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£150,000 to install broadband for a Welsh pensioner
Thursday 27 May 2010 17:09:29 by John Hunt

A Welsh pensioner was quoted £150,000 to have broadband installed at her home after previously being told she couldn't have it. BT helpfully said they would contribute £8,000 to the costs.

"I just laughed, I thought it was ludicrous in view of their profits."

"I phoned BT and said surely this is a typing error and the girl said 'No, there's been no mistake, other people have had bills for much more than this.'"

Mrs McCartney, BT Customer

The exchange (Llandeilo) which the village (Salem) Mrs McCartney lives in is enabled for broadband and other in the village do have it, however the line distance is to great to support a working connection.

"There can be very rare cases where additional charges need to be applied because of an exceptional amount of work required to the network in order to provide service.

These charges reflect the additional line plant and equipment needed to provide broadband to a particular location.

BT is making a multi-billion pound investment in its UK network and is continuing to work with the Welsh Assembly Government to find solutions for the relatively few areas in Wales still unable to access a broadband service.

We've been working on broadband 'notspots' but it requires huge amounts of engineering work.

If it's just one individual person and it requires upgrading the network for one person, no company would cover that."

Chris Orum, BT

For those who live in wales and find themselves in a similar situation (unable to get broadband), the Welsh Assembly Regional Innovation Broadband Support Scheme (RIBS) would like to hear from you as they have intentions to try and fill in the broadband not-spots such as where Mrs McCartney lives.

If you suffer by living in a broadband not-spot or a broadband slow-spot you can register your details on our broadband not-spot website which is helping to map the areas in Britain where broadband is not available.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
is there an equivalent to the welsh assembly in england? Loads of notspots around here... another family just bit the bullet and signed up to satellite. £700 install, £40 a month for 1meg down, quarter meg up, 1 gig a month data transfer... bit much innit? certainly out of the reach of many, but these parents are making sacrifices for the kids. No summer holidays this year for them I guess. dunno many pensioners who could afford that.
Posted by JohnUK over 7 years ago
Why can't BT repeat their register/RFS scheme for the slow/not spots for 21CN/FTTC? Set specifc amounts per area/postcode batches, done. They did it before, they can do it again.

Also look at Rutland, they funded their own VDSL2 service.
Posted by russianmonkey over 7 years ago
JohnUK: This is for ONE person... if it was for a whole village then it'd be different.

I agree the cost is excessive, on the other hand it is to satisfy one person... Big companies are there to serve the many with a "one size fits all" attitude.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@cyberdoyle: No assembly for England.. £40/month for 1GB/month is ridiculous. Which notspot is that?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 7 years ago
the costs are not excessive if that is what it will cost to provide the service to that one person.

at £30 per month it would take 416 years to make the money back, and thats not taking into account that not all or even much of the monthly rental of broadband goes to openreach who i assume would be providing/maintaining the network for this..
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 7 years ago
it wouldn't take many jobs like this for a company to go bust

how can she say "I just laughed, I thought it was ludicrous in view of their profits."

what does she expect
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
She expects them to pick up the tab to service her. It's the cool new thing, thinking you're entitled to everyone else giving you whatever you want.
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
Thing is what sort of quality would such a broadband connection be,? if they would guarantee a reasonable speed ect , but they don't /won't or seem to think just above dial up speeds are acceptable, she would be better off using a 3g dongle (if within gprs coverage)
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Looks like there are a few houses round there,+Dyfed+SA19+7LY,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.919484,-4.002564&spn=0.00581,0.012832&t=h&z=16
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
I am surprised they don't just link the poles to a VDSL2+ cabinet...
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
At least then for her distance she'd prob get at least 1Mbps.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
hi Seb, its just up behind me, LA2 I will DM you the full postcode. There are 27 homes and businesses affected near them, 55 more over the hill, and over a hundred in the valley below. Hardly any in line of sight of each other or we could have helped. They got that 'freerunner' free wifi award, but BT wanted too much to put a line in so even they had to use satellite to give them a community hall connection.
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago
"it wouldn't take many jobs like this for a company to go bust"

Perhaps she expects that BT would carry some of the risk, rather than having the first punter in any locality pay the whole up front costs?

Once the unlucky first punter has 100%-funded BT to install the kit, the second customer and beyond using the new kit should be about as profitable for BT as any other broadband punter. So I don't think your argument holds water really.
Posted by timmay over 7 years ago
Mrs McCartney house is worth £150,000 less than it would if it had broadband already available.

Although in reality that's not completely true because not everyone will think they want broadband or even bother to check before buying. So the answer might be to move before she can't sell it. However someone else will inherit the problem.
Posted by timmay over 7 years ago
BT do however not want the work and therefore quote maximum costs plus some to insure that people say no. What if someone said alight I'll pay £150,000 but I want to see the complete list of invoices for the work and cables etc?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
Consider this, prices of £150 per metre for trenching have been mentioned, which soon adds up into the thousands. Thus the £150,000 may not be totally over the top if a new cable is needed and cannot be pulled/strung on existing infrastructure.
Posted by yobrenoops over 7 years ago
As an Openreach member of staff I can say that looking at the area I'm not suprised at the cost.

In my day we've seen excess construction cost charges well over that (£1M plus some times) for routes requiring 200 pair uplifts over miles and miles. I've even seen some of those 500k+ ones paid for...
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
"I just laughed, I thought it was ludicrous in view of their profits." Ludicrous maybe, it also maybe realistic does she know what goes into that cost? "in view of their profits???"

Does this pensioner assume that as they'd made a decent crust this time around they should just offset peoples broadband as they made a profit? No way to run a business. Why doesn't she stop grumbling and ask Virgin for a like for like quote?
Posted by BIORAPTOR over 7 years ago
I feel like some people her are persecuting this OP for her views of opinion.
I would most probably say something out of context if I was shown a bill at that price just so I could use Broadband.
Lucky I am not in that situation so I think myself lucky,although I sympathize with the lady and many others who are in the same circumstances.
Posted by Shempz over 7 years ago
Ahhh....if only BT had invested some of those £18bn pre-tax profits since 2000 (£42bn since 1992) in a modern telecoms infrastructure....
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Its nothing to do with a modern telecomms infrastructure and all to do with the fact that the customer lives out in the sticks.
Posted by Shempz over 7 years ago
From what others have posted, they are about 3.83km (as the crow flies),from the exchange - so I'd say there can't be more than 4.5 - 5km of cabling. If BT had already invested in FTTC, then someone this distance away could possibly expect between 1mb - 4mb on VDSL2, as VDSL2 supports this length of cabling.

So, its not always all to do with the fact that someone is in the sticks.

Of course, I'm no expert..just someone else that lives in the sticks (and on a far smaller exchange than Llandeilo)...but luckily squeeze 2mb out of my crappy ADSL Max connection!
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Shempz - so a completely fibre based core network, ethernet connectivity across the country and digital exchanges etc. is not a modern infrastructure?
Posted by Shempz over 7 years ago
lol....the first digital telephone exchange in the UK was in 1968! Only took them around 27 yrs to make all exchanges digital (sometime in 1995 I think on some dodgy little Scottish island...I'm sure you'll correct me though).

A minimum requirement? Yes.
Modern? Hardly.

BT are hardly pushing the boundaries of modern telecoms are they????

Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
What do you call modern? What products other than completing the roll out of FTTC and FTTP are missing?
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
How did the roll out of digital exchanges compare with other countries?
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Its irrelevant if there was no perceived demand at that exchange anyway they wouldn't enabled it for FTTC and certainly wouldn't upgrade the cab to VDSL for one person.
Posted by jumpmum over 7 years ago
I have looked on Google maps, it is all overhead from Llandeilo to Salem and no sight of a cabinet, so looks direct from the exchange. Salem covers a large rural area with scattered houses some way from the Hamlet itself and the pensioner may be some distance away. Could be 7km plus of overhead and need BET (2 pairs) to get working BB. Most likely requires new poles, new cable etc.
Posted by jumpmum over 7 years ago
Only way would be overhead Fibre, new cabinet with VDSL and hope she was close enough to get service. Openreach will only sell VDSL if they can ensure they can get 15Mb so would have to be public funded. Llandeilo is only 2k prem and Salem is likely to be less than 100 so not enough to make a return on the cost ever. Public money is only route so cough up your taxes!
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
^Aka. socialism.

Move to coverage or gtfo.
Posted by spwoolley over 7 years ago
I live in Wales, Capel Iwan 17km from the Velindre exchange. We had a and were content with a 112k adsl connection with btbroadband until bt decided to improve the local cabling and weve never had it since. They tried to bill me a cancellation fee!!! took me months to get it waived. So broadband, local towns have it but who really cares about the villages, politicians are just full of hot air.
Posted by alanrwood over 7 years ago
""Satellit is available at £700 install, £40 a month for 1meg down, quarter meg up, 1 gig a month data transfer... bit much innit?""

Satellite is available using the Tooway system. £700 fully installed and including 4 months service, 3.6Gb D/L and 384Kb U/L. Monthly allowance 2.4GB at £22.50 a month. Just researched it for my caravan home.

Not as cheap as I would like it but it is a much cheaper and viable solution than spending £150K by BT on a land connection.
Posted by nige1h over 7 years ago
Can I just ask why WiMax isn't being used to provide broadband service to these remote rural locations? I can believe that BT doesn't "understand" new-fangled stuff like WiMax, but surely there's a company out there who does?
Posted by bogwart over 7 years ago
Oh well, back to the smoke signals then.
Posted by tiggerrmummy over 7 years ago
So much for all the govt rhetoric about getting people online and especially older people... that doesnt appear to apply to Wales!
I like the way they say its just for one person...would it not benefit the entire village/hamlet/area? maybe those customers(unless they still DO use smoke signals!) might like bb as well and if BT made the leap of faith and paid for it to benefit the entire community, the publicity would bring them in customers...? no? ah well...
I wonder if she could get sky broadband instead? might be a 'bit' cheaper!!
Posted by dragon1945 over 7 years ago
BT say the maximum my phone line can sustain is 250 KB. I signed up with Pipex Homecall and got 1.2 MB. Same phoneline as before, so why couldn't BT manage this? I am now with talktalk. My line rental is cheaper than BT. All 01/02/03 calls are inclusive 24/7, as well as my calls to Australia and the USA. The BB is free. My bill is now 1/3 of what I paid to BT with BB.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago
The premise of the article seems to be that broadband = BT. My own personal experiences suggest that "broadband" and "BT" should not appear in the same sentence. Like so many others, the person in question is simply too far away from the phone exchange. DSL is not the solution; 3G/4G/wireless might be.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago

I've seen this too. One supposes that if more residents signed up taking advantage of the fact they can now get broadband, the person in question would get their huge investment in BT's network refunded over time...? No, thought not.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago

It's not an issue with rural areas. It's an issue of line length.

That's why it's an issue in both urban/rural areas, since so few people live within the needed mile or so of the phone exchange to get useful speeds.

However while urban dwellers can hold out some hope that VM might bring them into the 20th century by cabling their areas, rural areas can probably forget about that happening on any scale.

While VM don't bother, BT have no need to bother either. Availability and speeds for the majority will improve only with further roll out of cable (urban) and 4G (rural).
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
I can understand BT has to have its limits on subsidising installs, but if their costs were anywhere near 150k then they need to look at where their waste is, because even feeding a new 10 mile length of fibre wouldnt cost that amount. It seems BT's costs are always inflated as if they overpay their staff or are simply inefficient.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
chrysalis - how much to install 10 miles of fibre in a mixture of duct and overhead?
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
somerset I can get it done for about £15 metre, 1/10th of the price andrew quoted, in addition we can see telcos overseas do it for way less than £150 per metre. So the question is why does it cost BT so much.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
that price I quoted would be also if no existing ducts and not overhead, if using existing ducts it would plummet.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 7 years ago
I suspect Chrysalis is being a little optimistic here, unless the whole length is across an open field or such like.

Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
What's the cost along pavements and across a few roads? And then into properties.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
well I have had various fiber quotes done for various reasons. The general feeling I get is, its very cheap when existing ducts can be used, overhead is expensive but still nowhere near £150 metre, city areas are not always cheaper as I also discovered. However I wasnt asking BT for quotes.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
City areas may suffer from ducts damaged by other utilities which means repairs upping the costs.
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