaking an expensive and time consuming competitive dialogue procurement process. Fujitsu and BT Wholesale were appointed to the national procurement framework at the end of June 2012 and both suppliers have been invited to tender for the ‘Make Kent Quicker’ project. Following the submission of bids in mid January, Kent County Council will be undertaking an evaluation of the submissions and working closely with BDUK to achieve final Government sign off and State Aid approval to enable contract award during April.
- I signed up to the Make Kent Quicker Campaign. What is the next step?
Thank you! We have now had over 16,500 businesses and communities register their demand for better broadband services which is an excellent response. Successfully delivering this project requires us to be able to lever in significant investment from the appointed network supplier – and as part of the procurement process we have been asked by potential suppliers to evidence the demand for better broadband services to provide a business case for this investment. Your help has enabled us to do this.
- How does this project link to the Defra Rural Community Broadband Grant Programme?
Defra are currently operating a £20 million grant scheme across England for communities in ‘hard to reach’ areas that are unlikely to benefit from superfast broadband services from the BDUK projects i.e. Make Kent Quicker. Whilst we are not able to confirm ‘hard to reach’ areas at this stage of the project, Defra have been willing to accept bids based on estimated geographies where local communities believe that there is evidence that they are ‘hard to reach’. The KCC broadband team has been working closely with local project leads in Kent to ensure successful Defra bids dovetail with the wider ‘Make Kent Quicker’ project plans.
Sevenoaks District Council is putting together a bid with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for a grant from the £20 million Defra fund to improve broadband in rural areas. If successful, this will improve broadband in the parishes of Leigh, Chiddingstone, Penshurst, Hever and Cowden, plus Speldhurst and Bidborough in the Tunbridge Wells borough. Broadband in these areas was found to be insufficient for residents and businesses and unlikely to get any significant private investment or BDUK funding. Sevenoaks District Council is putting together an expression of interest, as part of the bidding process, and a steering group has been formed.
Make Kent Quicker
By bringing together private and public funding, at least 90% of properties in Kent will be able to access superfast broadband services and the remaining 10% will have basic access of at least 2mb. The £10 million that Kent is investing has been matched by £9.87 million from the government. To ensure that broadband providers invest the remaining funds we have to prove that people want better broadband. To that end Kent County Council have launched the 'Make Kent Quicker' (www.makekentquicker.com ) campaign which encourages residents and businesses to go online and register for better broadband. It is one of Sevenoaks District Council's key priorities to get better broadband for residents and businesses throughout the District. Please spread word of the campaign throughout the area, and log onto http://www.makekentquicker.com/
DEFRA- Rural Community Broadband Fund
This fund has been specifically allocated to provide funds of £20 million for rural areas to get superfast access. Sevenoaks District Council has already had one Expression of Interest accepted for the first round of this fund and will be working on the full application over the next 6 months. We also expect DEFRA to announce the second round of their Rural Community Broadband Fund (http://rdpenetwork.defra.gov.uk/funding-sources/rural-community-broadband-fund
) in the next few weeks.
Again, please register on http://www.makekentquicker.com/
It is very simple and takes less than a minute. Please take a moment to vote, it will benefit us all!
If you work from home, or you run a business in the area and are struggling with poor broadband speed, please contact the Clerk
as we need to demonstrate that businesses would benefit from improved broadband.
For more information, please contact the Clerk