Following the broadband money

Kroes dodges tough questions over UK broadband

with 92 comments

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?

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/04/09 at 06:56

92 Responses

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  1. Maybe DGConnect was also a guest at the Vital Vision conferences and also believes the marketing from the incumbents? I hope Mike keeps at it and exposes what is going on somehow… many have tried and failed to beat the monopoly and its multimillion pound marketing budget. Telcos are so good at protecting their copper assets they have perfected the art of weasel words and they could sell ice cream to eskimos.


    2013/04/09 at 12:32

  2. The bias against fixed wireless seems to be decreasing – it was initially not considered for NGA at all, on the basis of limited total bandwidth, but now is acceptable if it meets a number of additional criteria.

    OFCOM can’t mandate access to poles and ducts where there isn’t SMP or market failure hence it’s restriction to “first mile” type NGA access. Doesn’t seem to stop Vtesse trunking new fibre runs across the East Midlands backroads (or their grass verges).


    2013/04/09 at 12:43

  3. “at best, an overall maximum of 24Mbps”

    Really is that all that BT is delivering, or what their critics say? Because we are seeing FTTC deliver a lot more for many people.

    Yes some people do not get faster than 24 Mbps, but then the same would happen with fixed wireless and any other technology offer than delivering full FTTP and its associated costs.

    Andrew Ferguson

    2013/04/09 at 12:55

  4. I still think the answer is public exposure – the HOL enquiry was smothered at ‘delivery’ and there was a glimmer of light when the FT ran their article, but even there the candle appears to have been snuffed out. Efforts have been made to get Guido Fawkes on board (a deathly silence) and Private Eye suggested, since the ‘mainstream media’ appear to be either frightened or disinterested.

    Perhaps sacks of ‘letters to the editor’ across the UK might shift it? A question in the house from a supportive MP (assuming we still have one)?

    It patently IS unfair, it patently IS anti-competitive and it patently PENALISES the fixed wireless empire and the ‘other’ fibre initiatives. I and many others do not see the ‘scheme’ delivering the political promise, but see it using all that tax-payers’ money to fail. How Livingstone can accuse TalkTalk of ‘sweating their copper assets’ and being ‘copper luddites’ I cannot understand when BT themselves are doing just that. I also understand BT have admitted to Surrey (there the CC are operating ‘outside’ the BDUK framework but under BDUK) that a general 15mb would be a ‘good’ result from their contract and in fact they should be pleased with 2mb ‘everywhere’ – the old ‘USC’. That result would be ADSL2 or 2+. NGA?? 24mb minimum to 100% of premises?? 90%??

    I have tried 4 times with BDUK on similar questions, and not even an acknowledgement – and this matches the experience of others including the venerable ‘Walter of Ewhurst’. It is apparent that the way to answer ‘difficult’ questions is not to.

    mike phillips

    2013/04/09 at 13:01

    • I don’t think the mainstream media are frightened or disinterested, its just that they believe the hype from the incumbent. They regurgitate the press releases. They see the adverts on their tvs every night. Their editors or owners have probably been got at with the vital vision. There are very few investigative journalists like Ian Grant left. Most are just jobsworths.


      2013/04/09 at 13:40

    • So you are expecting Surrey to post an average speed result of just 15 Mbps in 2015?

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/04/09 at 14:12

      • I think every county will post that they have 90% superfast. The marketing will take care of it all and cover the council’s backs, just like it has done with the ‘99.8% of the uk having broadband’ hype. The truth will be that many won’t get more than 2meg, and many on cabinets will be down to 5 meg with some cheap ISPs, and everyone will see higher tarifs as they start to use more data. Then the whole job will be to do again, and another pot of money will be found and all of a sudden BT will say what we all know, and that is that cabinets are not the answer, and helping a few go faster on copper phone lines is not the solution to the future needs of the country. The answer is altnets, providing competition. That will make the market deliver.


        2013/04/09 at 14:17

      • So do you know the numbers or is this a guess? Without some facts it is pointless discussing.

        What will ‘have to be done again’? Altnets can install wherever they want to as Geo and B4RN have shown.

        Basing a ‘don’t like BT argument’ on them not installing FTTP across 100% of the UK will get nowhere. Where is the funding for 100% FTTP going to come from? Simple question.


        2013/04/09 at 14:28

      • @Chris

        Define many? 1%? 10%? 20%

        If FTTC is delivering a scenario where many only get 5 Mbps then I am not sure how they are going to hide it, the people will be online and running speed tests.

        The characteristics of a full or partial fibre service are such that we can spot them and to date the spread of speeds is matching the predictions. Obviously for some individuals they will have below average speeds, but then no-one has promised everyone exactly the same connection speed no matter where they live.

        BT already knows that the cabinets are not the full answer, why do you think it has been building a FTTP PON network alongside every fibre cabinet….it is not delivering this to everyone because of the costs and the reality that shareholders are very risk averse, even if you are getting subsidy from the Government.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/09 at 14:28

      • Nothing against bt doing cabinets, just think they shouldn’t be getting public money to do it. The public money should be going to altnets. To build the networks of the future. Can’t help you with percentages Andrew. we will never get the figures for those less than 30meg on cabs, sub 15meg even, they will be covered up by weasel words that say they are connected to ‘superfast’.


        2013/04/09 at 14:34

      • So what should public money be going to if not for cabinets and how much will be needed?


        2013/04/09 at 14:37

      • @Somerset

        People don’t care so long as its not BT I believe. Because they people can be happy the altnets are delivering and if BT ever dares to roll-out in the same area they can be accussed of being predatory.

        Remember anything BT does is evil and that no other operator would ever user PR tactics to help promote their achievements, they will all publish every minute detail of their accounts too and never attend any Vital Vision meetings.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/09 at 14:54

      • Pretty weak comments to be honest Andrew.

        BT have a track record of going after altnets, or were your fingers in your ears during the initial ADSL rollout, when a number of exchanges began their own projects only to find BT suddenly taking an interest where previously they showed absolutely none, even after being queried?

        I guess the BT hospitality is doing its job going by the blatant bias in what you pass off as ‘news’ articles, generally regurgitated BT press releases, and the way you join Somerset in brown nosing BT here and elsewhere in comments sections.

        If seeing your beloved telco being besmirched upsets you so much I can only suggest getting a life. They have a large enough PR budget without Somerset and yourself for free.


        2013/04/23 at 16:20

    • Neelies office has responded to my second enquiry, and I wonder what the assembled experts think of the reply?

      “You ask whether the Commission agrees with state aid being given to BT which, as you
      claim, will provide at best an overall maximum of 24 Mbps, whilst an established fixed
      wireless NGA network is available and can be expanded at far less cost.

      As described in the letter of 8 April 2013, the Commission had approved the UK’s state
      aid notification of BDUK having regard inter alia to the technological neutrality of the
      UK’s scheme leaving it to commercial operators to propose the most appropriate
      technological solutions. According to the Commission’s decision, the primary objective
      of the BDUK scheme is to provide NGA infrastructure at download speeds of at least 30
      Mbps. This minimum speed applies of course to any operator that wishes to benefit from
      the State intervention. There is no different treatment of BT in comparison to any other
      operator in this regard.

      It is for the Member State to implement an approved state aid decision, even if this leads
      to the fact that only one provider, i.e. the incumbent BT, receives such aid after an open
      and nondiscriminatory tendering procedure. In addition, local authorities are free to
      launch their own tendering procedure outside the BDUK procurement framework. This is
      also not in contradiction with one of the aims of the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE),
      namely that by 2020, all Europeans should have access to internet of above 30 Mbps.
      In that regard, I also do not share your view, that the Commission has given the fixed
      wireless industry in the UK a far greater challenge than to BT, namely to provide a
      minimum of 30 Mbps and to revisit served premises to upgrade then to fibre when
      available. Rather, said target of the DAE is based on a mix of technologies (combining
      fixed and wireless) with internet speeds gradually increasing up to 30 Mbps and above
      and over time to foster the deployment and take-up of NGA in a large part of the EU
      territory. It is again up to the Member State how to achieve that target.”

      The points that I am left with are:

      Para2: “According to the Commission’s decision, the primary objective
      of the BDUK scheme is to provide NGA infrastructure at download speeds of at least 30
      Mbps. This minimum speed applies of course to any operator that wishes to benefit from
      the State intervention. There is no different treatment of BT in comparison to any other
      operator in this regard.” I know only of 24mb and as far as I can see, BT are ‘exempt’?

      Para 3: “I also do not share your view, that the Commission has given the fixed
      wireless industry in the UK a far greater challenge than to BT, namely to provide a
      minimum of 30 Mbps and to revisit served premises to upgrade then to fibre when
      available. Rather, said target of the DAE is based on a mix of technologies (combining
      fixed and wireless) with internet speeds gradually increasing up to 30 Mbps and above
      and over time to foster the deployment and take-up of NGA in a large part of the EU
      territory. It is again up to the Member State how to achieve that target.” I am left floundering there. Can anyone translate?

      mike phillips

      2013/04/15 at 09:28

  5. “Really is that all that BT is delivering” – no, Andrew, it refers to what they are being contracted to do with your and my money, and apparently failing in many places. Of course some of those with the cabinet in their back gardens are seeing 78mb.

    mike phillips

    2013/04/09 at 13:04

    • So what are the speed distributions, some actual information would help in the discussion rather than the emotive soundbites some use.

      And public exposure of what, exactly? To be effective it has to be explained simply and not to be seen as a general moan. Most things seem to attract rates so is wireless any different to point-to-point radio links?


      2013/04/09 at 13:15

    • Failing? How many lines have failed and delivered just 15 Mbps from a BDUK project?

      If you can supply the evidence that the contract states that BT only has to supply a result that delivers at best 24 Mbps then I am all for screenshots and publishing.

      So often it turns out to be rumour and third hand someone saying what they saw in a contract.

      FTTC may be spawn of the devil in some eyes, but it can provide significant speed boosts for almost everyone. Yes for some it may only deliver 15 Mbps, but in the national picture that is likely to be a small number of lines, and if those lines are now only getting 0.5 or 1 Mbps, then the boost is still significant.

      Does not fixed wireless often have similar distance issues, unless you get a sufficiently high mast density that many people are in the sweet spot, and how does adding wireless masts square with the objections that will arise in National Parks etc?

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/04/09 at 14:09

      • Lets turn this round, Andrew – why don’t you tell me what the BDUK target that BT are ‘bidding for’ is? Do you have a figure? The fact of the matter is that there is NO minimum speed laid down that I can find apart from 2mb – unless you happen to be a wireless provider when it is 30mb – and BT will get their money from Counties who have ‘signed’ regardless of final speeds, unless some careful conditions are applied by the LAs which I cannot see BT accepting. The BDUK framework vaguely calls only for ’24mb to 90%’. Then of course, we have no way of knowing what the final speeds are anyway – it is all under NDA unless someone runs an independent nationwide db of sync speeds. What happens at the end if the 90% is shown not to have been achieved?

        Andrew – what justification do you see for imposing a minimum of 30mb on fixed wireless? Why should WISPS have to revisit and provide fibre when BT do not? Why should non-BT masts be rated more highly than BT masts?

        The sad thing overall is that it is all about ‘expectation’. The great unwashed (media editors too, Chris?) have been led down the garden path to expect meteorites of 40 and 80mb landing in all their gardens. The reality will be quite different. Yes, a ‘leap’ from dial-up to 4mb or whatever will be terrific for those who get it – but is that what the nation is expecting?

        Mea Culpa – Peter Cowen it is.

        mike phillips

        2013/04/09 at 14:56

      • My interpretation has been that 90% should be connected at 25 Mbps or faster. Obviously throughput testing is another matter.

        The 100% should be at 2 Mbps, and there are no limits so that could be mobile, satellite or fixed wireless.

        EU has had a different definition for its 2020 targets, which is of course five years beyond our own 2015 targets, there it is looking at 30 Mbps for everyone and half of people subscribing to a 100 Mbps service.

        Why are the EU difficult? Because they are dealing not just with UK specifics, but if they lean one way in one country they have to lean similarly in other countries.

        As for BT not providing fibre, I presume you’ve not seen the option for fibre on demand and that if this providers a commercial hit, that after a million have helped pave the way the BT shareholders might decide that a full FTTP roll-out is worth the risk. In short the FTTC project is not a dead end, or they could decide to use if the costs of FTTP into the home remain too costly.

        BT still has the 2020 challenge to meet, certainly the current BDUK targets do not meet what the EU want in 2020. But then the BDUK process started in 2009, if it was starting now like the fixed wireless then conversations would be very different.

        If the various WiMAX providers had not sat on their hands and actually rolled out masts and services that were attracting numbers of customers the perception would be very different.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/09 at 15:09

      • Tha answer to this is very simple.

        Local bodies contract the supplier to deliver 30Mbps to 90% of the residents and 2Meg to everyone else.

        They do not contract the supplier to deliver speficic technologies, they contract on the basis of the delivered performance.

        If so few lines are set to see less than 30Mbps with just cabinet based deployments, then BT wouldn’t have a problem signing on that basis, and delivering FTTP or line bonding to the “precious few” where the PSTN lines aren’t up to it. BT would be confident that this is perfectly affordable and happy to take the contract which then applies equally to wireless suppliers, because the solution is technology agnostic: the right solution for the right area.

        But then the BDUK process guaranteeing a choice of one supplier destroyed any negotiating position.


        2013/04/09 at 15:27

      • Wow Andrew, don’t mean to sound rude but I cannot believe i am seeing what you typed there..

        FTTC will not feed “almost everyone”, you are talking just over a km of cable before VDSL starts to take a serious dive in speed and reliability. You do not get a free lunch by going from ADSL to VDSL in any way shape or form. As a developer of VDSL systems in my design days i can state that with authority.

        15 Mbps is a lower threshold, VDSL will work below it but just like ADSL crosstalk, interference and line quality issues fast make it unusable. VDSL2 is like ADSL2 , it goes faster if you are near the cabinet but dies off much faster than VDSL.

        That “almost everyone” needs enough properties within that copper distance of the green box to even make it viable. (200 + i think still). For aluminium cable you can at least half the distance.

        Fixed wireless distance issues? , some of our links exceed 30 km without any “slow down”, hardly 1-2 km .. technology wise some of our over 20 km links are now 6 years old. Kijoma operates in a national park, who says we need to but up big masts anyway? Our largest network has about 2 “masts” in total. and these are no more obtrusive than a rural TV pole as fitted to many houses.

        It feels to me as if you are stuck in the view present at the turn of the century when “one man and his access point” wifi mesh operators were in abundance. using 2 Mbps leased lines / ADSL fed 2.4 ghz wifi rubbish.


        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/10 at 15:37

      • Bill fully aware of the limits of VDSL, scroll down to table and the the distribution of line lengths

        Now obviously individual cabinets will have varying distributions, but without spending a lot of time with maps and data you tend to have to use overall figures.

        So two masts covering how many properties? What sort of allocation can be reserved per property at 20% takeup? Or to phrase a different way, what it capacity per sector? If memory is working, WiMax is around Gigabit per sector, so if the 15 Mbps (same as reserved on 40/10 FTTC, rises to 30 on 80/20). then 66 customers before you are contending in the wireless segment, let alone the backhaul.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/10 at 16:53

      • This discussion about theoretical performance is very relevant to this area and the need to deploy the right tech for the right scenario. There is no one blanket solution which works everywhere. For example, our village..

        Range of ADSL speeds is 0.5Meg thru 7Meg. Exchange has recently had ADSL2+ WBC installed, but the only real difference that has made is lifting upstream from 448kpbs up to the heady realms of 1Meg in some cases. D+E line lengths 2.5km thru maybe 6km at worst.

        Village is an I shape (with the heads and tails on the letter I). Two cabs, top left and bottom left of the shape. As far from most of the properties as they could be. So line lengths (D sides) become an issue.

        The elephant in the room is line quality. From the modem stats I have here for a range of connections – the ratio of actual sync rate to expected sync rate for line length is 55%. The noise margin numbers are almost all 15 destroying the meagre speeds available anyway.

        Where we are the line length is 3.6km and the sync rate on ADSL1 was 2Meg (throughput even worse). We’ve used 3G for years while the knackered old pairs sit unused. A line 500m shorter can do 6Meg. One that’s 400m longer has upstream of 256kbps and downstream of 1Meg. The line quality is so very poor, broadband services are out of the question. Clearly some lines do perform as expected and some do not.

        Take the data we have, factor in the line lengths and apply a “quality factor” and I end up with possible FTTC speeds of 1.6Meg thru 76Meg downstream. Upstream is arguably even more of an issue as it drops like a stone, if we had ADSL here I’d have to send DVDs to people through the post as the upstream – in a best case – is pants, the upgrade to 3G speeds (2Meg to 3Meg) makes such things possible to transmit over the net. Indeed this 3G connection (9 to 12Meg down 2 to 3Meg up) enables streaming HDTV and is the fastest connection in the village by some margin beating even the shortest of lines. Probably because it’s not very contended.

        So I can be fairly sure that FTTC is not an option for all here. I’d expect some installations to be knocked back outright and others to be so very poor that their mobiles will be quicker. With our 1180m D side, knowing how bad the line quality was (D or E? We will never know) I wouldn’t be at all surprised if 3G still beat FTTC in both directions.

        Wireless – with five base stations – could do 30Meg to everyone on a 1:1 ratio but only as long as take-up doesn’t exceed 30%. If it were, say, 90%, and everyone wants to stream HDTV at 7pm, we have a problem. A solvable problem, however.

        So Wireless could bring the speeds to everyone, FTTC could not. That pretty well kills it immediately. FTTPoD would have such huge installation costs – thanks to not using the economy of scale – that my figures suggest running a new fibre network would have a comparable if not cheaper cost.

        So FTTC is, potentially, a very expensive way of providing a fairly poor solution. In essence, Wireless can do the speeds to everyone, but probably not at the same time, FTTC can’t even do the speeds to everyone anyway.

        Contrast that with, say, a high density estate with one FTTC cab in the middle, and reasonable quality copper lines. What is needed is the right solution for the area in each case.


        2013/04/11 at 09:25

      • Spot on Mark – “So FTTC is, potentially, a very expensive way of providing a fairly poor solution. In essence, Wireless can do the speeds to everyone, but probably not at the same time, FTTC can’t even do the speeds to everyone anyway.”

        Add into this the fact that cabinets don’t exist in many villages especially on market 1 exchanges, and so big areas will never get ‘superfast’. Also add in many cabs that won’t get enabled, especially those in business areas where they already have expensive leased lines… there is a big digital divide opening up.


        2013/04/11 at 19:09

      • Quote from the Devon & Somerset project – ‘FTTC (network rearrangement) – a solution to exchange only lines which avoids the more challenging FTTP’. So that sorts out the villages without cabinets.

        How do you know there are many cabinets that won’t be enabled, or is it a made up story?

        Looking at Cornwall might give some indication of what will happen in the rest of the UK.


        2013/04/11 at 19:24

      • @Somerset Re the quotation from Devon & Somerset, ask yourself, are they being paid to say that?


        2013/04/11 at 21:47

      • Is who being paid by who? Are you saying that the statement is not correct?


        2013/04/11 at 22:12

      • It’s too soon to say. Let’s see what’s actually delivered at the start, and then check what the user experience is like a year from then. For now it’s just a wish. Or perhaps you disagree.


        2013/04/11 at 22:35

      • a) who is being paid by who?

        b) what do you say is a ‘wish;?

        How about some praise that at last something is happening. What’s the experience in Cornwall?


        2013/04/12 at 18:40

  6. “Mr Cowen simply referred to the BT obligation to provide a “universal” 2 Mbps service by 2015 (USC), and mentioned trials of various new technology to be deployed to achieve this. Neither he nor SCC were able to offer any news for those currently achieving less than 15 Mbps on FTTC.”

    Any good? That’s BT’s Peter Cowan, but I expect you know that.

    mike phillips

    2013/04/09 at 13:38

    • It all depends on whether you spend the money to do

      1. Get the slow 5 to 10% up to speeds of well over 30 Mbps
      2. Spread the money more thinly but improve the overall result giving everyone some sort of boost.

      Or is the answer to cut back on other council services to give more money to BT, or force BT to put more money into the pot. The requirement for match funding was one reason many firms walked from BDUK process, it is not a simple hand-out like many projects have been in the past.

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/04/09 at 14:17

  7. Andrew – “As for BT not providing fibre, I presume you’ve not seen the option for fibre on demand and that if this providers a commercial hit, that after a million have helped pave the way the BT shareholders might decide that a full FTTP roll-out is worth the risk.” I’m not sure who that was for, but if for me then you did not understand the ruling from the EU, I think. WISPS must revisit and fibre properties. There is no mandate for BT to do so – and they have said they won’t anyway.

    mike phillips

    2013/04/09 at 15:49

    • It has been a long day, care to link to where the EU actually says that WISPS must revisit and fibre properties?

      Under what timeframe?

      And there is nothing stopping WISPs going for the DIY approach, EU may be more cautious with rubber stamping stuff after things like Digital Region

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/04/09 at 19:24

    • Ta – had missed that doc before, and given the snake oil sales techniques I’ve seen sometimes for fixed wireless perhaps no surprise for many of the conditions.

      The issue of revisiting is perhaps because EU listened to Cyberdoyle with the comments about FTTH being the only real way to be future proof. What wireless tech can offer speeds similar to FTTP PON, i.e. the 300 to 1 Gigabit range?

      Another thing is that the speed testing and demonstration stuff was largely avoided by Openreach due to their commercial roll-out, and Fujitsu did a trial in the Wirral to look at PIA and show what they could do, not that many ever saw much from the trial as far as I know.

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/04/09 at 22:58

      • I have nothing against wifi, having helped to run a community wifi since 2003 and we are very grateful for the connectivity it offers. I do agree that if wifi funded networks have to eventually go to fibre then that should be in the contract for any community connected with fttc too. The fly in the ointment will be FOD. They are already saying anyone on a fttc can have it, but what is being omitted is the Excess Construction Charges for those who will really need FOD, and the fact that many areas don’t even have cabinets. I think it all needs a bit more transparency, and the councils need to know the truth, which they don’t now. The councillors in our area firmly believe everyone in the villages is going to get ‘superfast’ which is technically impossible without cabinets. Our villages are miles from the exchanges and don’t have cabs. The EU can’t have it both ways, if they insist on wifi leading to fibre they have to insist on satellites, bonded copper and fttc leading to fibre too.
        The beauty of getting a good wifi connection to people in areas where there is not much other connectivity is that it starts the digital engagement ball rolling, and then naturally leads to a fibre solution as more wants more. Wifi kit can then be moved to another area or provide a mobile cloud. It isn’t wasted. The sad bit about fttc is that it is an expensive waste of funding as it isn’t helping the people who need it most. Its only making those close to the cabs who already had a connection go a bit faster and protect the telco’s investment in the phone lines. It is already obsolete technology before it is implemented, and all the talk of speeds experienced in labs doesn’t work in real life over miles of rotting copper.


        2013/04/10 at 07:01

      • Devon & Somerset say they will also be doing FTTC using network rearrangement. Which presumably means putting a new FTTC cabinet in closer to a group of users where one may not exist with EO lines.


        2013/04/10 at 07:35

      • Text is ‘there is a commitment to upgrade to fibre components when economically viable’. Which is not defined…

        EU document –


        2013/04/10 at 08:05

      • Andrew, i am not entirely surprised to see your not so glowing view of FWA providers, however a little research would show you that there is product out there that does the “300 to 1G” range at a price far lower that the typical install cost for a leased line. We use it on our networks and easily pushes over 500 Mbps TCP over the relatively long distances they cover.. As for the snake oil, yes some WiSPs over quote their capabilities. However this is completely insignificant compared to the marketing lies of “super fast” and “up to 8,24,40,80 Mbps” crap from those ISP’s dependent on openreach infrastructure.

        Get somebody to order a new broadband service from each of the major providers, see what speed the sales team say they will achieve before they sign up for 24 months of it?

        They are Snake oil wholesalers basically. With applied public funding.

        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/10 at 09:32

      • ISPs are still saying we can get broadband here, now they are saying we can get 26 meg. where they get that figure from I have no idea. We should start to record the calls. Nobody round here can get more than a meg, and the exchange only delivers ‘up to 8meg’ so even if they put adsl2+ in we can only get the same where we live unless we pay for two lines and bond them. Many here are on dacs or on extremely long lines and can get no service whatsoever, even dial up won’t work as the lines are too crackly. Yet in the statistics we have broadband. Snake oil indeed. Our wifi delivers 30 meg symmetrical, its far superior to anything the incumbent could provide. Because these homes and businesses have got used to a good service they find more uses for it, and are now digging in fibre, as we are lucky enough to have secured a decent feed at last. The main problem with most wifi networks as someone else has already mentioned is getting a feed. I read with interest about the initiatives in Spain, where they roll out wifi then slowly replace with fibre and reuse the kit in other areas. This sort of thing helps everyone, whereas fttc and phone lines doesn’t, so it shouldn’t be funded.


        2013/04/10 at 09:39

  8. Andrew – In the case of Surrey there is no “it all depends” argument. Expectations were raised when Surrey residents and businesses were told that 99.7% of Surrey premises will have superfast connections, with “superfast” defined by Surrey County Council as greater than 24Mbps. This was the public boast of the politicians and their officials in SCC. However, more recently, after the agreement of the contract with BT, it seems that realism has dawned on SCC who now redefine “superfast” to be greater than 15Mbps with a fallback to 2Mbps for some.

    This prompted me to write to SCC (twice) and since I have had no answer, the last email that I wrote is here, made public for what it is worth. Like Mike, I have to assume that there are no answers and therefore we have the silent treatment. Meanwhile the Surrey Superfast website (surely one of the worst ever to exist) provides less information than ever –

    Somerset – what I am saying is that the local authority projects will in many cases not provide the speeds /quality that the politicians are saying they will. There is no data for these future deployments, but it is plain to see the difficulties that BT has in the rural areas that they have attempted so far. Even where FTTC has been deployed there remain serious problems with the local metallic distribution network that BT seems unable to resolve. What is needed is some honesty and openness from the local authorities, who from what I can see in Surrey have raised expectations and now refuse to say how their contract with BT will ensure they meet those expectations.


    2013/04/09 at 19:15

  9. Andrew – “given the snake oil sales techniques” – yes, I think for some of the early wifi schemes which were very skimpy and often based on re-distributing ADSL from a copper pair, that is a good description. It appears many folk have failed to notice the significant change in recent years – many wifi networks now are fed from dedicated fibre feeds of significant capacity, backbone microwave dishes can shoot the stuff up to 40km or more at 300mb. If you need updating, I can put you in touch with one excellent provider who will tell you what he does. Obviously the move must be to full fibre to properties – everyone accepts that, and indeed with the fibre backbone of many wifi networks this is an easy if costly step. My question, which has not been answered, is why BT have not been charged with this ‘upgrade’ to FTTC and moreover have publicly stated they will not do it. Do you need that link too? In addition, why does wifi ‘have to’ deliver speeds FTTC can often only dream of?

    No-one is claiming wifi is ‘the future’ but as Chris says, it has one heck of a lot of bonus points over what we are getting for the money – and will actually deliver the speeds it claims to properties at a far lower cost.

    mike phillips

    2013/04/10 at 07:43

    • spot on Mike. We need a level playing field, and we need the people making decisions on funding to understand the physics, and not listen to weasel words and hype from desperate telcos. There is nothing wrong with BT et al doing whatever they want with their networks. What is wrong is that public money is being spent on providing a connection that isn’t fit for purpose in rural areas. The funding was for rural broadband, not to make those who have a service go faster. It wasn’t meant to be used to lay new copper for bonding. It wasn’t meant to put new obsolete cabinets in villages. Wifi can deliver far superior service and a lot cheaper for customers than bonded copper. It can also deliver superfast over distance, which copper never can. (yes we know it can in labs)


      2013/04/10 at 07:51

      • Why will new cabinets be obsolete in villages, surely a good relatively low cost solution?


        2013/04/10 at 10:39

    • So rather than guess, tell me if you put a mast say 2km from a village of 3000 properties, what sort of speeds could be served to each property, before contention on the wireless segment kicks in.

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/04/10 at 17:00

      • Are you under the impression, Andrew, that contention will ‘kick in’? It will be there from day 1 as with any system. What speeds/bandwidths do each of the 3000 need? Your question is impossible for me to answer, so I will pose one back. If you put an FTTC cabinet 2km from 3000 properties, what sort of speeds/bandwidths could be served to each property, before contention on the cabinet kicks in. Not forgetting, of course, that you cannot feed 3000 properties from 1 cabinet – more like 15 cabinets at, what is BT charging Counties – £30,000 per cab? It could well be that a couple of masts at around £10k per mast would suffice.

        I am not a WISP, and I have no idea how many sector aerials or indeed masts would be needed for your challenge, and I honestly do not think the question relevant, anyway. Like all supply issues, more demand requires more supply, so either more fibre or more capacity on the existing fibre, all do-able, and then more sector aerials if required. I do think you would benefit from talking to a decent WISP to get up-to-date. I note you mentioned WiMax earlier – I believe that is long gone. A lot of erroneous folklore exists based on ‘experiences’ with home wifi and early ADSL type wireless nets, with people translating that to the wireless network systems. They have moved on.

        mike phillips

        2013/04/10 at 18:51

      • Andrew your example is at best a straw man argument. a village of 3000 properties is perfectly viable for FTTC or FTTP roll out. As for contention “kicking in” , do you know what capacity Fibre cabinets are supplied with? I am quite sure is it not 20 Gbps, which is what 250 subscribers would need to get the 78 Mbps service uncontended. In fact i suspect at tops it is a ~2 Gbps feed, most likely however 1 Gbps . Then of course you have the bandwidth the ISP commits to via BT wholesale , they may only commit to a few 600 Mbps feeds, if they are rich enough,for ALL their customers. Many of the smaller wholesale ISP’s may only have a single 600 or multiple 155’s.. So once you educate yourself on the reality of contention, you will see that picking on potential Wireless contention is a fallacy. Looks like some Broadband thinking is needed there?

        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/10 at 21:02

      • @Mike

        Ideal scenario would be mast in centre of coverage area, so that mast can have multiple sectors, and dedicated capacity on each. That is what I am seeking input on from the more knowledgeable.

        On FTTC, yes at 2km you would be down into the 3 to 5Mbps and with ANFP probably might as well stick to ADSL. So yes more cabinets in the village.

        Openreach bandwidth planning is 15 Mbps for GEA-FTTC 40/2 and 40/10, the GEA-FTTC 80/20 is 30 Mbps, with point to point fibre from cabinet back to the exchange handover, where the wholesale provider (e.g. BT Wholesale/TalkTalk/Sky) take over control of QoS. So yes contention may exist from cabinet to the exchange, but not at slower speeds, and with the presence of fibre they can light more if they want.

        At the most simplistic you could say every 400 homes, have access to a shared GigE pipe to the exchange, with option to add another Gig if provider wants. So these 15 cabinets could simplisticly push 15Gbps to the exchange for just 3000 properties.

        I bow to Bill to talk about what they could offer.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/11 at 09:04

  10. Just to bang the Ewhurst (in Surrey) drum once more, BT destroyed the Vtesse Networks SEEDA Grant-approved project in 2011 to install a partial under-performing solution in late 2012 that is too small. BT are now engaged in remedial works digging up the roads again, but there is no announcement for a minimum of 50 residents without any VDSL services some of whom are even below 2 Mbps. Furthermore as Ewhurst was a “Commercial Development” they are not eligible for any assistance from SCC at all. (Yes there might be some “jam tomorrow” for a few wealthy folk who might avoid the BT failings with FoD on fibre distribution node distances in excess of 3 km, some not even in ducts, if it is eventually available.)

    The one thing I hope we can all agree on is that far greater clarity without marketing weasel words must be achieved very rapidly. I am seriously disheartened when e.g. the Chief Business Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph publishes the spat between BT and Carphone Warehouse and fails to note that Ian Livingston’s operation is responsible for the major part of the monopolistic “Copper Luddites’ ” network**. Similarly the Financial Times Telcoms Correspondent talked about “Rural Broadband plans descend into farce” (14 March 2013) but leaves much else unsaid.


    Merrow Drover

    2013/04/10 at 08:24

  11. An interesting read Ian, The desire to tax Fixed Wireless “masts” in itself is not objectionable, however to make things fair and balanced they would need to tax every BT pole and duct in the same way, perhaps based on the area of land it covers? Without this balance then I would object strongly to a tax on FWA infrastructure. With respect to the article, I applaud the defence of Fixed Wireless by Mike and the questions asked. What has me a tad confused is to why he has such a hostile attitude to… Kijoma, a fixed wireless provider, who not only operate in his county but have customers in West Chiltington area and have had for many years. When we suggested to him via his forum that we would need a modest demand level (~30) to warrant adding a relay to cover West Chiltington common and nearby a couple of years ago, his response was to remove my posts and my account on the forum. Ever since the lie that “it isn’t affordable for Kijoma here” has been repeated ad infinitum. So from this i am assuming Mike’s support for Fixed WIreless is selective, not universal?

    Bill Lewis

    2013/04/10 at 09:16

    • Since you have chosen to raise this rather old issue, Bill, the reason at the time was your lamentable ‘customer service’ and the nature of your forum post. Suggest you would be advised to drop this and remain focussed on the issues for the benefit of all?

      mike phillips

      2013/04/10 at 09:52

      • This highlights the issue of those who say ‘give the money to the ‘altnets”. How many companies have the experience, capacity and support to rollout, presumably FTTP, to a large area? Emphasis on long term support 24×7 into the future.


        2013/04/10 at 10:44

      • Lamentable customer service? , our customers receive an excellent service in my view as we put them first.. Oh wait, you are referring to those who are not customers but want to be.. The ones that send abusive emails because they are one of a few people in an area we as yet do not cover who registered demand out of the 500 that registered for infinity? You are welcome to publish the forum post , along with yours that it replied to if you wish? In fact i encourage it as nobody else on the forum got to see it. It is not an old issue when you continue to moan about the poor Broadband in parts of WC and yet discourage anybody on your forum/in your village from creating the required demand for a service from the operator present in the area for over 8 years..

        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/10 at 14:55

      • @Bill Lewis

        I have no idea what has gone on between you and Mike/this forum. However, those who are not yet your customers, may not want to become your customers if they do not receive any response to their enquiries. Just saying..

        Some do see the broadband world from your point of view, indeed this article and its comments rather support the position of Wireless providers. As I see things, communities, especially those where the ancient telephone cabinets are in the “wrong place” and/or who have phone lines with the conductive properties of jelly are going to have to forget about BDUK and any external funding, bypass the entire edifice and work with suppliers directly. Some outcome for a project which among other things was supposed to assist the “final third” and “level the playing field”.


        2013/04/10 at 15:49

  12. Professional “FUDder-dudders” ** like Somerset might be a little more credible if they recognised that the taxpayer is lumbered with a predatory monopoly still committed to “One of the worst mistakes humanity has made” according to their former CTO. The fiasco could have been avoided if only they had followed e.g. the Jersey solution. As for the execrable nightmare that is “long term support”, the sooner that part is isolated from the remainder with a totally different culture the better.


    Merrow Drover

    2013/04/10 at 13:47

    • You might like to explain why I am not credible.

      Do you understand that BT wanted to fibre the UK but was stopped by the Thatcher government to protect the new (US) cable TV companies as it would also be able to send video down the fibre in pre internet days. Also BT was only allowed by Ofcom to install FTTP until a few years ago. Also the Jersey solution is where there is no LLU and so JT gets all the revenue.

      it would help these and other discussions if people checked the facts behind what they post and could backup their statements with more detail than just soundbites.


      2013/04/10 at 20:49

      • “Also BT was only allowed by Ofcom to install FTTP until a few years ago.”

        Can you please explain the Ofcom restriction you refer to.


        2013/04/10 at 21:45

      • Some complex research reveals – February 24th 2009

        ‘There is intense speculation that this week will see Ofcom finally give British Telecom the green light for the creation of the U.K.’s first nationwide fibre-optic network. After over two years of industry consultation it looks as though British Telecom has won the battle of wills with Ofcom and its competitors and will be allowed to make a return on its significant investment into the new network. ‘

        Note BT has been installing fibre into business premises for 20 years for lines and private circuits.

        So where does the discussion go now?


        2013/04/10 at 22:04

      • Thanks for the link.


        2013/04/10 at 22:23

      • @David

        There was a rule about BT now deploying active street hardware that was removed when BT pestered and wanted to start FTTC roll-out. Some suggest BT could have got this lifted sooner if they had really wanted – again we don’t know the content of Ofcom meetings or BT boardroom.

        I am not sure that the active street hardware pre-cluded a PON FTTP architecture.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/11 at 09:07

      • @Andrew “There was a rule about BT not deploying active street hardware that was removed when BT pestered and wanted to start FTTC roll-out. Some suggest BT could have got this lifted sooner if they had really wanted – again we don’t know the content of Ofcom meetings or BT boardroom.”

        I am sure BT were not at that time trying too hard. I remember in 2008 sitting at a council meeting when BT were still dragging their feet on FTTP based on Ofcom requiring them to have a metallic path for emergency telephone reasons. I met with Ofcom on this issue and still have the e-mail that was subsequently sent to BT pointing out that Ofcom had removed that particular restriction some considerable time before the meeting.


        2013/04/12 at 17:20

  13. At the end of the day, if the BT network fails as badly as is expect in rural areas, the benefit will be some people will have had jobs building it and a job is a job these days.

    The clock is ticking for the altnets to deliver projects of some scale to show what can be done, and then we can all stop talking about weasel words but have lots of real data to compare and see parts of the UK growing as people and businesses move there, leaving the BT only areas as desolate wastelands like the coal villages of the past.

    Andrew Ferguson

    2013/04/10 at 17:06

    • the altnets need to deliver projects of some scale? Isn’t the best part of a county enough?

      Why is it ticking, Kijoma is a commercial provider, not reliant on grants, funding, loans or external investment. Yet we are fed with so much uncertainty by a public funded fiasco (BDUK) fuelled by ignorance at LA and many other levels and it appears some people who claim to be a resource for broadband information lack the basic knowledge of the current technologies available.

      Do you seriously think the gov would let BT fail ? , there is this thing called a pension fund held over from the GPO days.. The treasury would be left holding that baby if they went to the wall.

      Bill Lewis

      2013/04/10 at 21:10

      • I was not talking about you personally, but at an overall level Bill.

        If you want a personal analysis of your tariffs and service. To the consumer used to £5 to 10 for BB + £10-£15 line rental and that will be 40GB to unlimited usage. Then a 10GB package for £17.99 can look uncompetitive and the business name of next tariff up will put people off possibly.

        Unless they are in the situation of only getting 2 Mbps, the problem being that as people get faster connections that is when they start consuming HD material e.g. 4GB for a single film. The UK average monthly usage was around 23GB in 2012, so your home tariffs seem to be aimed at the light user.

        What does the difference in price per GB of £1.20 and £2.40 between home and business tariffs give business that is better?

        How much to connect to the service?

        Given fixed wireless is NGA capable, why the need for GB pricing that is better than mobile but not close to fixed broadband still?

        Now I will be accussed of not supporting fixed wireless, but then I do moan like this about other services too.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/04/11 at 08:56

  14. @mark

    “I have no idea what has gone on between you and Mike/this forum. However, those who are not yet your customers, may not want to become your customers if they do not receive any response to their enquiries. Just saying.”

    So places like Mikes have spent years pursuing BT as a solution, using your logic they should of given up ages ago and sought an alternative ? BT after all have snubbed them over and over again.

    Patience and the customer/supplier relationship is a two way process, if our demand exceeds our ability to supply then they have to wait. Just like BT and every other commercial company, we will focus on the highest demand/fastest return on investment potential customers first when there is demand “contention”.

    If people decide they do not want to wait then that is their choice. If they decide to become abusive and rude then we have the right not to pursue them as customers.

    the forum thing wasn’t some protracted issue, Mike invited me to join his forum to discuss our solution, this i did, he replied with a disparaging snipe, i replied to correct it and the posts and my account were deleted. As this was in the space of an hour or two on a light usage forum, i doubt anybody saw any of it.

    So it is a non issue in itself. The issue is that he appears to be actively advising people who want a decent broadband service there to avoid Kijoma and instead focus on another WiSP . A WiSP that seems to be inheriting the greek deficit according to their accounts and has yet to provide anything in this county.

    perhaps they are awaiting a bail out too?

    Meanwhile a chunk of West Chiltington remains at low ADSL speeds.. Well apart from the areas we cover and provide to and have done since 2005/6 .

    Bill Lewis

    2013/04/10 at 21:27

    • Oh dear.

      mike phillips

      2013/04/11 at 06:46

    • I would just like to say the following on this matter :

      Mike approached us a couple of years or more ago and said he had experienced difficulties making progress with other potential providers in his area (BT, other large national providers, regional providers and a WiSP from what I can recall).
      We engaged immediately and subsequently undertook detailed surveys of the area and provided plans and costings for a potential West Chiltington project. Unfortunately BT decided to make a rather misleading announcement regarding future upgrades in the area that led many of the potential customers to think that fast internet via phone lines was just around the corner. This substantially affected demand in the area and appeared to make the project unviable from an advanced demand perspective.

      I assume that Mr Lewis is advising people that they should be careful which companies they engage with as, with any company, the financial standing and resources can affect the company’s performance and its ability to deliver on its promises and contracts in the future. If this is the case then I agree in principle with that sentiment.

      I am not sure which WiSP Mr Lewis is referring to in his statement but from his words I think he must be referring to some company that operates ‘abroad’ as he refers to them providing nothing in this country and having a large inherited debt – but I confess I don’t really understand the comment. I am sure that the company in question will know who they are.

      For the avoidance of doubt I can confirm that High Point Infrastructure Ltd. (HPI) owns and operates the extensive ‘open access’ and fully BDUK ‘fixed wireless’ (superfast) compliant ‘Wiber’ network with more than 500 square miles of UK coverage in place for several years and a user base of around 5,000 – spread between multiple ISPs who wholesale access to the Wiber network – of which click4internet Ltd. is one of those ISPs.

      I can also confirm categorically that HPI does not have and has never had any bank debts or borrowings – ‘inherited’ or otherwise and does not have any outstanding or overdue commercial supplier trade accounts. HPI has been 100% financed by its shareholders capital inputs. I can further confirm that the entire Wiber network infrastructure owned and operated by HPI is 100% ‘bought and paid for’ with no borrowings or debt and that the company operates a successful, profitable and sustainable business model.

      I can also confirm that click4interet Ltd. – an ISP that uses the Wiber network to deliver its services, has no bank debt or borrowings – ‘inherited’ or otherwise and does not have any outstanding or overdue commercial supplier trade accounts and has retained and renewed 99% of subscribers since 2008 – substantial ratification of the quality of its service and products.

      Any customer looking for an ISP or any organisation looking for a commercial partner would certainly be well advised to evaluate the financial credentials, ‘liquidity’ and business plan of any ‘supplier’ or ‘partner’ and should feel comfortable if the results of that analysis are as robust, clean and healthy as those of HPI or click4internet for example.

      Frazer Munro
      High Point Infrastructure Ltd.
      Click4internet Ltd.

      Frazer Munro

      2013/04/11 at 16:28

      • a very eloquent response and interesting as I had not mentioned any WiSP by name and yet you wheel in on the discussion.

        If you read my message i clearly said “county” not “country” .

        Anyway i totally agree with your statement

        “Any customer looking for an ISP or any organisation looking for a commercial partner would certainly be well advised to evaluate the financial credentials, ‘liquidity’ and business plan of any ‘supplier’ or ‘partner'”

        Fortunately there are free and accessible ways to gain an overall view of a company on site like company check.

        Here is Kijoma’s entry for example :-

        as you need an account on there to view other data then i’ll paste it here

        credit limit is : £10,000 Maximum recommended

        The credit limit on this company has risen 100% in comparison to the previously suggested credit limit.
        No exact match CCJs are recorded against the company.
        A 14% growth in Total Assets occurred during the latest trading period.
        Net Worth increased by 14.6% during the latest trading period.
        The company saw an increase in their Cash Balance of 96.2% during the latest trading period.
        The movement in accumulated earnings would indicate that the company made a profit after tax and other appropriations, including dividends.

        It is a good site to use and i monitor all Kijoma’s competitors on it, including the one i was referring to in my message earlier.

        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/12 at 18:27

  15. Frazer – thanks for stamping on that nonsense. Hopefully with that we can end this bizarre focus on a small village in West Sussex when discussing national issues. I would, like all your customers, have had every confidence in your operation and thank you for the excellent response to all my enquiries.

    Excitement mounts here – an email with ‘questions’ to BDUK (sent 28/3 and not even acknowledged) apparently has a reply ‘in draft’. So much for high-speed broadband delivery (UK). Only took 3 phone calls to find out……

    mike phillips

    2013/04/12 at 15:09

    • Eagerly awaiting the BDUK reply which is ‘in draft’…………………my next query will be how do BDUK propose to ‘measure’ these delivery speeds on wireless and will they be applying the same assessment system and criteria to FTTC? Hopefully NOT using the BT speed tester, eh? I’m sure the more serious WISPS will want to know. Has anyone else challenged the EU or BDUK on this or is it just slipping, jelly-like’ down into the slops bucket?

      Amusing footnote, on each of the 3 occasions (now 4), the switchboard at DCMS were unable initially to locate BDUK in their ‘world’ to connect me – “Never ‘eard of it”. Says it all, really.

      No sign of a reply from Neelie’s office yet (or acknowledgement).

      mike phillips

      2013/04/14 at 13:57

      • I have had a reply from BDUK which I consider to be inadequate and have responded. I was going to post both here, but as I have said to Ian, since everyone appears to have given up, no-one seems to be challenging BDUK/EU (here, anyway) or commenting on their replies – and we all seem to be resigned to having Broadband Bill tickle our tummies, I will just carry on privately until I too give up.

        mike phillips

        2013/04/17 at 10:18

      • Never give up Mike. I think we just have to keep on taking bites out of the elephant. One bit at a time, we’ll get there eventually. People are slowly starting to realise, and eventually they will vote with their feet and there are going to be some pretty foolish looking politicians around. Yes Minister. They will soon be in the Thick of IT.


        2013/04/17 at 13:54

      • Any suggestions how ‘speed’ should be measured and how relevant it is to the overall experience?

        I doubt if anyone votes in national or local elections based on broadband rollout. Many people just interested in ’12 months half price at £3.25 a month’.


        2013/04/17 at 19:33

      • Somerset – no – I honestly do not think they know themselves.

        mike phillips

        2013/04/17 at 21:30

      • Back in the days when quality management was new and interesting, Philip Crosby defined quality as “what the user wants”. That’s a pretty simple way of describing every hand-over along the supply chain of pretty much everything. The issue is to define the item handed over in terms that allow the next person in the supply chain to do what they need with it. There can be a debate and trade-off about the cost of delivering that (semi-finished) item, but at the point of handover, it must be fit for purpose, including cost, for the next person. Of course, Crosby assumed a competitive market and a choice of options for the consumer (the next person in the supply chain). Applying this idea to broadband means you shouldn’t have to rely on external agencies to ‘add in’ qualities like speed and reliability. Crosby (and Deming) showed how expensive and ineffectual it is to do that. How long will it be before we auction our demand for broadband in realtime according to what services we want to access at that moment (or next 30 minutes)? If it can work for energy, why not for broadband?


        2013/04/17 at 22:07

      • In the case of VDSL’s monopolistic provider and the non-contracted Public Servants involved there is a strong case to argue that neither wish to discuss the fine detail.

        Surrey Hills

        2013/04/17 at 22:13

      • To update you all – no surprises here – two follow-up emails asking for clarification on BDUK and EU responses, both sent 16/4 and with both an email ‘read receipt’ request AND a request for physical acknowledgement – not a dicky-bird……………………

        mike phillips

        2013/04/25 at 12:04

      • not entirely surprising Mike, WISP’s, or should i say this one as i cannot vouch for the rest, have been on the case with regular communications to central,regional ,local gov and the EU. All with varying results for some years now. some examples, when i raised the obvious BT bias on WSCC’s website in the past, the leader of the council replied with “BT are a large employer in the county”. Vaizey on the other hand blanked most attempts to communicate and when there was an important meeting in London about broadband, Kijoma were on the invite list (I discovered afterwards). However an Email from Vaizey (or a minion) sent to me declared that there was no more room at the meeting for Kijoma to attend when i enquired prior to it. This of course made it look like we did not attend a meeting we were on the list to attend. This was in the early days of BDUK. So as much as you may find the lack of response to your recent EU enquiry rather incredulous, This is nothing new or unexpected. As Vaizey said recently “BT just happened to win all the contracts” well, that’s fine and dandy then 🙂

        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/25 at 13:39

  16. Over to East Sussex and the lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum (see This one is geographically very close to home and when the Councillor running the show states that if BT don’t provide – they will (I don’t remember local authorities being in a position to provide infrastructure – unless they have set up local infrastructure groups, or more probably they involve the private sector). If ever there was an indictment of the lunacy of the whole process this is it.

    John Nolan

    2013/04/12 at 18:00

    • ah yes, the very same East Sussex behind the fiasco that is Isfield , they have intervened twice there and the village doesn’t even have ADSL still after all these years. The latest intervention resulted in picking a supplier who quoted more than the state aid regs would allow.them to spend… So the entire bid and award process was… pointless..

      Bill Lewis

      2013/04/12 at 18:18

    • And in Kent there was the Selling fiasco. Parish councils and technology projects?


      2013/04/12 at 18:31

      • I haven’t looked to heavily at the Selling fiasco but from what i have read it required a mind boggling level of optimism to think a Fibre solution was going to be feasible with that level of revenue. Let alone the other factors involved. Talking of Kent, Does anybody know what happened to the wifi system for sandgate that was splurged and justifiably vilified on the TB forums? . 50k of money was going into that and it was ADSL with wifi access points basically? .. funny how the website has no new news of the project for a long time.. Why aren’t we feeding this all to the Private Eye? it sounds up their street.

        Bill Lewis

        2013/04/12 at 18:50

      • And NextGenUs had a story to tell.


        2013/04/12 at 18:56

  17. NextGenUs seemed to be one of those polished marketing setups that didn’t have the ability to deliver behind it.. They did what companies like this do sadly, tarnish the image of Fixed Wireless and independent providers generally. I am always very suspicious of big fanfare companies with highly polished websites , big claims and ego’s the size of the moon. Rightly so too as all of them go the way of the dodo eventually..

    I would be the first to agree when we are told our website isn’t great and our marketing lacking.. It doesn’t stop the demand for our service and the money goes into providing that instead of a fancy image.and weasel words..

    Bill Lewis

    2013/04/12 at 20:19

  18. @ Somerset

    “‘FTTC (network rearrangement) – a solution to exchange only lines which avoids the more challenging FTTP’. So that sorts out the villages without cabinets.”

    This statement is of interest as I know of a village with EO connections to a large number of properties (greater than 500, some over 2 km distance). This village is within the first tranche in Surrey of being provided with a “superfast” solution with public funds by September 2013. Can you positively say that the quote above, which is not specific, actually means that the funding will be used to replace EO lines with a traditional cabinet(s) followed by a FTTC solution?


    2013/04/13 at 09:39

    • It came from slides at a Devon & Somerset event. The link is

      Implementation order of preference:
      FTTC – cost effective and more straightforward as it make good use of the existing access network while still achieving good speeds
      FTTC (network rearrangement) – a solution to exchange only lines which avoids the more challenging FTTP
      FTTP – more expensive and complex as new physical access is required. Can be several times the cost of FTTC. BT models to gain maximum benefit.
      For some areas a fibre solution is not viable and in a subset of those they will be getting less than 2Mbps. We will choose the best available infill technology at time of implementation.


      2013/04/13 at 11:25

      • Thank you for the link. The Devon and Somerset website is far superior than the one provided by Surrey County Council –

        I await with interest to see what “network rearragement” will be and whether it will happen by September this year. I still believe that spending public money on the metallic telephone network to provide a modern broadband infrastructure is a solution that will prove to be inadequate in a short-time.


        2013/04/13 at 12:32

      • Where does it say any rearrangements will happen by this September? FTTC with existing cabinets is the first priority to benefit the greatest number as I read it.

        This work also gets fibre spines out into rural areas that also enable FoD and provide infrastructure for the future. Are there any applications identified that require high bandwidth, HD video is ‘only’ 10M?


        2013/04/14 at 09:41

      • Sorry if I misled you, but I was referring to the Surrey plans. For Surrey, it says so in a number of places, but this is the most convincing – The point is that at least one of the villages in the list has a significant number of EO lines; therefore I have assumed that this problem would be tackled first in Surrey.


        2013/04/14 at 21:45

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