Phase 3 - Procurement
Suffolk commenced market engagement and warming in March 2019, and held an initial series of ‘Bidder Information Days’ with interested bidders in March and April 2019. In May 2019, Suffolk issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) for the Suffolk Phase 3 procurement, together with our outline requirements in the form of a Market Engagement Strategy document and online survey to enable feedback from potential bidders to be taken into account in the design of the scheme and to understand the capacity and capability of the market.
Suffolk has also considered the ability of the private sector to deliver the project, available resources, and its own capacity and capability to develop its approach to intervention. It has decided that the project will use an investment gap funding approach to procure an infrastructure provider.
The procurement will be carried out in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and EU Public Procurement Directives. The tender is most likely to utilise the Open Procedure and will be conducted in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner, as required by the 2016 NBS.
The procurement will be designed to meet the specific requirements of the 2016 NBS, which recognises the need to optimise the number and quality of bidders, in particular by reducing the hurdles to participation in procurements by smaller suppliers and encouraging collaboration between larger and smaller operators so that a range of appropriate solutions can be brought forward. This was also a key objective of the market engagement exercise. When the procurement is launched, the NGA white areas are likely to be sub-divided into a number of lots or areas to promote this. However, Suffolk does not discount the possibility that some or all of these lots may be aggregated if this represents the most economically advantageous approach to meeting the requirements set out in its Invitation to Tender.
Suffolk’s priority will be to ensure that the available public funding is used most effectively by ensuring coverage of premises currently getting relatively slow broadband speeds (<24Mbps or <15Mbps). However, areas with higher speeds may be targeted, subject to the need to provide a ‘step change’ in broadband capability (as outlined above). In addition, Suffolk is seeking to target certain NGA white areas to provide ultra-fast broadband capability with speeds well above 100Mbps and it should be noted that the areas to be targeted with ultra-fast broadband are most likely to be areas with a higher concentration of SMEs and businesses.
Suffolk intends to re-invest gainshare from its existing broadband contracts, £1.725m of funding from the DEFRA Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), and other sources of funding currently being secured.
In total public funding of up to £15m may be committed via the forthcoming procurement.
Once the Phase 3 State Aid Public Consultation is closed and Suffolk has finalised the intervention areas, an Invitation to Tender (ITT) will be issued via Suffolk County Council’s procurement portal to suppliers to bid for the opportunity to deliver extended NGA broadband coverage during July 2019. The intention is to award a contract before the end of 2019. The related extended deployment plans for broadband infrastructure should begin during 2020.
SCC wishes to undertake Market Engagement with suitably qualified and technically capable suppliers in relation to Phase 3. Please complete the online survey below by 28th June 2019 to participate in the Market Engagement process.
SCC may undertake further market engagement after the results of the survey have been considered.
Documents and links:
Market Engagement Strategy document (PDF - 436KB)