BT changes cut off Welsh ISPs from ABC grants
Changes in the status of BT exchanges that coincided with the launch of the Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) programme may stop BT’s competitors from accessing grant money of up to £1000 per home.
Stakeholders are meeting the WAG today in Cardiff to discuss the ABC, Richard Brown of Wispa reports. “Basically, it’s a ra-ra session for the scheme and an attempt to keep the smaller ISPs onside whilst BT solves the problems of Wales en route to delivering 95%+ superfast coverage,” he says.
The ABC scheme, which kicked off on 1 October, contributes up to £1000 per premises to home owners and SMEs who may miss out on the £425m joint WAG-BT Superfast Cymru programme or where its roll-out has not yet started.
It appears that, just as ABC went live, BT changed all the UE (under evaluation) exchanges to FE (future exchanges). “Under ABC, FE exchanges do not qualify for grant… two days ago those exchanges did qualify,” Brown says.
The timing looks suspicious when one looks at the map. Brown points out the dotted line on the map is the border between Wales and England.
“All the ones on the Welsh side now mysteriously don’t qualify for support from the Welsh government. This is simply an extension of BT announcing that they are ‘coming soon’ when a small ISP announces an installation in an area – much like they tried to do to B4RN,” Brown says.
“This is a nonsense. Someone – anyone – but someone, has to start taking this seriously.
- BT is being paid handsomely to promise to deliver.
- The contracts are secret.
- The delivery mechanisms and roll-out plans are secret.
- No one is allowed to scrutinise anything – but we all have to shut up and suck up the BT goodness…”
Brown earlier started a satirical website, SuperFarce Cymru, that mocked the WAG’s programme and earned him letters from BT’s lawyers that alleged he used copyright material without permission. It’s still there.
BDUK is holding a similar talk-fest on Monday 7 October to find out what plans would-be altnets have to provide the Final 10% with next generation broadband connections.
Not for the first time BDUK is unable or unwilling to provide videoconferencing, or even a webcast and phone-in facility. This would save hard-up farmers, country pub owners and wanna-be altnet operators a long trip to London to attend and exploit the benefits of superfast broadband at the same time.
For an invitation email Andy Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 020 7211 6043. While you’re at it, ask him to webcast the meeting.