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Arqiva calls on Welsh Assembly to address not spots first
Wednesday 12 October 2011 12:14:22 by Andrew Ferguson

The funding that has split out to the various regions of United Kingdom from the Broadband Delivery UK is meant to serve two purposes:

  1. Address not spots and areas receiving a service under the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC).
  2. Where possible make available superfast broadband to areas that fall outside likely commercial roll-outs for the service.

Reading on cable.co.uk comments made by Arqiva one could be forgiven for thinking that the first point is being ignored by bodies like the Welsh Assembly. Wales is already addressing not-spots with its Broadband Support Scheme which will provide funding of up to £1000 for premises where current telecommunications firms are not able to provide a service.

The funding from BDUK which means Wales has some £56.9 million to spend on broadband will need prioritising, but we would disagree with the Arqiva comments that 2 Mbps is the "reasonable level of service that everybody should have". While 2 Mbps represents a reasonable base line, the aim should be to ensure that the majority of access methods are significantly faster, a minimum of 10Mbps would be a sensible target to avoid having to spend a similar figure of £30 million in a couple more years. Superfast broadband is normally defined in the UK as a connection running at 25 Mbps or faster. Arqiva have conducted some LTE tests in Wales and they may be thinking that this technology could be used to meet the 2 Mbps USC.

The most pertinent question to ask anyone attempting to sell a service that meets the 2 Mbps USC should be - if you were to be able to buy your ideal property, but it had access to only a 2 Mbps connection for the foreseeable future would you buy that property or look elsewhere?

Hopefully the Welsh Assembly will strike a reasonable balance between ensuring universal broadband coverage in Wales, whilst leveraging the best possible speeds from the funds they have.

Comments

Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Hopefully the Welsh Assembly will have more sense than to fall for stop gap solutions.
The key is to get a futureproof connection come hell or high water.
Getting rural areas a decent connection will provide competition for the incumbent who will then start to roll out its 'superfast' without holding out a begging bowl.
There is no need for subsidy in grey areas. Subsidise the white, the notspots and the market will deliver the rest.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
While optimism on the market will come is to be applauded, so far the market has made no in roads to the final third.

As for hell or high water, care to qualify that, should a council fore go other basic services to for futureproof. Remember analogue cable services were seen as futureproof at one time.
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
Unlikely as it is I agree with CD and Arqiva that Not spots should be funded first. However I do not agree with Aquiva that 2Mb should be provided.

I think the BDUK money should be targeted at the (rural) not spots and their surrounds first for FTTC/P (groupings of 30+ premises within reach, Individuals are covered by the present scheme for satellite).

Then work down the list of areas in Ascending order of speed in the areas where commercial rollout will never happen, villages/exchanges under 200 then under 500, under 1000 premises.
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
Contd
At some point the commercial and the subsidised areas will meet.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Starting with the worst served areas makes sense, but the plan needs to ensure that funding does not run out before the job is completed.

A lot depends on the system chosen to cover an area.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
"so far the market has made no in roads to the final third."

Not true. The "market" has already sorted out and solved the 2Mbps USC problem. There are now two competing satellites up there that can do this. Wasting huge amounts of public money on terrestrial alternatives is just silly.

Hsving said that, the words "politicians" and "silly" tend to go hand in hand, so...
Posted by Michael_Chare over 5 years ago
The problem with the satellite solutions is that they are expensive. There is also a delay whilst the signal gets to and from the satellite. Where I live 2mbps would be an improvement.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
A balance approach should be taken. FTTH inrural areas is not a relastic option it would be far to costly.

FTTC is an option but would need better roll out to urban areas in Wales before even that starts to become viable. In some rural areas if FTTC were implimented Wireles links may be needed as the copper may be to long.

For very isolated homes satelite is still currently the only cost viable option

In general 2MBS is usable it may not be ideal but it is ok
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
Bob_s2
FTTH in small hamlets, up to 30 Premises is more cost effective than FTTC, as the GPON splitter that provides 30 customers is unpowered and the FTTC cab is expensive and powered. Over 90 customers FTTC starts to cost in depending on the cost of getting power to the cab. Under 20 everything gets VERY expensive so use satellite. Head end sites need to be within 40km. so many hamlets to one Head end.
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
Contd :- Fibre exists to the existing exchanges, and fibre over poles to the hamlets is the same for both FTTC & FTTP
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
@ Michael

Satellite solutions are not particularly expensive anymore. Also, given that they exist, I fail to see why public money should be spent on terrestrial 2 Mbps solutions. There is nothing in the BDUK gumf that prohibits satellite based solutions.
Posted by PhilCoates over 5 years ago
@ wirelaessspaceman

Satellite IS expensive when you consider the download 'allowances' in comparison to Fibre/Copper based packages.
Posted by PhilCoates over 5 years ago
Oh and by the way...........

Public money has been allocated to spend on terrestrial 2Mbs solutions - are you suggesting the BDUK money should be returned to the BBC or the taxpayers?
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
Quote"Posted by jumpmum about 9 hours ago
Bob_s2
FTTH in small hamlets, up to 30 Premises is more cost effective than FTTC, as the GPON splitter that provides 30 customers is unpowered and the FTTC cab is expensive and powered"

FTTH to small hamlets is totally unviable. The costs would be in excess of £20K per home passed
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Recall that Hambleton's roll out of FTTH to ~36 properties is going to cost £250k...~7k each... it's a very expensive business to roll-out in isolated rural areas.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
@PhilCoates

Not everyone wants or needs to download 24/7 or anywhere near it.

Oh and by the way...

Public money has NOT been allocated to spend on <terrestrial> 2 Mbps solutions, merely on 2 Mbps solutions - which now exist (and indeed faster than 2 Mbps) courtesy of the new satellites.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
But in answer to your question, I would rather the money is only targetted on "super fast" solutions, and even there only when it is not distorting competition by trying to drive out of business locally based providers.

Simples.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
"distorting competition by trying to drive out of business locally based providers."

That's something you'd be in a good position to comment on, isn't it? Have you written about it elsewhere in a bit more depth than the 600 character chunks available here?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Competition only really occurs in the first instance... afterwards there is an "incumbent". The only issue with BDUK funding is that the "incumbent" is required to offer wholesale access. The smaller operators can't afford to do so as the ROI is potentially too small. Hence, why BDUK funds appear more targetted to larger operators... However BDUK funds need to be viewed as they are, BB subsidies not company subsidies, so the benefactors are the customers not the companies.
Posted by PhilCoates over 5 years ago
@wirelesspaceman

I said nothing about downloading 24/7. My current 3G connection on Three (the only thing available to me) has a download limit of 15Gb per month. Even if it was fast enough to stream the iPlayer or other (increasingly common) media delivery formats, I would be out of 'allowance' very rapidly.

As far as I can see the satellite costs are about £90 for a 10Mb/s speed and 25Gb/month download limit.

An equivalent BT package via ADSL is £18 per month. How is satellite not expensive exactly?
By any calculation
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
BDUK is surely subsidising roll out (availability) of higher speed services, not the subscription prices to the customer. The other key issue for the consumer is affordability, which we in the UK choose to address by competition. So no, the national availability of satellite or protecting the market of a local wi-fi operator isn't what it's about. They need to, and can if they want to, compete successfully in the subscription market at the local level. The job of the state is to procure the development of that market.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@Phil

So who should bear the burden of cost?
The consumer or the provider?
Most market economics dictate that product availability and quality is based on what the consumer is prepared to pay.
So if the rural consumer only wants to pay £18 for a broadband product, what is going to be the quality of that product?

The whole purpose of BDUK is give domestic users (mainly) a reasonable option to have BB. The fact that it is expensive for isolated rural area compared to baseline products has no bearing.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
There appears to be a new satellite up which has a much better deal for the domestic consumer.
Whilst the data allowance during peak times is poor, off-peak is "unlimited".

http://www.satelliteinternet.co.uk/packages?pkg=3
Posted by PhilCoates over 5 years ago
@themanstan

'The whole purpose of BDUK is give domestic users (mainly) a reasonable option to have BB. The fact that it is expensive for isolated rural area compared to baseline products has no bearing....'

In that case, I am not sure what benefit BDUK funding brings if it provides access to BB at prices and a level of utility that no-one can afford or usefully employ.

Personally I am willing and able to pay a significant monthly sum for BB provided that the quality of the product is right. Unfortunately, living where I do, no-one is going to even offer me the chance.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
@Phil

It's quite clear, BDUK funding provides for the next ~30% to give 90% coverage... they say so clearly in many of their media announcements.
What people are asking of it is to provide blanket coverage including the final 10%, which is the most expensive. That has never been part of the package and it is a disconnect from the purpose of BDUK to consider it.

Hence, the expensive products for the isolated rural connections... to expect more from the limited funds BDUK has is unrealistic.

Unfortunately, there will be many disappointed people which fall in this final 10%.



Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
If BDUK helped the final 10% to jfdi themselves then the market would take care of the rest. Its a hundred years since copper was seen as futureproof Andrew.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Cyberdoyle... people aren't prepared to pay for the level of service that you envision...
Remember, Hambleton FTTH which you laud... £1000 to join if they didn't register, which would include people moving into the area. Not many families can afford £1000 just to get fast broadband... and this is the market solution...
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
and...

A residential product offers 50meg broadband with a 5meg upload speed and 25GB usage allowance for £50 per month on a 12 month contract.

So why not a 1G speed?
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
It is far too early to talk of the market expanding in to less profitable areas. For that you need a mature market, where are nowhere near that stage.

Also Freeview, mains gas and even electricity do not have 100% coverage. Not sure why we should expect super fast broadband to do so.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
I want to see not spots in city areas get some funding, so far this seems biased towards rural areas.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
People see bias as they wish, particularly if they see no action for themselves.

Funding has gone out to local authorities so down to people to ensure they are aware of things, e.g. if you are urban and have no prospect of 2Mbps or superfast broadband make sure they are aware, and get your neighbours to pipe up too.
Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
Posted by Bob_s2 3 days ago
"FTTH to small hamlets is totally unviable. The costs would be in excess of £20K per home passed"

No. The cost of going to 30 would be expensive yes, but the Head end equipment can handle 32 blocks of 30, ie 960 at the same cost. Scale makes a difference.
Again going the next level also decreases the cost as each Head end can be extended to handle multiple lots of 32*30.
A lot of the cost can be getting the power to the head end or cabinet. The fewer of these the lower the cost. To be contd

Posted by jumpmum over 5 years ago
Contd
Back to my first point, FTTP is cheaper than FTTC to hamlets of around 30 prem as the splitter is unpowered and costs a fraction of the cab, only required 1 pair fibres that can easily be fed by existing poles.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
You clearly do not understand what is required for FTTH and the costs involved.

If the costs of rolling out FTTH was low BT would be rolloing it out across the Urban areas but it is not.

With the current technology and costas FTTH is a non starter for rural areas it is not even really viable in Urban areas at present.

For FTTH in rural areas the charges to the users would have to be so high no one would subscribe or else massive levels of public subsidy would be needed but that level of subsidy
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