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Rural Broadband Programme report published
Thursday 26 September 2013 00:13:20 by Andrew Ferguson

Broadband debates are often now the most scintillating event and many conferences feature the same faces, but the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts session in July 2013 was the exception. BT and the BDUK itself got a firm talking to and while the meeting lasted nearly four hours there was still lots of discussion needed. Now we have the copy of the Twenty-fourth Report for 2013-2014 from the Committee entitled The rural broadband programme, which should be on the must read list for all those campaigning for better broadband, politicians and those working in the industry.

Update 8:45am For those that want to read the report themselves, it is available online now and includes transcripts from the streamed committee session.

Several recommendations are made in the report, whether the Government pays heed is of course another matter:

  • The Department (DCMS) should not spend any of the further £250 million of public money until it has developed approaches to secure proper competition and value for money for improving superfast broadband after 2015.
  • The Department's (DCMS) assumptions in its 2011 business case about the respective capital contributions of the public and private sectors were widely inaccurate. Before contracts are awarded for additional broadband coverage from 2015, using the additional £250 million, the Department should improve its modelling work, and when negotiating levels of private sector investment, the Department should push for contributions that take account of the long-term value of the assets to the supplier.
  • The Department should insist on a higher standard of cost transparency before contracting. Where contracts are not yet signed for the current Programme, the Department should secure BT's agreement to improve cost transparency, for example by omitting the non-disclosure agreement between local authorities.
  • The Department should set out how it has assured itself that local authorities will be adequately resourced and supported to carry out adequate checks on BT's costs and take-up rates during the project.
  • Overall, BT is supposed to deliver at least 90% coverage in rural areas but the Department did not secure sufficient transparency from BT about precisely where it intends to roll out superfast broadband within each area. The Department should, as a matter of urgency, publish BT's detailed roll-out plans so that other suppliers can get on with trying to reach the remaining 10% of the population that will still be without superfast broadband.
  • As part of its current review of the broadband market, Ofcom should explicitly address the impacts on competition of BT's wholesale pricing structure and of the terms and conditions attached to accessing BT's infrastructure. (tbb Note: It is believed this is referring to PIA (duct and pole access rather than VULA, i.e. GEA-FTTC/P products)

With the main BDUK roll-out very much underway, there is little that can be changed without introducing delays, but reading the full report from the Public Accounts Committee there are various assumptions and misconceptions that have very much now entered into the area of because it was said at a Committee it must be 100% true. Some examples are:

  1. Overall, BT is supposed to deliver at least 90% coverage in rural areas: This is not what the BDUK project was meant to achieve, some believe the goal was 100% coverage at superfast broadband speeds, but research indicates that apart from one document where you can see how some people have interpreted what was meant to be a description of the Universal Service Commitment has been taken to refer to speeds significantly faster. The BDUK project was often called the final third project earlier in its life, reflecting its aim of building out from the mainly urban commercial roll-out (which sits at 73% currently) to making superfast available to 90% of the UK and 2 Mbps as a baseline to everyone else.
  2. The Department forecasts that it will complete the Programme in March 2017, 22 months later than originally planned. is quoted several times and is largely based on the National Audit Office report and the latest DCMS estimates say 95% by 2017. The 90% target is likely to be late by 12 months, not 22 and the 95% target cannot be late as no money has been allocated to meeting it yet.
  3. The report title is misleading, The rural broadband programme, particularly with the 90% target for superfast broadband. Ofcom states that 14% of the UK population is rural, 51% are semi-urban and the remainder urban. Generally the BDUK roll-outs to date have helped the semi-urban population on the edges of towns and there are several cities accessing the fund. A clear definition of what is rural/urban we would have thought key to understanding the costs involved.
  4. The lack of mapping data from BT and the councils. There is an increasing amount of mapping information from the projects and if you take time to look at the dates these appear generally it is a few months after the contract was signed, i.e. one BT has actually started working with the local authority. Potentially the BDUK could force BT to publish its own model for a county at the time of contract signing, but this removes flexibility and with unknowns like ability to get planning permission for a location for a chamber/cabinet and the cost of power supplies. One side to this are that it allows BT flexibility so that if one cluster of homes is very expensive to at the full planning stage to prioritise spending elsewhere where it can serve more households and businesses. The flip side is that it can allow BT to adjust its plans to react to previously unannounced roll-outs and act as a vampire death squid (to borrow an illustration from the committee meeting).
  5. The report glosses over the varying targets across the UK, some counties signing contracts covering work till 2017 and 100% superfast coverage already, and others going for greater than 90% and some aiming at below than 90%. To the extent that someone using just that report to assess the UK broadband picture could be misled.

At the end of the day the Government announced the amount of money it wanted to spend for a target and the risk appears to be on BT to meet that target. The experience from Digital Region has made the Government and Councils very risk averse and other projects where subsidies have been provided to bring service to an area for an operator to withdraw once funding runs dry. The most overlooked aspect of the BDUK process, is that the money is £230m of surplus from the Digital Switchover Fund and £300m from the TV licence fee, with the money for 2015 onwards also coming from the licence fee.

The example may be extreme, but essentially what we have is a triage system working to try and deliver a target and there appears to be no extra resources on the way, so its try and spread out what is available to cover the widest possible area.

In a traditional situation the Government would have waited for the commercial roll-outs to complete and get a better idea of what take-up levels were, but the rapid growth in the digital marketplace meant the pressure was on to do something sooner rather than later, and it could be said that the decade of lobbying by campaigners finally got through to the politicians, but not with the result that pleases everyone.

There are various high profile what-ifs raised by the report, e.g. £150m of lost investment in North Yorkshire from UK Broadband, and Fujitsu saying they might invest £1.5 billion. The problem here is that the Fujitsu bid relied on a much larger project size, apparently requiring around four counties to get the volume required and the mixture of technologies was unclear (supposedly FTTH to 80% coverage - and other technologies beyond there) and with the UK Broadband bid for most people this committee meeting will be the first time they have heard of them. UK Broadband is behind the 4G LTE fixed wireless network in Swindon, which based on complaints about broadband in the area may not be available on the large new build estates.

Sitting in the middle as we do, we can see on one hand those wanting the best technical solution no matter what price or effort is required and the majority of the public who just want to know when they can order off their existing supplier. Perhaps we should ask how much the report has cost to create, and what are the cost implications for the changes they request.

For all the problems there are with BT, it is clear that some County Council's are able to do things differently, e.g. the use of fixed wireless in parts of Lincolnshire, some have used satellite broadband for the areas they are likely to reach last with their project and the widely varying levels of information from them. The 21st century rally cry is really 'we want our broadband and we want it now'.


Posted by SimonWindsor over 4 years ago
It is interesting the report and your review ignores the part OFCOM has played in rollout of Broadband in the UK.

OFCOM controls large parts of BT Openreach's revenues and dictates how Broadband makes a return for BT. Surely if BT earned more money for providing a better to S/N ratio, and hence speed, it would invest to secure higher revenues, and would not need BDUK funding.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
This report is a missed opportunity, failing as it does to reach beyond political point scoring to grapple with such boring matters like the facts. Instead there are numerous inaccuracies, and a large number of opinions held by the committee that come through as facts without evidence to back them up.

You get the impression the report was written before the hearings took place. A shame, especially as we pay these people to represent us! Not impressed, they should be made to do this again in their own time just to set the record straight,
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
Is it me or is it the quality of MPs has down with respect to how they approach parliamentary committees?
Some previously non-partisan committees which did have a previously public good attitude have become party political tools, rather than overall representation of constituents which they previously were...
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
Class comment by an Ovum analyst, "If we could roll out rural broadband using reports, inquiries and investigations, the UK would probably have the fastest broadband in the world,".
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
All part of Cameron's "inquiry led recovery"
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
The program was going off track from day one and it was clear from very early on that all the work was going to go to BT. The contracts should have been split between two suppliers at least
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
Headlines quote Margaret Hodge as saying that the taxpayer is being fleeced for this.

If there was an opportunity for fleecing on such a large scale, where were all the other companies? It should have been like a flame to the moths!

They do make one or two reasonable judgements in there, but the sheer scale of inaccuracies makes it hard to see these as determinations reached by logic and thought, rather more as lucky accidents.
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
Aspects of the bidding process were flawed, rather than county, harmonised regional bids would have allowed competition. This would have allowed Fujitsu to compete on a more level basis with BT. AS infrastructure investment would be contiguous.
As it is the blame should be fairly placed on BDUK for creating a process that did not allow for fair competition.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
The problem being with larger projects, is then the smaller operators would still be complaining.

Perhaps the answer is exclude BT from the next round of funding.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Do EU procurement rules allow that?
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
I would love BT not to be included in the next round of funding.

The issue is BDUK not BT, but yeah... lets see what happens without BT, they are sure dammed if they do so might as well opt for don't
Posted by gerarda over 4 years ago
At least even if the report was itself flawed it has highlighted the nonsense of the contract process. The insistence on a fibre based solution meant not only that BT were going to be awarded the contract but also that those with appalling/no coverage would be deprived of an improvement as BT have still no idea how to provide even the pathetic 2mb download, 0mb upload requirement to those areas.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 3 years ago
The BDUK program took the same approach as Cable TV and that did not work. The idea that small player could bid was also flawed. The small companies have neither the finance or resource for anything other than small very local schemes. The role of the small players should largely be as ISP's

The sensible approach would have been to award the Contracts on a regional basis. That would have given 9 Contracts as below

SW England
SE England
East Midlands
West Midlands
East England
Yorkshire & Humberside
NE England
NW England
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Bob you just got rid of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales?

Posted by Somerset over 3 years ago
So for a regional approach what might the solution be and at what cost?
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Quote "The insistence on a fibre based solution"

Any evidence to support this?
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
Given the nauseating grandstanding by the committe chair yesterday (at the expense of us poor taxpayers!), I'm surprised she didn't mention this document on the select committee web site.

An interesting read!
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@new londoner As a local district councillor told BT at a recent meeting after 10 years of lies on broadband coverage BT cannot be expected to be believed. The insistance on a fibre based solution is in the contract framework. Anyone offering a wireless only solution was disbarred presumably because BDUK's puppetmasters stood to lose some of existing business as a county wireless signal would be available in areas where FTTC was already in place
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
wirless is not open access and that was a fundamental requirement of the framework, which is why no other operators responded to the framework (ie Virgin)
interesting to see what county you in
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
No reason why wireless could not be open access in the same why as electricity is. Allowing BT to cherry pick which areas it wants to upgrade simply means its less and less viable for any competitive technology that may have given a solution for the final 10%
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Our Wiber network uses wireless and is Open Access. It is completely untrue to say wireless is not open access.
In fact technologically speaking there are a lot of similarities between wireless and BT's FTTC as FTTC uses radio modulation to send a signal down a wire instead of through the air. The tehcnologies are in fact very similar in many ways - the problem is you loose signal due to line conductivity problems over distance when you modulate down a wire - but when you modulate through the air the losses are far less and the speed/distance/quality far greater and costs far lower.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
The BDUK process set out to ensure that no other bidder apart from BT would be able to move forward. Firstly all regional providers were excluded by insisting that bidders turn over in excess of £22 million per year. This prevented lots of ready, willing and able providers from bidding. Many of they would have offered wireless solutions that would have been able to provide vastly greater coverage and performance than BT's FTTC at vastly lower costs and in far shorted roll out timescales.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
BDUK realised that if they did not somehow find a way to exclude all the solutions that would be more cost effective and efficient than FTTC, then BT would not stand a chance of flogging millions of pounds of overpriced cabinets to the tax payer in return for unenforcable promises and predictions.

It may be true that regional companies are not big enough to spend 10's of millions on infrastructure - BUT IN RURAL AREAS IF MORE EFFICIENT AND COST EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS ARE USED THEN IT DOES NOT COST 10'S OF MILLIONS!
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
The only reason the sums are so large is that BDUK ensured that authorities only had the choice of one bidder offering only 1 solution - the most expensive solution that was least suitable for most of the rural areas concerned and would take the longest to roll out!

If regional providers had not been excluded from the process then a whole range of interesting, innovative and effective solutions would have been presented for authorities to evaluate - most if not all of which would have been substantially less expensive than BT's FTTC.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
To give an example of this, if fixed wireless was used on the Isle of Wight to extend coverage to areas that genuinely have no access to superfast speeds at the moment, then the total project costs would be around £1.5 Million MAX. This amount was ready willing and able to be spent by local providers already operating in the area. They would have required no public funding if 'left alone' to continue investing as they have been for years.
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
@Wiber - surely the difference is that the FTTC signal and bandwidth to you is uncontended, whereas on a wireless system the bandwidth of the carrier is shared in one way or another with every customer on that antenna sector. That's not to say that in lower population areas a single sector could not cope, but you will need multiple sectors for 360 cover if you use beam-forming unless you opt for the spray everywhere Omni.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Even if one insists on spending public money and even if the public pruse funded the £1.5 Million project then that would be a fraction of what was required for BDUK / BT / FTTC.
If a project value of just £1.5 Million was to be 'match funded' then regional providers would only have to find £750k to 'match' the public's £750k. This is not hard for substantial local providers to achieve.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
So it's not correct to look at the ludicrously high amounts required for FTTC via BT and then suggest that regional providers are not big enough to handle such sums - because regional providers would not try to use a combine harvester to mow the back lawn like this and so the sums would be smaller and far less onerous.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
With respect you need to brush up on your technical knjowledge substantially.
FTTC is VERY MUCH contended - speak to people like Walter Wilcox at ewehurst and he'll explain to you exactly how contended FTTC is.
Contention models can be in fact quite similar between FTTC and wireless. Don't forget that FTTC suffers from all sorts of interference and signal degredation issues caused by all the poorly shielded or unshielded copper wires running next to each other in the cabinet
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
@Wiber - so a question in the specific geography of the IoW: how many base-stations would you need to give the necessary coverage, and how many sectors if non-Omni antennas were required? And what sort of backhaul per base staton?
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Also it's important to realise that even if FTTC was able to offer 'uncontended' service to each phone line (which it certainly cannot do), due to the massive signal losses and degredation and interferecne leading to the majority of potentil signal being lost or unusable well before 1km of line length, premises only get a small fraction OUT of what goes IN.

Would you rather have an uncontended 2 Mb/s or a contended 30 Mb/s for example?
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Thanks for your interesting question.
Sadly no where near enough room here to explain details of how wide area fixed wireless networks are structure etc...
Suffice to say that most fixed wireless infrastructure models either use or are moving towards using 'fibre to the mast'. This enables each mast/secor to have the maximum amount of bandwidth it requires in order to operate within the prescribed contention ratio. This also then, in turn governs the number of 'clients' per sector that can be allowed.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
We already operate in excess of 30 masts and repeaters, each with multiple sectors. This gives us coverage of around 2,000 square kilometers of the Isle of Wight and nearby parts of Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex.
Additional sectors are typically added to masts in response to growing customer numbers to increase capacity. This is a quick, simple and low cost process.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
BT operate a similar policy when rolling out FTTC. If you think, as an analogy, of a BT cabinet as a mast and the FTTC equipment modules inside the cabinet as transmission sectors, then this gives a reasonable idea of how things work.
If BT have say 1,000 phone lines going into a cabinet they will typically not install enough FTTC / 'Infinity' / 21CN modules for ecery single line. They will first install a module capable of say around 200 lines and then, as and when more lines request upgrades, they will add additional modules to increase the cabinet's capacity to supply its lines
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
So this is similar to building a mast and adding say 3 or 4 sectors to cover say 360 degrees. As the number of customers per sector increases then more sectors are added - just like BT would add more modules to a cabinet.
If you take a typical BT 'infinity' module in a cabinet and say it supplies around 200 phone lines - how much bandwidth do you think it has as a supply? Do you think it has for example enough dedicated bandwidth supply for it to give say 50 Mb/s to all 200 phone lines simultansously?
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
That would require a dedicated supply for just that 200 line module of 10 GB/s - or 10,000 Mb/s if you like.
So for the cabinet module to offer uncontended bandwidth of 50 Mb/s to 200 lines then 10,000 Mb/s of supply would be required. That means that if the cabinet has 1,000 lines then 5 modules of 200 lines would be required and so the cabinet would require 50,000 Mb/s of supply = 50 GB/s for just that one cabinet serving 1,000 (or less) premises.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Of course that's using a figure of 50 Mb/s per line and BT 'Infinity' claims speeds of over 70 Mb/s per line.
It's certainly lucky for BT that FTTC is contended and that so much performance is lost along line length and due to inter-line interferences as all this reduces the supply capacity requirement for cabinets so that for a module of around 200 lines only a small fraction of 10,00 Mb/s of supply is actually installed.

Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Hopefully one of the BT 'gurus' will tell us exactly how many phone lines a typical 21CN module supplies and what dedicated bandwidth supply is given to each 21CN module.
The truth behind contention within FTTC will then be clear to all.

I wonder if BT will tell us that info or not :-)
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
I wonder if any local authority or team of council project officers has actually ever asked that question - so that they understand exactly what the public is going to get for well over £1 Billion pounds?

Can anyone enlighten us as to whether anyone bothered to ask?

Or have contracts been awarded without officers, councillors and the public having any idea of the capacity and contention capabilities of the system they are buying?
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
wiber more misinformation i can confirm athat 1G is provided to each to Each enabled cab. (Both commercial and BDUK areas) -- 1G between 156 Customers assuming the cab was full does not look like contented to me
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
wiber no one builds 1/1 for a network or anything else there around 1300 premises in that location and capacity for circa 520 connection - the issue is not contended the issue that we have not built 1/1 - no one builds anything at 1/1 scale
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
@fastman - what misinformation? I think you'll find that IF you're saying a cabinet has 1 GB (= 1,000 Mb/s) supply for 156 'lines' then that is only around 6.4 Mb/s available PER LINE if all used simultaneously. How does that not look contended to you? Looks VERY contended to me!

That's my point - in response to @Gadget saying that FTTC was 1:1 I was responding explaining that FTTC is certainly not 1:1 and nor is any other similar technology because - as you quite rightly say - nobody builds 1:1 for rural networks that supply predominantly domestic 'broadband'.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
It IS VERY IMPORTANT for the public, councillors and officers, politicians etc... to realise that, as you have ably demonstrated, BT's FTTC technology is certainly very much contended.

Your figures actually show something very interesting - that if only 25% of 'BT Infinity' users were online at the same time, then the capacity of the FTTC system - supply compared to demand - means that there would only be enough bandwidth for them to get around 25 Mb/s each.

There's nothing especially wrong or unusual about that - provided it is understood when evaluating this technology choice.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
that community want 1:1 - the comment about contention is your assumption is that all will be using at same time your view is a worse case scenario rather than the norm - these things are constantly monitored to look at traffic usage and where capacity might need to be reivewed if that was the case but its very easy to make a view when they neither funding or responsible for - that was included as part of commercial deployment. The solution and deployment model and mechanismwould have been the same either inside or outside the commercial deployment
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
My understanding is that a wireless solution suffers from possible contention both on the final link to the property, and on the link from the mast back into the network, a bit like a cable network. FTTC can have contention from the cabinet but not on the link from the cabinet to the property.

Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
I'm just stating that if 25% of FTTC users were online at the same time then infinity technology could only offer them 25 Mb/s each, that's a fact not an assumption.

Of course people won't all be online at the same time - I agree with you. That's how every 'utility' style supply system works - water, gas, electricity - they all rely on the fact that every household won't use all their appliances at the same time as every other household - or that every tap in a town won't be on full while every toilet is flushed simultaneously. Everything is contended.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
The fastest links I've seen offered by ISPs on your network give 50Mbps downloads, which is rather slower than the 60Mbps or so average speed achieved by FTTC. If this an infrastructure constraint or can you support higher speeds at a sensible price? IIRC the 50Mbps was on offer from just under £1000 month for businesses from one provider, which is not competitive with most commercially offerings.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
The 'module' that the phone lines are connected to
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
The 'module' that the lines are connected to has a contention ratio between lines and supply. A wireless radio/sector on a mast is the same. Both technologies are very similar and that's one of the reasons why people are so up in arms that FTTC is being deployed at such vast costs when, in many regions, fixed wireless would offer a very similar system but with a fraction of the cost of deployment and 'upkeep', taking a fraction of the time to deploy, and not suffering from the massive performance drops over a few hundred meters of line.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
There is a key difference though. The 'link' between radio/sector and user antenna is, for example capable of 75+ Mb/s and that means that whether a premises is 100 meters away from the mast, or several miles away from the mast, the radio link from mast to user has the ability to deliver 75+ Mb/s to that user/premises. With FTTC the line length losses mean that if you're 1km away then you have no opportunity to get superfast speeds even, let alone more than that.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Now, just like an FTTC module in a cabinet, a radio/sector is contended and could not supply every 'link' with 75+ Mb/s at the same time - nobody is claiming it could. BUT every fixed wireless link may well be capable of 75+ Mb/s - over considerable distances of miles not meters - something that no FTTC system can offer.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Other than that FTTC and fixed wireless are very similar in so far as there is a supply of X Mb/s per module/sector/radio and that is shared between Y links/lines/premises. In both systems there is a contention ratio between supply and demand. It's just that wireless is cheaper and quicker to deploy and maintain, works better over distance and gives better value for money.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Whether every cabinet has enough bandwidth supply to give each 156 line mondule inside a dedicated 1 Gb/s (@Gadget) and whether each wireless mast has enough bandwidth to give each of its sectors 100% of their capabilities is down to the operator and what services they offer and how many lines/links are live from that cabinet/mast

Just as it is possible to have several 1 Gb/s supplies into a cabinet so that each FTTC module within gets a dedicaed 1 Gb/s, it's also possible to have enough supply capacity to a mast for its needs.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
There's nothing about wireless technology that means a mast can't or won't have enough supply for each of its sectors (modules) to each get 100% of what they require or are capable of. If operators choose to 'contend' supplies to masts or cabinets, and I'm sure that many of them do, then that's an operational choice not a technological restriction or issue.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Personally I think it is unlikely that BT, or any other operator for that matter, would supply an FTTC cabinet with say 5 x 156 phone line FTTC modules inside, with a dedicated and trully uncontended 5 Gb/s supply (1 Gb/s per 156 line module). I specualte this because we all know that a significant number of the phone lines from a cabinet will be more than 600 meters long and therefore unable to ever demand even 30 Mb/s from the 'cabinet'.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
In fact, if a cabinet was in a very rural area with say only 1 module of 156 lines, and if the majority of those lines were too long to ever get more than 2 Mb/s - as stated in the IWC / BDUK / BT project, then installing a dedicated and trully uncontended 1 Gb/s supply to that cabinet would be considerably 'over engineered' and Ik very much doubt any operator would to that.
There is always a practical side to these things
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
That's why I say that any supply contention to a mast or cabinet that may or may not exist is an operational issue determined by a number of factors relating to that cabinet or mast.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Regarding speed and price. We have seen miniscule demand from rural domestic users for speeds of 50 Mb/s even so specualting on what price may be charged for that to domestic users or what price higher speeds would be charged at is fruitless.
What we can say for sure is that if someone gave us a hand out of millions of pounds to pay for our network build, at whatever price per 'cabinet/mast' we 'invented', then I'm sure that we would be able to charge our customers far less than we do right now!
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
I think the question is WHY after the public have paid for so much BT kit will they still have to pay 100% 'retail price' for using it? I also note that BT's prices are rising considerably and consistently
whereas independant providers like us are lowering our prices year on year consistently?
You will also no doubt be aware that BT have specifically tried to not upgrade areas to FTTC where they have lucrative 'leased line' customers - often paying £1,000 per month for 50 Mb/s and in many cases I've seen vastly more that £1,000 being charged by BT for far less than 50 Mb/s.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
If you think that the 'average speeds achieved by FTTC' will be anywhere near 60 Mb/s - or even half of that - after £6 Million of public money has been spent on the Isle of Wight then you're wildly mistaken.
Perhaps there are some urban areas where the 'average speeds achieved by FTTC' are 60 Mb/s - that would not surprise me as FTTC is a very good technology where lines are short and density of premesis is high.
Different story in rural areas though - read the IWC / BT / BDUK project details and you'll see most premises won't get over 30 Mb/s.
Posted by Gadget over 3 years ago
@Wiber - I have set up a wireless system using both Wifi and WiMax systems and I found an attenuation which resulted in the equipment changing modulation schemes as the signal reduced. It also showed interference when part of the path was over water, when hills were in the way(indeed even if the ground at the top of the hill was smooth or rocky or if the trees in the way had leaves or not. All of which affected the speeds of the connection at the end-points so I'd dispute your claim that wireless is unaffected by distance (otherwise we'd only need one TV mast for the whole of the country).
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
The a average speed I was quoting is contained in the most recent Ofcom report, uses a representative sample of lines around the country. I doubt the Isle of Wight has a large % of long lines gives it's a relatively small area served by quite a large number of exchanges.

Even the rural areas are not exactly on a par with parts of Cornwall or Lancashire or Norfolk (or most shire counties), let alone the Highlands of Scotland. So I see no reason to believe performance on the island will vary hugely from the average.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
In terms of the project proposal, IIRC didn't something like 90%+ get 30Mbps+ within the project area? Which supports my view that average line lengths on the island are in line with UK averages.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
So what would be needed for wireless to offer 15 Mbps guaranteed with bursting to 40 Mbps for 5,000 properties in a 5 mile radius?
Posted by dragon1945 over 3 years ago
My ISP phoned to ask if I wanted to pay £10 per month more to have Fibre. I said Fibre is not available here. The rep phone insisted that his map showed Fibre WAS here. A well known VIP (at least he thinks he is a VIP) has Fibre.That's a few miles away. There are no Cabinets, just ancient underground copper cables and junction "drain plates).
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
@andrew (tb staff member)
Thanks for your interesting question.

We'd have to look at the geography of the area, topographical features, availability, location and designation of mast sites - e.g. AONB, SSSI, Commercial, 'council', Private land etc... and distribution of the premises as well as existing spectrum use and some other factors including where the nearest source of suitable backhaul bandwidth was and evaluate whether to run fibre to each mast, some masts, or use wireless-fibre links.

The most appropriate solution could then be specified.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Also depending on the locations/density/distribution of premises it may be more appropriate to use FTTP for some premises.

It's important not to get 'hooked' on one single technology for a project of that size if you're looking at it from scratch. Every technology has different strong points and it's important to recognise these objectively when planning solutions.

There would certainly be a place for wireless in such a project but whether it would be best to use wireless for all or just some would have to be evaluated.

Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Where there are premises of appropriate density then terrestrial solutions work great and are usually by far the best solution, whether DSL, ADSL, 21CN/Infinity/FTTC, Cable (coax), or Fibre/FTTP - they all have strong points and they all deliver very well in certain situations and can offer very good value for money in those situations.

Wireless also performs very well in certain situations and offers very good value for money in those situations.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
In many rural areas a great deal could be achieved very quickly, efficiently and cost effectively by being 'technology agnostic' and having a results focused process rather than a single technology focused process.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
Why give BT millions of public money to put FTTC into low density rural areas where effective, well established and popular superfast wireless is already available?
If there's nothing available in an area and no company has any intention of providing services then by all means look at a publicly funded project to find the best SOLUTION for the area - not the best COMPANY for the contact.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
So back to the question, what would be needed to do that scenario with fixed wireless?

Or is 5,000 homes in a 5 mile radius too dense?

If so, then a lot of BDUK areas would not be suitable for fixed wireless.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
At a maximum radius of 1.5km you would need at least 25 cabinets in a five mile radius for a fibre solution. This is 5 or 6 times the coverage envisaged in Suffolk and may account for why the target dropped from 100% in the consultation to 90% in the contract and appears now to have been lowered to 85%.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
So the problem was in the original contract, when they settled for the 85% figure. Simple maths says that 15% gap leaves lots of people with slower solutions.

Got a link to a confirmed BDUK wanted 100% coverage at 30 Mbps and faster speeds?
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
Andrew No just the opposite - the original Suffolk vision document wanted 100% coverage but this was watered down by BDUK before approval to 90% by 2015 and a hope of 100% by 2020.

I do have a hard copy of the consultation document which I cannot find on the website now which says "wherever possible, we will prioritise the early uplift of speeds for premises currently getting less that 2Mbps" It is no surprise to find that, as the link in my previous post shows, the opposite is happening

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
So question then is why can other counties have targets well beyond 90%, if the BDUK is forcing councils to waterdown the target?

Maybe they don't like Suffolk.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
I think a more valid question is what is going to happen to the remaining percentage not in superfast and how they are going to get the 2mb minimum and how contracts can be awarded to a company that does not know how to achieve this
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
As explained in some detail, I cannot answer your question without the appropriate details regarding density, distribution, topography, mast site availability, and the other aspects I mentioned.

If you're asking if a single wireless mast would be a good way of connecting 5,000 premises within a 5 mile radius then as a COMPLETE GENERALISATION I would say probably not - more than 1 mast would be required. But without more details it's impossible to say for sure.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
I think one of the reasons that some counties have reduced the targets is due to the cost of deploying FTTC in some rural areas. In some counties, the distribution of premises and distances involved mean that FTTC roll out costs increase almost exponentially with every % or 2 that 'coverage' is increased by. This is also why many (all?) of the BT contracts use terms such as 'up to', 'predicted', 'theoretically modeled'.
Posted by Wiber over 3 years ago
FTTC is the wrong choice of technology in those cases and because counties are forced to use it as their only choice, they have to reduce targets to bring costs down to match available funding - trying to wring a few more drops out of the copper phone lines.

This is why those that are hardest to reach can only look forward to 2 Mb/s after a lengthy wait into the future
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