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Delays to BDUK projects carry risk May 2015 date may slip
Friday 03 August 2012 11:27:09 by Andrew Ferguson

The Financial Times has had an admission from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that the lengthy negotiations with the EU have led to a three month delay to BDUK projects. EU State Aid approval is never a simple task and the original hope had been that the BDUK could arrive at a blanket approval for all the individual projects, whereas the EU appears to want to look at each individually. Given that different levels of public and private funding are involved in each local authority project this is no real surprise.

We looked at East Sussex back in July, where the council leader was complaining of delays, when the project timeline suggested that the time for approval had been anticipated.

The bigger risk is that one or more projects are rejected under the State Aid rules and councils have to go back to the drawing board. With the limited interest from commercial operators, even though there is subsidy money to help with the projects, a rejected area could be looking at a long delay before any connections can be delivered.

The real question now, is whether a 3 month delay will lead to the May 2015 deadline for 90% of households and businesses having the option of a superfast connection slipping. If Openreach (BT) wins the majority of the contracts then hitting the target in a compressed timeframe is entirely feasible, but with Fujitsu yet to win a contract, tighter deadlines actually make Openreach more likely to win. In effect any delays by the EU over concerns that BT may win most of the work, is very likely to make that concern an even more certain reality. Why? Because Openreach is delivering now, whereas Fujitsu has a lot of unknowns involved, with very little public information on its plans.

For all of the debate around the recent House of Lords Report and excitement that it backs an open access fibre hub solution, the cold reality is that even if the UK Government changed its direction, the time to delivery of the hubs would be in the order of five years, and even once they are delivered the commercial operators or community providers would then need to hook people up to the fibre hubs, via fibre, wireless, coax, copper, or microwave.

Love or hate the BDUK projects, they are the solution we have. What will be delivered will not be perfect but if it means 100% of the UK will be able to watch a single standard definition IPTV stream, and 90% can watch a couple of HD IPTV streams at the same time, it will meet the majority of what people want.

Comments

Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
"EU State Aid approval is never a simple task and the original hope had been that the BDUK could arrive at a blanket approval for all the individual projects, whereas the EU appears to want to look at each individually."

Any idea how many individual projects there are, and what timescale might be involved for the EU to assess all on this basis?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah3sVRjT82kKdEltX0lJNjNVWWhNbjBnNGwxeHhqMHc#gid=0 last updated 24th July via

http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/telecommunications_and_online/8863.aspx
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
Love or hate it? the whole job will be to do again if we patch up the phone network now. We should do it once, and do it right. Spend the money helping those without get fibre via hubs/altnets, then market forces deliver the rest. If the job is at least underway and half done by 2015 its better than having to start all over?
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Why do we have to start over again?

Simple answer

We don't
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
As usual your soundbites mean nothing really. What is the substance behind it, how do you take a pot of money and suddenly turn it into something that can deliver FTTP for all, you can't. Fujitsu couldn't do it, neither can you I'm afraid :|
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Market forces? The same market forces that have helped to keep BT as the dominant player.

Have any retail providers said they back and would use these open access fibre hubs?

With no big names, then Digital Region will repeat across UK.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
And we don't want a repeat of Nextgenus.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
Gmann, copper isn't the future. We will have to lay fibre one day. Might as well use the funding to do that now, not give faster to the few who already have a service, witness the 'homes passed' weasel words. They are passing areas which already have virgin... Once virgin step up to fibre so will BT. Its the suburban and rural who struggle, and that is where the money should go. Those areas don't have cabs or exchanges.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Correct, but it isn't "all to do again", from next year the fibre between the cab and home can be laid for those that want it, its the smallest part of the whole chain so, not all to do again at all.

And they aren't "just" passing in areas that have Virgin, figures out show that is not the case. The funding you are talking of will go no-where in terms of footprint for full FTTP. So with your model you'd rather give very few full FTTP and leave everyone else high and dry on ADSL?
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
...So just look after yourself, tough for the majority when you run out of money (very quickly)

Virgin won't go FTTP for many years, no need there's life in coax for years.
Posted by hugop over 4 years ago
"Love or hate the BDUK projects, they are the solution we have."

We at Cotswolds Broadband don't entirely agree since they are only part of the final solution. Intelligent, creative funding models complete the rest of the picture, combining state aid in the form of RCBF and BDUK allocations where possible, with private and/or institutional investment. These are the solutions that help to fill in those areas that cannot be supported by BT through state aid assistance.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Why is Cotswold Broadband only proposing to do FTTP to 90%, what about the rest?
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@cyberdoyle: It isn't just VM areas getting FTTC. I have FTTC but VM doesn't have any presence in my town.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
There's a lot of FTTC in non-Virgin areas, as highlighted in recent OFCOM report, and there's a lot more coming.

Cyberdoyle is just stuck in an episode of TOWIF - The Only Way is Fibre - a scripted reality show from the North West featuring distorted reality fields.
Posted by Gadget over 4 years ago
As an aspiration FTTH is great, so is owning a Veyron or a new John Dere, but if the money is not there then you settle for what you can afford and try to choose wisely.
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