BT almost has sewn up the the tender for meeting the broadband targets in 2015 for the Highlands and Islands, after C&W dropped out, Fujitsu indicated the numbers did not stack up, and GEO indicated it wanted no more to do with BDUK projects. Reading a Scotland on Sunday article it appears BT may be trying to apply the thumbscrews to get Scotland to advance its pace for the tendering process across the rest of the nation.
BT has pretty much stood up and said it will add its own money to help stretch funds further, but then this is pretty much the case with all the potential bidders for BDUK projects across the UK.
One minor point to make, is that there are two distinct types of fibre service rolling out in the UK, fibre to the cabinet and fibre to the home, the article seems to mix these up. Full fibre which is already offering 100 Mbps where available is the only one where people get a piece of fibre installed in the home, the cabinet solution leaves the last copper intact from the street cabinet to the property. In 2012 the FTTC solutions will offer connections of up to 80 Mbps for those close enough to the cabinets, and there are further enhancements that could take this over 100 Mbps in the future. The difference between FTTC and FTTP is highlighted by the planned upgrades for FTTP that will see its headline speed go from 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps in 2012, and crucially the length of the fibre makes no difference to the speed.
The current plan is for the Scottish action plan to be published in January, this was announced a month ago. Given the comments from Bill Murphy, managing director of BT’s super-fast broadband division one wonders if there has been further indications from other potential bidders that they are unlikely to bid in Scotland, and thus BT feels that the timetable could be moved up. The tendering process does mean that even if all the known public bidders except one have announced a withdrawal the tender process still has to take place, thus ensuring that a low public profile bidder can sneak in and possibly surprise everyone. Alas the fairy godmother tends not to deploy fibre networks.
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