To ensure the best possible use of public money CDS aims to deliver Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband of at least 30Mbps in hard to reach areas where there is currently no qualifying broadband infrastructure or where there are no likely plans for it to be developed commercially within the next three years.
The procurement process for the current contracts took approximately 10 months from the launch of the tender. A public consultation informed the detail of the tender.
Open Market Review
Before contracts were awarded, CDS first received feedback from suppliers on their commercial build plans over the next couple of years – this is called an ‘Open Market Review’ (OMR). Having an updated picture of these commercial plans helped CDS to ensure public investment is targeted at areas where there are no current or credible plans for commercially funded broadband networks.
Procurement process launched
Following final consultation with industry on our proposed coverage area, number of premises, contract ‘lots’ and timescales, as part of our ‘Early Market Engagement’, the procurement process, which was open to any supplier was formally launched, with suppliers having six months to submit bids.
Working with BDUK, tenders were evaluated, after which we had preferred bidders and all parties completed their ‘due diligence’.
In December 2020 contracts were awarded to Airband, Truespeed* and Wessex internet to deliver full fibre broadband to more than 56,000 homes and businesses in areas of B&NES, Devon, North Somerset and Somerset.
After contracts have been awarded, CDS does a prudent double-check with all those companies in case their commercially-funded construction plans have changed – this is an ‘OMR refresh’.
However, some ‘overbuilding’ in areas with existing broadband coverage may at times be necessary if it is along the most cost-effective route for the new rollout and re-routing would make new connections further along the network too expensive to complete.
*In July 2022 Connecting Devon and Somerset’s contracts with Truespeed were terminated on the basis of Truespeed’s failure to meet key contractual commitments made at the time of award of the contracts. The decision to terminate is supported by the Government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK) agency which is represented on the CDS Board.