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Will the real rural broadband projects now happily co-exist with larger BT ones?
Tuesday 16 July 2013 19:40:15 by Andrew Ferguson

Monday, 15th July 2013 is not likely to go down as a key date for UK broadband but for the small projects chasing RCBF money it may prove the start of a turning point. Small rural projects have been complaining about delays in BT and the local authorities communicating the areas they will deliver to so that the smaller projects can avoid overlaps and unlock funding.

Cotswold Broadband has a copy of a short statement that the DCMS released after the meeting that was meant to help resolve the current war of words, and it appears that co-existence is the name of the game and an agreement that all the bodies will work together.

The question now is how long before the funding will be dished out and these small projects get underway. The delays do show the problem of trying to access public funds to supplement other forms of funding both in the effort needed to unlock the money and the slow delivery of the cash to the bank.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
The same question has been asked for 12 months or more now. And we still don't have an answer? How many more reasons will they find to stall the startups?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
So are you saying that the meeting changed nothing?
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Surely this issue only became an issue when BT announced its fibre rollout in 2008. Why have the startup's waited until BT entered the market, why didn't they get ahead of the game and rollout a better faster fibre service before BT?
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
The Government's problem is that it has two grant schemes, and didn't it seems properly consider how they sat alongside each other, hence the last minute panic. Can't blame the altnets for that one; and weren't a few of them rolling out earlier anyway, commercially; but if BT can't do it commercially in the last 10% (or even with BDUK funding) how are they supposed to without the grant support?
Posted by gah789 over 4 years ago
@GMAN99. First, demand for faster broadband services depends on ways of using it. You can't miss iPlayer downloads if there is no iPlayer. Second, advances in technology mean that fibre services (or fast wireless) can be provided at a reasonable cost, which was not true in the past.

In any case, many altnets are trying to provide basic services, not fibre, in areas that are remote or are uneconomic for network operators.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Why is it an acceptd "fact" that small operators are automatically better, more nimble etc?

Those of us around at the time may remember that a number of fixed wireless operators sprang up to provide broadband services in small communities during the initial build out of broadband. A fair number ceased operation as soon as the public subsidy ran out, leaving their communities high and dry.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
I understand their fears, BT have a lot of form for waiting for smaller operators to demonstrate demand then moving in on them.

This was a massive deal during the original ADSL rollouts. Having a 3rd party deploy broadband to your area was pretty much a guaranteed way of ensuring a BTWholesale DSLAM appeared in the exchange.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Anyone seen the statement? Cotswold's website appears to be 'off the air'.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Northants seems to be looking after both BDUK/BT and smaller funded projects in the same structure. There's online mapping of White/Grey/Black areas and a provisional implementation map for the BDUK bit.

@mervl the Altnets can potentially use lower cost solutions than BT - fixed wireless isn't BT's speciality for example. Cheap DIY fibre digs and the like are lower cost, use of volunteers, tax loopholes etc etc.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
"This was a constructive meeting between the Secretary of State, BT and the most advanced community-led rural broadband schemes. It was agreed that all parties would work together, along with local authorities, to ensure that projects applying for the Rural Community Broadband Fund could co-exist happily alongside the wider rural broadband scheme, being led by BT."
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago

"The Government is clear that there is a range of options for the delivery of superfast broadband to the hardest parts to reach of the UK. The recently announced £250 million extra funding will ensure that superfast broadband can reach 95 per cent of premises by 2017."
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
herdwick: Yes I know about commercial fixed wireless, having used the service for 3 years, but it needs line of sight and isn't cheap for users, though I do better than most.

Volunteerism is great, and tax breaks help, but who has achieved anything fibre in the final 10% apart from B4RN so far if it's so easy to make the financial case stack up?
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Thanks, herdwick - do I take it that was the DCMS 'statement'? Meaningless politico-speak I fear which looks as if it changes nothing except to repeat the cut in government funding announced recently from £300 to £250million.
Have we heard from the other attendees?
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
And that's the kicker... with technology cycles being shorter, yet expectations being higher, which operator can afford the capital outlay in rural areas without having a monopoly to recover costs?
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
"do I take it that was the DCMS 'statement'?" - yep, it was the bold bit on Cotswold site so I assume so. Ran out of characters :-)
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
The Cotswold site seems to have recovered from the hits this am. I do feel they might be being just a little naive politically in their reaction. They need to remember they are dealing with BT and a government defending its corner - and you know what they say about politicians.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Yes, watching

Local authorities are empowered to tell people what's in the plan if the plan is complete to sufficient detail, but I suspect few are as yet.
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
I'm pretty sure that B4RN manages the buy-in and the volunteer engagement (esp of farmers) because one of the leading evangelists is a farmer who has worked on getting some semblance of broadband into the area for over a decade.

The driver is probably the community spirit that helps people sign-up "for the good of the community", and the word of mouth gets farmers to volunteer both effort and their land, spoken by a fellow farmer.

I'm pretty sure it isn't *just* the technical offering that gets people to sign-up. There's a hefty dose of personality involved.

Not easily repeatable.
Posted by gah789 over 4 years ago
Yes, getting community schemes off the ground is very hard work including a lot of effort to get people who are busy or have other priorities to contribute time and money. That is, of course, why community advocates get so angry when all of their effort is nullified by an elephant barging onto the scene or sabotaging their applications for funding. There is no way out: if schemes were merely lobbying devices, then they won't succeed so you have got to have a sound plan.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
www- "I'm pretty sure it isn't *just* the technical offering that gets people to sign-up. There's a hefty dose of personality involved." I suspect the ability for a 1gb sync connection instead of >2mb might weigh a bit?
Posted by RandomJointer over 4 years ago
The problem is that none Openreach solutions have always crashed, burned and been unable to withstand competition.

My village has no FTTC, No ADSL2 and no LLU. If government money is deployed, I reckon villagers would rather have a bus service and a Post Office.

If the government insist on spending on faster broadband, I reckon villagers would rather buy from BT, TalkTalk and Sky than some altnet.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Why isn't the "up to 890M downstream" connection enough to dominate the market locally, even without the fluffy bunny community stuff I would think it would be what the peeple wanted ?
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Exactly, if its so good and so cheap why would they need to worry about BT?
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