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Will BT swallow all the BDUK funding?
Tuesday 17 April 2012 14:32:43 by Andrew Ferguson

The devolution of decision making for the local authority run BDUK funded projects that are meant to provide the UK with the best broadband in Europe by May 2015 means that the Westminster based Government can only really answer procurement questions once the various local authorities have gone public with their choice.

This has not stopped Chi Onwurah the MP for Newcastle upon Tyne questioning Ed Vaizey over how many of the projects that are in the procurement phase will go to the BT Group. Ed Vaizey simply confirmed that BT was bidding for these projects and is expected to be in the running for the other projects that will hopefully enter the procurement phase sooner rather than later.

This ability to distance the central decision making machine is crucial, though given the constraints on the tendering process both by BDUK and the various EU rules in this area does mean that smaller operators will be unable to bid for the main tender. Where we hope they will be able to gain, is in winning sub-tenders to provide solutions that need a more custom approach than the behemoth that is the BT Group can provide.

The two real runners for BDUK projects appear to be Openreach, which with its existing commercial roll-out and the Superfast Cornwall project has lots of visibility for its solutions, and may win simply down to the 'better the devil you know' approach. Fujitsu with its original announcement got a lot of press coverage, but the real only visible progress has been a trial in the Wirral.

The issue of a Universal Service Obligation has been raised by Lib Dem MP Tim Farron, but has been dismissed by Ed Vaizey.

"Only three member states — Finland, Spain and Malta — have included broadband in their national USO,...

The UK's position is that the time is not right to introduce a broadband USO as it may constrain private investment in networks. The current non-regulatory approach to delivering universal broadband is considered the most effective means of stimulating commercial investment while minimising costs to the public purse."

Minister Ed Vaizey responding to question from Lib Dem MP Tim Farron

We don't think the UK has a non-regulatory approach, it is simple a light touch one, all too often serving the needs of the biggest operators in the most densely populated parts of the UK.

A common war-cry for those in those in the under served parts of the UK (remember poor broadband is not a pure rural issue) is that Openreach should be even more widely separated from the BT Group, or a new local loop operator created. The first option is possible, but with significant costs, and risks of delays as providers adapt to new operating procedures. The period when a totally new local loop could be created has been missed by some years, if this was to happen, it needed to happen before Virgin Media carried out its DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades in 2009, and Openreach started its own fibre roll-outs.

A little history on Fujitsu, is that the factory in Birmingham, was originally ran by BT in the days when it was at the forefront of fibre optic hardware production, but the Conservative decision to create cable franchises in the 1980's meant BT pulled out of this area, with Fujitsu buying the plant and moving its European headquarters to Birmingham.


Posted by desouzr over 5 years ago
I've been told by North Yorkshire County Council that BT and Fujitsu are the two remaining bidders left in the running for the contract here. Not really a surprise. What I would be surprised with is if the contract isn't awarded to BT. Should find out in June/July with most of the rollout being done in 2013… Bring on better speeds...
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
the answer is yes. It was a done deal.
Posted by neil123 over 5 years ago
your post is somewhat confusing - can you tell me how separating Openreach would alter the viability of rural broadband? That's what it seems to imply.

I think many people underestimate how hard it is to build networks and how even harder it is to build out cabinets to do fibre.

Posted by Enrico21 over 5 years ago
BT are believed to be the sole remaining bidder for the Wales NGA Broadband tender. No suprise there then.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@neil123 Perhaps you should ask those who advocate it, was simply sounding a commonly heard phrase
Posted by RandomJointer over 5 years ago
Openreach should hoover up these contracts. They have the platform with the brands that people want to buy from and they have the experience in installing the kit which will bring costs down.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Openreach will hoover them up. The monopoly via their sister wholesale means people only have the choice of them and virgin. Virgin only do the dense urban areas. It makes a mockery of the funding which was initially for the ones with inadequate connectivity. All that will happen is those with fairly good connections now will go a bit faster. The rest of the world moves to fibre, and we keep patching up the old copper phone lines.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
How can BT have a monopoly where there is a choice of BT or Virgin?
Posted by Ultraman1966 over 5 years ago
Yeah, there's a choice if you live in those areas. Sadly, for example, my parents are 2 miles out from VM and hence make do with ADSL max. It's a monopoly...
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
More inaccuracies from cd as per usual Fttc does not only benefit those with fairly good connections, my brother used to get 2mbps now he gets over 70 that is nga whether you like it or not
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
cd - what's the requirement, the solution, and how could it be funded?
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
Posted by RandomJointer about 4 hours ago
Openreach should hoover up these contracts. They have the platform with the brands that people want to buy from and they have the experience in installing the kit which will bring costs down.

yep.. hoover them up and keep the copper monopoly protected,
98% of the posters here are BT cronies.
gmann included.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Creaky if you or chris have an issue with the tendering process/decisions take it up with the government. I'm merely pointing out yet another inaccuracy of cyberdoyles comments
Posted by undecidedadrian over 5 years ago
Would people rather see the small start ups come in and grab a load of money and then fold like a lot of them seem to be doing at the moment leaving those aresa with nothing?

To be honest the vast majority of the public do not care who will be rolling out their broadband all they want is it to be as cheap as possible.

Which is why we have this situation in the first place as nobody is willing to pay for broadband to interest companies to come and invest.
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
As the incumbent BT were always favoured to cash in and for obvious reasons. They represent longevity, are subject to regulation and have deep pockets. Irrespective of individual opinions, any council looking to play it safe would favour such a large company. The BDUK rules don't exactly favour small start ups anyway.

This must be what government intended, else they would have made the rules different.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
"To be honest the vast majority of the public do not care who will be rolling out their broadband all they want is it to be as cheap as possible." And add to that they don't care whether its fibre to the home or to the cab (or care what media it is) as long as its a decent speed and stable.

Only cd keeps banging this fttp drum but she never says where the money is coming from.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Forgetting the usual suspect conspiracy theorists for a moment, even if the story is broadly correct in terms of most/all money going to Openreach, does this actually matter if it gives us what we want?

Bearing in mind the relatively small amount of money on offer, if this does actually secure superfast broadband for the majority on the back of a lot more private sector money, then what is the issue?
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Yes there may be a few niche operators apparently offering much faster speeds, but how many of these have any real track record of delivery at any sort of scale? Remember its £530m of our money that's being spent, I'd like to have something to show for it.

The "FTTP or bust" people are all well and good, but they've been unable to come up with any form of viable funding model that would stretch the money far enough to give decent coverage. If they did then no doubt they'd be bidding for the BDUK projects!
Posted by desouzr over 5 years ago
Speaking as someone living in a rural part of North Yorkshire (Market 1 area) and set to benefit from the BDUK project here I’m not biased about who is awarded the contract as long as it delivers initial speeds >ADSL2+, is rolled out by mid 2014, is upgradable in terms of speed and retails at a reasonable price. If BT get the contract then at least I know what they will offer in terms of technology, price and upgrade route. If Fujitsu wins then it may (or may not mean) FTTP, rollout will probably take longer and retail pricing is unknown.
Posted by desouzr over 5 years ago
I can understand some Counties/Local Authorities who lack the technical expertise opting for a known/safe option in BT but I am confident that North Yorkshire will choose the best option for us given the technical/business expertise of NYnet who are running the procurement process.
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
It'd be a huge pity not to see if Fujitsu's solution not be used and to see if it is viable. This is the size of company we need to have competing head-to-head with BT.

I would see all and sundry wholesaling from them so pricing should be interesting.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Yes Fuji is a real rival I'd like to see them in the market as well but so far its all hot air
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
undecidedadrian as far as i'm aware DR installed the network and died because of lack of take up.
these start ups don't have monopoly big brother Openreach to look out for them, i don't care who rolls it out, as long as they do it democratically, and Openreach are doing my area as we speak, but that doesn't mean i should adopt a i'm alright jack attitide and start patting them on the back.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Exactly ! Dr came installed ran out of money, is that what you want x 50 etc across the country or someone that will be around for years to come ? So your area will be getting Fttc soon are you taking it up ? Surely you won't be touching it
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
where have i said i'm against openreach doing it at all? i'm going to stop reading your comments GMANN99 because all it is is BT loving rhetoric.
would sign up for b4rn if bt said no?
ps hands up who would physically dig a trench if opreach said they would lay fibre?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
creaky you do nothing but run down BT so why would you take up one of their services?
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
It's not BT it's, openreach, you pathetic fanboy.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Openreach part of the bt group? I'm sorry but it is very hypocritcal
Posted by fastman over 5 years ago
Openreach is part of BT Group but a seperare tand alone business supprting all CP equivacally. being custodia of the last mile providing wholesale open access services
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Correct, but still part of BT
Posted by fastman over 5 years ago
GMANit is but very seperate business and provides open access network so the end user has CP choice on any network we deploy and buy an FTTC sevice or broadband rom amy consuming CP
Posted by machanch over 5 years ago
GMAN you are wrong, there is no BT, There is BT GROUP, and fastman is correct in what he says, the businesses which make up BT Group are all individual companies, and can compete for the same customers if it's in ther interest to do so.
CPs such as Talktalk can make use of OPenreach to get to the end user and use CW, BT Wholesale, VM to carry their backhall traffic. If VM want to allow CP into there local loop, they surely can do so.
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