While BT would seem to have got it easy in the BDUK process, the addition of conditions to BT accepting the contract for the Isle of Wight show that it is not always a foregone conclusion. At a meeting last night which saw the cabinet recommend to the full council that BT be picked as the preferred bidder, there was crucial conditions placed on the bid, now it remains to be seen whether BT will accept these conditions.
The conditions include the requirement to co-operate on road works, which while admirable may prove difficult if a cabinet or FTTP roll-out hits a snag, our interpretation of this condition means that BT will need to check every bit of ducting and possible cabinet positioning ahead of the roll-out and tie this into the PFI roads contract, which may delay things in some areas, or increase costs with the extra survey work.
More interesting is the speed requirements, namely that 99% will have access to NGA type infrastructure by September 2015 and of those in the scope of the project 87% should be able to get speeds of 24 Mbps or faster and across the whole island (ie. including commercial footprint this rises to 97%. For the remaining 3% a connection of 2 Mbps or faster should be supplied. The wording is much stronger than what is released into the public domain by councils usually, but with so little detail from them these conditions may not be more common.
BT is under no obligation to accept these conditions, and we suspect there may be some shuffling around of potential project costs if BT does accept the contract. The local cable company WightFibre has now effectively being sidelined, unless it can rapidly come up with a firm business case and present this to the council, it appears ample notice has been given by the council and surely it cannot have escaped any broadband operators notice that these projects were coming from 2009 onwards.