CDS ends Gigaclear contracts

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has announced the decision to end Gigaclear’s five contracts to deliver full-fibre broadband in Devon and Somerset.

CDS intends to launch a fresh procurement on the open market this autumn, commencing a tender process to identify new provider(s) of these services.

CDS and the Government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK) agency have been unable to agree an acceptable recovery plan with Gigaclear for the company’s publicly subsidised contracts.

The company had earlier been placed on notice of default after failing to meet contract targets set in early 2018 for the number of homes and businesses connected.

The company, under new ownership since last summer, had incurred significant delays with its broadband roll-out due to previous failings and the collapse of Carillion in early 2018. Those delays, details of which were set out in a joint CDS/Gigaclear briefing in November, meant the company could not meet its original 2019-20 contract deadlines with CDS.

CDS has withheld public subsidy while Gigaclear has been attempting to produce a satisfactory recovery plan.

Councillor David Hall, CDS Board member, said: “Despite painstaking work by all concerned, it has not been possible to agree a recovery plan that CDS and the Government’s Building Digital UK agency could support with confidence.

“CDS is working closely with BDUK on a new procurement process and taking all necessary steps to secure alternative full-fibre broadband providers for our residents and businesses. They are our top priority and we are determined to achieve the best possible outcome for them.

“We welcome the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s expressed commitment to ensuring that our residents will benefit from world class broadband infrastructure in line with the ambitions for nationwide full fibre coverage.

“We have already held productive meetings with a number of companies interested in building full fibre networks in Devon and Somerset.

“CDS will also be expanding its Community Challenge Fund later this year, following successful pilots in Devon and Somerset. We are advancing a new collaboration with BT to extend coverage in rural areas, good progress is being made through our contract with Airband to provide 21,000 premises with superfast broadband.

“We are also now offering broadband vouchers to residents and businesses under the national BDUK Better Broadband scheme and the Rural Gigabit scheme. This is all on top of the more than 300,000 homes and businesses who now have access to superfast broadband through the CDS programme.”


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Notes to Editors:

To date, CDS has provided access to superfast broadband to more than 300,000 homes and businesses, often in sparsely populated rural areas and over challenging terrain. A further 38,000 homes and businesses have benefited from improved broadband speed.

Public funding is leveraging greater commercial investment with the result that the CDS programme and commercially-funded networks are, together, providing over 950,000 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset with access to superfast broadband out of a total of 1,083,000 premises currently.

The programme continues to work to extend broadband coverage across Devon and Somerset, this includes construction by Airband of a new superfast wireless network for CDS that will provide access to superfast broadband for around 16,000 homes and businesses across mid, north and west Devon by June 2020. Airband is also completing a network to serve around 5,000 hard to reach properties in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks with superfast broadband.

The take up rate for all CDS-funded Openreach services currently stands at more than 60% and is generating significant resources for reinvestment thanks to the Government’s gainshare agreement with BT. Work is advancing on plans to extend BT’s network in the CDS area applying the first £6 million from this fund.

CDS is also offering vouchers under the national Better Broadband Voucher Scheme, administered by BDUK, which helps provide access to a broadband service offering download speeds of at least 10 Mbps.


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