Skip Navigation

BT and Virgin Media complain about Birmingham fibre plans
Monday 22 October 2012 09:26:04 by Andrew Ferguson

Birmingham compared to the BDUK projects received very quick EU State Aid approval back in June, with its plan to build a fibre network in the Jewellery Quarter and a second network in the Digbeth/Eastside area. These areas are part of an existing Enterprise Zone and comprise it appears mainly of business premises.

The Guardian over the weekend carried the news that may upset the City Councils plans, with Virgin Media and BT filing a complaint against the council. The complaint is on the basis that the project will overlap their existing networks to a significant level.

"We believe it involves a significant overbuild with our network.

It's a poor implementation of what is otherwise a sensible policy. It sets a bad precedent and sends a really bad signal to our investors."

Virgin Media spokesman

Some simple map checking shows that the cable network from Virgin Media is available to around half the Jewellery Quarter area, but is absent from the Digbeth area, though with Virgin Media business services they will install full fibre rather than use their DOCSIS network where it is ordered. The issue is similar with BT as the density of Birmingham means that it should see ubiquitous access to FTTC, with the fibre on demand solution launching in 2013.

Critics of the Government investing £164m on broadband in the cities, while they normally complain loudly about BT may see this as an opportunity to redirect the funding from the cities to those rural areas of the UK where the difference broadband can make will be more acute.

EU State Aid approval is normally only forthcoming when market failure has been demonstrated in an area, and while it could be said that BT's resistance to offering dark fibre backs this up, has Birmingham been abandoned by other fibre providers such as Geo, CityFibre, C&W and others? Without careful planning, there is a real danger that areas that receive fibre via the Super Connected Cities projects might find that this becomes their only real option, creating a local monopoly, as commercial operators stay away from the area. The danger being that as bandwidth needs grow the more fibre can be easily lit, but interlink costs will rise, and the project may become a money pit, or costs rise to the businesses making it no cheaper than existing commercial options.

With the public perception of BDUK projects being that they are just exercises in keeping civil servants busy, and channeling consultancy fees to the private sector, problems with the Super Connected Cities will surely increase the dislike for all that is BDUK, which has yet to deliver a single connection, some 14 months after funding amounts for the different parts of the UK were announced and over two years since its formation.


Posted by wmiked over 5 years ago
My english is pretty good but 'aubiquitousuotous' has me reaching for the dictionary!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Lol - just testing that someone was paying attention.

Seems spell checker managed to mangle the word for me or I have invented a new word.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
Today's lesson was brought to you by the letter 'A'.

So let me get this straight, Birmingham city council applied for BDUK funding and have decided to use it where both Virgin and BT Already have fibre coverage! one word - 'numpties'.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The Super Connected Fund is not a pure BDUK process, though does seem to fall in their sphere now.

This is a different fund to the more usual £530m that is mentioned for the final third.
Posted by herdwick over 5 years ago does set out the rationale for approving it. This includes "The target areas of the measure are two districts in Birmingham where private operators have no or very limited investment plans in the next three years.This means that in the absence of this project most consumers would only be able to use basic broadband services or very expensive business leased line services."

Be interesting to know the detail of the challenges
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
^ Well that puts a different slant on things, looks like Birmingham wants to have 'Ultra-fast Broadband' with speeds over 100Mbps so DOCSIS / FTTC (VDSL) - at currently marketed speeds don't fall within that category. Fibre on demand also dosn't appear to show up on Birmingham council's radar .

Well whatever, should be interesting to see how that goes, how much it will cost to get whatever it is Birmingham wants etc.
Posted by throwaway over 5 years ago
I hope the complaint won't stand so Birmingham council get to go-ahead. This is like in US where telcom refuses to put in fibre, then the local munipal raised the money and got the plan out with support, the telcom comes back complaining. The creation of a local monopoly covering fibre blackholes/not-spots from BT/Virgin is hardly a bad thing.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
I think the difference here is both companies seem to be claiming to be covering at least part of the area already. If that is the case, why waste limited public money doing something already being paid for by the private sector?
Posted by Joppy over 5 years ago
It seems VM and BT only offer adsl in that area. As BT did not see it as a worthy income area they have not installed fibre there. VM always trails behind and only sorts out fibre/speed upgrades based on what BT offer at the time in the same area.

Serves both ISP's right, its their own fault.
Posted by stanman24 over 5 years ago
something to do with dark fibre being made available to 20000 businesses in and around the city centre

pity there is not fttc a mere 5 miles outside bimringham
Posted by stanman24 over 5 years ago
forgot to mention that very few Birmingham exchanges have fttc due to VM network being available, but residents don't have a say or those who don't want VM
Posted by stanman24 over 5 years ago
Englands's second city

type in B261NF and zoom out

picture says it all imo
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
Says that there is alot are either - Future Exchanges, Comming Soon or Accepting Orders...
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
I used postcode B33HQ to get it more centred over Birmingham city.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
yeah BT got caught out too busy rolling out to villages. Serves them right. Glad a council had the balls to do this.
Posted by DigbethBugler over 4 years ago
I work for a small digital business in the heart of Digbeth and neither BT or Virging operates ultra-fast broadband in our area. Does anyone know why not? Digbeth is supposed to Birmingham's tech/ media quarter, and if businesses like ours are to compete on a level playing field with businesses at Salford Quays, for example, the problem needs to be addressed - and soon. It's quite right that Birmingham City Council is trying to do something about it.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.