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BDUK broadband tender will exclude smaller companies
Friday 01 July 2011 16:29:28 by John Hunt

Smaller network operators may find themselves excluded from being able to bid for broadband projects under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) tender framework which is looking to find up to 12 suppliers to deliver broadband services ranging in size from regions of the UK to smaller local projects. It is thought that the tender could be worth £2bn in total which includes some of the £530m of funding from central government which is to be made available until 2015 (£830m by 2017).

A pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), not yet released, will need to be completed by each company wishing to become a supplier, and a leaked copy of this has been seen by Computer Weekly. This details that companies must confirm their annual average turnover for the last two years exceeds £20m. This would include companies such as Vtesse Networks, who would be above this threshold, but would likely exclude smaller companies like Rutland Telecom who could provide value for money fibre broadband solutions. Indeed, Rutland Telecom already have plans to deliver a county-wide solution for Rutland, and it seems excluding them as an operator could effectively mean that Rutland may have to pay more for this solution.

A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that the threshold had not been fixed and that it wanted to encourage the use of smaller companies.

"The framework encourages prime contractors and consortia to use SMEs as part of their supply chain, but requires prime contractors that are capable financially, technically and operationally of delivering at least one complete project.

DCMS statement

INCA, the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA), have voiced concern at the way the tender says that it wants to include smaller providers, but on the other hand excludes them through the minimum turnover requirements. There is, however, a possible get-around clause which allows companies to form consortia, as long as they meet the turnover threshold. INCA is also worried that the document seems to redefine superfast broadband to include speeds from 15meg to 50meg, a drop from the previous statement of 25meg upwards.

"The document also appears to redefine 'superfast' broadband as anything from 15Mbit/s to 50Mbit/s. So we could find up to £830m of public funding spent on networks that deliver half the speeds of European competitors.

Previously, government officials have said that superfast means anything over 24Mbit/s – meaning there must be at least some fibre, or high-speed wireless, in the access network. BDUK seems to be stepping back from that ambition."

INCA statement


Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
Wink & nudge, Job for the boys, backhanders from past PPE degree students, here in the UK, NEVER lol.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
The "framework" is to provide a nationally negotiated deal that councils can call off solutions for particular areas, it may be logical to restrict the framework to those with the clout to deliver national solutions.

Councils may still procure locally provided solutions if these are better value.

Rutland have now precisely two FTTC schemes in operation, one year after the first.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The costs of dealing with 12 possible suppliers for retail ISP's means as with the Digital Region project in Yorkshire people may not always see the providers they want.

Not had time to delve, but wonder if they are any price limits to stop a wholesaler offering say 30Meg connections with just 5GB a month usage allowance, and charging £5 per GB above that figure?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
What experience have Rutland got rolling out networks outside their own backyard?
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
Perhaps BDUK ought to do just a little research on how many companies with >£20m turnover go bust! Using a metric like that it just a cheap cop out to help justify them handing over all the money to BT after being seen to follow "due process".
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
12 companies is far to many. It ought to be no more than 3 or 4
Posted by timmay over 5 years ago
It's not the number of companies that is a problem but the difference in the technology. Will they ever merge? Or will they all be different solutions that go bust?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
worry not. BT will get the tenders. Its all a smokescreen to hand the money over to them. For infinity. To patch up the copper network. And keep us all in the digital slow lane.
The answer is we have to JFDI ourselves and stop looking to government for support, because
a) they don't have any money for anything remotely sensible
b) they don't get IT
c) if you do it yourself the job gets done
Posted by kijoma over 5 years ago
BDUK exclude smaller companies.. in other news, water is wet ...
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
It seems that me that no-one (including BDUK and their sponsors, the government) has any clear idea of exactly what BDUK is trying to achieve. Hardly the basis for a successful tendering exercise, but not unknown in government. A fiasco in-the-making?
Posted by russianmonkey over 5 years ago
Has it occurred to anyone that the reason they want companies with turnovers of more than £20m/a, that they want the company to be able to survive.

Wasn't the whole thing about BDUK to part-subsidise, not fully subsidise the rollout of high speed broadband

And CD: Yes, the fibre gets laid over copper but once the USO is gone for batteries in just the exchanges, a lot of copper will get ripped out and sold.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
has it occurred to you that lots of companies with turnovers of much higher than £20m also go bust??
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
BDUK is a mess lot of small contracts being awarded to dozens of companies. No clear strategy or objectives no defined technology solution.

It will be a repeat of when ADSL first came out and the government started handing out contracts to hundreds of small companies to get ADSL to rural areas. THat delivered almost nothing but they burnt though a lot of money in the process
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
well Bob if what you say is correct, then it will be very different to the adsl days as here BDUK seems intent on handing virtually out all of the money, local stock and (smoking) barrel to BT.

Mind you, that happened in the adsl days too!
Posted by billyliar over 5 years ago
Why shouldn't local authorities get funding to install their own network and let others use it?
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Perhaps because they don't have any spare money, might feel others are better equipped to run a network that they are?
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
BDUK seems to have three key objectives according to their Web site

1) 1.Create a level playing field between incumbents and new providers

(It is unclear as to whether they are talking about ISP's or Infrustructure. If it is infrustructure I wouls se there being three providers a)BT, b) Virgin, c) Open Network (Fujitsu et al)

2)2.Open up access to infrastructure to facilitate super-fast broadband in many areas
(presumably this is more at ISP level)

3)3.Facilitate the introduction of super-fast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
I wonder whether any local authorities have considered requesting money for duct infrastructure from BDUK? They could install duct infrastructure in their neck of the woods, charge all users equally (recovering the investment over time). This in turn makes roll-out cheaper for suppliers...
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
@ themanstan

Now that is a wonderful dream to have! :-)

It forever frustrates me to see major roadworks going on where it would be so simple (and cheap) to drop some duct in there!

Major issue is that, based on my own experience from meetings with said people, they just do not "get it".
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
This is what the Open Network consortium are planning to do. They would lease space in the BT ducting. This network would then be available to any ISP to provide the service.

As far as I know the Open Network consortium to maintain neutrality will not provide any end user services

THis though only applies to the Consottium company. Virgin & Talk Talk could in their own right provide end users services using the Open Network
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
hardly the same thing to be honest
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Agreed, Wireless... I think this is going to be the major bottle neck encountered by BB operators. Duct infrastructure is limited and additional capacity is needed, however most BB suppliers don't want to invest in this aspect of infrastructure and certainly don't want to lease space at the prices at which BT is offering (even if the prices appear very similar to France, which is the most similar economically to the UK).
Posted by billyliar over 5 years ago

That's and idea worthy of further investigation. I can see the councils being interested.

It annoys me that the public sector involvement so far is nothing more than cheque writers. Why shouldn't the PS not own the assets?
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
Why shouldn't the PS own the assets? Treasury rules.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago
Lancashire County Council's broadband tender PQQ called for a minimum turnover of £100m so BDUK aren't really pushing the boat out.

Generally the Treasury doesn't want any more assets on it's books or more public expenditure.
Posted by billyliar over 5 years ago
@mervl - The treasury does not (as far as I'm aware) prevent local authoroties from owning networks.
@herdwick - but if the network was owned by the Council then it would be an asset in the 'books' and a source o income. Seems a better plan than writing a cheque.
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