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Welsh MP's criticise progress of broadband projects in Wales
Monday 17 September 2012 17:17:49 by Andrew Ferguson

Procurement projects have never been particularly fast, and move at traditional civil service pace, hence the extension of the Broadband Support Scheme in Wales earlier this year. Today we have Welsh MP's on the Welsh Affairs Committee criticising the fact that Wales still has areas with no broadband connectivity.

BT was announced as the commercial partner in July 2012, with a massive £425m project (includes £220m from BT). The aim being to deliver an up to 80 Mbps service to 96% of homes by 2015, this will feature a majority of FTTC, but some FTTP is expected independent of the fibre on demand launch in 2013. The criticism of the FTTC services is that not everyone connects at 80 Mbps, we estimate around 45% should connect at 42 Mbps or faster, and 90% at 24 Mbps or faster, which for many will be a significant improvement. What will happen to the remaining 4% is to be confirmed, some may receive a FTTC service but at slower speeds, or use alternate technology.

What is most concerning about the criticism from MP's is that this means the Broadband Support Scheme which offers a grant of up to £1000 for an individual, community or SME has not delivered. The scheme operates such that a community could apply individually and then aggregate their money to help deliver a service to all those properties that applied, thus meaning the scheme is much more than a subsidy for satellite broadband installation.

The report received evidence from various parties, and follows a similar theme to the House of Lords report, in that some have concerns that with the focus on the superfast roll-out, that those not covered in this may see the money roll-out before it gets to them, and thus be left with no broadband or current slow (under 2 Mbps service). Therefore there are calls to reverse the existing plans, which focus the majority of money on the 25% who are in the gap between existing commercial roll-outs and UK Government targets to those in the final 5 to 10% of the UK.

While a switch of focus would address the total not-spots (estimated at 90,000 homes in Wales), if solutions deployed there are costly, the reverse of not having enough money for more populated rural areas will occur, and we may see whole communities of 100's left on ADSL or ADSL2+ speeds rather than just isolated clusters of two or three properties.

At the end of day, given limited resources hard decisions need to be made on how resources are made, and while politicians like to try and keep everyone happy this is not possible all the time. The decisions in the end will probably be made by an anonymous accountant who calculates the economic benefit to improving broadband in different areas.


Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
That is the problem with The Welsh Broadband Support Scheme; only the anonymous accountant is replaced by Private Wireless Company Accountant eager to maximise profit from the tax payer. Calculating the economic benefit, why change the process; it’s the same process from the cities and the surrounding urban mire, villages and hamlets etc.
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
Not just wireless but £999.99 satellite broadband too. It was only announced in July, so what was the expectation? Given BT are currently six months to a year behind in commercial activity, then I would assume subsidised activity will also be delayed. Unless commercial rollout is suspended in favour of whoring on the public teet.
Posted by csimon over 5 years ago
12 years after the start of the ADSL rollout, I'm still on a max of around 700kbps. What is ridiculous though is that currently there are 3 sets of major roadworks on my road in around 1.5 miles (I'm bang in the middle of them) as Welsh Water do something with new plastic pipes. Why couldn't someone bang the heads together of various utility companies and organise fibre-laying at the same time. There's only one road here, and that leads to the exchange. Comms companies moaning about how difficult it would be to supply fast broadband to these areas. Hrrmph.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The problem I see with fibre and road works is that installing tubing is easy, but as road works rarely go all the way between fibre POP's. We would end up with 100m here, 200m there and thus lots of empty tubing.

When doing a full rebuild of a water/gas main there may be a case, if the water/gas did not charge too much for space in their trench.
Posted by csimon over 5 years ago
Well, thing is, this does look like a major rebuild. They are changing the source of our water supply between reservoirs. They've been at it since before the summer and the sets of roadworks are "rolling". I'm 1 mile from my cabinet and then it's a further 4 miles to the exchange. They are now about 1 mile past the cabinet and I'm sure they will move on further to the next village at least, they won't stop in the middle of nowhere where they are now. They'll get at least halfway to the exchange. That would have been a major cost saving over doing the whole thing again.
Posted by csimon over 5 years ago
They're also doing the same stuff the other side of the exchange too. If the sets of roadworks meet up in the middle I'll scream!
Posted by RandomJointer over 5 years ago
If you have spent mega bucks laying a gas or water pipe in Her Majesties earth, the last thing you want is another utility's plant plonked on top of it obstructing access to your own kit.
Posted by vicdupreez over 5 years ago
@RandomJointer. The point is to have these utilities talk to each other, to dig ONE trench, and sticking everyones lit in there, next to each other so that everyone can get to their kit, but it is also cheaper to do since the trench is already being dug... Actually, the government should start insisting on that.
Posted by vicdupreez over 5 years ago
There is a stretch of road not for from me that was rebuild about 8 months ago. 5 months later, NO Water came in and dug a trench all the way along in... new water main... Now... the company that did it did such a bad job covering it, that 2 months later, the filled in bits had all to be redone since the road had become dangerous...
Posted by mabibby over 5 years ago
@csimon Nice though, although if you appreciated the sheer complexity of having multi national companies employing people to own relationships with each other to agree on unified road works, you'd just go.. ah fair enough. Large corporations have enough issues getting their own functional areas to work co-operatively let alone with their peers.
Posted by lmschuffer over 5 years ago
BT will not use the money from the Welsh support fund aggregated to upgrade your cabinet citing De Minimis Aid regulations, got to get it done by others with all the problems that creates like changing your ISP and email address ! .
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