Following the broadband money

Final 10% left in broadband dark

with 16 comments

So, what was that about, the well-unpublicised BDUK meeting to get fresh ideas about how to tackle the roll-out of broadband in the Final 10%? As someone said yesterday, the resulting silence has been deafening.

Which must be music to BT’s ears, seeing that it attended but didn’t care to share its ideas, not even the Build and Benefit nonsense it was peddling via consultants Analysys Mason ahead of the Conservative Party conference.

According to one of the 60-odd delegates, BDUK presented three scenarios (incidentally, Andy Carter, who is nominally in charge of the so-called F10 project, was as chatty as BT):

1. A completely new procurement

2. Extend the present BDUK-funded roll-out i.e. give BT another £250m to go with the £1.2bn it is likely to pocket from the present scheme

3. Find a third way that involves the altnets in some way

Malcolm Corbett, who speaks for the altnets under the INCA banner, says there was talk of alternative funding models. He believes the civil servants, ever keen to minimise their risk, prefer Option 2 with its gap-funded grants. Altnets and some local authorities generally prefer a funding scheme that would lower their cost of capital, and probably require less cash than the 90% BT seems to need to build in the Final 10%.

Corbett has been offered a follow-up meeting because so much was  were left unclear, such as what is “superfast”? In this neck of the woods, it appears 15Mbps may be it. Build deadlines were also undefined, so broadband-deprived farmers and pub landlords might have to wait until the existing roll-out is complete before work starts on their patch.

That is unlikely to please Lancastrians who have a scrutiny meeting with the Lancashire City Council today. They have been waiting two years for answers to the following questions:

  1. What has happened to the £500,000 “Community Broadband Fund” that County announced at the start of their project?
  2. Why were the recommendation and specification submitted to County by City subsequently changed and who did it?
  3. “That the County Council be requested to re-affirm that Lancaster rural is the pilot of the project and will be undertaken first. That the County Council be requested to re-affirm that Lancaster rural is the pilot of the project and will be undertaken first.” There’s no evidence that this is happening.
  4. Has BT/LCC now supplied City with full coverage maps and postcodes and details of how SFBB will be delivered?
  5. What happened to the community meeting that (assistant CEO) Eddie Sutton promised the City Council back in July 2012?

Two other matters may arise. A corespondent writes:

The committee may want to question LCC/BT about the recent reports which suggested that BT had confirmed to residents of Dolphinholme that they would be deploying a full fibre service as their traditional fibre/copper service would not be adequate, coincidentally shortly after the community there had started to deploy the B4RN service.
BT have now installed a two new broadband cabinets in Caton & Brookhouse. The committee may want to ask BT/LCC what the maximum capacity of these cabinets are, given the models installed have a maximum capacity of 256 lines (they may even be 128). Caton has 1400 properties served by the exchange so this means that what is being deployed may not serve all that need it.
This has happened elsewhere in the country so the City Council need to be assured that this will not happen here. There are also many lines in Caton served directly from the exchange so you might want to ask what is happening to these properties.
So many questions; so few answers, but you get the picture.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/10/09 at 04:52

16 Responses

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  1. You need to look further into 2) about Lancaster. It’s all like a three day old guest. The change was claimed to be a ‘typo’. From 1Gbps to every home, to ‘up to 100Mbps for some homes’. Interesting typo. Wonder who that would suit????

    A considerable amount of work was put into ensuring that every single word of copy was transparent, honest and…well, unlike the usual sh*t that is sent to consumers and potential customers.

    Why was the 1000Mbps/1Gbps changed? For what purpose? By whom? This was not the only notable ‘typo’ as I recall.

    As Lancashire continues to light up fibre to the home, without BT and LCC involvement, what purpose (short of lining someone’s pocket somewhere?) has actually been achieved for the public good by a public body? Where is the ombudsman? Where is the boss of whichever civil servant is clearly responsible? Where is the original document with edits and ownership marked in it etc? If it was an innocent mistake, let’s see the original document please.

    The ramifications of what is going on at county level (suspended LCC ceo etc for dealings with BT) are as important as the impact on the ground of 2 years of Murphy, Halliwell et al shilly shallying around.

    Please dig, Ian.


    2013/10/09 at 05:42

  2. Oh and let’s not gloss over the sheer incompetence of BDUK (that is *Broadband Delivery*) who cannot even set up a simple webcam to stream the event to reach the maximum audience of SUPPLIERS, which must, surely, include altnets and communities, as currently it is only those two groups who are supplying gigabit FTTH in this country?

    Or is this the real reason for HS2? So, we can all get to London a little faster to attend such meetings because a £20 webcam hooked into wifi is beyond the skills of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (previously Business, Innovation and Skills) and its offshoots?


    2013/10/09 at 07:52

    • to be fair, the last thing DCMS wanted was more people to see the level of incompetence aired on the stage than was necessary. Their bosses / pay masters might of tuned as well as the media . this was intended to be damage limitation and a box ticking exercise, nothing more.

      Bill Lewis

      2013/10/09 at 08:04

  3. I attended this meeting, it was clear DCMS were not used to facing an audience that were knowledgeable and educated on the whole fiasco. After a few questions from the floor they were little more than Rabbits in the headlights.

    My favourite translation of “we do not know” was “we have created our own data” . They showed a map of what they claimed outlined the intervention areas. After questioning it was clear that this was only based on “fixed line openreach” data.

    They admitted they had discarded the extensive OMR data available and used “our own data”…

    BT were present as mooted and sat at the back looking bored and incessantly tapping on their phones. Not a word escaped their lips.

    The Yorkshire presentation was interesting and raised some points to follow up on.

    It was made clear that the only infrastructure fundable is “wholesale access”, all wholesale clients to date are contracted to BT wholesale and as Yorkshire mentioned are not interested in engaging with other providers on a wholesale basis.

    It is likely the contracts between BT wholesale and their clients make it particularly difficult for any client of theirs to enter into another contract via a different wholesaler. Does anybody have a leaked or otherwise gained copy of one of these agreements?

    So in summary, you need to be a wholesale provider to be eligible for funding, wholesale clients are tied into openreach/BT wholesale, the closed shop is maintained.

    They also showed a contentious graph showing the “hockey stick” increase in subsidy required as you head up the last 10%. it wrongly assumed that this cost would equally increase for other technologies than FTTC/FTTP on exactly the same curve , either lower or higher in cost (aka they made it up).

    If their “own data” had extended out of guesswork then they would of discovered that the cost to implement FWA decreases as you head towards 100% from 90% . It will rise once you hit the last fraction of a %. This is the point where satellite becomes more cost effective choice.

    It will always be expensive to service a single house in the middle of forested turbulent terrain via any technology. A long time ago Kijoma stated that FWA would best serve 90% of the final 10% and this is still broadly correct.

    My main reason for attending was to ask DCMS one on one at the end of the meeting about over build and the legal ramifications of Market distortion using public money. They stated that the OMR results should be taken into account by LA’s so this does not happen.

    I managed to gain other information relating to WSCC’s treatment of incumbent FWA operators which proved very useful when WSCC decide to overbuild one of our existing network areas, what with their documented view that this service does not exist at present.

    From the meeting it was clear that We (Kijoma) should of started in Kent 9 years ago instead of West Sussex 🙂 . Well done Vfast for having a receptive County Council , possibly the only one like in the country!.


    Bill Lewis

    2013/10/09 at 08:00

    • “It is likely the contracts between BT wholesale and their clients make it particularly difficult for any client of theirs to enter into another contract via a different wholesaler. Does anybody have a leaked or otherwise gained copy of one of these agreements?”

      Is not correct.

      TalkTalk runs its OWN wholesale arm and still buys from ADSL/ADSL2+ BT Wholesale as well as sourcing GEA-FTTC direct from Openreach.

      Operators like Andrews & Arnold are another, who use Be Wholesale services AND BT Wholesale

      Fluidata is another example who use BT Wholesale and also operate a wholesale platform, particularly well known in the bonding/redundancy scene.

      C&W now owned by Vodafone runs a wholesale operation, used by Virgin Media and also buys BT Wholesale services which it wholesales itself, as well as running Demon.

      Zen Internet has a very small LLU presence and uses BT Wholesale mainly, but has just introduced unlimited FTTC by building a network of 200 PoPs to bypass the WBC network and pick up the GEA-FTTC/P at handover exchanges and use their own cheaper backhaul network.

      Sky does not operate a wholesale arm, but does retail its own LLU and also buy BT Wholesale services.

      Andrew Ferguson

      2013/10/09 at 08:19

      • Does anyone have any idea how many of the exchanges in the final 10% have a LLU presence?


        2013/10/09 at 11:20

      • a good question, but i suspect the reason many rural exchanges are still Market 1 is for a very practical reason. There isn’t the cost effective means of backhauling them so they are capable of ADSL2 , let alone supporting unbundled extra kit in exchanges that are not wholly dis-similar to a medium garden shed in size.

        I would guesstimate that less than 10% of the final 10% of exchanges have any LLU. and that maybe generous 🙂

        accurate figures would be great.. but based on DCMS’s performance on Monday I wouldn’t hold out much hope of gaining it.

        Bill Lewis

        2013/10/09 at 12:10


        95% of UK households covered by TalkTalk LLU ADSL2+ network. So half of the final 10% have a choice of wholesale provider.

        Looking at the Ofcom Market 1 lists is not very informative, as Ofcom has not updated them for a long while, and is working on introducing the new Market A & B definitions.

        Andrew Ferguson

        2013/10/09 at 16:56

      • Samknows say TalkTalk has unbundled 97% of premises with 2724 exchanges out of about 5600. So shows the scale of the problem to reach 100%.

        The final 10%, which is less in many areas, will be in very many exchange areas as they will have some lines without superfast due to lines lengths, no cabinets etc.

        So the final 10% is not a number of exchanges but areas of land across the UK.


        2013/10/09 at 16:59

      • The final 10% wouldn’t now be so much of a problem if BT had tried different technologies instead of sticking to FTTC. Talk about a one trick pony!

        I thought final 10% was premises?


        2013/10/10 at 15:54

    • “After questioning it was clear that this was only based on “fixed line openreach” data.”. This makes it even more imperative that the proven incorrect speed data provided by BT is addressed urgently. BDUK are (previous I had ‘suspicions’, but NOW totally understandably) shrugging it off (well, we don’t want the facts to get in the way, do we?). If this is being used to create a new fictitious world of broadband we might as well pack it all up and give the money to a cats’ charity.

      “They stated that the OMR results should be taken into account by LA’s so this does not happen.” – don’t forget, Bill, that when the WSCC maps were drawn up FW was not ‘accepted’ as NGA (I remember those ‘experts’ in Analysis Mason – BDUK ‘advisors’, no less – telling WSCC that FW could only deliver ’10mb’?) and therefore you did not ‘exist’. Now you do (or do you? Answers on a postcard please) so should the maps be redrawn? (Use the same postcard)

      mike phillips

      2013/10/10 at 18:26

  4. Based on what I have heard (and you too, Ian, I think) of the performance of the BDUK team on Monday I reckon that admitting to being part of BDUK will soon be akin to admitting to having a STD. The only difference being most of those can be cured.

    mike phillips

    2013/10/10 at 18:09

    • Mike, the final salary pensions will be a comfort no doubt and perhaps a rewarding advisory role at BT too.


      2013/10/13 at 14:16

  5. […] emerged from correspondence following the BDUK industry day meeting last Monday to gather ideas on how to get high speed broadband into the Final 10% of the country. It is […]

  6. […] emerged from correspondence following the BDUK industry day meeting last Monday to gather ideas on how to get high speed broadband into the Final 10% of the country. It is […]

  7. […] Valley may soon be the only one of the six proposed rural broadband projects invited to talks with culture secretary Maria Miller to get funding, and BT is so determined to get it to throw in its lot with the monpolist telco that […]

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