Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wholesale provisions in public broadband procurements

It's interesting to note that a number of recent and current broadband procurements include provisions for wholesale broadband access, often combining public sector broadband requirements as well. The information in this post was sourced from tender notices published in the European Union's Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) database, which is is publicly available.

This from Cheshire:
"Cheshire and Warrington SuperFast Broadband:…provision of Superfast Broadband Services to all businesses by and households by 2015…Superfast Broadband infrastructure provisioned will be future proof in terms of capacity and speed and be able to exceed both national as well as European targets. Superfast Broadband Services should offer parity in quality, cost for rural and urban areas. It is expected that the offer of access to wholesale services on the Superfast Broadband infrastructure be made to other operators in an open, transparent and non-discriminatory manner...The strategic partner(s) should consider how Superfast Broadband services could support public bodies in the region that currently operate over 1,000 Public Sector sites with disparate ICT network connectivity in line with the government agenda is to create PSNs (public sector networks) to support converged, fast, secure and reliable communications to lower the cost of public service delivery.”
From Cumbria:
"Provision of Strategic ICT Services in Cumbria: Lot 1: ICT services excluding wide area networks; Lot 2: wide area networks and superfast broadband...provision of both a wholesale superfast broadband network and provision of public sector enterprise network(s)...Lot 2 includes two distinct requirements, which the Authority may seek to procure under two separate contractual arrangements with the Contractor to reflect the different requirements:
i) The provision of a wholesale broadband network;
ii) A managed enterprise network service for the Authority and its Partners.
The wholesale broadband network will be partly funded by the Broadband Development UK (BDUK) programme of work, and is therefore subject to state aid notification requirements which include the requirement for the Contractor to offer wholesale services to other retail service providers on a transparent and non-discriminatory basis for at least 7 years…the Contractor will either have a retail capability, or will partner with retailer businesses...The design, build, operation, maintenance and upgrading of a wholesale broadband network to provide wholesale service that a retail service provider might provide to business and residential consumers, including public sector organisations…the Contractor will also provide network connectivity and ancillary services to the Authority’s enterprise managed ICT service described in Lot 1 (e.g. wide area network services between the Authority’s premises including but not limited to offices, schools, libraries and other Authority premises, and potentially those of Partner organisations including - but not limited to- Police, Health Authority facilities such as hospitals and clinics, fire and rescue service locations).”
 Devon & Somerset:
"Rural broadband project: Lot 1: RDPE funded areas (delivery of fast broadband to 4 rural areas as detailed within the ITT); Lot 2: DCC funded areas (delivery of fast broadband to 2 rural areas as detailed within the ITT)...Devon County Council is…seeking to enable access to the additional capacity, technical capability and geographical coverage that exists in the current physical network infrastructure, without the need to replicate a new network across the county. Somerset County Council has also indicated that its public service network supplier is willing to engage in discussions regarding open access to ducts and poles as part of the "rural broadband project" solution...The primary objective is to provide NGA compatible broadband connectivity to communities within specific geographical areas. Each area is defined by its rurality, some level of economic deprivation, current poor broadband connectivity but relatively high levels of business activity.”
"Lancashire Superfast Broadband Project: The partner will own the superfast broadband network and in doing so will have responsibility for maintaining and upgrading the superfast broadband network, ensuring a sustainable arrangement. The partner will be required to ensure open, equitable and transparent access to the superfast broadband network...The superfast broadband network will be required to be open to all service and communications providers...It is anticipated that the superfast broadband network will be completed within 2.5 to 3 years from the commencement of deployment followed by a minimum operating period of at least seven years during which period of time the Partner will be required to offer wholesale services and access to other operators in an open, transparent and non-discriminatory manner...The proposed contract period assumes a design and construction period of 2.5 to 3 years, followed by an operational period of 7 to 10 years. There will be an option to extend the contract up to a maximum of a further 5 years.”
"Digital Rutland: co-funding and provision of next generation broadband and end user services in the County of Rutland: The intention is to deploy technology neutral next generation broadband infrastructure so as to maximise broadband reach in the county, addressing the issues of "white spots" and areas that market providers will not penetrate on a commercial basis in the near future…Operation of an open provider model leading to a range of communication providers in the market place for both wholesale and retail markets…Increased demand and consumer choice in communication providers leading to competition for ISP provision and cheaper applications and services.”
"UK-East Midlands Public Sector Network Framework procurement of PSN compliant Broadband a)Infrastructure and b) Services: Expressions of interest are invited to develop and deliver an East Midlands PSN compliant a) Infrastructure and b) services, for the period of a) Infrastructure 7 years plus options to extend by 3 years to 10 years, November 2011 to November 2021 to allow for return on investment required to ensure the coverage of the required quality and reach, and, b) Services 4 years November 2011 to November 2015. It is anticipated that suppliers would ,where appropriate, build upon the existing infrastructure and services investment made by the emPSN partners and customers in meeting the varying needs of the public sector and their partners in the East Midlands, and nationally. It is anticipated that any new infrastructure will facilitate the deployment of broadband in the surrounding area, for example by integrating digital hubs into the solution design. This might include the design and provision of community hub infrastructure to enable community broadband provision, along with provision of wholesale data transport products from these hubs. The contract must also ensure that the use of this new infrastructure is compliant with State Aid guidelines for the provision of next generation networks, including ensuring wholesale access and the monitoring and claw-back of super-profit where the network is used for this purpose...The following contracting authorities shall be able to use the contract: Education sites, including schools, tertiary sector and lifelong learning; Local Authority sites, other unitary authorities and the wider public sector; third sector and Institutions of higher education and colleges of further education in the region, and other sites within the East Midlands and nationally to meet the needs of those public-sector organisations which have business needs within the region.”
Do such wholesale provisions potentially offer a mechanism for community networks to plug into a wider local authority or regional infrastructure? For example to purchase backhaul provision?


  1. I don't think so. I don't think the incumbents will let it happen. They will provide cabinets, BET and satellite and rely on those to satisfy government. Its all a con.

  2. The devil will be in the detail, as always.

    Wholesale services could allow local SME ISPs or community networks to provide retail services, if they can qualify as a wholesaler.

    It'll be the State Aid rules driving the Wholesale requirement. The market failure in NGA isn't present in the backhaul market AFAIK (leased lines etc) so the provision may not apply to providing leased line type services wholesale or retail.

    The embc tender mentions access to the Third Sector, which arguably includes community network social enterprises.

  3. I read the wholesale part as enabling ISPs like Sky and TalkTalk to sign up customers.

    Nothing about 'satisfying government'.