Following the broadband money

Posts Tagged ‘WAG

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

BT in gagging order to parody website

with 6 comments

BT’s legal department has sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the satirical website, claiming it breaches BT copyright and giving it seven days to take down the allegedly offending material before it starts legal proceedings.

It accuses site owner Richard Brown of copying “a substantial amount” of the content of the website, including the design of the home page and BT’s logo, “which although blurred, is easily recognisable”.

Brown appears to aim as much at the Welsh Assembly Government as at BT’s marketing hype about superfast broadband.

In answer to the question “What’s Superfast Cymru all about?” the home page says, “If we can convince you that we are doing a decent job by claiming that this is a pioneering multimillion pound programme to bring nationwide superfast broadband, there’s a chance you’ll overlook the millions wasted on RIBS, Fibrespeed, PBSA, buying Cardiff airport etc and still vote us back in.”

BT is spending some £220m inWales, with most of it going towards Superfast Cymru. The WAG is contributing £58m, BDUK £57m. with £90m coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The default installation will be  fibre to the cabinet, which offers a nominal 80Mbps download and 20Mbps upload, but BT indicates it will also offer a 330Mbps download, 30Mbps fibre to the premises wholesale product. It aims to cover 96% of Welsh homes and businesses.

The Superfarce Cymru site reflects a sceptical view of the £425m roll out. “FTTC provides wholesale download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds up to 20Mbps, so if you are a long way from the exchange or the cabinet, this won’t make any difference to the speed that you will be able to get. If you have a nice view or not very many neighbours, this won’t make any difference to the real speed you can get.”

Under the contract, the largest next generation broadband deal in the UK, BT says it will install 17,500km of optical fibre cable and around 3,000 new fibre-enabled street cabinets.

The first eight regions to benefit will be Bangor, Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Menai Bridge, Porthmadog, Pwllheli, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar.

WAG business minister Edwina Hart unveiled the first Superfast Cymru cabinet in Bangor in February.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/03/10 at 18:51