Following the broadband money

BT changes cut off Welsh ISPs from ABC grants

with 25 comments

Changes in the status of BT exchanges that coincided with the launch of the Welsh Assembly Government’s  (WAG) Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) programme may stop BT’s competitors from accessing grant money of up to £1000 per home.

Stakeholders are meeting the WAG today in Cardiff to discuss the ABC, Richard Brown of Wispa reports. “Basically, it’s a ra-ra session for the scheme and an attempt to keep the smaller ISPs onside whilst BT solves the problems of Wales en route to delivering 95%+ superfast coverage,” he says.

The ABC scheme, which kicked off on 1 October,  contributes up to £1000 per premises to home owners and SMEs who may miss out on the £425m joint WAG-BT Superfast Cymru programme or where its roll-out has not yet started.

It appears that, just as ABC went live, BT changed all the UE (under evaluation) exchanges to FE (future exchanges). “Under ABC, FE exchanges do not qualify for grant… two days ago those exchanges did qualify,” Brown says.

What a difference a day makes.

What a difference a day makes.

The timing looks suspicious when one looks at the map. Brown points out the dotted line on the map is the border between Wales and England.

“All the ones on the Welsh side now mysteriously don’t qualify for support from the Welsh government. This is simply an extension of BT announcing that they are ‘coming soon’ when a small ISP announces an installation in an area – much like they tried to do to B4RN,” Brown says.

“This is a nonsense. Someone – anyone – but someone, has to start taking this seriously.

  • BT is being paid handsomely to promise to deliver.
  • The contracts are secret.
  • The delivery mechanisms and roll-out plans are secret.
  • No one is allowed to scrutinise anything – but we all have to shut up and suck up the BT goodness…”

Brown earlier started a satirical website, SuperFarce Cymru, that mocked the WAG’s programme and earned him letters from BT’s lawyers that alleged he used copyright material without permission. It’s still there.

BDUK is holding a similar talk-fest on Monday 7 October to find out what plans would-be altnets have to provide the Final 10% with next generation broadband connections.

Not for the first time BDUK is unable or unwilling to provide videoconferencing, or even a webcast and phone-in facility. This would save hard-up farmers,  country pub owners and wanna-be altnet operators a long trip to London to attend and exploit the benefits of superfast broadband at the same time.

Oh, wait…

For an invitation email Andy Carter at or call him on 020 7211 6043. While you’re at it, ask him to webcast the meeting.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/10/04 at 05:45

25 Responses

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  1. Goliath running amok. Stifling innovation. Holding us to ransom on its old phone lines. Oh where is our David? Maybe St David of Wales can find this slingshot?


    2013/10/04 at 06:30

  2. Do we know if an OMR took place in Wales? If so, surely the exchange ‘plans’ should have been ‘frozen’ until 3 years after the OMR and this apparent nonsense can be knocked on the head.

    mike phillips

    2013/10/04 at 07:16

    • Yes Mike. The OMR did take place in Wales. Phase 2 of the OMR was 23rd Feb 2012

      Abby Hanson

      2013/10/04 at 08:53

      • Thanks, Abby – I assumed it had. That means, as I understand it, that no ‘new’ exchange upgrades by BT outwith the BDUK framework can take place until after 23rd Feb 2015? Under which ‘umbrella’ have these new ‘future exchanges’ been sheltered? If as part of the BDUK funding programme, they will presumably be completed within the timeline? What is the end date for the Welsh contract with BT for FTTC provision? Presumably that will also be the cut-off date for this ‘£1000 per home ABC’ grant?

        mike phillips

        2013/10/04 at 12:59

  3. I blame ABC for allocating funding based on the telephone exchange the premise is connected to!

    All BT have done is exploit this loophole to their advantage. Am I the only with a feeling of déjà vu?


    2013/10/04 at 07:32

    • Indeed, Andy – the Council-wide willingness to accept the ‘premises passed’ mantra from BT means, as you say, that those unable to receive HSB on a fibre-enabled exchange due to line quality, length or cabinet port availability are locked out from this ‘grant’. Had it been based on ‘real’ HSB connections, they may well have qualified.

      mike phillips

      2013/10/04 at 08:31

  4. At what point do we take the brown paper bags off the heads of these civil servants and reveal their ignorance? Or should we perhaps start looking at the cheque books? Because either way, whatever is going on looks like utter incompetence at the least, and potentially, fraud.

    And as for that shower who claim they even understand what is required in the countryside, I got bored asking the Broadband Stakeholders Group (the clue is in the name) to webcast. Too expensive? Are you f*&^ing kidding me? So how are us yokels supposed to do it? Oh, itunes voucher and a teenager and an Argos £20 webcam – JFDI.

    At what point will the British public stand up to this disgraceful and shameful corporate/governmental failure and DEMAND the money back to be better spent on any one of the under-funded social solutions required to run a first world country?

    Personally,I hope their pensions strangle them.


    2013/10/04 at 08:36

    • lins – not just the ‘civil servants’ either. A lot of BDUK is populated by supposed ‘knowledgeable industry folk’ as ‘advisors/contracted’ agents. I do wonder which particular form of Nelson’s eye’ they suffer from.

      mike phillips

      2013/10/04 at 08:43

      • Probably the same one as those in the regions who are about as useful as Nelson’s big toe and earning nigh on (or more than) a £1m for the privilege..


        2013/10/04 at 08:50

  5. I’m happy to offer my services to webcast such meetings. Perhaps if they can’t afford my modest fee and expenses, the community could crowdfund it


    2013/10/04 at 09:43

    • What’s the target amount, John?


      2013/10/04 at 12:36

      • Well. As it’s likely to mean an expensive last minute traim journey to London. I’d say £600 all told


        2013/10/04 at 12:44

  6. So ‘Coming Soon’ areas can apply…


    2013/10/04 at 10:48

  7. ‘BT changed all the UE (under evaluation) exchanges to FE’. Not true, there are some as UE.


    2013/10/04 at 15:23

    • So people want dates, they get them, and then others complain…

      Anyway, what matters is the detail of the individual areas not covered by the rollout.


      2013/10/06 at 20:47

      • It also matters what BT delivers in the rollout., and when, and for how much.


        2013/10/07 at 00:43

  8. I wouldn’t feed the troll, Ian.


    2013/10/07 at 09:30

    • Is that the most intelligent thing you can say rather than admit you were incorrect in saying all UE exchanges in Wales were changed to FE?

      eg. Exchange Name: CLAWDD NEWYDD Status: Under Evaluation


      2013/10/07 at 11:18

      • Can you explain the timing of BT’s decision to suddenly change the status of most of the exchanges?


        2013/10/07 at 11:42

      • Somerset, finding one or two exchanges that have not changed pretty much makes the point that was made.

        You truly need to find something constructive to do with your time – this is precisely why you have been excluded from so many people’s interactions and accounts.

        You are looking (as ever) to find fault with those that dare to criticise. This is not a particular issue – but you have precisely nothing of value to offer other than pedantry.

        When you have something to contribute then I shall be the first to engage – until then you are a troll. As such this is my final communication to you (note that my last comment was not to you – it was to Ian).


        2013/10/07 at 11:55

      • Not trying to be pedantic but there is a list of more than one or two here –

        End users are looking for dates so will be keen to see them asap. If areas are planned is there any point in not saying.

        What needs looking at is why ABC grants are based on exchange areas when it should be on areas covered where cabinets are not upgraded, or without cabinets (plus not planned to have cabinets added) or without FTTP or on long lines from cabinets.

        And why is ‘Coming Soon’ missed out?


        2013/10/07 at 14:57

      • Despite my better judgement, and despite the fact that (as always) you offer nothing into the conversation and only seek to edit others, or to desperately try to correct them – I will engage with you.

        Your message – with comments:

        Not trying to be pedantic but there is a list of more than one or two here –

        Sure – and where do you think Andrew got the impetuous to write the story and establish that list (which is from an excel spreadsheet provided by BT)? The point is that of the exchanges in Wales – that is a tiny list. Because you choose to edit rather than educate you have no idea what a tiny percentage that is.
        End users are looking for dates so will be keen to see them asap. If areas are planned is there any point in not saying.

        Of course not – but the habit we all (you especially) have gotten into is to believe the headlines. When you do that, you miss the point. Just because there are dates, don’t expect them to be met. Originally the plan for superfast UK was…well that has gone. That got changed…oh, that’s been changed again…

        The point is – educated, informed and knowledgeable folks can see the flaws – and in this case, the BT commercial rollout has fallen short of what was declared to the Welsh Gov – 12mths of Superfast Cymru has seen little progress and now there is a rush to change dates on a make believe map. It is without credibility or credence, but you will point to it as proof. It is only proof that someone changed the designations – not proof that there will be a realisation of those designations.

        I am one of those ‘end users’ who DESPERATELY wants there to be progress and achievement of a plan – any plan would do right now. I am also educated, informed and knowledgeable enough to know that this way is not the best way.
        What needs looking at is why ABC grants are based on exchange areas when it should be on areas covered where cabinets are not upgraded, or without cabinets (plus not planned to have cabinets added) or without FTTP or on long lines from cabinets.

        And I am sure I speak for every reader of your comments when I say that I look forward to your sage analysis.

        And why is ‘Coming Soon’ missed out?


        But that’s it now Somerset – you and I have concluded our interaction. I’ve responded only to demonstrate your abject failure to offer new insight, and only to demand of others (in this case me) further explanation.

        Your comments throughout forums, twitter, etc are full of pedantic corrections, and an utter failure to observe even the most basic of courtesy, which is to bring something to the conversation rather than to constantly take.

        I’ve said this to you previously – and this is my last time.


        2013/10/07 at 16:55

      • It’s a sad day when just asking for further explanation or clarification is not permitted. More or Less on Radio 4 is an interesting listen.


        2013/10/09 at 20:21

      • A statement elsewhere that requires further explanation – ‘Once the area is classed as ‘superfast’ they enter the ‘homes passed’ statistics even though their cabinets are dead…’.

        What does this mean?


        2013/10/14 at 07:01

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