Broadband maps are just eye candy
It is good that more counties are following Northamptonshire’s example and publishing the maps of the areas they expect to cover using taxpayers’ money from the £1.2bn NGA fund.
However, there is growing doubt over whether they are more than just coloured eye candy.
Take these caveats from the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Connected Counties web site:
The maps are indicative and should not be relied on or otherwise treated as a guarantee of current or future provision.
There are a number of things to be aware of when interpreting the maps:
It is not necessarily the case that all premises within an upgraded area will receive an increased speed – different premises within that area may be served by different infrastructure
Although an area may be served by upgraded infrastructure, the distance to this infrastructure from any particular premises in that area may mean that speeds for those premises are below ‘superfast’ levels of 24Mbps (download).
The modelling which informed the maps is based on a number of assumptions which may change following a detailed, on the ground assessment of local conditions. Throughout the phased rollout programme, Openreach engineers will be deployed to undertake local surveys. This may result in changes to the programme rollout plan dependent on the findings.
The BT press release that announced its contract said Bucks and Herts “will see fibre broadband becoming available to more than 90 per cent of premises … by the end of March 2016.” The caveats mean that the councils will hand BT £18m for some faster broadband somewhere some time.
BT knows exactly how much the counties have to spend, so it can work exactly what it can afford to put into the ground for a given profit that is known only to it.
These caveats exempt BT from doing more for less, as the rest of the country is being asked to do.
Further, the councils can’t ask other suppliers to make good what BT leaves undone, unless they give BT first refusal.