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Another £50m of pilots announced by BDUK
Sunday 29 May 2011 15:02:12 by Andrew Ferguson

If you are looking to improve your broadband or get it for the first time and live in rural Wiltshire, Norfolk, Devon and Somerset then today's news of £50m being handed out to these areas via Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) will be welcome news.

BDUK has £530m available to spend on getting broadband to as many parts of the UK as possible and trying to ensure the money is providing a next generation style service (widely assumed to mean 25Mbps or faster). So far with running costs and pilot schemes some £100m has been spent, with additional amounts being provided in each of the pilot areas by local authorities and private investors.

What is worrying is the time it is taking to get the existing pilot projects up and running. None of the pilots are yet live, though for projects involving local government this is not unusual. The Digital Region project in South Yorkshire took some years for customers to start appearing. Interestingly a similar wholesale approach to the Digital Region appears to be underway with the pilot schemes, as in building the networks and then offering wholesale access, which can result in patchy take-up from retail providers.

The momentary hope of the Fujitsu fibre network, or even BT's earlier promise to match funds and build a much larger FTTC/P network around the UK are looking ever more in doubt. The various councils will be looking at what is best for them rather than what will work as a coherent project across larger swathes of the UK.

BDUK itself was originally seen by many as a good idea, acting as a technical lead and clearing house, but its website hardly inspires, with little to no actual detail of what is happening, the latest news currently listed being Cumbria starting the procurement process.

The amounts given to the areas today are Devon and Somerset £30m, Norfolk £15m and Wiltshire £4m. A further 18 local authorities who submitted bids will receive their funding at a later date, but before the next General Election in 2015.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
I think when it was all first announced we assumed the money was for pilot NGA/broadband projects, specifically aimed at areas who can't get a connection. It is now looking like its jobs for the boys, finding innovative ways of passing the money back to the incumbent to patch up the copper for another few years. The pilot is on the councils, not on the broadband. Nowhere so far has talked about anything innovative.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
So I wonder how much BDUK have spent so far on doing nothing.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
The BDUK money is being waisted on expensive but not innovative solutions trials, trialing already tested solutions. What a waste! Add to that it is being given to the big boys for areas that would have been enabled in time even without funding.
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
any money would be mtched by any operator so take norfolk which has 15m BDUK has agrred to contribute 15M of its own much which means that a match of 30m bringing potentially 60m for Norfolk -- Money can only be used for market failure or expected market faiuire so no money nused ofr anywhere an operato would be expected to deploy superfast Broadband
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
PS these are not pilots these are classifed as Wave 2 funding
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
We might have expected the BDUK website to have been updated on Friday morning with the latest announcements and links to each council...
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
What about 2 000 000 000 GBP for 'The delivery of high speed connectivity to businesses and residential consumers and communities is required to address the UK’s economic growth and development agenda.'
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
One single word sums up BDUK in my view - farce!
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Maybe I should have read the article properly. BDUK have spent a fifth of the overall money available and what have they got to show for it? Total Failure, another example of the government throwing money away. By the time others have bid they'll be nothing left as BDUK will have wasted it on admin costs and pointless trials.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 6 years ago
As a resident of Kent I am disappointed that the Kent were not allocated funds.

The BDUK website should give details of all the applications for funding and explain why some were accepted and the majority rejected.

Public bodies handing out funding to other government bodies should act in a transparent manner.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
Press releases at - there's some problem with broadband falling across two departments - BDUK is in BIS and ministers Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt is in DCMS.

Send in a FOI request if you want more transparency.
Posted by billyliar over 6 years ago
The guidelines say that the first pilot should have been out for procurement in April 2011. Have any of them got that far? It also says that a report will be out in November of this year on the pilots... will any of them actually be operational by then?
Posted by themanstan over 6 years ago
It's a special talent the UK has for frittering away money on pilot projects and trials. Looks like £530m will go the same way as £4B went on armoured vehicle projects for the army, which has yielded zero armoured vehicles.
Posted by michaels_perry over 6 years ago
I live in rural Wiltshire and whilst welcoming, in principle, the announcement I am concerned that we will be asked to pay extra for a service that others have been getting for a long time and we have not. Surely, provision of a reasonable speed (say 10 Mbps) across the board at a 'standard' price is not too much to ask for? (cont'd)
Posted by michaels_perry over 6 years ago
Currently, our BB is so variable and unreliable that we have to keep rebooting modems and it is severely affected by rain (good weather we get around 2 Mbps and in/after rain we can be as low as 160Kbps!) so any improvement would be welcomed buit only at a sensible price.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
@michaels_perry should BT bid and win (hopefully not) and deliver FTTC you'll have your pick of FTTC ISP's and be able to choose a price/package that suits you. Infinity and Plusnet are rock bottom in terms of prices, not sensible at all IMO they should be higher really.
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
Cumbria and North Yorks have started the process (at PQQ stage) Pre Qualification Questionaire)
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
Counties ill have further opportunities fro funding so any one rejected at this stage is not omitted
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
GMAN99 confused by comment -- money spent but tnothing to show for it -- the procurement process takes about a year from OJEU notification to contract award to an operaror som i would expect those announced this week will take till some time in 2012 to get to contract award
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Why confused, there's still nothing to show for it? 1/5th of the funds spent and still nothing done. Why does it take so long and why have they spent so much so far?
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
and one really wonders why the procurement process needs to take so long!
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I mean what do BDUK actually do, maybe I've got this too simplified but don't they just look at the requests for money from the councils/communities and decide who has the best case? Does that cost £100m in wages if so.. I'm in the wrong job!
Posted by Bob_s2 over 6 years ago
This is not looking good and seems to be going the same way ass earlier funding ie knowwhere, WE had the same thing with the early days of ADSL and nothing was delivered from all that funding and I dont see anything being delivered from this.

The technicalsolutions are known. It should be a simple request for tender. Most of the money will disapear into councils and quangos management costs. Timescales should be at most 3 months to come up with a tender award
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
process is as follows as this is state aid and subject to government procurement rules - all of the below have formal stages tothem

Note they have only been awarded money surprised they will actoually get that money until they have somethink to show for it in terms or process / Result

OJEU notice
ITT / Tender
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
Bob the money will have to be very specifically spent and probably only on market failure and nowhere where an operator was already expected to deploy
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
fastman, you could say that the government would expect BT to deploy everywhere, where does that leave people wanting funding?
Posted by fastman over 6 years ago
govenment/ Councils uses analysis Mason survey and also Black White Grey Datas which gives a view on current performance and also which gives a view on where operators (such as Virgin / BT would expect to deploy - funding that then onley be gained for those areas - so in case of Norfolk there woud be exchanges expected to be deployed under bus as usual and those which require intervention funding. Funding can only be spent on the areas requirung intervenion and not on business as usual areas. This all has to be proven as part of state aid application
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
You seem to know a great deal about the process fastman, do you know if the telco's that bid for the work have to be able to offer wholesale for what infrastructure they put in?
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
The wholesale offer will be mandatory.

The people running the tender process (ie councils not BDUK) also have an obligation under the state aid rules to assess formally where operators are likely to deploy over the next three years. Whether they do so, of course, remains to be seen!
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
One interesting (to me!) unknown is what would happen if an independent operator (eg a fixed wireless operator) starts to deploy in an area defined by the process as "requiring intervention" after the bid was won but before actual deployment takes place by the winner. Will that area then be removed from those where state aid can be provided and some money thus clawed back from the winner?
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
How does a community scheme offer wholesale?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
So wireless, if that is the case just how many bidders can actually provide something at a wholesale level?

Including these digital pumps as Somerset says.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
The £100m or so is the pilots so far, though I recall reading a figure of a few million for salaries at BDUK over 3 years.

While not giving the money to BT or Fujitsu seems preferable to many, if we end up with 80 or so different wholesale offerings, think how complicated it would be for a provider to offer national coverage.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
What pilots though Andrew I didn't think that anything was actually physically up and running?

As for the wholesale side, unless the chosen provider can already do wholesale that in itself must be huge process for the provider to take up.

Fuji doesn't even exist as an offering from what I can see, they were/are reliant on taking all of the £530m BDUK money (no chance) and PIA (way off because of pricing complaints)
Posted by KarlAustin over 6 years ago
Lets hope they don't follow the ludicrous Digital Region pricing on their wholesale, there's no wonder they've got an incredibly low number of network users.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 6 years ago
BT are the only supplier to provide ADSL equipment at my local exchange in Kent. I would be only to pleased for them to receive funding to upgrade their equipment. That way I would get a choice of ISP. There was Edenbridge (LTT) Broadband. Where are they now?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
The money has been allocated to 8 pilots (including those in this news item).

Which is the point - the Fujitsu release was after the first few pilots had been allocated money already.

An ALT-net that has 30-40% coverage of the UK is feasible, but 50 or 60 individual schemes is a recipe for low take up
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Thanks Andrew, just to confirm - so far its just the money that has been allocated is that right, there are no actual pilots running at the moment, no-one has done anything in terms of physical deployment is that right, pilot or otherwise.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
No physical deployment, believe that closest is that one or two pilots are looking at going out to tender.

The cynics might suggest that the money is proving useful at retaining a few council staff to manage the tenders.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
Personally, I do not like it that everyone assumes that we should only have one (or two) very large outfits that wholesale broadband. The only operators who will dislike dealing with small(er) wholesalers will be the very big ones such as TalkTalk. I see no reason why small(er) retail ISPs should not be cool about dealing with small(er) wholesale providers - as long as the products on offer are suitable from a technical, operational and pricing point of view.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
We should be encouraging lots of wholesale providers. If the big ISPs don't care to deal with them then fine, let the small ISPs have a crack. That should help to drive innovation.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I'm not saying either way wireless I'm asking who the wholesale providers are... big or small.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
email to the BDUK address on their web site gets the reply:

Thank you for contacting BDUK. We are in the process of moving offices and so our email address is changing - the new BDUK general contact address is You email has been forwarded but please use the new email address in future.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 6 years ago
Party politics, huge very huge party politics, I bet, one of you £1.00, that a large majority of these counties and their constituencies MPs, are Conservatives.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago


Item:A few kilometres of fibre.
Item:Some trunking.
Item:Some metal boxes.
Item:Some VDSL modems.
Item:One spade.

Please send your remittance by the end of the month so I can start work.

Yours faithfully,

Posted by neils58 over 6 years ago
As a Somerset resident on a dodgy 2Mb line I'm hoping for big things from our £30m slice of the pie. The BDUK site does not inspire confidence however, I want to know what exactly they want to trial and where.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
is it me or is norfolk bigger than devon and somerset combined but has half the cash?
Posted by Bob_s2 over 6 years ago
It is not practicable or sensible to have multiple wholesale vendors at the infrastucture level & this is where the governments scheme seems to fall down badly. They tried that with Cable carving the UK up into regions and that did not work

We should have two competing infrastructure networks. I think the second network outside of the existing cable network should be the Open Network consortium. This provides competition to BT which would accelerate the rollout. There is nothing like competition to get BT moving.

Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
Sorry GMAN, misunderstood.

I suppose a lot depends on what is meant by "wholesale provider". In terms of basic infrastructure in the access network then it is really just Openreach. For basic infrastructure in the deep core network (eg between major cities) then there are a number of large telcos out there (eg Cable and Wireless, COLT, Geo etc).
Posted by wirelesspacman over 6 years ago
In terms of wholesale services, as opposed to basic infrastructure, then again there are a number of outfits to choose from, apart from BT Wholesale. Others would include Virgin (though for business use products only really), Entanet (for xdsl type services) to name two.

As I said, I see absolutely no reason to de facto mandate one or two wholesale vendors at the infrastructure level as Bob_s2 seems to wish for.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Yep I know of the big hitters in the core but it was at an access level I was thinking about. So even if another party bids and wants to provide access to the premises it would still end up being subbed to OR?

@Bob, surely the Open Network consortium is dead before it starts? Fuji wanted all of the £530m from BDUK to rollout its network and as £100m has already been spent/allocated its not likely to move any further is it?
Posted by Bob_s2 over 6 years ago
I doubt the Open Network Consortium is dead. No tenders as far as I am aware have gone out, I doubt the Consortium expected to get all the funding in any case as that is not how government contracts work
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Lets hope its not, but PIA is still a sticking point as well unless they just pay what is being asked of course.
Posted by New_Londoner over 6 years ago
Agree with your scepticism regarding Fujitsu.

Curious to know why it is called the Open Network "Consortium" when it is basically something proposed by Fujitsu, with Cisco acting as a supplier and TalkTalk & Virgin as potential ISPs on the network? So basically it's Fujitsu.

Is this the company that exited their contract with the NHS part-way through? In any case, have any of the city analysts confirmed whether their parent company has committed the finance, informed the Tokyo stock exchange given it would be a material amount?
Posted by KarlAustin over 6 years ago
Entanet are mostly just on the top of the OR network, so don't really bring anything to the party at all.

3 wholesale networks is about the limit IMHO - after that is starts getting v. expensive for providers to deal with all the different technical implementations and policies etc. Also if the big ISPs don't want to use these networks then that leaves only the smaller ones accounting for <=10% of the market, meaning less revenue = less money to invest, and lower economies of scale, which pushes pricing up.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 6 years ago
Well it is an Open Network because it will be open. Forget Fujitsu & Virgin etc. It is a different comapany. It will I would guess be wholly owned by the Consortiumbut it will be a totally seperate & independent company. The only controll the consortium would have would be as shareholders. They would have no control over day to day operation or business strategy
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
As Fuji are/were supposed to be (or assumed to be) putting up most of the money its hard to forget about them. I suppose its hard to get excited without any detail and just the PR stunt we've seen to date
Posted by mavericksane over 6 years ago
@Neils58: The team at the Country Council dealing with the funding are very open to conversations with end users. You should speak to them about the issues you are having. I am one the boundary of Taunton Deane and West Somerset with 448k downstream courtesy of fixed broadband and no interest from BT in discussing matters. "Does the phone ring?" "Yes" "Then there isn't a fault on the line, even if our website says you should get over 1.5MB".
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