Posts Tagged ‘Ofcom’
BT Openreach’s delivery and repair of Ethernet connections continues to deteriorate, the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA2) reports.
Br0kenTeleph0ne reported earlier that Openreach had suspended a new Ethernet ordering system, Ethernet Access Direct (EAD), on 15 September after communications providers (CPs) had found it didn’t work. EAD is meant to process orders for sub-1Gbps Ethernet connections.
The OTA2 described this as “a disappointing set-back for the Ethernet community”, adding “Given the strategic importance attached to this key development, and the need to ‘get it right’, the decision by Openreach to ‘suspend’ whilst a fundamental re-assessment is undertaken is a decision which is welcomed by the CP community.”
BT said CPs could still place orders through the legacy system that EAD is meant to replace.
In its April report just out, the OTA2 said, “We are still awaiting sight of the plan for restarting the (EAD) programme and CPs are expressing concern that the time taken to get to a clear set of strategic goals for the system and for Openreach to share their thoughts on how any new model will work.”
OTA2 went on to say, “The Ethernet products are experiencing a deteriorating performance – there are problems with the delays in planning and the CPs are reporting increasing frustration with the responsiveness of Openreach in any direct communication (job controller answer times have increased significantly) and the jeopardy and escalation processes don’t seem to be as efficient as needed.”
Problems with Ethernet ordering may also affect perceptions that Openreach ignores the needs of business customers. OTA2 said that during summer (2012) a number of CPs complained to Ofcom that “Openreach was not addressing the needs of business-focused CPs and their customers, leading to unacceptable levels of service for this group of CPs.”
CPs and Openreach started to review possible improvements for copper-based products (WLR, ISDN, MPF and SMPF). “Good progress has been made against the Q1 objectives and those for Q2 agreed,” OTA2 said. “A suite of Business KPIs has been developed, which have identified some key variances with industry as a whole, which are now being collaboratively analysed for root cause and to develop appropriate service improvements.”
In other news OTA2 reported that there were 9.02 million unbundled lines, 6.15 million WLR lines and 2.15 million numbers using CPS.
Credible evidence that BT is charging more than double what it should for wholesale superfast broadband products has probably prompted national regulator Ofcom to investigate a complaint that BT is conducting an illegal margin squeeze.
The evidence is contained in a confidential report commissioned by TalkTalk, currently the biggest user of BT’s local loop unbundling (LLU) products, which made the complaint.
Ofcom presently does not regulate BT infrastructure provider Openreach’s pricing for SFBB fibre products believing to do so would discourage BT’s claimed £2.5bn investment in fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). Openreach’s prices are generally meant to be very close to its costs, especially where it has ‘significant market power’, in this case, outside the Virgin Media Docsis footprint.
The 59 page report found that Openreach’s costs to build its FTTC network are £4.39 per line per month. BT Openreach charges resellers £7.40 or £9.95 depending on the bandwidth provided. Current prices for BT’s Infinity FTTC services start at £13/month and go up to £26/month. BT Retail offers discounted prices of £6.50 and £20 per month respectively for the first three months.
The report, by German telecommunications analysts Wik Consult, is a sequel to its 2012 report to ECTA, the association of European challenger carriers, that found incumbent operators price LLU access so high as to leave no money for LLU carriers to profit or invest in network upgrades or expansion. It showed that LLU had been a failure in Europe, allowing incumbent operators to retain almost 100% of the market.
“At the prices charged for copper, all the cash flows have gone to the incumbent, and entrants have been persistently cashflow negative,” Wik reported, adding the same might become true for access to fibre-based products unless regulators stopped it.
For its report to TalkTalk, Wik modelled Openreach’s costs based on publicly available information. It found the main factors that affect its costs are penetration (take-up of GEA on the FTTC platform), the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) including any risk premium applied to NGA, the extent to which existing ducts can be reused for the installation of fibre between the street cabinet and local exchange, the depreciation method and asset lifetimes.
It checked the results produced by its base model and sensitivity tests against BT’s own statements and evidence from more developed markets in Europe. The checks suggest Wik’s assumptions and conclusions are conservative.
In particular, it suggests that 65% of non-Virgin Media SFBB subscribers will take up an service provided using Openreach infrastructure. Active electronics had a life span of eight years, cabinets and fibre 20 years each, and ducts 40 years, it said.
Almost two years ago Kevin McNulty, Openreach’s general manager for next generation access commercial partners, told Br0kenTeleph0n3 BT’s NGA financial plan was based on a break-even period of 10 to 12 years and a 20% take-up.
For the record, Ofcom announced on 1 May that it would investigate a complaint from TalkTalk Group that alleged BT has been conducting an illegal “margin squeeze” on wholesale access to Generic Ethernet Access (GEA), BT’s FTTC product.
Ofcom said the complaint alleged abuse of “a dominant position in breach of (regulations) in relation to the supply of superfast broadband (‘SFBB’). Specifically, (TalkTalk) alleges that BT has failed to maintain a sufficient margin between its upstream costs and downstream prices, thereby operating an abusive margin squeeze.”
Ofcom said it could investigate such allegations if it had “reasonable grounds” for suspecting a breach.
TalkTalk said in a statement, “We have long maintained that there needs to be tighter regulation in superfast broadband to ensure a level playing field and therefore deliver real benefits for consumers and businesses. We are pleased that Ofcom is taking this matter seriously and have decided there is reasonable suspicion to investigate BT’s fibre pricing.”
BT said it was “disappointed” by Ofcom’s decision.
Ofcom expects to report its initial findings towards the end of the year. It will decide then whether or not to proceed.
The European Commission faces tough questions over its role and commitment to an open, transparent and competitive market for next generation broadband.
News that the Valuation Office Agency is assessing how it plans to tax wireless broadband infrastructure prompted one Br0kenTeleph0n3 reader to ask the European Commission what it thinks of the move.
Mike Phillips of West Chiltington, West Sussex, has been battling to get high speed broadband into his village for years. He wrote to Neelie Kroes, the commission’s Digital Agenda champion, to question the apparent growing bias against fixed wireless broadband. He also asked Ms Kroes what she thought of Fujitsu’s decision not to bid for BDUK contracts, leaving BT with uncontested access to BDUK’s treasure, when EU state aid rules require a competitive process.
The reply came from DG Connect. It noted that nine firms had expressed an interest in BDUK’s money, but “seven of them withdrew during the selection process due to e.g. financial difficulties, change in strategy or preference for different intervention model than investment gap funding”. Fujitsu’s withdrawal would be “unfortunate”.
DG Connect went on to say that local councils can step outside the BDUK framework but still have access to state aid, including BDUK money. “In such cases the local authorities shall comply with the conditions of openness, transparency and non-discrimination when conducting the tender procedure in line with the principles of the national and EU public procurement rules,” it said.
Phillips is not leaving the matter there. He has written back to DG Connect to ask, “Does the EU agree with the principal of state aid being given to an incumbent telco to provide, at best, an overall maximum of 24Mbps, and often less, whilst an established fixed wireless NGA network is available and can be expanded at far less cost?
“Why has the Commission given the fixed wireless industry in the UK a far greater challenge than that given to BT, namely to provide a minimum of 30Mbps and to revisit served premises to upgrade then to fibre when available? BT have publicly stated they will not undertake the latter and cannot provide the former under FTTC.”
There are other questions one should ask. DG Connect’s reply does not mention the main reason BT is the only recipient of BDUK largesse: the game was rigged. Geo’s Chris Smedley, Vtesse’s Aidan Paul and others have been explicit and public on this: the Ofcom-approved terms and conditions attached to third party access to BT’s poles and ducts in rural areas make it impossible to compete against BT. Why does DG Connect ignore this?
In practice BT has made its NGA proposals to local councils subject to non-disclosure agreements. This has hidden the terms and conditions under which BT could receive up to £1.3bn of taxpayers’ money. Is this what DG Connect means by open and transparent?
Virgin Media was responsible for more than half the rise in the UK’s average broadband speed, Ofcom told Br0kenTeleph0n3 today.
Ofcom senior telecommunications analyst Nick Collins said VM has been doubling the speeds of its customers, and this was mainly responsible for the national average broadband speed rising one-third from 9.oMbps to 12.0Mbps in the six months to December 2012.
Collins said the national average reflected a combination of headline speeds and market share. He said these data were confidential as they contained competitively sensitive information. He confirmed that Ofcom looks at these figures in assessing the national average, but does not publish them.
VM’s acceleration programme will end towards the middle of the year, Collins said. At that point growth in the national average is likely to depend mainly on the take-up rate of BT’s Infinity fibre to the cabinet product, which will dilute VM’s influence on the figure.
In February US cable TV firm Liberty Global agreed to buy VM for around $23.3bn. The deal will create a multinational broadband company that covers 45 million homes and serves 25 million customers. Around 80% of its estimated $17bn sales will come from the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
VM’s skills in mobile telephony and B2B networking were cited as key to the future growth of the group. VM CEO Neil Berkett, who will leave the company, said the combined company will be able to grow faster and more profitably by capitalising on the “exciting opportunities” that the digital revolution presents in the UK and across Europe.
Last week Ofcom proposed to make BT cut its prices by 11% a year for each of the next three years for very high speed wholesale services outside of London and Hull. It believes this will encourage leased line customers, mainly large enterprises and bandwidth resellers, switch to Ethernet as it will allow prices for services based on older technologies to rise modestly to allow BT recover its costs from a declining customer base.
Supporting this proposal was a report from CSMG on qualitative issues around the >1Gbps market. Its main findings about market conditions were unsurprising: BT has significant market power outside London and Hull; most cities on the UK’s ‘figure of 8′ fibre ring are relatively well provided for; the rest of country depends on Openreach, etc etc.
The respondents, 25 end users and five wholesale buyers of >1Gbps services, also volunteered comment off the ‘approved list’ of topics. Full marks to CSMG for including them in its report, and to Ofcom for publishing them even though they must have made uncomfortable reading.
The ‘unspoken’ issues include lead times to provision services, lack of physical route diversity, supply of dark fibre, business rates on lit fibre, and duct access. By and large, the comments suggest that Ofcom has failed to make best use of two of its primary policy tools, namely to encourage investment in network infrastructure and to ensure a competitive market at all levels.
“Numerous” end users told CSMG, “We have major problems with lead times – it can take three months to get a site survey, and a further three months to get installation. The whole process can sometimes take over a year, with major implications for business. There is insufficient competition outside the M25 to drive lead times down.”
Another said, “We find we have to rely on BT Openreach for laying fibre, whoever we are procuring the service from… the [network build-out] process is very slow, and it is hard to get firm dates and prices. It’s holding the business back.”
More than half (56%) were concerned about true physical route diversity, mainly to improve service resilience. CSMG noted this was because carriers are reluctant to share their route data, but one user reported having a clause in its contract that required its provider to reveal updates to its network annually. Another said BT charged a premium, “but at least they can confirm they are using a fully diverse route.”
Opinions on dark fibre were split. Some said it is relatively easily available, others that the market is “immature”. Two heavy users of dark fibre thought market consolidation will see less dark fibre on the market as the remaining carriers could choose to offer only higher margin lit services.
Six of the eight respondents who expressed concern about business rate taxes on lit fibre said they were having to take lit services rather than buy dark fibre, as they would prefer, because of the high rates of tax payable on lit fibre. Two were currently using much more dark fibre than lit, but said they may have to move back to lit services in future because of the high rates, CSMG said.
Two end users wanted more clarity regarding the use of self-managed dark fibre, especially who has to pay the rates on lit fibre. One believed he was exempt because he was using the fibre himself rather than reselling it. However, he was still having to pay an unexpected bill for three years’ rates.
One of the wholesale buyers was keen to build out more of his own fibre, but said the rates payable on lit fibre were damaging the business case.
Three interviewees believed that BT was advantaged by the fibre rates regime. This was unfair on smaller operators and end users who bought dark fibre, they said.
“The very high level of the fibre tax is a major reason why we have to limit the use of high bandwidth fibre services. We feel that the level of fibre tax which BT pays is unfair. We would like to see everyone paying the same rates as BT – or preferably, no tax at all.”
Another said, “The fibre tax is arbitrary and unfair – we do not see why smaller, more agile players should get taxed while more dominant players such as BT are given tax relief.”
A wholesale buyer said, “Costs are currently prohibitive for new entrants to the market, and for existing players looking to expand their network. In particular, the fibre tax is not helping the business case for network build-out, and gives larger players – particularly BT – an unfair tax advantage.”
Vtesse Neworks earlier took the fibre tax issue to the Appeal Court, which ruled two to one against the carrier. Responsibility for the fibre tax lies variously with the Treasury, the department of communities and local government, the Valuation Office Agency and local councils. The incoming coalition government promised to “review” the tax, but as these comments suggest, has failed to level the playing field. Ofcom may be entitled to redress any advantage that might accrue from the allegedly unfair treatment, but has not done so.
Where Ofcom has also done less than it could is in opening up duct access. It did persuade BT to introduce a new product, Physical Infrastructure Access, to allow third parties to use BT ducts and poles. However it also allowed BT to impose terms and conditions such that there has been no large-scale take-up of the product. In fact, these terms and conditions were largely responsible for seven of the nine carriers invited to bid dropping out of the BDUK next generation procurement framework .
CSMG reported, “Four interviewees, including two wholesale buyers, were disappointed at the lack of duct access available in the market, which was preventing them undertaking more widespread build-out.”
As these comments were not within Ofcom’s brief to CSMG, it is unlikely anything will come of them. This leaves us with the actual outcome – the proposed 11% price cut.
One could say it’s better than nothing. However, CSMG found that end users and systems integrators can negotiate discounts, especially where there is competition. Fifteen respondents, including all five wholesale buyers, reported being able to negotiate on price. Three won discounts of around 30% and one got a 50% cut on a dark fibre service, CSMG said.
That makes Ofcom’s proposal look like small beer indeed.
The end game for the traditional telco business model is already in play.
On 12 February the European Commission cut €8bn from its €9.2bn broadband fund. This was money that telcos expected would be coming to them to spend on fibre networks.
The next day, the ITU said, “The move to IP-based communications is irreversible – and the timescales for business models, regulatory frameworks, development cycles and infrastructure investment in the internet world and that of traditional telecommunications may be dangerously out of sync.”
And on Valentine’s Day, at the launch of its software defined network strategy, Huawei’s director of dolution marketing, Dai Libin, said telecoms operators “had to change their genes” if they are to survive. They can no longer afford to provide ever-faster performance if they cannot also reduce costs the way the computer industry has, he said.
That same day saw the official launch of B4RN, the community-funded point to point fibre to the home network in rural Lancashire. B4RN customers get a nominal 1Gbps symmetric service for a £150 connection fee plus £30/month, which you can halve if you want to give up your BT phone line and rely on Skype for voice calls.
In contrast, BT’s up to 330Mbps fibre on demand service, due out in spring, will cost £500 to connect and £38/month, plus a distance-related fee averaging £1,000. And it will be available only in BT’s fibre to the cabinet footprint. And you’ll have to hold on to your £15.45/month phone line.
Some at BT are certainly alive to the threats. Last October BT told ISPs about its new Multiservice Edge (MSE) roll-out that will see more than 500 data centres installed around the country on the “edge” of its network. This is to cope with greater consumer demand for data services, it said.
MSEs will give BT Vision subscribers a better quality experience because it cuts down the distance signals must travel. It will also improve subscribers’ experience of Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and other “over the top” (OTT) services too.
BT is also deeply involved with ETSI’s effort to standardise how certain network functions are virtualised; Don Clarke, BT’s head of network evolution innovation, is the working group’s technical manager, largely because he’s been studying the problem for the past two years.
Virtualising the network means that networks will be programmable. According to the pitch, it will be quicker and cheaper to provide and change services because all the devices in the data centre will be virtual machines and will run on very fast industry standard servers. Provisioning and changes will be done via a dashboard rather than physically patching cables and using command line instructions to install and set them up.
This situation pretty much is at least partly true already for core networks, if only because Cisco so dominates this market that it is effectively the industry standard. But this ETSI network function virtualisation (NFV) initiative is really about increasingly that agility across the entire network, even right into the home.
Clarke says his team wants to finish its initial work within 18 months. Telecom standards can take years or even decades to establish, so this urgency suggests a penny has dropped somewhere.
This software defined networking and/or NFV heralds so many changes in the traditional business models of equipment vendors and telcos that we could be at what the gurus call an inflection point. It is like the meteor that some say wiped out the dinosaurs.
It’s not the only source of change. So many subscribers are giving up their fixed line services for mobiles, or taking up cheaper offers from unbundled local loop operators like Sky and TalkTalk, Ofcom is reportedly toying with the idea that the duopoly enjoyed by BT and Virgin Media should end at the kerb rather than at the wall plug inside your house.
This could make it easier for new fibre network operators like B4RN and Gigaclear to compete with BT and VM (and may be partly why VM was sold to Liberty Global, a US-based European cable TV operator). This is because the home owner could, as they do in Scandinavia, dig his own trench to the kerb and connect to his service provider of choice. This would save the operator a lot of time, hassle and cost, around £100 per household.
There is already a robust public interconnect standard (Active Line Access), so in theory this should not be a problem.
However, BT is the monopoly fixed local access infrastructure provider in two-thirds of geographic UK. The reserved 800MHz mobile licence currently at auction will provide only a 2Mbps indoor connection. So for fibre to the kerb to happen on large scale Ofcom would have to revise the terms of BT’s physical infrastructure access (PIA) product. PIA’s costs, terms and conditions meant that none of the eight other network operators invited to join the BDUK purchasing framework for next generation access in rural areas was able to make money in competition with BT.
We can be sure BT (and other incumbent telcos) will continue to fight for its monopoly while building its replacement network. But will it run out of customers and money before the new network is fit for purpose?
There are material differences between Westminster and Brussels over what will result from the European Commission’s approval of a blanket purchasing agreement for next generation broadband connections in rural UK.
The differences can be summed up thus, in BDUK/Commission order: ‘Superfast’ equals 24/30Mbps; Investment equals £530m/£1.5bn; Universal access equals 90 per cent/100 per cent.
These were the views either side held at the start of the year when BDUK applied for approval. Culture Secretary Maria Miller’s recent visit to Brussels did not resolve them, but it did unblock the cash flow.
According to the Commission, the total value of aid to be delivered by the scheme is around £1.5bn (€1.8bn). “This will most likely enable the UK to achieve the objective of the EU Digital Agenda of coverage of 30 Mbps networks for all European citizens (see IP/10/581 and MEMO/10/199),” it says.
The commission goes on to say the design of the BDUK scheme contains several ‘best practices’ which will help to ensure more effective, better targeted and less distortive public interventions. A national competence centre will advise smaller local authorities. Ofcom will have a “crucial role” in designing wholesale access prices and conditions.
All information related to projects under the scheme (including mapping, public consultation, tenders, aid beneficiaries) will be published on a central website.
“The UK has also committed to submit an evaluation of the scheme to the commission before 31 March 2015 and to ensure that any forthcoming scheme will take this evaluation into account,” it says.
BT can now start extending its £2.5bn fibre to the cabinet network upgrade, firstly into rural Wales and Surrey. Projects in Cumbria, Rutland and Herefordshire and Gloucestershire should follow shortly. Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and Highlands & Islands are busy with their procurements.
This will open up the World Wide Web as a potential marketplace for tens of thousands of small and medium sized businesses, and give them access to a wider choice of suppliers. It will allow them to take advantage of technology such as hosted applications and cloud computing, and improve the speed and efficiency with which they do business. In a nutshell, it should make Britain’s SMEs more competitive at home and abroad, and for that we should be delighted.
But the issue of whether Britain’s future networks should be built of fibre or copper is unresolved; taxpayers may have to cough up sooner than they think for a long term network solution to extend fibre to our homes and offices.
The Economist Intelligence Unit, and to a lesser extent, Huawei, have lent their support to the House of Lords communications committee that excoriated the government’s desire to speed up broadband access to those who already have a decent enough service.
The EIU document pours cold water on government dreams of vaulting the UK into hyperfast growth because some people will be able to download movies at 100Mbps.
It says rather, “In the near term, ensuring pervasive internet access to all parts of society—rural users, the elderly and others—will be at least as beneficial to society as a whole as upgrading to superfast broadband.”
Which is basically what the lords said.
The EIU report was sponsored by Huawei. It is somewhat ironic that Huawei should have paid for this conclusion. It is, after all, one of the main beneficiaries of BT’s £2.5bn commercial roll-out. BT’s plan will see two-thirds of homes get access to up to 80Mbps download speeds via a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure.
Huawei also sponsored the conference, headed by communications minister Ed Vaizey, at which the EIU released the report. It must have made uncomfortable listening for the junior minister.
Vaizey is still battling Brussels, which has so far refused to endorse BDUK’s framework for procuring next generation access networks outside BT’s “commercial footprint”.
With BT and Virgin Media joining forces against Birmingham’s taxpayer-aided Superconnected Cities procurement of a 100Mbps metropolitan area network, there seems hardly an element of the government’s £1.3bn national broadband strategy that is not in trouble.
It will take two to three years to resolve the BT/VM complaint, insiders say. That takes the UK pretty much into the next parliament. That gives BT and VM plenty of time to use their own money to consolidate their positions in urban areas.
VM has no declared interest in expanding its footprint (in case it attracts an Ofcom requirement to provide ‘open access’ to its passive infrastructure), and BT can say today whether a street cabinet is inside or outside its commercial footprint.
Rather than give the BDUK billion back to the Treasury, Vaizey should concentrate on getting next gen broadband to those who need it most – those in the Final Third – before the upcoming elections.
Vaizey and his boss, Maria Miller, should be able to find a way to support the dozens of communities that are battling to get a service that neither BT and VM see as worth doing.
If they are wondering where to start, try the applicants to Defra’s Rural Community Broadband Fund. Not only are they having to meet some very tough financial obligations, but they still have the passion for the job. Perhaps just cutting some red tape, and paying for some technical expertise to avoid ‘island’ networks could produce miracles in the countryside.
Did I mention the upcoming elections?
Ever since BT has been talking publicly about next generation broadband, it has quoted low figures for take-up. Whether it is right to do so, and to base its costing on low penetration, is highly debatable.
The Mike Kiely document, for which BT has not supplied a substantive rebuttal, suggests that BT is working on recovering its costs from a 20% penetration of the population.
In the towns, where it faces competition from Virgin Media, this may be warranted. Its latest financial reports suggest around 10% of homes passed take up a next generation service, but that BT Retail is winning its share of customers. Besides, it is early days; no doubt the £1bn it is spending on sports broadcast rights will help speed take-up.
However, this 20% assumption is likely to be completely wrong in rural and other not-spots, the areas that are eligible for BDUK money. The final report on Project Acccess, the £19m project to put first generation broadband into Cumbria, reports
99.84% of businesses and private citizens in Cumbria and parts of North Lancashire now have access to Broadband
At 30th April 2008, 16,612 businesses had a broadband connection, representing
71.1% of the total number of businesses
This suggests that BT is underestimating by far how many people would sign up to Infinity, and that BT is indeed overestimating how much taxpayers’ money it needs to earn a return from rural NGA deployments.
In many ways Northern Ireland has been the UK’s next generation broadband laboratory. The results to date should worry every county council with a rural constituency.
After spending more than £56m and 18 months rolling out next generation broadband, Northern Ireland (NI) still has the lowest uptake of users in the UK, and there are on-going service problems in rural areas.
Ofcom says rural and urban broadband penetration in NI are both at 69%, the lowest in the UK, despite spending £3.9m on advice to SMEs and 100% broadband connectivity.
In its latest communications market report, published in July, the regulator doesn’t split penetration figures for “superfast”, saying only that 6.6% of all UK broadband connections are superfast. Assuming the NI has an average take-up of superfast, that makes the average cost per connected household to date £1,156.
NI’s business department, DETI, planned to have a contract in place by December 2009 that would see 85% of NI’s businesses having access to next generation broadband. The 2011 census shows that NI has 1,810,900 people, and 703,300 households.
BT won a £48m contract on 3 December 2009 to roll out fixed wire broadband. At the time it said it would spend nearly £30m of its own money to upgrade more than 180 exchanges to provide a 10Mbps download service in urban areas, and 2Mbps in rural areas.
“All of the technologies to be used will be fixed line with fibre being the predominant solution. There are few, if any, parts of the British Isles which will have anywhere near the amount of fibre that is going to be deployed in Northern Ireland, particularly in our rural areas,” ministers said then.
Ministers then claimed the project was complete on 27 July 2011.
BT and Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) press releases show that the project went over budget, despite claims to the contrary (see table below). BT contributed around £32.7m, the NIE £250,000, the NI business department (DETI) £18.3m, and the agriculture department (DARD) £2.5m. This amounts to £76.32 per household, or £29.64 per person. BT has upgraded 167 exchanges and installed 1,265 Infinity-capable street cabinets.
Separately, Project Kelvin, completed November 2010 for around £24m and co-financed with European money, gave NI its own fast link to North America and a better connection to Europe via the Hibernia North Transatlantic cable.
In May this year, posts to the online BTCare community forum revealed problems with BT’s fibre to the home Infinity service in Co Antrim and Down.
“There is a clear trend of full performance in the morning (i.e. downstream speed of 96.7% of your IP Profile + max supported upstream speed) which then deteriorates any time from 9am onwards down to a low of < 1 meg downstream but with full speed upstream. This issue then remains for the rest of the day before returning to full performance after midnight,” said one, and endorsed by another poster. There was no BT response on the message thread.
Five months later, the BBC yesterday reported the problems are ongoing, and more widespread, seemingly affecting all NI rural areas. The broadcaster reported that DETI has commissioned a consultation into the issue.
“There are more than 5,000 postcodes currently on the list of weak broadband coverage, but the irony is that the survey is taking place online,” it said.
Note: The -£1.9m is a balancing figure, mainly for wireless broadband projects.
|Northern Ireland timeline|
|NI Exec release||07/08/08||-1,900,000||-1,900,000|
|NI Exec release||09/02/10||237,000||237,000|
|NI Exec release||19/02/09||3,900,000||3,900,000|
|NI Exec release||19/02/09||108,000||108,000|
|NI Exec release||11/01/10||88,000||88,000|
|NI Exec release||27/09/10||250,000||250,000|
|BT press release DC10-240||07/10/10||29,800,000||16,500,000||1,500,000||47,800,000|
|NI Exec release||11/11/10||46,000||46,000|
|BT press release DC10-318||13/12/10||865,000||250,000||1,115,000|
|NI Exec release||04/07/11||500,000||500,000|
|NI Exec release||08/09/11||2,000,000||1,000,000||1,000,000||4,000,000|
|NI Exec release||20/10/11||215,432||215,432|