Following the broadband money

More broadband farce, this time it’s BDUK

with 28 comments

The Financial Times has come to the belated view that the BDUK procurement of next generation access to broadband is a farce.

The trigger appears to have been Fujitsu’s decision not to compete for any of the contracts available under the BDUK procurement framework, a process that has cost taxpayers £10m to create and left BT as the sole supplier.

The formal announcement has been a long time coming, but has been anticipated ever since the Cabinet Office effectively blacklisted the company by describing it as a “high risk” supplier of government IT systems.

That description did not preclude Fujitsu, with BT the only qualified suppliers under the BDUK framework, from bidding for business.The final straw for Fujitsu appears to be BDUK’s absurd requirements for wireless suppliers of NGA broadband to rural areas.

These were published on 18 February in response to the European Commission’s sensible relaxation of the ban on wireless as a means delivering next generation broadband.

Much of Fujitsu’s business plan, at least in Cumbria, relied on wireless to get around the need to access BT’s poles and ducts. When this was ruled inadmissible, Fujitsu withdrew, leaving BT as the sole bidder in Cumbria.

The commission then rethought the ban and raised it. However, it still appears to believe that fibre to the home is the end game, but it is willing to acknowledge that high speed broadband delivered by cellular technologies such as LTE are the way to go.

This is making life hard or impossible for fixed wireless broadband providers. In its guidance to local councils regarding the use of fixed wireless in their coverage plans BDUK asks for service levels that not even fixed line suppliers have to meet.

For example, wireless providers must show that their system is capable of providing access speeds in excess of 30Mbps download,  with at least ~15Mbps download speed to end-users for 95% of the time during peak times in the target intervention area.

Then it says the wireless operator must put in a fibre to the home network . “The subsidised solution must be an interim solution chosen where a fibre-based solution is not yet economically viable, and there shall be a commitment to replace non-wired connections with fibre at a later stage.”

Kijoma Broadband, which supplies high speed wireless connectivity in the south of England, says, “There is no such guarantee (on download speed) for FTTC for example. FTTC starts at 15 Mbps sync speed  and as previously reported, 5 Mbps orders will be accepted via wholesale providers,” he says.

BT has doubled its original offer of 15Mbps download speeds to “up to” 30Mbps. Ofcom this week reported that the average national download speed is 12Mbps, due largely to Virgin Media’s largely urban roll-out of high speed broadband over cable TV channels.

FTTC connection (speeds) will be lower in practice due to line length, crosstalk, ISP contention, traffic management policies, and other issues, Lewis adds.

Regarding the commitment to install fibre, Lewis says, “If fibre in a low density area is viable in around five years, then it is viable now. The only time it would improve is if the rural area in question gained a large new housing estate.”

Fibre is going into rural homes and businesses, but it is due to community-based efforts such as B4RN and Gigaclear. Both face hostile responses from BT, which has consistently failed to publish precise coverage plans for both its £2.5bn “commercial roll-out” of FTTC to two-thirds of UK homes, and its BDUK-funded roll-outs in “not spots”.

As Ewhurst resident Walter Willcox notes elsewhere on the blog, even having a fibred-up street cabinet in your street doesn’t guarantee access to a high speed service because the cabinet’s capacity may already be taken up.

This should raise questions regarding the percentage of “homes passed” that can actually be served by the cabinets BT has installed so far. BT has said in the past that it would add more street cabinets if the newly installed ones reach capacity. Ewhurst’s experience is to the contrary.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/03/16 at 15:24

28 Responses

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  1. It is happening exactly as predicted.
    There is no joy in saying ‘I told you so’ to them, but as your post points out, the whole thing has been a stitch up from start to finish, and blogs written in 2009 warned this would happen. And it has. When will the government realise that the people know some stuff and a bunch of highly paid consultants from a consulting company know very little about telecoms. They may know a lot about consulting but a fat lot of good that does anyone, and £10million would have built 5 B4RNs and Cumbria only needs 6 for total fibre coverage…


    2013/03/16 at 15:29

    • As to the last comment about 5 B4RN’s versus a few crap at their job consultants, I think it is time that we, the tax and TV licence payers, demand a Best Value test and full monotoring for the entire BDUK programme from start to finish ie post rollout to ensure we have no reason ever again to have to say “we told you so” which has now happened TWICE in a decade over this broadband debacle with BT.


      2013/03/16 at 17:09

  2. Yes, Chris/Ian – the ‘veil’ has now fallen off the ‘King’s new Clothes’ as we knew it would. It remains to be seen if anyone will notice.

    Several interesting points arise:

    In the BDUK doc (Feb 2013) they call for, as you say, at least 30mb down with a long-stop of 15mb at peak times (note AGAIN no interest in uploads ????), “as demonstrated by calibrated measurements using a methodology comparable to those used for fixed network measurements;” As far as I understand the kettle of fish, far from all FTTC BT customers will meet his target if the ‘calibrated measurements’ are honestly applied. Why is this requirement placed on fixed wireless when it does not appear anywhere in the FTTC specs for qualification for state aid for BT? Do we expect the ‘NCC’ to examine all BT BDUK tenders for the same performance before approving?

    The County I am involved with has had to re-draw its ‘NGA white’ maps following a complaint about non-representation by wireless providers. This drastically reduced the huge NGA white area which existed. Now, I assume the ‘newly disclosed wireless NGA black coverage’ must be examined in detail for these performance criteria? This is an enormous task, as Counties cannot rely as now on the nice BT man to assure them of ‘properties passed’ and therefore box ticked (WITHOUT checking?) and presumably speed surveys now have to be done. I see huge delays here.

    Why on earth should any wireless provider have to accept a “commitment to transition to higher-performance fibre-based solutions when economics change in order to make deployment viable.” when this is not their main product? Does this ‘commitment’ also apply to all BDUK approved BT tenders? I understood Liv G had said BT would NOT revisit FTTC to convert to FTTH? If not, why not?

    I wonder what Peter Cochrane is thinking…………………..?


    2013/03/16 at 16:11

  3. Farce, farce and triple farce:

    In Surrey questions about the scope of the contract with BT for “Superfast” broadband have been submitted twice, but no response. Why not? Probably because they have no answers.

    A meeting with local communities, Surrey County Council and BT called by an MP, but no one turns up from Openreach, just a BT PR man. Why? Probably because they have no answers and certainly the report from the meeting does not inspire confidence.

    Various papers submitted warning of this likely state of affairs, some over two years ago, but ignored. Why? Probably because they have no answers.

    Distinguished engineers took the trouble to submit evidence to the House of Lords who produced a fair report that was rebuked by the Government. Why? Probably a hidden agenda somewhere.

    All of this from unpaid efforts of engineers in the community, the kind of people that the Government say are invaluable to the future of this country, but they are ignored in favour of spin from professional marketing and PR types – strangely the very breed we have in power.

    The facts about the BT Openreach superfast are known – it will not provide superfast to the percentages that the marketing types have sold to the local councils, especially in Surrey where apparently 99.7% will have access to superfast by 2014. Here, after the contract was placed with BT, the superfast definition was reduced from “greater than 24Mbps” to “greater than 15Mbps”, with those that cannot achieve that being asked to accept 2Mbps as a satisfactory threshold.

    One only has to look at the BT Openreach farce in Ewhurst reported by Walter Wilcox to see that the same problems will arise in other similar places in Surrey and elsewhere.

    What we need is some honesty, not outrageous statements from politicians who have put their trust and our money into at best an incompetent or at worst dishonest monopoly.

    David Cooper

    2013/03/16 at 21:10

    • I thought that BDUK had to approve the plans for each area, and one of BDUK’s requirements was that 25Meg target. So when BDUK find out what Surrey have handed to BT on a plate, will Surrey have to repay the subsidy for stepping outside the rules, since just about every other area has managed to secure a solution from BT that will provide that target? (Very tongue-in-cheek)


      2013/04/01 at 06:52

  4. The fact that none of the policy makers ever mention upload speeds illustrates a lack of knowledge about exactly what broadband is for.


    2013/03/17 at 06:15

  5. David – “Here, after the contract was placed with BT, the superfast definition was reduced from “greater than 24Mbps” to “greater than 15Mbps”, with those that cannot achieve that being asked to accept 2Mbps as a satisfactory threshold”.

    Whilst I appreciate Surrey is outside the BDUK scheme, are they not also subject to state aid restrictions which, if I recall, demand an ‘NGA’ provision which was defined by HMG as 24mb+ (and the EU as 30mb+………)? Should someone ask the EU if 15mb ‘qualifies’ as an NGA lower limit for the purposes of state aid?


    2013/03/17 at 10:05

    • Given that HM Government has set aside 150m to fund mobile broadband in rural areas, and that Telefonica/O2’s licensed commitment is to a 2Mbps indoor service, it could be argued that the lower limit for state aid is 2Mbps. Which is inreresting, given that BDUK wants fixed wireless operators to provide 30Mbps plus a fibre upgrade on Date X. Perhaps @NeelieKroes @DigitalAgenda could have a look at that. In the interests of the Single Market in Telecommunications, of course.


      2013/03/17 at 10:55

    • Mike –

      Its all in here somewhere, including a bit about evaluation (lins22).

      I have not read it all, but the fundamental requirement on speed is demonstration of a “step change”.

      I guess that the get out for local authorities will be that they will be able to say they have funded the ability for all premises to “access” superfast speeds. So those that are below 24Mbps (or is it 30Mbps) will have the choice to “demand” a FTTC service at a cost yet to be announced. It seems from what Surrey have said that this is key, but as far as I know there is no contractual requirement for BT Openreach to come up with the goods. That is one of my unanswered questions to Surrey.

      David Cooper

      2013/03/17 at 10:56

      • I raised this before on a forum – the line “90% of residents will be able to access superfast broadband”.

        We don’t need FTTC for that, because very nearly 100% of the UK can already access those speeds with EFM or a leased line. No investment at all is needed to meet that objective.

        They key is the pricing and service delivery. The answer I got was that the figure being worked to is £30/mo (not sure where that comes from). FTTPoD does not fit into that category and therefore does not count as “able to access” for this purpose.

        But then it could be done on a ten year contract @ £30/mo perhaps… the devil is in the detail.


        2013/04/02 at 14:19

  6. Allow me some surmising here, with a rather odious conclusion?

    The position of Fujitsu in the BDUK scheme has puzzled me for some time. Despite being ‘blacklisted’ by HMG as unfit to tender for government work, they remained ?somehow? as a ‘notional’ bidder to match BT in the scheme – until the other day. Why? Could it be that without Fujitsu the BDUK scheme would have collapsed, in the eyes of Nellie, due to there being just one contender for the money?

    BT have too much work to do with all the contracts they are ‘winning’. Who COULD be a likely partner with telecomms experience who might be able to help?

    Now, assuming the ‘blacklisting’ can be ‘revised’ (aka a ‘U-Turn’), or even if, as a sub-contractor to BT, it is not relevant, whoa! Fujitsu could do it! Stap me vitals. Is it that obvious? Have we all, including Nellie, been hoodwinked so successfully?


    2013/03/17 at 13:22

    • You may remember that Fujitsu Telecom, Virgin Media, and TalkTalk jointly complained about BT’s prices for Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) back in 2011. Their complaint was backed by Fujitsu’s knowledge of the costs of trenching, laying and filling ducts, putting up telephone poles and stringing them with cable for BT, plus VM’s knowledge of what it cost to build its own infrastructure. Seeing Fujitsu’s name alongside BT’s main fixed wire competitors was a surprise at the time. Why would Fujitsu bite the hand that fed it? It’s tempting to think that BT put Fujitsu up to it to white-ant VM and TT’s NGA efforts and to report back to BT on their plans. I think that is fanciful consipracy-mongering. To me it would be perverse for BT to risk such a high stakes game, but I have no evidence to the contrary. We do now that Openreach’s performance, as measured by the OTA2, fell off almost immediately after the letters appeared. That suggests BT may have sacked Fujitsu. Openreach’s performance in fact got worse over the year following, requiring emergency remedial action, including new management. To me that is evidence that it was struggling to cope with change. But whether it was change induced because it sacked Fujitsu, or because of the change to end to end Ethernet, or just problems redeveloping its Ethernet delivery platform, perhaps Neil can enlighten us.


      2013/03/17 at 14:53

  7. wow- conspiracies are alive in this thread!

    As i understand it Openreach had a tough year driven by the worst weather in decades.


    2013/03/18 at 10:29

    • The Openreach spokesperson says Openreach made a record number of visits in the past year.


      2013/03/18 at 10:32

  8. Perhaps a tough year exacerbated by arcane and inadequate repair procedures?

    Merrow Drover

    2013/03/21 at 09:52

  9. Good article. It appears, on the surface at least, that one of two things happened:

    BDUK failed to perform reasonable research into the performance and quality of the BT twisted pairs, and fell for the marketing hype – for example “90% of us are within 1km of their cabinet”. Yes, perhaps, but how far we are from the cabinet is not a determinant of performance. The length and quality (!) of the ancient bit of wire in between them is.


    BDUK intended all the money to go to BT anyway, so Wi-Fi had to be sidelined.

    As you rightly point out, it seems very odd that a wireless supplier is obligated to “upgrade to fibre” whereas BT is not. The simplest answer to get around the performance issues of old phone lines would have been for the local contracts to be awarded to BT not on the basis of the technical solution “FTTC” but on the basis of performance, precisely what they have stipulated for wireless.

    For instance: BT can have all the money as long as every home gets 30Mbps or better. If the PSTN line is not up to it, then BT is required to rectify that – whether with line bonding, or with FTTP – free of charge.

    If BT were confident about the performance of FTTC, they would happily accept this, naturally since it would only be a very few properties to which this would ever apply.

    The article pertains to our village quite nicely – current ADSL average speed 2.5Meg, two cabs both on the outskirts of the vilage (e.g. as far away from all the properties as they could actually be, not at all centralised), line lengths c. 2.5km to about 6km, noise margins on most of the lines we have data for is 15, almost no relationship between line length and sync rates (examples: 3.1km line = 6Meg, 3.6km line = 2Meg, 4km line = 0.5Meg)

    My calculations show FTTC at both cabs would achieve speeds between 1.6Meg and 76Meg depending on where you are in the village, factoring in some additional assumptions about line qualities drawn from DSL modem stats.

    So FTTC isn’t an option to deliver. This leaves FTTP and wireless.

    Wireless is quite capable of delivering 30Meg to everyone based on five base stations and 30% take-up (the higher the second number is the more base stations are needed) but this is no long term solution.

    But, if we have the backhaul to our village for said Wi-Fi we could always connect individual properties to the backhaul (“on demand”), with a longer term plan to move everyone to fibre. Or, we could go straight to fibre.

    I don’t deny that wirerless speeds will improve over time. Perhaps, one day, it will seem really weird that we even tried to connect every property up with physical wire. After all, we have mobiles now. I haven’t had a landline phone for what, six years. They seem so anachronistic and unnecessary, not to mention expensive.

    I do agree with the sentiment that there should be a longer term plan where wireless is deployed which is why we didn’t want to “just stop there”. But that BDUK essentially appears to be saying is: “It’s perfectly fine for people to get sub-standard connections which get nowhere near our goals and aims as long as BT gets to make some money out of them and is not in any way obligated to deliver anything in particular to anyone, just so long as no other provider gets the same leniency.”

    Or, alternatively, “it’s fine for the urbans to get whatever speed comes down a phone line, but rurals are a special case who must have FTTP”.

    Great. BDUK, where’s the money for our FTTP network then?


    2013/04/01 at 06:44

  10. To pick up on Mark’s points – BT did not ‘fail’ to research – they knew damn fine already. The £muliti-million ‘advisors’ to HMG either should have known (or did). Heaven knows what hold BT have over HMG – (someone suggested there may be pictures involving sheep…..) but it is truly a strong one.

    I have contacted both Neelie’s office and BDUK on this very question – why is wireless required to meet the government’s targets for HSB while BT is not – but both requests for answers have conveniently been ‘ignored’ now for well over a week – not even acknowledged. This is the way they now conduct their business – cannot answer so ignore. Why? It must be obvious – there is no acceptable answer. It is apparent to most that BT were destined to be the beneficiaries of the £830million from before day 1 and ‘obstacles’ were erected at each point as contenders appeared to be getting their heads above water. We can trace this back (publicly) certainly as far back as the Ewhurst SEEDA grant farce where a genuine alternative and funded scheme ‘threatened’ BT’s dominance in the market. Now it appears that the golden ’24mb+’ promise for Surrey County Council has been watered down by BT (with HMG and Surrey C C ‘approval by silence’) to ’15mb at best’ (or 2). Then we have the ridiculous financial constraints placed on bidders, ruling out all the smaller but efficient players (who are delivering true HSB, in some places at 1gb), followed by the Fujitsu farce – a ‘blacklisted’ company allowed to remain as a notional ‘white-listed’ bidder in the two remaining, and finally ‘dropping out’ when it all appears done and dusted, allegedly on the basis of some rumoured deal on apportionment of work from BT according to nasty gossip. We have the PIA farce. We have the ratings valuations issues – rumours now that non-BT wireless masts may well suffer too (Guess what will happen to any BT funded wireless masts…….?)

    There is now doubt as to the status of ‘NGA white’ areas in County authority plans where HSB is readily available by fixed wireless – are these areas eligible or not for state funding to BT – to provide an inferior service? Again, part of my enquiry – unanswered by both the EC and BDUK. There are, for example, huge swathes on the Isle of Wight covered by fixed wireless broadband up to 40mb – but ignored by the L Authority there who intend to give something like £6million to BT for an inferior supply, where the local wireless company are offering a far better deal which will deliver a real HSB to around 90% of the island for a fraction of the cost.

    Apart from uniquely being mandated to HAVE to deliver 30mb minimum, why does the wireless industry ‘have’ to upgrade the system to FTTP when BT do not? It is indeed a matter of public record that Liz G stated a few years back that BT have NO intention of revisiting the FTTC network to upgrade it to FTTP. Hello?

    The whole affair needs a thorough investigation – the HOL tried but got nowhere. For years ‘agitators’ have tried to arouse the public interest in the whole shambles, but mainstream media have chosen, for dubious reasons, to ignore the call. The BBC being a classic example where their ‘technology correspondent’ does not even appear to have heard of the questions being asked. Look to see how many mainstream papers have raised the question – one. Now silent, hopefully only temporarily?

    The UK needs to wake up and realise the waste of £830 million that is being encouraged at high level. That AND MORE will need to be spent again following 2015/6 to get anywhere.

    If this was not so serious it would be a great April Fool. Nice timing, Mark.


    2013/04/02 at 07:32

    • I may be one of those “agitators” whose comments and views – which I assert have remained consistent since I began posting on sites – may, initially have appeared as “anti BT”, “Devil’s Advocate”, or simply insane yet as time goes on, it’s like watching a prophecy being fulfilled.

      The problem was with the promises – 30 Meg to 90% is hardly a steep target. It’s not even that quick. If BDUK’s promise was to “speed the broadband up a bit at the minimum spend with no actual targets” then their actions may well be justifiable in part. However the mission aims and objectives were far grander than what has been delivered and even the State Aid document “looks to the future”, the spirit of which seems to have been diluted in implementation.

      The quoted figure for “FTTP to all” is usually around 1k per premise. Undoubtedly, FTTC is one of the quickest ways of bringing some extra speed (hard to quantify how much – BDUK’s error was to even try). My interest was for the longer term (we’ve all waited long enough anyway) and FTTPoD is unsurprisingly, given the reliance on a single provider who can dictate the market, going to cost even more than doing the entire country in the end at those figures – whether this is because the BT network is so very old it’s expensive to use as a “template” (maybe new street ducting would actually be cheaper than using BT’s kit, BT’s opponents say so) or simply because BDUK and the government have painted themselves – and us – into a very expensive corner in pursuit of soundbites. It’s hard to see BDUK II (and there will have to be one) deciding to reverse the previous actions and “do it properly” now that initial investment has gone to BT. The future of broadband does not appear to be one of significant private sector investment.,

      Just a thought based on personal observations and economic forecasts: the UK is going down the toilet, and there will be some serious civil unrest in the coming decade.

      And maybe this is another “conspiracy theory”, you judge – but having as many ISPs as possible all feeding from a vertical monopoly *just perhaps* allied to government makes access to the internet perhaps just a little easier to switch off and/or selectively control?


      2013/04/02 at 12:14

      • Not to mention the fact that much of 21CN and BT’s next generation cabinet infrastructure is provided by Huawei, which is banned in the US and Australia from providing core network equipment, admittedly on secret evidence… 😉


        2013/04/02 at 12:23

      • @ Mark,
        Re new street ducting, the existing Virgin Media ducting direct to every front door (but ONLY where they have deployed) is quite capable of delivering a fibre tube easily too. However the commercial complexities seem far less obvious.

        @ Ian,
        The remainder of the BT FTTC equipment relies upon products produced by Israel, perhaps not the most super-stable Middle East area?

        Merrow Drover

        2013/04/02 at 12:31

    • So, given where we are today, what would be a realistic and practical way forward?

      On the one hand there are an increasing number of people without a landline and on the other those who want/need speeds that only a landline with FTTP or FTTPoD can provide. The fewer properties in an area the higher the installation cost/property.

      Well done Ian for, again, sidetracking a discussion.


      2013/04/02 at 13:12

      • “The fewer properties in an area the higher the installation cost/property.”

        Isn’t that more of an issue for fixed-line and precisely why wireless was mooted as a solution for low density areas, because the cost becomes much more palatable?

        The irony of the approach to wireless is that it basically says that low density areas/rurals deserve FTTP – only that is “good enough”, the targets must be met, leaving those on business parks and in urban areas with ADSL or FTTC. This appears rather perverse.

        With the current model the further the property is from the “fibre spline” the higher the cost. The layout of these is based on the topography of an old phone network, not a new broadband one.

        The current forward model is based on people paying staggeringly high sums of money to a single monopoly provider to manually adapt an old phone network in bespoke fashion to deliver modern broadband services if the phone line they rent isn’t up to the job. Their “fault” for picking a house where the phone lines are long and/or poor? Far from a “rural issue”.

        The primary issue here is “single monopoly provider” and the secondary one “old phone network”.

        Going forward from here: as it’s all in the process of being sewn up now, it will remain the case that unless you move somewhere with say Gigaclear or Hyperoptic services – not a long list – you have no real guarantee of anything at all at your new home. Best to make sure it’s cabled, at least you have a duopoly to choose from and arguably that is still the best chance for fast speeds.

        Failing that you may be forced to pay thousands, or move home again. All you have to go on is an “estimate” that nobody is obliged to meet.

        In another five to ten years, we’ll need to return to the original BDUK aims and objectives, and look at how we can deploy an affordable, ubiquitous superfast broadband network most likely using a range of technologies. Improved wireless and 5G may then come into the mix if they are permitted to do so – at the moment the government is picking the winner and setting the (non existent) market.

        Hopefully, by then, it will not be “too late” for private sector investment to rescue us though that is far from certain, because the key always was, and will always remain, the attraction of private sector investment to an industry which should be buoyant and healthy. The government and BDUK are part of the problem when they could have been the solution.


        2013/04/02 at 14:08

      • I’m not sure that Huawei’s business reputation is irrelevant. It is currently banned from bidding for Algerian government work for bribing a former advisor to the CEO of Algerie Telecom. Naturally, our officials are immune from such inducements. It has also had to deny allegations that it illegally subsidises its contracts and that it gets soft loans from Chinese banks. Not that this was in any way unusual when Britain, the US and European companies were building their manufacturing industries or defending their market shares. It just depends what you think is important – the national interest or shareholders’ interests. Are they congruent when it comes to Britain and BT? Discuss.


        2013/04/02 at 15:00

      • I suggest you start a separate topic about Huawei to avoid confusing the current topic.


        2013/04/02 at 21:11

      • I suggest you start your own blog. Perhaps your friends at BT will sponsor it.


        2013/04/02 at 21:31

      • Just pointing out that the Huawei issue is unrelated to UK broadband rollout as being discussed here.

        There seems to be agreement? that the 50%ish of premises with BT and other providers such as VM, Hyperoptic, B4RN etc are not an issue. Also those areas not covered by the VM res product, but in their business area where they install their own duct is also maybe not an issue.

        So when the BDUK activity has rolled out FTTC, some FTTP and FOD is available where does that leave the UK in terms of connectivity and how could those missing out be helped? Maybe Cornwall shows what other parts of the UK will be like. Would be interesting to know what the speed/coverage/solutions are there.


        2013/04/02 at 21:57

  11. @ Mark re your 14:08 note on “Single Monopoly Provider” –

    If private sector investment is even to be allowed Government and BDUK’s successor MUST avoid the debacle they caused by allowing BT to destroy the Vtesse networks Ewhurst project. Instead of a BT competitor striving to improve the network to make a profit and survive, we have the incumbent obfuscating over an inadequate solution and quite deliberately failing to upgrade known PSTN failures.

    In addition recent BT Openreach policy of using subcontract VDSL installation staff without adequate test equipment, or instruction to test twisted pairs, is a recipe to further degrade services. When most end users attempt to examine their detailed VDSL performance they are unable to do so due to the restrictive practice of locking down the Openreach modem.

    Assuming the end user has the tenacity to unlock the modem and then rectify domestic wiring faults left by the subcontractor, a further restrictive practice must be overcome to remove the automatic line cap applied by the VDSL Dynamic Line Management logic. That requires a visit by a BT Openreach engineer to test the line performance with appropriate test equipment he has before he can then request a reset.

    On one such occasion an appointment was booked only to discover the cap was raised by 10 Mbps at 05:16 on the day before the appointment. No Openreach engineer turned up the following day, nor was the end user informed of the appointment cancellation. Yet more negotiation with the ISP (having to demonstrate the unlocked substandard performance figures) resulted in another Openreach appointment after further delay. This time the engineer turned up and the cap was subsequently removed providing almost another 10 Mbps improvement. Today that service has a sync speed of 39.75 Mbps instead of 19.99 Mbps.

    A second such instance, this time with a BT Retail provided VDSL service, required two BT Openreach appointments before the cap was removed. Two other instances with non-BT retail VDSL services were resolved upon the first Openreach appointment. Almost certainly there are more undetected problems.

    Why should the end user be prevented from obtaining an optimum service that is already being paid for ? It is quite apparent to all these hapless end users that the rural monopolistic incumbent is in urgent need of a major culture change including some real competition.

    Merrow Drover

    2013/04/02 at 15:59

  12. […] permitted wireless access for state aided next generation projects last year, and that in February BDUK issued guidance to local authorities regarding the use of wireless, the VOA’s unsettled position is […]

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