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Wales likely to announce BT as contract winner on Thursday
Wednesday 18 July 2012 14:28:08 by Andrew Ferguson

The UK relationship with the EU is a complex one, and it was into this environment the Government stepped when announcing the BDUK projects. The current delays (which are largely to be expected) to projects to improve broadband across the UK, is partly down to the time it takes for each project to be checked for EU State Aid compliance.

According to, the Welsh Government is likely to announce BT as having won the contract to provide Next Generation Broadband to Wales in the next day or so - or more correctly, those parts of Wales where there is not already commercial plans to deliver a service. The fact that BT is the sole remaining bidder will not please many, but the real problem is that there are doubts whether EU State Aid approval will be given. The concern centers around the depth of penetration of superfast broadband into the rural areas and lack of competing bidders.

wispa Limited have been given to understand that:

  • BT will not be subject to any performance related payments (all payments of the funding will be contractual)
  • No penalties will be included in the contract for failure to meet coverage requirements
  • No penalties will be included in the contract for failure to meet time requirements
  • No contractual obligations shall be included to meet 100% population coverage
  • BT will be committing to spend at least what they receive under the contract (so called ‘match funding’)
  • No structural requirement will be imposed on BT to ‘do the hardest first’ which will see headlines for cities and large towns, whilst rural areas continue to languish in Broadband minor leagues
wispa Limited concerns over Welsh broadband project

The broadband plan for Wales talks of all premises and business having access to Next Generation Broadband by 2015, and an ambition for 50% or more to have access at 100 Mbps.

We are confused by the Welsh use of the phrase 'Next Generation Broadband' as this is a marketing phrase, that means if you have ADSL now, then ADSL2+ is the next generation, VDSL2 the next generation after ADSL2+ and so on. The phrase superfast broadband while not much better does carry a definition in the form 'up to 30 Mbps or faster', thus meaning ADSL2+ is not part of the scheme. In theory the plan for Wales as stated could involve rural exchanges all getting ADSL2+, some more fibre deployment in the cities, and fixed wireless and satellite for the more difficult to reach areas.

A lot of the problems actual arise from the lack of a decent USO for internet access in the UK, this still remains at a definition of functional internet access has to be provided by BT at a rate of 28 Kbps. The Universal Service Commitment of 2 Mbps, which many take to be believe means everyone will have a 2 Mbps connection, varies from 100% to virtually everyone depending on which politician is talking.

Maybe BT will surprise everyone, and do what no other telecoms operator has dared to do in the UK, that is, be honest about the capabilities of a service as it is rolled out in each area. We are not so sure though, the competitive pressure means the emphasis is on the speeds that the fastest 10 to 15% can achieve, not the ones who have for the last ten years suffered from poor broadband, and may have another 10 years of the same.

The current broadband projects are not likely to be the end game, as we expect from 2015 onwards to see more demand surveys and consultations as projects to boost speeds further get underway to meet the EU 2020 targets.


Posted by Enrico21 over 5 years ago
In January 2012, the Welsh Government defined Next Generation Broadband (NGB) as 30Mbps or greater and this was their target. Presumably in anticipation of BT contract signing, WG are now now saying on their website "there is no universal definition of NGB" and 30Mbps is no longer touted. It now looks as if ADSL2+ will be Wales's NGB for the rurals.
Posted by jeep over 5 years ago
So people in rural Wales or any distance from the exchange will see no difference even with adsl2+ ? as am i correct in thinking this is totally dependant on line distance for any benefit?. if so should change name from NGA to LGB(last generation broadband)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Not saying that will happen for sure, but that could be an outcome from the common usage for Next Generation Broadband phrase.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
So who in Wales wrote an NGA definition of 'faster' or 'gyflymach'.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
Are the Welshh government mugs. Who exactly signed a contract whicj allows BT to do almost anything without penalty?
Posted by MrTAToad2 over 5 years ago
Sounds like there is no real incentive for BT to do really help Wales out...

As mentioned by Bob, the contract seems to be poorly designed...
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
Perhaps unlike others here I know nothing of the circumstances of this contract. However whilst armchair criticism is always comfortable, the fast road to contract failure is when the terms ignore the technical, practical, and financial constraints. I can therefore see an immediate problem with contracts of this geographic size dealing with nations or large counties; one size does not fit all. And unfortunately (but sensibly) compensation provisions have by law to be a "genuine pre-estimate of loss", not a punishment.
Posted by Dixinormous over 5 years ago
What a surprise.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Perhaps best to wait and establish the facts before commenting. Any reason to think really does have an inside track on the contract terms?
Posted by TavistockSFB01822 over 5 years ago
Well done Wales - if England had its own dedicated and focused Government we could see more progress on superfast broadband roll-out. As it stands Towns such as Tavistock are not in any funding or is having any BT Investment to date.
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
oh that monopoly serves them so well.
Posted by rkimber over 5 years ago
Interestingly, my exchange (Lampeter), according to BT, is not scheduled for an upgrade in the near future, but I gathered from a BT engineer that the equipment has been installed and has been ready to go for some time.
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