The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council’s superfast broadband programme ‘Superfast Berkshire’ will be delivered behind schedule due to a ‘lack of engineering capacity in the broadband industry’ and  ‘the rapid expansion of commitments on the relative newcomer Gigaclear’ – the company in charge of providing the service.

The Superfast Berkshire programme was initiated in 2013 using state aid assistance to give properties in even the most rural areas of Berkshire access to superfast broadband.

Gigaclear had initially scheduled phase two of the programme for completion by October 2017, but is now forecast for May 2019, some 20 months behind schedule, with 1,530 of 16,011 premises still awaiting their fibre broadband connections.

Phase three of their delivery was scheduled for completion by September 2019, but is now forecast for December 2019, 3 months behind schedule, while BT’s phase three delivery is now forecast for December 2019, 12 months behind schedule.

Cllr MJ Saunders, lead member for finance and economic development at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead said: “We are disappointed that these two major suppliers are now unable to meet the timelines initially promised to us when we signed the contracts for phase three of the Superfast Berkshire project, which would have seen over 98% of the Royal Borough being provided with superfast broadband by the end of the year.

“We are now working with both suppliers to reduce any further delay to ensure all our residents have the access they deserve to superfast broadband as soon as possible.”

In addition to the delays, some quality issues have also been experienced with some of the engineering works already completed by Gigaclear during their phase two rollout, which RBWM expect will take at least 18 months to sort out from the start of work in November 2018.

RBWM have stated that this will be a separate programme and should not slow down the rollout of remaining phase 2 broadband connections nor affect those customers whose connections are already live on Gigaclear’s network.

Mike Surrey, Chief Executive at Gigaclear plc said: “Gigaclear apologises for delays encountered with these deliveries, we are confident that under new ownership and with a new management team in place we will work with the Superfast Berkshire team to complete these projects without further operational delays.”

The council insists that any extra programme costs associated with this late delivery and other remedial works will be borne by the contractors and will not come from public funds.