Br0kenTeleph0n3

Following the broadband money

Posts Tagged ‘B4RN

Between farce and tragedy – Dolphinholme’s broadband roll-out

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Is BT building in Dolphinholme?

Is BT building in Dolphinholme?

The Dolphinholme high speed broadband roll-out teeters between farce and tragedy.

The question is, has Dolphinholme been cut out of BT’s proposed subsidised coverage area in Lancashire? Email correspondence this evening reveals some uncertainty.

On one hand, a correspondent writes, “LCC have agreed not to fund the BT rollout in Dolphinholme as B4RN is already active there. The Dolphinholme postcodes have been removed from the LCC SFBB contract. So if BT does continue then it will be at its own expense without any public subsidy.”

On the other, it elicited this reply: “That doesn’t seem to be true as the contractors have been working down here over the last week. There is a wonderful set of under-road tunnels…if only we could use them. Today, they gave up as most of the chambers are clogged with mud and they need to call in the suction guys to clear them out! They said it wouldn’t be live for ‘some months’.”

Another chimed in, “BT’s contractors (Battersby) are back in Lower Dolphinholme. They have been shoving piperods through different culverts to get into River View Fold, pulling blue rope in afterwards, ready to pull whatever fibre/cable when the time comes. I asked them about the chamber they failed to dig three months ago (hit gas mains etc), to which the response was, well if there is no chamber, that’s why we can’t get through. They also explained that they were coming all the way from the A6, and that lots of ducts were still blocked. XXX asked them some detailed questions about timing – and was told that they had been told by BT to do Dolphinholme as fast as possible – by the end of June. The two guys here clearly thought that unlikely.”

Another correspondent responded, “I didn’t realise they were BT. They had parked their van blocking the pavement by chapel, and both were fast asleep at 3:10pm. That was until I knocked on their window and frightened the life out of them before asking them to park on the road in future!”

The first correspondent notes BT “does of course have the right to self-fund its network build out. However having previously declared the area uneconomic without public subsidy then why would it suddenly change its mind and do it with its own money? I think there would be some questions asked about anti-competitive behaviour if it does.”

 

 

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Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2014/05/21 at 00:19

Dolphinholme overcomes FUD to light up on B4RN’s 1Gbps fibre

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Dolphinholme is where the marker is in the lower right hand corner. Map by Google Maps.

Dolphinholme is where the marker is in the lower right hand corner. Map by Google Maps.

“I am delighted to tell you all that Dolphinholme now has hyperspeed broadband! Thanks to the ‘fusing team’ the Village Hall and the first few houses came online today. A fantastic effort by everyone concerned, those who planned, those to dug and those who did the ‘technical stuff’. A real community effort by everyone involved. Particular thanks to those who have given us access over their land, those who have invested time and money and those who have supported this is so many ways.

“Of course there is still a huge amount to do and at the Fleece meeting this evening the DB4RNAG dedicated ourselves to completing this project, which means bringing the service to all those in Dolphinholme who want it. This will of course take time, but in the meantime having the Village Hall live means that there is a facility for anyone in the Village who needs to use it.”

Thus was the news broken last night that a tiny Lancashire village overcame red tape, appalling weather, and a fear, uncertainty and doubt campaign to get future-proof, fit for purpose broadband access to their residents.

After learning that Dolphinholme, which is less than five miles from the county seat in Lancaster, was unlikely to get high speed broadband from BT in the Lancashire County Council next generation roll-out, residents resolved to dig their way to hook up with the 1Gbps network installed by B4RN.

B4RN had included Dolphinholme in its original plans, but in a later phase. Impatient villagers vowed to speed things up. This led to correspondence reported  in July last year by the well-connected blogger Philip Virgo. It went as follows:

I thought you might be interested in an update on how BT is behaving around the B4RN patch.

We are busy digging towards a village called Dolphinholme (included in our list of postcodes for B4RN build out which RCBF/BT and LCC have had for a very long time). As we are getting close interest has climbed and some villagers held a meeting to see how to progress things into the village and the distribution around it.

One inhabitant of the village  is very pro BT and went back to Lancashire County Council to ask for an update on where the Lancashire County Council SFBB project was in relationship to Dolphinholme.

LCC wrote back saying they were going to deliver SFBB soon and there was no need for them to support B4RN, the villager then emailed everyone saying B4RN wasn’t needed as BT were going to do it.

I responded saying the patch was in the B4RN build out and we thought we had an agreement that LCC’s build out wouldn’t overbuild us. Also that because the village was a long way from the exchange and there was no PCP then FTTC would not deliver true NGA broadband to the village.

This was apparently fed back to LCC/BT (see snippet 1/ below) and triggered what appears to be a general letter about to go out to residents, see snippet 2/ below

1/

In view of Barry Forde’s comments, I wrote and subsequently spoke to Andrew Halliwell, Assistant Director at the Lancashire CC, overseeing the roll out scheme throughout Lancashire, and he has assured me the roll out to Dolphinholme is still on schedule to arrive sometime between September and December, 2013.  In order to allay any scepticism, Andrew Halliwell  has agreed to give us written assurances and I will notify you upon receipt of same.  

2/

Dear <resident>,

Due to the distance from the exchange BT will use FTTP technology in order to ensure that you and your residents in Dolphinholme get the best possible service.

This means that the cabinet location will not effect the installation of fibre into Dolphinholme as this will be fed direct from the exchange to the homes and business’s.  

This is excellent news for you and your residents and I will look forward to keeping you upto date with the latest plans!

With Kind Regards

Judith Brown

Superfast Lancashire Programme Control Manager

So what do we make of the fact that BT are choosing to roll out an FTTP deployment, focused entirely within the B4RN footprint targeting the core of a village we are digging into?

Also that they can find the resources to do this between September and December, before any other bits of the county are done but coincidentally matching the time frame for our service build and go live dates . I’ve not got any data on which properties they are targeting but wouldn’t be surprised to find it’s just the easy to service core of the village and that all the surrounding isolated properties are excluded unlike our project that is 100% inclusive.

That is now water under the bridge, although people in these parts have long memories. As Dolphinhome says, “The work goes on. Tomorrow we hope to bring a few more houses online and then in the afternoon at 2:00 we hope to start the duct from the cabinet to Corless Cottages.”

But for the moment, take a bow, chaps – you deserve it.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2014/05/07 at 00:39

WSCC/BT roll-out to duplicate wireless broadband coverage

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that BT is prioritising rural areas where it faces competition for its initial taxpayer-funded roll-out of next generation broadband.

The latest example comes from West Sussex, where BT has already upgraded the coastal belt in its commercial roll-out, and is now moving inland.

The official West Sussex County Council interactive map (which is not up to date in terms of its colour-coding; it still says the coast is “under evaluation”) does not reflect any choice of suppliers of high speed broadband.

BT's taxpayer-funded roll-out will largely duplicate Kijoma's privately-funded wireless coverage (outlined in black).

BT’s taxpayer-funded roll-out will largely duplicate Kijoma’s privately-funded wireless coverage (outlined in black).

However, BrokenTelephone has made a more up to date map which shows roughly how BT’s taxpayer-funded coverage maps onto the coverage provided by wireless internet service provider Kijoma (outlined in black).

Interestingly, the WSCC says that two of the exchange areas shown as pink are “partly in the commercial roll-out”.

“These are Billingshurst and Bosham. The rest are outside of the commercial roll-out and therefore in the area eligible for funding by the project.”

When the BDUK procurement framework was first mentioned, wireless was excluded as not being capable of meeting EU targets of 30Mbps for all, and 50% of the population on 100Mbps service. The European Commission later relaxed its stance on wireless, but BDUK and local councils appear to ignore the change in contracting for next generation broadband networks.

We have asked WSCC for clarification as to precisely which areas in Billinghurst and Bosham (bottom left of map, just south of Kijoma coverage) are in the commercial roll-out, and what the time-frame is for the roll-out to the non-commercial parts are. We’ll update this story if we get a reply.

This is not the first sign that BT is being allowed to use public money to overbuild privately-run networks. The most egregious so far is BT’s roll-out of a fibre through the

Lune Valley, Lancashire - site of the BT/B4RN broadband battle.

Lune Valley, Lancashire – site of the BT/B4RN broadband battle. (Click to open.)

Lancashire village of Dolphinholme, where residents have spent time, money and effort digging towards the B4RN network to ensure that their village doesn’t miss out.

While BT’s Dolphinholme roll-out looks good in terms of “homes passed”, the actual availability of a fibre connection to those homes not on the road appears slight. The more likely reason for the fibre link is that the road through Dolphinholme leads to a radio mast, and the fibre is there to backhaul mobile radio traffic, not to carry residential broadband traffic. But its presence is a threat to B4RN, which, try as it might, is unlikely to persuade mobile network operators to use its fibre, at least in the short term.

Tunstall, another Lancashire village in the B4RN coverage area in BT’s sights, is on the road to Kirkby Lonsdale and there is already fibre in that road. BT is also targetting Whittington, which is the hamlet after Arkholme and Docker on the way up to Kirkby on the opposite side of the Lune valley to Tunstall.

Two weeks ago Gigaclear scrapped plans to roll out a 1Gbps-capable FTTP network in the Dun Valley, Wiltshire, after the Wiltshire County Council said it would apply BDUK money to BT’s “up to 80Mbps” FTTC roll-out in the area. This followed months of discussions between residents, Gigaclear and the council as to their roll-out plans for the valley.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2014/02/20 at 07:01

Devon refuses public vote on competing broadband projects

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The proposed South Hams coverage area, just west of Dartmouth, Devon.

The proposed South Hams coverage area, just west of Dartmouth, Devon.

Devon residents were refused a vote on which next generation broadband plan they prefer – their own or BT’s – at a public meeting hosted by the leader of the county council.

Local newspaper the Kingsbridge and Salcombe Gazette reports that residents who attended a public meeting on 22 January heard details of a fibre to the home (FTTP) project by would-be community network operator South Hams Broadband and a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) alternative by BT and the county council-run Connecting Devon & Somerset.

The paper reported that Bill Murphy, MD for BT’s Next Generation Access roll-out, told the meeting they “had an important choice to make”.

County council leader John Hart, who hosted the meeting, refused to allow a vote on the two proposals.

Click the pic to enlarge.

Click the pic to enlarge.

Chris White, who spoke for the South Hams Broadband project, which plans to run fibre to all the premises in three coastal parishes west of Dartmouth, was reported saying it was now “unclear” how residents would be able to make this choice.

“Perhaps a vote could have been taken then and there to give Councillor Hart a flavour of what the audience had made of the two options presented. Unfortunately, he was having none of it, and refused to have a vote of any sort.”

White went on to say, “Although the mood of the meeting was in fact unmistakeable, it became clear that (Hart) and his select committee would make the decision on ‘commercial’ grounds, based on a written report from the CD&S broadband team that would remain confidential as it would contain ‘commercially sensitive information’.”

Shortly before Christmas BrokenTelephone reported that Lancashire’s B4RN and Devon’s Thurlestone (aka South Hams) community-based next generation broadband projects had passed the BDUK hurdles to qualify for money from the £20m Rural Broadband Development Fund. The next step is have their county council exclude their planned coverage areas from BT’s taxpayer-subsidised fibre to the cabinet roll-outs.

As reported here earlier, BT has an effective veto over such exclusions.

A 2012 analysis of the South Hams project by rural broadband consultant Adrian Wooster (whose subsequent contract with BDUK has just finished) revealed the area has 4,610 homes. Seventy per cent are main residences and 260 are social housing properties; a quarter are second homes or holiday lets. South Hams now plans to cover about a quarter of the original area.

Wooster reported the average predicted speed in the project area was just 3.1Mbps, (at the time half the national average), with ADSL2+, VDSL and Docsis services all unavailable.

There were 13 BT telephone exchanges. None was “unregulated”, and only in Kingsbridge did BT have competition in the form of TalkTalk.

“The existence of additional operators in a telephone exchange can be a useful indicator of the markets general interest in the area, and the existence of backbone connectivity; some operators offer wholesale access to their core networks as well as retail services,” Wooster wrote.

“That only Kingsbridge has additional operators is perhaps an indicator that the whole of the South Hams area is not considered attractive to broadband operators and that backhaul connectivity may be scarce and expensive.

“Should the community decide to progress a FTTP project in the Thurlestone area, the budget is likely to be in the realm of £3-5m.”

White said the South Hams plan is to make a 100Mbps symmetric service available to all premises in the parishes of Thurleston, South Milton and South Huish. He expects to issue a tender in March, select a supplier in June, and start work in July, provided the county agrees to “descope” the three parishes.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2014/02/04 at 06:57

Red letter day for two rural broadband projects

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A now derelict BT microwave tower has been superceded by fibre in the countryside. Pic by Peter Barrington via Wikimedia.

A now derelict BT microwave tower has been superceded by fibre in the countryside. Pic by Peter Barrington via Wikimedia.

B4RN and Thurlestone have had their applications for funds to build fibre to the premises (FTTP) networks in remote rural areas approved in principle by BDUK, the government’s broadband delivery agency.

They are expected to receive their confirmation letters today. The only thing stopping the projects now is their local county councils.

BDUK’s approval is expected to increase pressure on Lancashire in B4RN’s case, and Devon and Somerset in Thurlestone’s case to remove the proposed coverage area post codes from their BT contracts.

BT effectively has a veto on such deals. BDUK guidance says it may choose to assess the impact of removals on its existing plans before claiming compensation for the smaller contract or proposing a new deal that includes some or all of the altnets’ areas.

Michael Armitage, who speaks for the Thurlestone project, confirmed that BDUK has made a “conditional award”. “The key condition is that Connecting Devon & Somerset (CD&S) has to agree to de-scope (exclude) the Thurlestone project area postcodes from the BT procurement, which so far they’ve been ‘reluctant’ to do.”

The Thurlestone community is to meet on Tuesday evening to compare two network proposals, but Armitage says CD&S and BT are refusing to attend. CD&S and BT plan to hold a separate public meeting on 22 January 2014, at which BT Next Generation Network boss Bill Murphy and Devon Council leader John Hart may speak.

Thurlestone plans to use money from the DEFRA-controlled £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) to back bank loans plus Enterprise Investment Scheme equity plus private equity to fund a FTTP network to 1,300 premises across Thurlestone and South Huish (Hope Cove) parishes. This could be extended to Salcombe and the rest of the South Hams over time, Armitage says.

Christine Conder, who has been the public face of the B4RN project, says she hasn’t seen confirmation of BDUK’s approval.

“As with all the community/altnet projects it’s the lack of data from the councils/BT that is blocking DEFRA from releasing the money. That is a fact that won’t change. Some councils release ‘maps’ but without the data they are meaningless. I believe some councils are actively working with their communities but ours don’t seem to want to. Our original plan was for eight parishes, but I believe we are up to 21-23 now wanting to join the network, and the RCBF would have facilitated that.”

That would more than double B4RN’s original footprint of around 1400 homes/businesses to over 3,000.

Funded originally along the same lines as Thurleston, B4RN has been waiting years for RCBF money to fund the bigger project.

Well-connected blogger Philip Virgo reported correspondence from B4RN’s CEO Barry Forde that suggested Lancashire had reneged on a deal to exclude B4RN’s coverage area from its £130m next generation broadband deal with BT. Project director Andrew Halliwell refused to speak to BrokenTelephone about the alleged agreement, or a controversial fleet management deal that BT has with Lancashire County Council via a joint venture, which attracted a police investigation.

If Thurleston and B4RN get their money, they will join Rothbury in Northumberland and Fell End in Cumbria, both of which have contracted with BT for their networks, as the only RCBF beneficiaries so far.

Others are trying to join in. There are reports of more than 50 RCBF applications, nearly all of which have been turned down. One of the survivors, the Northmoor, Moreton and Bablockhythe Community Broadband Project in Oxfordshire, has just issued a state aid consultation on its plans to deliver 100% coverage at >24Mbps by 2015 with RCBF backing.

“We have some 520 homes and businesses in the project area, which is now descoped from the county plan by Oxfordshire County Council,” says spokesman Graham Shelton.

Shelton’s group has worked with West Oxfordshire District Council to manage the grant and the various steps to procurement and delivery. “(Councillors) have been, and are, hugely supportive. Ours is a very rural district with 25% home working or businesses run from home, so this initiative is highly significant to support our community,” he says.

Current broadband speeds in the Northmoor coverage area vary but are often below 1Mbps when homes are far from a street cabinet, he adds.

So far he has had expressions of interest from two network operators. “There may be scope to connect with neighbouring villages which are also outside the first phase of the county plan, and it will be for the successful bidder to follow up from the community contacts that we can provide. At this stage those villages are not descoped.”

Shelton estimates that state aid intensity to be no more than 50%. That is in stark contrast to some BT contracts where the state contributes more than two-thirds of the costs, and may run above 90% in some cases and deliver less than the altnets promise, according to Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Network Cooperative Association (INCA).

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/12/10 at 06:54

Anger mounts over rural broadband delays

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BrokenTelephone is grateful to Patrick Cosgrove for assembling the following reports of wide-spread and growing anger with the politicians, civil servants and operators responsible for the UK’s next generation broadband programme, especially in rural areas.

In a letter on behalf of the South-west Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband, Cosgrove wrote to subscribers as follows:
1. WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP ON RURAL BROADBAND (1)?

The agitation over rural broadband seems to be moving to Westminster. And not before time.

We’re quite used to Lib/Dem MPs breaking ranks within the Coalition but, with the exception of Europe, not so often Conservative MPs.  That seems to be changing now with respect to the countryside and the cross-party Fairer Funding Campaign (see http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/politics/mps-pile-on-pressure-over-rural-funding), of which the broadband issue is part. Put it this way, if you were in government, large numbers of your rural voters were thoroughly fed up with the reality of no decent broadband in the foreseeable future and many of them were stampeding in the direction of UKIP for a whole host of reasons (see http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9069211/rural-revolt/), wouldn’t you do something about it with an election starting to loom? Despite David Cameron’s staunch defence of BDUK’s rural broadband programme, and Maria Miller’s shake-up of BDUK management, it seems that even Conservative MPs are starting to publicly question matters.

This is what John Glen (Conservative Salisbury) said on 31st October: “I thank the minister for that answer (to a general question about the progress of rural broadband roll-out plans), but what do I say to the local authority and residents in village such as Pitton who believe they are in the percentage that will not qualify for the imminent roll-out through the BT deal? They want to be free to develop new community-based solutions with alternative providers, as they anticipate they will not get anything from BT for a long time.”

To which the minister, Ed Vaizey, replied, “I am happy to meet my Hon Friend to discuss any issues. The Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) is designed to support community broadband projects that the programme is no reaching.” To which we say, “But we know that the RCBF money is languishing in Europe because any application has to confirm that it won’t overbuild on BT’s intended infrastructure, only BT won’t tell anyone with any precision where they are going to put that infrastructure.”

Shortly afterwards, Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton Conservative) asked, “What will my Hon Friend say to the 5% of those living in the hills, particularly farmers, who will not have access to superfast broadband by 2016? Will he implement the Select Committee report recommendation that they be given advance warning, so that they can make alternative arrangements to those on offer from BT?” To which Mr Vaizey replied, “As I have said repeatedly, it is up to local authorities to publish their local broadband plans and I am delighted, particularly after the Secretary of State wrote to them, that many have now done so. People in Wiltshire and Yorkshire will know where the project is rolling out”. To which we reply, “Scroll down to the next article to see what a farce that is.”

Then Philip Hollobone (Ketttering, Conservative) said, “It seems to me that BT is a big company that sometimes does not treat small communities very well. May I draw to the attention of the Minister the village of Rushden in my constituency, where residents are complaining that they are not getting the the proper broadband they deserve, despite their best efforts”. And Mr Vaizey replied, “I hear what my Hon. Friend says. BT is a big global company that we should be proud of, but from time to time issues will be raised by our constituents. I am happy to meet him to discuss the problem in detail”. To which we reply, “It’s not just Kettering, Thirsk & Malton and Salisbury. It’s the whole country, including 1,208 people in rural Shropshire who signed a petition making the very same points, and 31 parish and town councils who are also very unhappy.”

We  desperately need some strong leadership on this at Westminster as it’s flying in the face off all reason to declare that everything’s fine when it plainly isn’t. A little more honesty and a lot more action would be a great help.

2. DID THE MINISTER SAY PUBLISH LOCAL BROADBAND ROLL-OUT PLANS OR DIDN’T SHE? ?

Knowing who is or isn’t in line for having their broadband upgraded is essential for communities that want to make alternative arrangements. If you don’t know, you can’t apply for public subsidy such as DEFRA’s RCBF grant in case it ends up double-funding an area. Even if you don’t want to apply for funding and you might have sufficient people to make it a viable proposition, alternative broadband providers are not going to invest in your area unless they are certain that BT won’t be operating there in the future, and no-one will tell them.

Here in Shropshire we sent a Freedom of Information Request to Shire Hall asking for a detailed broadband deployment map. They gave it to us but it didn’t tell us very much. We’d seen the Public Accounts Committee recording where Sean Williams of BT said that there was no reason why such information shouldn’t be available, and then we read that Maria Miller of DCMS had said she was “keen to see this information made available” so that other broadband Internet Service Providers and community groups could “determine whether it is worth their while to develop local broadband projects to fill in gaps” so we’d hoped for something a bit more precise. Later we learned that FOI requests were being sent to local authorities all across the country and either receiving similarly opaque answers or, as in Devon’s case for example, were told that they daren’t publish for fear of being taken to court by BT, their so-called “partner”.

Now Cumbria County Council has told Computer Weekly, “The … matter was raised at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). However, subsequent clarifications issued by Maria Miller’s office defined what BT meant by information that could be shared. The list of postcodes to which you refer, called the speed and coverage template (SCT), is excluded. BT considers that (it) is commercially sensitive.”

This decision could leave community-based broadband schemes schemes in limbo for several years if they were hoping for RCBF money (which won’t be there for much longer), and no chance of alternative providers plugging the gaps on a commercial basis for fear that BT will suddenly announce that they might bring fibre to those areas after all (as appears to have happened in parts of Wales and Worcestershire, and probably elsewhere). Meanwhile BT has added to the confusion by saying that it remained happy to hand over the details for release by local councils. It seems that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has chosen to shirk responsibility for the mess by saying that it was ultimately a decision for BT and the local authorities.

The full story is here: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240207856/BT-and-Whitehall-tell-council-to-keep-BDUK-postcodes-quiet

Interestingly, North Yorkshire was a pilot area for rural broadband, and it seems that its contract with BT was different because it can publish anticipated deployment to post-code level (see next link). Therefore some bright spark at BDUK or DCMS must have agreed to a tightening up of all the local authority contracts that followed the pilot. It would be great if we had a map like this.

http://www.superfastnorthyorkshire.com/where-and-when

 

IT SEEMS THAT SOME LOCAL AUTHORITIES HAVE HAD ENOUGH?

Cumbria County Council and Devon have now spilled some of their beans. We wonder if this was code for  “We’ve been stuffed by BDUK and BT so can’t say too much, but please read between the lines”. After all, what local authority in their right mind wouldn’t want  100% of their residents to have good broadband, or would want the degree of continuing aggravation that’s resulted?

Refreshingly, in Lancashire where there is still two-tier local government and a thriving community broadband scheme (B4RN) that doesn’t appear to get on with BT too well, Lancaster City Council’s Scrutiny Committee has asked Lancashire County Council to:

1. Request that BT as soon as possible, produces a clear roll out programme for its superfast broadband in the Lancaster District to enable other providers to work in areas not covered by the BT programme

2. Seek immediate permission (!) of BT to provide a clear statement of the terms of their joint agreement

3. Request the removal from any future rural broadband contracts with BT that are on a non-disclosure agreement basis to facilitate openness and transparency.

(Plus more – see this link for the full story: http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/10/uk-gov-creates-confusion-bt-bduk-broadband-coverage-data.html

West Oxfordshire District Council, another second-tier local authority, also seems to have had enough, but they’ve been very polite about it so far.

http://www.witneygazette.co.uk/news/wgheadlines/10770542.Pledge_to_work_for_extended_rural_broadband_coverage/

We will contact them to see if we can learn anything from their approach.

 

WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP ON RURAL BROADBAND (2)?

Therefore, the situation isn’t just bad, it’s actually worse than before the rural broadband contracts were signed with local authorities. Up until then communities could apply for RCBF money, now there’s no point. Up until then alternative broadband providers were moving into new areas but now they are not (or if they are they’re keeping it secret – what madness!). And to make matters worse, BT, Sky, Virgin etc have been signing large numbers of people up to their entertainment and sports packages, irrespective of whether these customers have superfast broadband or not, so the whole system is starting to slow up because too many demands are being made of it.

We repeat, “Where is the leadership?”

 

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/11/07 at 03:18

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