Following the broadband money

Cornish in Facebook grumble at BT’s broadband costs

with 33 comments

It’s easier for politicians to attract brickbats than bouquets, and opening up on Facebook is sure to encourage the disaffected to have their say.

Independent Cornish councillor Andrew Wallis revealed recently that some residents are unhappy with the cost of Cornwall’s “superfast” broadband service. Supplied by BT, the service is now available through 52 exchanges, he posted.

“Despite what some may see as positive news for the county, the first five comments the post received (all within half an hour) were negative, with comments aimed almost exclusively at the cost of the service and how unaffordable this is for all but the well-off,” he wrote in a separate post about social media.

Cornwall is poor. Average annual earnings are 18% lower than the UK average (£20,982 vs £25,727 – 2009 figures). Almost 90% of businesses have fewer than 10 employees, and nearly a quarter have annual turnovers of under £50,000. Some 14.4% of workers are self-employed compared to the UK average of 9.1%. The council, with 22,500 staff, is by far the biggest employer.

BT’s “up to” 100Mbps Infinity service is currently £35/month plus line rental from £10.75, or about 3% of average monthly pre-tax income. The price of the entry level service puts it comfortably inside the UN Broadband Commission’s target of less than 5% of monthly income, but is Cornwall a developing nation?

There also appears to be some confusion at the council about what it is getting for the £132m contract it signed with BT.

Replying to Facebooker Sheena Trigg, a council spokesman says, “By the end of 2014, 80% of premises in Cornwall are expected to have access to optical fibre broadband…”

The council’s original statement says only 50% are expected to have access to a 100Mbps fibre to the premises (FTTP) service. So, was the Facebook reply simply an error or has something changed? Has BT suddenly found it possible to fibre-up 30% more premises for no extra money? Or has the council has found more money to chuck at BT?

We await the council’s reply.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2012/04/29 at 18:33

Posted in Broadband, Deals, News, Politics

Tagged with , ,

33 Responses

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  1. What are Sky and TalkTalk costs?


    2012/04/29 at 18:36

    • BT’s prices are the benchmark the industry uses.

      Ian Grant

      2012/04/29 at 18:39

      • I’ll ask again, what are Sky and TalkTalk costs that will be relevant to many Cornwall residents? Maybe their marketing is poor.


        2012/04/29 at 21:12

      • Cost or price? There’s a difference.

        Ian Grant

        2012/04/29 at 21:56

      • Other comments show people want it. What’s your point? Bet they all love petrol being nearly £1.50/litre.


        2012/04/29 at 21:23

      • You know what I mean! There is a choice, what do others charge?

        Maybe the government should subsidise power, broadband, petrol etc. in Cornwall.


        2012/04/29 at 22:08

      • Peter – You know what I mean too. You talk about choice – choice of what? End users may well have a choice of ISPs, but ISPs have no choice over whose infrastructure to use. BT made sure of that by not giving Vtesse the information it needed (about the cost of access to ducts and poles) to make an unqualified bid for the Cornwall business. Net result was the Vtesse did not submit a bid, and an allegedly competitive process to find the best network infrastructure provider was left with BT’s offer, take it or leave it. As you will remember. How many county councils with BDUK money are likely to end up in the same position as Cornwall County Council? That’s what this blog will track, and I’m sure you will help.

        Ian Grant

        2012/05/01 at 20:05

  2. Councillors tend to say ‘fibre optic’ but if it’s coming through a phone line so it isn’t its FTTC and they will soon realize they have been taken in by the marketing machine and are not going to get a superfast Cornwall at all. They will end up with some being a bit faster but a lot left on a slow expensive second rate alternative technology.


    2012/04/29 at 18:50

    • So what would the cost of 100% FTTP be in Cornwall? For those that need beyond FTTC there will be FTTP on demand.


      2012/04/29 at 21:16

      • Who cares? there has always been FTTP on demand.The point is they shouldn’t call it fibre optic broadband unless its proper fibre to the premises. FTTC is just a joke. And the joke is on Cornwall.

        2012/04/29 at 21:37

      • You say FTTC is a joke, please explain for the benefit of all those using it. This is just another soundbite.

        Surely the problem is the government will not fund 100% FTTP despite it being a good solution.

        FTTP on demand is different to what is available now as you know.


        2012/05/03 at 22:55

      • I spoke to a man yesterday who is buying multiple 10Gbps links ahead of the Olympics, so high speed is available on demand. Why should the government fund any fibre roll-out, unless it’s to catch votes and be seen “to be doing something”?
        What’s needed is competition at the infrastructure level, alternatively to divorce Openreach from BT and set it up as a true wholesale-only operation.
        I am hopeful that the BIS consultation into anticompetitive market practices leads to change in UK telecoms.

        Ian Grant

        2012/05/03 at 23:58

      • Obviously high speed links are available from a number of suppliers. The 10G links will also be point to point, not into the internet.

        What would competition at the infrastructure level look like? VM installed circuits to a Tesco near here, C&W have duct through the south-west and there is fibre along pylon routes, all separate from BT.

        What would the actual, not perceived, benefits be of separating Openreach to customers?

        The issue here is the cost and availability of high speed internet connections into the home. VM have the infrastructure to provide competition but choose not to expand it. So the government should fund a full FTTP rollout for the UK as the only solution.


        2012/05/04 at 07:39

      • Somerset – I think you’ve got it! By George, you’ve got it! “The 10G links will also be point to point”

        Ian Grant

        2012/05/04 at 09:16

      • Do you ‘get’ that there is a difference between point-to-point-links, which are not connected to the internet and FTTP, not least in the cost?

        And the benefits of separating Openreach?


        2012/05/06 at 08:57

      • Somerset, I can do no better than refer you to Br0kenTeleph0n3’s story on Lyse Energie, which you appears to have forgotten or perhaps ignore for some reason. To quote from the story, CEO Lief Aarthun Ims said Lyse chose point to point Ethernet over fiber, mainly because of its flexibility. ‘“We can completely customise the service we provide an individual,” he says. “If we want to give someone 1Gbps, we can simply do it without affecting anyone else.”
        ‘Lyse looked at passive optical networking (PON), a cheaper point to multipoint technology, but rejected it. The customer premises equipment was too complicated, the difference in fiber and equipment costs was marginal, and the technology wasn’t as easy or cheap to upgrade, Mr Ims says.’
        There is a difference between capital cost and total cost of ownership. BT appears to be working on capital cost, not TCO. It may be to do with the way Ofcom measures ROI, so it pays BT to play (short term) accounting games rather than consider long term returns. Perhaps a reader here has a deeper insight they’d like to share?
        It would be a very good reason to take Openreach out of BT, so that capital spending could be aligned more closely with appropriate investment thresholds and time frames.
        I’m pretty sure pension and infrastructure funds would prefer a pure but predictable infrastructure play to something where Global Services can force a sudden write off of £1bn or more.

        Ian Grant

        2012/05/06 at 20:31

  3. BT has been ramping up its network capacity wherever practical in order to prevent overload during the Olympics, including on existing services. Therefore it may well be that it have taken the opportunity to put in far more fibre than its contractual commitment. Indeed I would have been most surprised if it did not. As I implied in my blog entry on the mythical BDUK strategy, BT wishes to use contracts like these to help it fund the leapfrog to a genuine Next Generation Network – not just to meet contractual commitment,

    Also it is a little churlish to quote the price of the top range BT Infinity service which is not available to most of us. £13 a month is the entry level with which most of the final third of the UK would be delighted

    Philip Virgo

    2012/04/29 at 18:59

    • £35 a month plus phone line rental is what BT’s fibre to the home product costs. How is saying that churlish? Compare that to B4RN’s £30 a month for 10 times that. And B4RN still has to dig its network, unlike BT. Who’s churlish now?
      As you say, most of the final third would be delighted to get the “up to” 16Mbps service for £13 plus £10.75 line rental, so actually £23.75, not £13, and no guarantee on the speed, contention ratios or other parameters that affect the user experience.

      Ian Grant

      2012/04/29 at 21:08

      • And that’s the key point. No guarantee of speed. “Up to” 16Mbps. So could be 15Mbs, or 10Mbs or 2Mbs.

        Also don’t forget that line rental is £10.75 only if you pay line rental up front for the year (£129) so BT can pop it in their bank account and earn the interest. If you don’t then it’s £14.60 per month. Also there’s no discount any more for paper free billing. It’s in the small print somewhere…..


        2012/04/29 at 21:43

      • They must be getting some good interest rates to make it worth while…


        2012/05/03 at 23:01

  4. UP TO starts at zero. Also homes passed is another weasel statement. A lot of those homes won’t get the headline speed. I believe BT will not install a customer if they get less than 15 meg of the predicted ‘up to’ infinity figure, but other ISPs will install down to 5 meg. I am happy to be proved wrong. I know I read it somewhere but can’t find a link.


    2012/04/29 at 22:12

    • So ‘upto’ does not start at zero. From either 5M or 15M.


      2012/04/29 at 22:24

      • So that is what they should say. BT infinity available now, From 5 or 15 meg depending on your line length?

        2012/04/29 at 22:36

    • Yes there are now two variants of the FTTC service. One with a minimum assured speed of 5Mbit/s for longer phone lines and one with a minimum assured speed of 15Mbit/s; covered that back in 2010. Let me see if I can find the article..

      But most ISPs don’t promote this in public for obvious reasons, although if you ask privately then a good provider should be able to help. On other ISPs it will come up as an option automatically when attempting to subscribe.

      However at present there aren’t many examples of this because most of BT’s FTTC rollout has focused on premises that are within range of a good (15Mbps+) speed. Expect that to change when the BDUK developments start filtering down and longer line FTTC becomes more common.

      • Thanks Mark, I knew I had seen it somewhere! It will be interesting to see if they claim those people are on ‘up to 40 meg’ when they pass them. If they do then it just proves that Cornwall has been diddled.


        2012/05/01 at 19:39

  5. This is a warning to all Councils handing out “Carte Blanche” contracts to BT Openreach they have to specify, street by street exactly who gets what, within the tender documents; in the rush to meet BDUK’s tendering deadline I don’t see that due diligence in their tender specification.

    Since you can now get the BT Infinity Entry Package for just £1/m more than BT Broadband where’s the profit for BT in extending Infinity to remote and high capital cost rural areas even with BDUK’s inadequate subsidy?

    BT may well have to charge a “rural levy” for BT Infinity to make it economic.

    Mel Bryan

    2012/04/30 at 07:51

    • What choice do ISPs have in the rest of the UK? They can’t use VM.

      What choice does EDF have for delivering its gas and electricity?


      2012/04/30 at 10:03

      • Where subscribers can get VM, eg Cardiff BT struggles, as BT itself reported.That suggests BT is wise to keep competition as far away as possible. But let’s watch what Vodafone does with CWW. And we all know what a threat B4RN poses to BT, don’t we?

        Ian Grant

        2012/04/30 at 16:04

      • If CityFibre can make money off second tier cities, you really have to wonder why culture secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to spend £150m of taxpayers’ money to fibre up the top 14 cities, don’t you? Somehow the market doesn’t seem to be working in Britain’s top towns. Curious, that. See if you don’t believe me.

        Ian Grant

        2012/04/30 at 20:07

    • Somerset

      2012/04/30 at 16:21

      • I lost the will to live about three minutes in. Fortunately I survived long enough to hear the man say “We’ve had some fun and games” persuading BT Wholesale to get us a price from BT Openreach for an upgrade. No surprise there. (If anyone wants to listen ot this, skip the first three minutes.)
        Openreach’s Bill Murphy’s sole reason to live for the past three years has been to make sure that the local authorities know which side their bread is buttered.

        Ian Grant

        2012/04/30 at 20:17

    • Some city money will go on ‘information and demand-building activities’. Is that persuading people to use what they have spent tax payers money on?


      2012/04/30 at 22:07

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