Northumberland County Council saved 30% on its rural fibre broadband network by working closely with our industry experts.

The requirement

Northumberland County Council, acting on behalf of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, was awarded funding for a local full fibre network (LFFN) project by Building Digital UK (BDUK). A key outcome of the project was to provide gigabit capable fibre broadband to approximately 270 public sector buildings and sites in Northumberland.

North of Tyne Combined Authority submitted their business case to BDUK – part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – who helped them further refine it. The outcome was a project to deliver a solution that was both compliant with the key commercial principles of the grant and met the fibre build timeline. The contract needed to be awarded by 31 March 2020.

The solution

Our Gigabit Capable Connectivity Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) was established in partnership with BDUK in late 2019. It offers standard terms for gigabit communication infrastructure and a rapid, compliant, flexible route to market.

We worked closely with Northumberland County Council to support their procurement activity by becoming an extension of their project team. Throughout the project we provided procurement support and technical advice through category team lead, Tim Orton. Phil Hodgson from our regional customer experience team delivered local on the ground project support. 

We also worked closely with BDUK to ensure effective commercial assurance and delivery of the DCMS/BDUK grant funding agreement.

As the DPS was relatively new at the start of the project, we actively promoted it to potential new suppliers with regional capability, providing assistance as they navigated the onboarding process. This approach ensured the right supplier mix was available. Dominique Volante from the sourcing team attended a market engagement day to advise local and national suppliers how to join the DPS and gave follow-on support throughout the application process.

The results

BT Enterprise was awarded a contract for £8.2 million for a fixed price commitment, within the required timescale. The collaborative project led to a successful outcome in just 3 months, achieving £3.8 million of savings against the original estimated cost of £12 million – a 30% saving. 

Public sector sites across Northumberland can now look forward to a better connected experience, opening the door to transformation of the way services are delivered. Additionally, the increase of fibre infrastructure means more rural areas are being reached, making it easier for suppliers to offer fibre broadband services to the wider community. This creates a more inclusive community and increases the potential for economic growth. 

Paul Armstrong, Chief Digital Officer at North of Tyne Combined Authority, said:

“The Gigabit Capable Connectivity DPS provided us with a fast and effective route to market allowing us to achieve a successful award for our very complex requirements in 2 months. The flexibility allowed us to open this opportunity to a wider range of suppliers who could easily join at any point and bid for this work whilst maintaining a standard set of terms and conditions which ensured best value. We received fantastic support from Phil, Tim, Dominique and the team throughout the process and have since used the DPS for other connectivity procurements and will continue to do so in the future to further widen the reach of fibre connectivity throughout our region.”

Justin Leese, Programme Director, The UK Fibre Programme, BDUK, added:

“The Gigabit Capable Connectivity DPS has now proved an effective procurement portal for delivery of fibre infrastructure (both dark fibre and lit services) to standard terms to a fixed price, providing the contract certainty and safeguards required. I am further reassured that North of Tyne Combined Authority continues to use this DPS portal and capability for fibre build using their own funding to increase gigabit capable infrastructure.

The DPS now has 30 suppliers (August 2020) registered and I look forward to seeing more suppliers competing in these procurements as the public sector pipeline develops. Creating a competitive market for regional fibre build of public sector hub sites, whilst ensuring timely delivery and value for money, is key to the delivery of our DCMS strategy.”

The DPS establishes standard terms that favour the customer and align with DCMS commercial requirements. This award in Northumberland confirmed that the market is prepared to accept these terms. These include the option for suppliers to bid either a fixed price or a price subject to survey. On this occasion the market decided to accept the risks associated with survey outcomes and chose to bid a firm price. This represents a substantial change in supplier behaviour which benefits all parties. This ensured all deployment risk is managed by the supplier with no ‘subject to survey’ clause. 

Help keep your communities connected

Make smart buying decisions for the supply of gigabit capable network services with our Gigabit Capable Connectivity DPS (RM6095).

To learn how the DPS can support your initiative, view the web page or complete our online form and our team of commercial experts will be in touch.