Details of the plan to achieve a transformation in broadband in the UK by 2015.
This guidance covers plans to continue to improve the UK’s broadband network, with particular emphasis on making high-speed broadband available in rural communities. For more information on broadband in the UK, read our broadband policy.
This guide contains information on funding for local authorities, including links to factsheets on raising finance, and details of the delivery and procurement framework set up by the lead organisation, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a team within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It also explains state aid clearance requirements under the umbrella clearance scheme, and provides contact details for the scheme.
BDUK is responsible for managing the Rural Broadband Programme, whereas local authorities and the devolved administrations are responsible for individual projects, as set out in BDUK’s delivery model. Our ambition through the current programme is to provide superfast broadband to at least 90% of premises in the UK and to provide universal access to standard broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps.
To help local authorities enter into delivery contracts with suppliers, BDUK has put in place a framework delivery contract. Local authorities can run mini-competitions from the framework to select a specific supplier to deliver broadband services for a local project. The Superfast Extension Programme will seek to further extend coverage to 95% of the UK.
Local broadband projects
Local authorities at county and unitary level in England have the responsibility for taking forward projects to deliver improved broadband in their areas under the government’s rural broadband programme, with each area’s programme set out in a local broadband plan. The devolved administrations are taking the lead in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
BDUK has developed a broadband delivery framework for use by the local authorities. The framework contract was signed by DCMS and the suppliers BT and Fujitsu on 29 June 2012.
As part of the broadband framework agreement, local authorities must take account of the European Commission’s state aid and competition regulations. BDUK received approval for its umbrella state aid notification for all local broadband contracts from the Commission on 20 November 2012, BDUK can give State aid clearance to individual projects under the terms of this approval, provided they meet necessary conditions.
The benefits of framework contracts are that:
- suppliers needed to only bid once to be selected for the framework agreement rather than face multiple procurements
- the process ensures more uniform private sector solutions while still enabling local requirements to be met through the individual call-off contracts
- the procurement process for the framework was undertaken through a competitive process which ensures that individual call-off contracts are capable of delivering value for money
DCMS published the indicative funding allocations for all local broadband areas in England and the devolved administrations in 2011. These allowed local authorities to gauge the scale of broadband infrastructure support and the investment gap required to support the upgrade of infrastructure in their areas.
|Allocations by country||Modelled number of premises in white areas (locations eligible for public subsidy under EU state aid guidelines|
|England total: £294.8 million||6,603,443|
|Scotland: £100.8 million||1,392,322|
|Wales: £56.9 million||899,867|
|Northern Ireland: £4.4 million||99,340|
The funding allocations were based on an assessment of the number of premises in each area without a reasonable broadband service and the costs of a suitable solution. BDUK does not use a per-household figure because costs vary to reach each household.
BDUK also took into account existing levels of public and private sector investment. Government funding needed to be matched by local funding, to make investment attractive to the private sector. Funding could come from local authorities’ own resources, European or other sources and was only available for projects where a local authority commences a procurement that is approved by BDUK.
Local authorities must take account of the European Commission’s state aid and competition regulations.
All of the local broadband projects under the rural broadband programme are subsidised to varying extents by funding from DCMS, as well as other UK and potentially EU public sources. In almost all cases the funding for these local broadband projects will give rise to state aid. Before these projects can be implemented and broadband rolled out state aid clearance must be confirmed.
We decided, with encouragement from the European Commission, to put in place an umbrella scheme for the benefit of all local broadband projects and have received state aid clearance.
Local bodies can apply to BDUK directly for confirmation that their local broadband projects comply with the terms of the umbrella scheme and are therefore state aid compliant. BDUK has provided guidance on this process for local bodies which can be found below. Should local bodies wish to apply for state aid approval under the National Broadband Scheme they should use the State Aid email link, also below. A timetable of this process, including the work to be undertaken by local bodies prior to seeking approval from BDUK, is also available.
An important part of the operation of the umbrella scheme is transparency of the scheme itself, projects funded under it, and the rules to which local bodies and successful suppliers will be subject.
BDUK intends to publish relevant information for local bodies and suppliers via this website, to help those bidding to deliver local broadband projects and those looking to access the new infrastructure once rolled out.
If you have any questions about the umbrella aid scheme, which is known as the National Broadband Scheme for the UK, please contact us: email@example.com.