Procurement 2020 FAQs

Why procurement

Q. “The announcement of these contracts refers to “procurement”, would it not have been quicker to simply appoint new contractors to deliver these contracts?”

A.  “Rules around the use of public money are, quite rightly, very strict.  These are large contracts, involving significant sums from local, regional and national government and require that we comply with UK procurement law by undertaking a tendering process that provides a fair environment for any and all interested parties to bid to undertake the work”

Length of process

Q. “The previous contracts were cancelled towards the end of September 2019, why has it taken until December 2020 to procure new contractors?”

A.  “From the point that the previous contracts were terminated, CDS have had to undertake three significant pieces of work;  firstly we carried out an Open Market Review (OMR) to establish where telecoms companies active in our region intended to cover commercially.  This was essential to ensure that the procurement process would deliver coverage to premises for whom there was no coverage planned; Secondly, we engaged with a wide range of telecoms providers to understand their appetite for carrying out work under the new contracts – a process known as Early Market Engagement.  Finally, we undertook the procurement process itself – a process which has a large number of pre-defined steps that have to be followed, with mandatory time periods for many of these steps.”

Who was involved

Q. “Who was involved in making the decisions on these contracts?”

A.   “Somerset County Council are the Accountable Body for the Connecting Devon and Somerset Programme, a partnership of Local Authorities, the Heart of the SW LEP and BDUK. The procurement process was led by Devon County Council’s Procurement team. External advisors supported the internal team providing technical, legal and commercial expertise. The Department for Culture Media and Sports Building Digital UK (BDUK) team were involved throughout the process, with the BDUK Assurance Board signing off the contracts following legal, commercial and value for money assessments. The National Competence Centre have also approved each contracts as state aid compliant under the National Broadband Scheme 2016.

Confidence

“Given the collapse of the previous contracts, what makes you believe that these contracts will deliver the intended coverage?”

A.   “The three companies chosen to deliver these new contracts are based in or adjacent to the CDS region, they have considerable experience of building in the CDS region and are familiar with the differing kinds of terrain.  Between them they have already built a similar volume of  premises to that stipulated in the new contracts and have identified over 150 staff who will work on all aspects of the work.  Through this prior activity they have now established mature working relationships with local planning and highways teams.  Furthermore, they have developing relationships with the CDS team and communities across the region.  They also all have experience of delivering connectivity through government funded projects”

New Providers:

Who

Q. “Who are the companies who will be delivering these new contracts?”

A.   “Airband Community Internet, Wessex Internet & Truespeed”

Other providers

Q. “What about Company X or Company Y?”

A.   “We cannot comment on involvement in the procurement process or otherwise of any provider, other than the successful bidders.  Any queries should therefore be directed to the company in question.”

Which lots

Q. “Which parts of the region will each provider be covering?”

A.   “Airband will be expanding its full fibre coverage into rural areas of Somerset West and Taunton, parts of Sedgemoor, East Devon, as well as areas of Mid Devon, South Hams and Teignbridge.  Truespeed will be working in B&NES (Bath and North East Somerset), North Somerset, Mendip and part of Sedgemoor, while Wessex Internet will deliver in rural communities of South Somerset.”

Go HERE for a map of the new contract lots

Track record

Q. “What track record does each provider have in delivering these kinds of contracts?”

A.   “Between them they have already built over 41,000 premises in the CDS region, a similar volume of  premises to that stipulated in the new contracts”

Local knowledge

Q. “How well do these new providers know the area?”

A.  “”The three companies chosen to deliver these new contracts are either based in or adjacent to the CDS region, they have considerable experience of building in the CDS region and are familiar with the differing kinds of terrain.   They have ongoing relationships with local authorities, parish councils,  local planning and highways teams and the CDS team itself. “

Capacity

Q. “Do these companies have the skills and people to deliver these contracts?”

A.   “This has been evaluated as part of the bidding process and each provider has been required to produce a contracted mobilisation plan. .  The successful bidders have identified over 150 staff who will work on all aspects of the work.  They also have mature working relationships with sub-contractors and local supply chains”

Coverage:

How much

Q. “How many new properties will these new contracts provide connections to?”

A.   “In total, the new contracts will deliver connectivity to an additional 56,396 premises that currently do not have access to a connection of 30Mbs or higher.”

Comparison to previous contract

Q. “How does this compare to the previous contracts?”

A.  “This figure represents an increase of around 20% over those contracts”

Where – generally

Q. “How is this coverage distributed across the CDS region?”

A.  “The coverage is relatively evenly distributed across the 6 lot areas. Broadly speaking, each District Council area will benefit from between 7% – 12% increase in of the new coverage.”

Where – specifically

Q. “Will my property be covered?”

A.  “Whilst bidders indicated which premises their bid would cover, these will all remain subject to survey and planning, and further change can still occur during the build stages. Confirmation of the intended coverage at a premises level will form part of the mobilisation stages for all six contracts, and we would expect this to be published within the first few months of 2021”

Timescales:

How long to deliver the contracts

Q. “How long will it take to deliver all of these new connections?”

A.  “Work will commence at the beginning of 2021, with all contracts due to complete in 2024”

When will delivery happen to individual communities

Q. “When will different parts of the region be covered?”

A.  “Each bidder has provided a delivery plan for each lot that they are covering.  During the first quarter of 2021 these plans will be finalised, allowing us to communicate when communities can expect to be surveyed, when build will start in their area and when they might expect to be able to order a service.  Whilst any engineering project can suffer delays beyond the control of contractors, we are expecting our new delivery partners to provide forecasts to communities by quarters and to update both the CDS team and communities on that basis”

Detail

Q. “When will I know whether my property will be covered and, if so, when?”

A.  “We would expect to be able to provide answers to both parts of this question in the first few months of 2021”

Technology:

What technologies

Q. “Will this new coverage all be fibre or will wireless be used?”

A.   “All 6 contracts will be delivered using Fibre to the Premise”

Clarification of terms

Q. “What is ‘gigabit capable’?”

A.   “Gigabit technology means network technology that is capable of sustaining synchronous speeds of 1000 Mbs (i.e. upload and download0.  In the main, this will be a variant of Fibre to the Premise / Fibre to the Home although can, on occasions, be a wireless technology).”

Remaining premises:

Overall coverage

Q.  “At the end of these contracts how many premises in the CDS region will have access to superfast?”

A.    “1,058,451 premises will have access to connections at speeds of 30 Mbs or higher”

Q.  “What does this represent in % terms?”

A.  “This will represent 96.18% of the 1,100, 495 premises in the CDS region”

Premises not covered by these contracts

Q.  “At the end of these contracts how many premises in the CDS region will not have access to superfast?”

A.  “42,044 premises will yet to have access to connections at speeds of 30 Mbs or higher””

Q.  “What does this represent in % terms?”

A.  “This will represent 3.82% of the 1,100, 495 premises in the CDS region”

Options

Q. “What can I do if I or my community are not covered?”

A.   “There are three main ways in which additional coverage will be achieved in the CDS region, alongside the new contracts;  Firstly, the government’s Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme provides funding for communities to commission their own solutions.  CDS is already supporting an increasing number of communities who have chosen to go down this route and are happy to provide support and advice on whether this is a viable approach for your community (please contact us on [email protected] for more information).  Secondly, the UK Fibre Programme (sometimes known variously as the Outside In programme or F20) will launch early in 2021.  This scheme is the prime vehicle which government will be using to deliver on its target of full fibre nationwide.  Finally, an increasing number of providers are announcing expanded commercial coverage across the CDS region.”

Next steps:

Next Steps

Q. “What happens next?”

A.  “All 3 new providers submitted a Mobilisation Plan as part of their bid submission.  These will be enacted from the beginning of 2021, in partnership with the CDS team, and during the first quarter of the year.  At the end of this period, CDS will be able to provide information on Where and When the new contracts will deliver.”

Communications

Q. “How can I stay informed as things develop?”

A.  “Keep checking this website, sign-up for our newsletter HERE, look out for information from your Parish Council or contact us using our query form HERE


COVID-19 Info

Whilst measures to contain COVID-19 continue to evolve, CDS will attempt to maintain a Business As Usual approach, though there may be some unavoidable impact on our ability to respond to queries.