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North Tyneside hits back at DCMS comments
Wednesday 01 February 2012 11:46:14 by Andrew Ferguson

It appears that the reason that North Tyneside is not racing to beat the deadline for submitting BDUK plan is that the council has gone it alone without recourse to any BDUK funding.

The News Guardian carries an item describing the council as being stunned as being an area slipping behind schedule. Apparently they have been working directly with BT and will ensure 91% coverage of superfast (25 Mbps and faster) broadband by 2015 without the need to access BDUK funds. The remaining 9% will receive a 2 Mbps service.

"I can give a firm commitment to our residents and businesses that we are on target to deliver superfast broadband where it is needed most, by 2015.

"In this instance, given the pressures on resources at the present time, we felt that the benefits of increasing the coverage of superfast broadband across the remaining nine per cent of the borough, would be limited, and therefore a low priority when deciding how best to spend council tax payers’ money."

Mayor Linda Arkley

While on one hand a council that is forward thinking enough to have engaged with an operator to ensure coverage is to be welcomed, there is some surprise at the comments about the final nine per cent of the borough. One presumes that collecting council tax from this 9% of the borough is not a low priority.

There is a school of thought that with broadband improvements, those who stand to benefit most are not those already getting 4 Mbps or faster, but that handful of people in each exchange area that are on the fringes and getting under 1 Mbps or perhaps even nothing. An improvement to 2 Mbps would be a big step change, but it still leaves these people behind the curve and unable to access the latest digital services.

With the bulk of the work already done, perhaps there is a case for a smaller BDUK funded solution to improve the speeds of those in this last 9% to match that of those in the more densely populated areas.

We did try and find some information on superfast broadband on the North Tyneside Council website but this drew a blank, which with the high visibility of broadband as a priority in other parts of the UK means that those businesses not located in the area may do similar searches to check what the future will bring and draw a similar blank.

Comments

Posted by pehaw over 2 years ago
Our exchange is in North Tyneside, yet we live in Newcastle. There must be a lot of people in similar situations around the country.

I assume that when figures such as 91% coverage are mentioned that this refers to households within the boundaries of the local authorities... In which case, how do they deal with those households that are served by exchanges outside of LA boundaries?
Posted by Rocklett over 2 years ago
I'd like to hear how they are going to achieve 91% coverage at a minimum of 25Mbps. Hopefully they haven't fallen for BT's words on FTTC being 40Mbps and soon to increase to 80Mbps. If they have, they might want to check on those tiny words 'up to' that will undoubtedly have been quietly uttered, and ask what the minimum acceptable speed BT provides for this 'fibre' service (5Mbps).

BT are only planning an average of 25%-30% FTTP coverage within any given serving exchange area, remaining lines will be a mix of ADSL2+ and FTTC, it will be interesting to see how this qualifies as 'superfast’.
Posted by nickkcin over 2 years ago
Quote "While on one hand a council that is forward thinking enough to have engaged with an operator to ensure coverage is to be welcomed"

Let me paint a slightly different (cynical) picture.

BT local rep (maybe even Bill Murphy), doesn't want a tender process or any competition, goes to the council and says "look, with our rollout plans you can claim 91% coverage so you don't need the BDUK money and don't have to spend taxpayers money either, we'll do a bit of an upgrade on the other exchanges so you can claim the rest get 2M, you can claim you are being pro-active and get the plaudits"
Posted by nickkcin over 2 years ago
Unfortunately the definition of 'superfast' has been corrupted to allow whatever BT is offering to be claimed as superfast.

Remember BT advertises a copper access product as 'fibre optic broadband' so if we allow them to do that, them corrupting the definition of superfast is just another logical step for them
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
Virgin advertises a coax access product as "fibre optic broadband" the corruption started before Infinity
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
And its Ofcom that has decided in the UK speeds above 24Mbps are classed as "super fast broadband"
Posted by jumpmum over 2 years ago
You also have to look at the small area Covered by North Tyeside, it's only about 6 Miles by 6 Miles and is mostly built up residential every exchange may be covered by someones SFBB plans already. Thus it could be those a long way from the Cab that are the 9%. 91% meets the minimum criteria so is it worth the resource for a small council to jump through the BDUK hoops for a few expensive customers?
Posted by undecidedadrian over 2 years ago
Also by not bidding for BDUK money they sre saving on however much administration would have cost to do so and by going straight to BT they are likely to be hooked up long beofre any other council who has got BDUK money.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
A slower more targeted project, and as its smaller would require less admin could be run to target those difficult areas.

While BDUK requires admin work, is it really costing each council many millions to admin the projects?
Posted by GMAN99 over 2 years ago
I suppose it comes down to how many residents make up that 9% vs how much it costs to engage with BDUK and how much funding they'd have to put up themselves
Posted by camieabz over 2 years ago
@Andrew

You mention 'ahead of the curve'. Within reason, what would be ahead of the curve for the rural, and slow/not spot areas?

4Mb? 10Mb?
Posted by nickkcin over 2 years ago
andrew, you just have to do the numbers. Firstly the plan has to be created, then the PQQ, then either a Dialogue stage, and then an ITT, then a preferred bidder and then contract negotiation and finalisation. This is a minimum of a year. 2 x full time consultants heads (won't be the same ones, but you can assume there will always be 2 people working on it) and 2 x full time council (not the same either) - @ £4k a day for those 4 and assuming 260 working days in a year = £1M (oh and that doesn't include bloodsucker - lawyer - fees either)
Posted by creakycopperline over 2 years ago
GMANN99 Virgin advertises a coax access product as "fibre optic broadband" the corruption started before Infinity <<< predictable!!
Posted by PSmith about 1 year ago
What's the point in just working with BT when there are a lot of Virgin Media areas in North Tyneside with small pockets of properties with slow to almost dialup level speeds? I can't imagine BT is high to bother with VM areas with such a high customer base. NT council should be working with VM to cover these "black spots", as well as with BT for the areas without cable and piddly slow (or none at all) DSL. It would surely be cheaper and more effective.
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