The former Northamptonshire County Council set ambitious local targets for superfast and ultrafast broadband, and in 2020 set new challenging targets for full fibre and gigabit capable coverage. These targets can be viewed on our background and targets page. These support the local aims to ensure the combined area of North and West 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 for Superfast Northamptonshire is to promote both North and West Northamptonshire as great places 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 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 UK Gigabit Voucher Scheme, relaunched on 08 April 2021, and the Governments Project Gigabit programme. You can find out more in the Support section on the website.
Superfast, ultrafast, gigabit capable and full fibre targets
Broadband coverage in Northamptonshire continues to perform strongly compared to the average for England. Having already achieved local superfast and ultrafast broadband coverage targets in March 2021, we are continuing to work towards our gigabit capable and full fibre broadband targets.
Full fibre coverage
Full fibre coverage in Northamptonshire increased tenfold in five years from 1.7% in January 2016 to 17% in January 2021. Full fibre coverage doubled in 2021 alone, reaching 35.5% of premises at the end of December 2021. This compared to the average for England of 29.1% of premises at that time. Progress locally suggests we remain on track to achieve our target to see 40% of Northamptonshire premises able to access full fibre by the end of 2023.
Gigabit capable coverage
Local gigabit capable broadband coverage mirrored full fibre levels in the five years to January 2021. However, 2021 brought a massive leap in the availability of gigabit capable broadband, reaching 75% of Northamptonshire premises by the end of December 2021 – achieving our 2023 gigabit target two years early. This was largely due to Virgin Media upgrading the capability of its cable network in the summer of 2021. This compared to gigabit capable coverage of 66.5% for England at the end of December 2021.
In December 2021, North and West Northamptonshire Councils extended the ambition for full fibre and gigabit capable broadband coverage, setting challenging targets to see 80% and 90% availability respectively by the end of 2028. This demonstrates a commitment to see availability of the best digital technology boosted in North and West Northamptonshire and a future-proofing of connectivity now and for future generations. This includes focused deployment through contracts with Gigaclear Networks to serve rural premises in need and complements expected commercial investment in full fibre and gigabit capable technology by CityFibre, Openreach, OFNL, Virgin Media and Gigaclear in the county.
To view progress on local 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 Local Body (authority responsible for the broadband programme in the area) is required to determine where public investment is needed to bring forward superfast or gigabit capable broadband. These are the areas of market failure where there are no apparent commercial plans to upgrade telecoms networks. The Local Body determines these through a process known as an Open Market Review (OMR).
Through the OMR, the Local Body 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 North and West Northamptonshire area 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 area, 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 Local Body 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 Building Digital 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 was followedby the former County Council 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 November/December 2020. BDUK will undertake similar OMR and Public Review processes under new UK aid regulations in advance of Project Gigabit regional procurements.
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 by superfast broadband commercially and have not been served through Stage 1 of the project.
The former 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 circa 19,000 premises with public investment. This will be delivered as part of a larger fibre footprint reaching around 22,000 premises.
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.
See the Working with 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.
Gigaclear were awarded the Stage 3 contracts in January 2017 by the then County Council following a competitive procurement process. Bids were sought 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. Visit the Working with Gigaclear web page for more details. Over half of the 7,000 premises due to be connected are already served and able to order a service (at February 2021).
Gigaclear offer a retail service and work with a number of other internet service providers. Visit 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.
can find out more about how superfast broadband plans are coming forward in the
county by visiting our interactive When and Where map.