The County Council has set ambitious local targets for superfast and ultrafast broadband, and in 2019 set new challenging targets for full fibre and gigabit capable coverage. These targets can be viewed on our background and targets page and support the County Councils aim to ensure Northamptonshire is one of the best connected places in the UK. Good progress is already being made but more needs to be done.
A key strand of the County Council's approach is to promote Northamptonshire as a great place for commercial investment by telecoms providers. Attracting the interest of telecoms providers aims to maximise commercial coverage without the need for public funding. It also increases competition, encourages innovation and provides choice for end users. This approach has been successful with several new fibre network providers investing significantly in the county since the start of the project. A list of the known commercial fibre suppliers in Northamptonshire can be found on the Telecoms Providers page.
However, commercial provision is not viable everywhere. Places which fall outside of commercial plans are the focus for public investment through the Superfast Northamptonshire project. This is being managed in stages as resources and plans are secured.
Contracts are currently in place with both BT/Openreach (Stage 1 and 2) and Gigaclear Networks (Stage 3) to roll out to many of those areas which otherwise would not be served. This complements other national programmes investing in Next Generation Access networks such as the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme. You can find out more in the Support section on the website.
Superfast, ultrafast, gigabit capable and full fibre targets
Northamptonshire is one of the top performing areas for superfast broadband coverage, and we are continuing to work towards our superfast, ultrafast, gigabit capable and full fibre targets. By the end of 2018, around 98% of premises in the county had access to superfast broadband compared to 96% on average across England. In June 2020 superfast coverage was 98.5% compared to 97.2% in England.
Full fibre coverage in the county has increased from 0.4% in June 2015 to 5.5% in June 2018 and to 12% in June 2020, the latter being close to the average across England, and gigabit capable broadband has also reached 12%. This compares to 20% for England, largely due to how and where Virgin Media is updating its network. The County Council's targets for 40% full fibre coverage and 75% gigabit capable coverage by the end of 2023 demonstrates a commitment to see availability of the best digital technology boosted in Northamptonshire and a future-proofing of connectivity now and for future generations. This includes extending deployment through its contracts with Gigaclear Networks in the rural areas and complements expected commercial investment in Fibre to the Premise and gigabit capable technology by CityFibre, Openeach and Virgin Media and others in the urban areas.
To view progress on superfast and full fibre coverage in the county and other areas visit the ThinkBroadband website, the UK's largest independent broadband news and information site.
At the outset of each stage of the project, the County Council is required to determine where public investment is needed to bring forward superfast broadband. These are the areas of market failure where there are no apparent commercial plans to deliver telecoms networks over which superfast broadband services could be provided. The County Council determines these through a process known as an Open Market Review (OMR).
Through the OMR, the County Council consults telecoms providers to find out where they already have network and where they are planning to serve in the next three years looking ahead. This involves the analysis of a huge amount of data. This is because there are around 360,000 premises and over 16,600 postcodes in the county as well as several different telecoms providers and not all will use the same baseline data. This data is reconciled and brought together into a single postcode or premise level data set for the county, setting out where commercial plans are expected. The outcome of the OMR is captured on State Aid Intervention Area maps for Next Generation Access (NGA) coverage (providing for speeds above 30Mbps). You can find out more about NGA in the Network Build and Technologies FAQs.
The State Aid Intervention Area maps show where there is or is expected to be commercial coverage (shown in grey or black) and areas still in need i.e. where there are no known commercial plans – these are the White areas which represent the proposed Intervention Area for public investment. The Intervention Area maps are consulted on through a State Aid Public Consultation.
On conclusion of this consultation, the County Council has to make any adjustments required to the mapping following any responses received, as appropriate. The maps and the methodology are then reported to the National Competence Centre, managed by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), to notify them of the intention to invest public funding in the Intervention Area and to secure clearance for this 'State aid'. You can find out more on the State Aid Public Consultation web page.
This process has been followed in 2012, 2014 and 2015/16 for the purpose of Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the Superfast Northamptonshire project. An OMR was carried out by the County Council in the Autumn of 2019 and the most recent State Aid Public Consultation was undertaken in October/November 2020.
Stages 2 and 3 of the project are focused on bringing forward solutions for the final c.10% of premises in the county which are not due to be served commercially and have not been served through Stage 1 of the project.
The County Council appointed telecoms supplier Openreach to deliver Stage 2 (contract November 2014).
This extends superfast broadband coverage plans secured through the project, and contributed to exceeding the Government's target of 95% of premises with have access to superfast broadband by December 2017 (when combined with existing and planned commercial coverage).
Current Stage 2 plans will provide access to superfast broadband to an additional 19,600 premises with public investment. This will be delivered as part of a larger fibre footprint reaching more than 22,700 premises. The County Council is working with Openreach to consider current targets and how these could change to take account of the latest known information on commercial plans in the county.
Preparatory works started in autumn 2015, earlier than planned. The first part of the network build and new fibre cabinets installed went live in January 2016; 9 months ahead of contract plans.
The Stage 2 deployment was expected to run from early 2016 to the end of December 2017. Whilst over 93% of coverage has been completed, Openreach's plans have suffered delays and is not expected to complete until late 2020.
The Roll Out Schedule shows the current delivery headlines and progress as well as current forecast timescales for the completion of structures coming forward in build plans. These can be subject to change.
See the Working with BT/Openreach page for more information.
You can find out more about how superfast broadband plans are coming forward in the county by visiting our interactive When and Where map.
Gigaclear Networks is delivering a full fibre solution for Stage 3 of Superfast Northamptonshire which, following an extension of contracts in September 2020, will benefit 7,000 rural premises in the county by the end of 2022.
The County Council's partnership with Gigaclear started in January 2017 when they were awarded the two Stage 3 contracts following a competitive procurement process. The County Council sought bids from telecoms suppliers to plan, design, build, operate and maintain high performance broadband networks which met "Next Generation Access" (NGA) specifications. Visit our Network Build and Technologies FAQ's for more information. The network had to be capable of supporting download speeds over 30Mbps and at least doubling the speed available in the areas served on average overall. Gigaclear's network more than addresses this.
The technology being deployed is full fibre which is capable of supporting gigabit speeds. Of particular interest to data hungry businesses is the symmetrical service supported by the network i.e. upload speeds as fast as download speeds.
An extension of the contracts in September 2020 brought the overall public and private investment in the deployment to £15.7m. See the Working with Gigaclear webpage for more details. Over half of the 7,000 premises due to be connected are already served and able to order a service (at mid 2020).
Gigaclear offer a retail service and work with a number of other internet service providers. See the Our Partners information on the Gigaclear website.
The Roll Out Schedule shows the current delivery headlines including how many premises now have access to full fibre broadband as a result of our investment with Gigaclear. You can also see information on which villages, in whole or part, have already been served through the project and forthcoming plans, including current estimated build completion timescales which can be subject to change.
The When and Where map and the Roll Out Schedule provide more information on coverage plans in the county and the roll out to communities. In the meantime, you can use Gigaclear Network's Availability Checker to see if your home or business is expected to be served or to register an interest.
For more information on Gigaclear's plans for Stage 3 please visit the Working with Gigaclear page of the website or the Superfast Northamptonshire page on Gigaclear's website.
The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme was a UK-wide government subsidy scheme to provide an affordable, basic broadband installation to homes and businesses experiencing the poorest speeds (less than 2Mbps). The scheme ran in conjunction with the Government's Building Digital UK (BDUK) from 2015 unit until December 2019. It is now closed.
The Scheme provided a voucher worth up to £350 (via a registered service provider) for basic broadband installation to eligible homes and businesses. The scheme ran from
£15,933.65 of subsidy was invested in Northamptonshire to support basic broadband connections during the last year of the scheme.
can find out more about how superfast broadband plans are coming forward in the
county by visiting our interactive When and Where map.