Lies, damn lies, and broadband data
Is someone fiddling the broadband numbers, and if so, why?
INTUG, the international telecom users group, believes that officials in charge of Europe’s broadband roll-out are being misled by “vested interests”. It has written to Europe’s Digital Agenda boss Neelie Kroes, asking for the source of the claim that the UK has full coverage for basic broadband.
The claim was made in a Digital Agenda working document that said, “Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) have already achieved full coverage for basic broadband services”.
INTUG told Kroes, “Our UK Member, CMA (Communications Management Association), and the UK Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) met recently with OfCom and UK government representatives …to discuss broadband roll out. It was clear from the discussion that full coverage for basic broadband is still far from being achieved in the UK.
“This misrepresentation of a reality has been a consistent concern of users in the UK since BT’s often quoted claim of 99.6% coverage of broadband, which was similarly misleading. We would be grateful if you would share with us your source for this information. We can then assist the NRA (national regulatory agency i.e. Ofcom) in ensuring that future statistics on this sensitive topic are reliable and not unduly skewed by vested interests.”
This is not the first time questions have been raised about broadband claims. Announcing a 4G mobile technology trial in Cumbria this week, Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swantree said, “New independent research shows that one in five households in Britain could depend on 4G for superfast broadband in the coming years.”
Br0kenTeleph0n3 revealed in March that BDUK’s coverage maps exclude wireless coverage, even wireless networks that local councils are using today.
Sources say that BDUK is also worried about the accuracy of the maps of physical infrastructure such as street cabinets. Apparently BDUK’s maps show cabinets that are often 1km out and one is known to be 5km out. This, of course, drastically affect the ‘reach’ of BT’s Infinity broadband service, which one source put it, “goes 1300m with a following wind, and broadband itself which dies at around 5km”.
A further problem is that only Openreach engineers can tell the actual line length between a street cabinet and a subscriber’s house, and the information in BT’s asset database does not always reflect the actual situation.
These inaccuracies mean local councils may be making investment decisions using information that is wrong and potentially misleading.
We understand that BDUK is at last starting to worry about these issues as it prepares to release almost £400m to local councils to spend upgrading the networks in their “final third” areas.