The good news

Local Authorities have been waiting for some time to get behind the government’s £5b gigabit rollout and understand how they fit within the new Outside In programme. The good news is that the requirements of Local Authorities appear to becoming clearer – and the scope of Local Authority input appears to be somewhat wider than expected.

According to Central Government and industry the key ingredients for the success of Outside-In are:

  1. Industry capacity – Operator presence, healthy supplier base, willingness and availability of private sector funding.
  2. Local intelligence – readiness, support and a clear picture of local priorities.
  3. Establishing accurate data – all data reflects local realities.

On the ground

From our work with Local Authorities, we are now seeing that they can be expected to contribute to these key ingredients in a number of significant ways:

  • Industry capacity:
    • Delivery capacity: Establishing a clear position on commercial build impacting on coverage in your area.
    • Operator and supply chain presence, and expectations. Such as civil and fibre deployment companies ready to establish.
    • Stimulating smaller operators (altnets) activity and investment.
  • Local intelligence:
    • Details of all intervention legacy – all publicly funded projects and ongoing and pipeline schemes impacting on gigabit coverage.
    • Identification of opportunities for Hub-Voucher schemes, and how best to use the Type A and B procurements.
    • Local priorities for interventions.
    • Local capability to support the wider programme – BDUK intervention, commercial activity and local-led schemes.
    • Having barrier busting plans in place.
    • Clear plans for communications and stakeholder engagement.
  • Accurate data:
    • Ensure that all premises and types are included in the build dataset.
    • Flagging all premises not impacted by any build or plans to build.
    • Knowing your Ofcom Area 3 premises, and other key categories.
    • Using strategic, priority and social value markers to ensure the right premises are targeted.

It is also in Local Authorities’ interests to position themselves for early Outside In interventions. Those that are early in the programme’s procurement will gain the most benefit with earlier access to the socio-economic benefits of Gigabit full fibre networks.

Operators and investors are already making plans for Outside In and their own commercial investments.  As well as preparing for engagement in the programme Local  Authorities would do well to engage with the market to ensure that their areas are visible and attractive for network operators to invest and should consider:

  • Re-engaging with the market especially new entrant operators and investors;
  • Targeting Gigabit vouchers to encourage commercial investment;
  • Using Gainshare funds to create voucher top up schemes to incentivise gigabit infrastructure; and
  • Advising operators on local priorities, areas of high demand and development plans.

Positioning is key

It is of course critical that Local Authorities are positioned in order to respond in a comprehensive manner as this will not only optimise the benefits of Outside-In, but it will also provide Local Authorities with a clear picture of how additional initiatives and interventions can be blended to promote truly World class, and ubiquitous, connectivity across their geography.

The problem that we encounter with some Local Authorities – which is actually common to both the private and public sector – is a lack of capacity and/or skills gaps. This is where we can help.

We have a wealth of experience in working with publicly funded infrastructure programmes having supported public sector clients and network operators across the UK.

Navin Sankersingh specialises in advising Local Authorities on digital infrastructure and connectivity projects across a range of intervention types. He is currently leading a multi-disciplinary team which is helping Local Authorities to deliver on their Outside-In commitments and realise their wider digital ambitions.

Please do get in touch if you feel that we could help you.

About the author

Navin Sankersingh is a consultant in the public sector where he’s helped secure funding, build procurements and deliver contracts in digital connectivity; helping thousands of rural homes access high speed broadband. He has led on Building Digital UK (BDUK) projects in Milton Keynes, Essex, Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire and Cheshire, where he helped secure over £100m in public procurement routes and state aid compliance awards for network providers. His work has also focused on helping local authorities open up access to assets, networks and gain better use of streetworks and wayleaves, making deployment easier.

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