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BDUK not working, as figures show rapid staff turnover
Tuesday 13 November 2012 09:53:49 by Andrew Ferguson

Many will have forgotten that the BDUK actually pre-dates the current coalition Government, but as the organisation stands now its task is very different to its original form. With all the current worries that as the months slip by the various local authorities are increasingly at risk of missing the General Election 2015 deadline or in some cases not being capable of delivering anything it is with interest we read a blog article by Chi Onwurah MP on the level of staff turnover within the BDUK.

"Figures I obtained from the DCMS give a rate of attrition at Broadband UK which is truly outstanding. They started 2012 with 49 full time equivalent (FTE) staff and managed to lose half of them in the first quarter, a further 25% of an increased overall staffing in the following quarter and a further 25% between July and September. By September 53 FTE staff, more than the total number they started the year with, had left."

Chi Onwurah MP blogging on Computerworld UK

Any one who has ever managed any number of people will know that a high turnover of staff in all but the most mundane jobs results in lower productivity, and when particularly bad lead to a complete collapse in moral and the handful of knowledgeable staff leaving, stalling any work.

In theory once the blanket approval for State Aid has been finally received from the EU a good few projects can race ahead, problems at the BDUK may delay other projects, particularly in areas where there is little local expertise in handling large complex projects. While most councils have expertise in handling their own IT procurement, the nature of the BDUK projects is very different and includes many more unknown factors.

One area of almost universal criticism for the BDUK has been the lack of choice available to the local authorities in terms of potential bidders, with only Fujitsu and BT left standing, and Fujitsu has still not won a contract. While Chi Onwurah suggests part of the problem was splitting the project into 40 smaller segments, which certainly has not helped Fujitsu who claim they need 1 million properties in adjoining authorties for their numbers to stack up, even larger projects were not likely to get other bidders interested. The most vocal group are the small independents left out by clauses such as the need to offer a wholesale service (requirement of EU State Aid) and the annual revenue limits. Though perhaps this revenue limit is in place for a good reason, as you only have to read the fiasco that is Selling, Kent to see how things can go wrong with small operators.

The question we are asking is whether the Labour plan to reach a 2 Mbps basic broadband target in 2012, and then work over a five year period to improving superfast broadband coverage would have produced a significantly better situation than what we have now? Rather than us speculate, we are using this question in this weeks quick poll.


Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
As I never tire of pointing out - Superfast Cornwall is going very well. BT in partnership with the EU.

Seems to me that the problem lies somewhere in Whitehall as far as BDUK is concerned.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Selling - small operator, small council. Probably impressed by a good Powerpoint presentation.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
It's a lot worse than you think. BT could charge whatever they want to the councils involved in BDUK and they'd be none the wiser. It appears that councils are not getting anything more granular than regional costs.

This is a disaster. BT know approximate costs for each and every cabinet else they wouldn't have known which to upgrade for their 66% commercially driven deployment.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Letting the councils run the schemes was a reeipe for disater they dont have the skills or experise to run projects of this size and scale.

The logical approach would have been to let the local councils access the demand and identify the gaps in provision in their areas and let BDUK manage the tender reviews and contract awards and be project managers. At this level I would have thought it should be split into 9 regions. These regions could be the EU regions. This makes thema sensible size to attract bidders. You should be looking at at least 3 bidders for each contract

Posted by TechGuyUK over 4 years ago
The whole CONCEPT of BDUK is a flawed waste of time.
Consider One simple question:
"Is there ANY Area or district that will NOT benefit from an affordable fast broadband service as deployed elsewhere in the world"?
As the answer is obviously NO then the need to upgrade the whole country is obvious and the thousands of hours wasted asking people "do you need faster broadband" and assessing where we most need faster broadband and expecting every street or village to form their own pressure group and campaign to get what it should be OBVIOUS is needed by the whole could have been avoided.
Posted by TechGuyUK over 4 years ago
If we Nationalised OpenReach and upgrade EVERY street cab for the country as a whole. Job DONE - and it would have been done by now if Openreach was Nationalised for the good of the whole country and not for their shareholders. Jobs created, young people employed and trained and setup for the future maintaining a modern infrastructure, rather than the fragmented mess BDUK is still failing to make work for the country as a whole
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
The demand assessments were really pretty much a waste of time and relied on people filling in a form expressing an interest in Broadband

If you are going to access demand you at least need to do it properly but in reality you could get a pretty accurate indication from areas that already had FTTC. All you are looking for is what percentage of subscribers on an exchange will take it up and what percentage on each cabinet will taske it up

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Or we could just guess that take-up will be 20% in a few years across the board.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
> If we Nationalised OpenReach and upgrade EVERY street cab for the country as a whole

Because the last time it was like that (Post Office) it was so well run? Or because the government has such a benevolent view of the internet and should be given as much control as possible?

We want government as far from any of this as possible, thankyouverymuch.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
(cont'd) it continuously saddens and amazes me that people have so much faith in government to solve problems. I'm over 45 years old and it seems to me that governments cause more problems than they ever solve.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
What is really needed where an exchange has been enabled and a cabinet is not being commercially upgraded is to have a proper demand register for that Cabinet (assuming it has enough lines to be viable)

A cabinet typically covers about a 100 to 600 homes. It would be easy to do a mail shot.
What you really need is real demand and not someone just signing a petition most of whom never take it up.

If say the scheme required a £50 Returnable deposit to be put down. That would show a real expression of interest
Posted by TechGuyUK over 4 years ago
Nationalised is government OWNED not run - OpenReach are more than capable of doing the work but they are applying commercial profitability guidelines to each of 90,000 cabs to decide which to do first. Tell the staff to roll out every cab as fast as staffing levels permit and use the profits to provide a country wide service not fat cat investors millions
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
However you cut it, getting funds for investment is the devil of a job in the middle of a recession, more so when public expenditure is so high, and so much of it wasted in the good years. Any why did the regulator and government stall modernisation of the telephone network from privatisation to 2005? Beggars can't be choosers.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
At this stage though BDUK are starting to fund that difference. What rollout criteria they will use is unknown. Logically those cabinets close to being viable should be done first as it involves least cost and they will almost certainly move quickly to being commercial triggering a subsidy clawback.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
> Nationalised is government OWNED not run

Lol. Tell me you're too young to vote - please!

All that means is that the organisation acts like it has unlimited funds and assumes that it is immune to market forces.

> but they are applying commercial profitability guidelines

As opposed to a nationalised company that will just fritter away tax payer money without a care in the world.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
> and use the profits

What profits? You just said that a nationalised Openreach would ignore commercial profitability guidelines. That's called making a loss.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
It is very simple, if Openreach were to continue to spend the £278m or so per quarter on capital projects for another five years it would probably meet the 90% FTTC target on its own.

As wants that sooner they are throwing some money at it.
Posted by fibrebunny over 4 years ago
How could labour have failed? Roll out subsidies for satellite installations at the last minute and the jobs done. Condems will have a similar get out clause no doubt.

Nationalisation is pure fantasy, there is neither the money nor political will to nationalise anything. Energy, water, rail... How far down the list would faster broadband be.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
I question that about Openreach continuing to spend the money. They have no intention of doing so, full stop, as they don't see themselves getting a return on investment for that last 24%.

It's not about the UK government wanting them to hurry up, Openreach just don't see a return on investment in some areas so won't ever invest without subsidy - their own words.
Posted by dragon1945 over 4 years ago
TT used to give me 2.15 MB, but now is down to 1.7 MB -not fast enough to use the BBC i-Player or YouTube any more. (BT was 1/2 MB). No more Superfast BB in areas with a fast connection, while ignoring those on low speeds please. I pay for "up to 8 MB" yet get less than 1/4 of that speed. Another customer is getting 8 MB, but not paying 4 X what I am charged.
Posted by exPARC over 4 years ago
Just how much of our money has been wasted on staffing turnover/payouts and what's the wage bill now?
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