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Complaints about small provider in Wales leads to suspension of grants
Thursday 24 October 2013 15:18:49 by Andrew Ferguson

The broadband grants scheme in Wales has been running for sometime, and for many of those who have applied and granted a grant the improvements have been significant. Alas it seems that not everyone is happy, the BBC has covered the news of one provider having its access to the grants suspended and talked to various customers of ResQNet.

If the figure of £900,000 is correct for the money the firm has received from the grant system which allowed for a £1,000 grant to install a better broadband service in areas with no or very slow broadband, suggests well over 900 customers. The news feed on the ResQNet website does not inspire confidence, and while every provider no matter what technology they use will have problems, to see so many power issues and comments like "Some slowdown of the network may have been experienced this afternoon due to the sporting fixtures that were available online".

So while ResQNet has been doing the right thing in trying to offer service in areas the larger providers have as yet not covered, if it is to offer a basic 5 Mbps service with unlimited usage in 2013, they need to consider significant investment in backhaul and redundant power systems.

"Will the service slow down in the evenings when lots of people are using it?
The speed should not slow noticeably when more people are logged on as the contention ratio is set at a maximum of 20:1 so 4.5Mbps should really mean just that. Compare this with broadband connections using landlines which typically have a contention ratio of 50:1 for domestic users.

People have told me this will be a really good service. Is it true?
We think it will be a really good service. For a start the connection speed really will be 4.5Mbps, not like other service providers who say ‘up to …’ when in reality you very rarely if ever get near to the speeds they are claiming. Secondly, it’s symmetrical connection, which means that the upload speeds are as fast as the download speeds. Thirdly, there are no download limits. Fourthly, the system can be upgraded in the future to offer speeds of up to 100Mbps."

FAQ entries for Carmarthenshire Community Broadband Partnership

The old 50:1 contention ratio figure has not existed in reality since 2004, and even when it did most providers had backhaul pipes of 155 Mbps or greater to help even out the demand between different interest groups. This is not to say that the large providers have a better contention ratio now, simply it is not as simple to work out as it used to be, and with many people on connections of 10 Mbps and faster you can afford for slow downs to happen and video streaming to continue to work.

Fixed Wireless Access done correctly can produce very good broadband speeds in the 20 Mbps and upwards area, but it seems that the history of one or two poorly performing projects may be why councils see BT as a smaller risk, and when public money is being spent, risk and value for money are vastly bigger drivers than how innovative and exciting the technology is.


Posted by pcoventry76 over 4 years ago
When we did IAP in 2001 we had a budget of £100,000 and that was sucessful in the actual service part of it however it was demand that fell and killed it.

So with 9 x the amount we had, I am wondering how bad they must be to create such a mess
Posted by Enrico21 over 4 years ago
With over 1000 homes & businesses said to be using ResQNet's service, this could have ramifications for the planned Superfast Cymru roll-out in the rural areas of Carmarthen & Ceredigion if it were to close down.
Posted by Enrico21 over 4 years ago
I've been a ResQnet (IRG Computers Ltd)customer since Feb 2013. Got a Welsh Gov grant -installation costs were £996 (inc VAT).
Service good to start with, regularly got 9.5Mbps down & up. Since mid August speeds have been considerably lower although they have improved in last few days
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Be interested in seeing how stable the throughput is using our own speed test

The graphs give you a good feel for how good/bad/indifferent a connection is.
Posted by JammaN over 4 years ago
ALso interested in ping times to with people on ResQNet's service
Posted by Enrico21 over 4 years ago
Andrew - speed test result now:
One week ago:
Posted by Waplord over 4 years ago
Unfortunately my connection is running so slow with them at the moment I can't even get the speed test page to load fully :(
Posted by Enrico21 over 4 years ago
JammaN - my ping time to BBC website

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 19ms, Maximum = 30ms, Average = 23ms
I'll post ping results again when speed gets slower.
Posted by Waplord over 4 years ago
Managed to get a result to run

PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=52 time=96.315 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=52 time=110.214 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=52 time=404.094 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=52 time=632.569 ms

Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Graphs show congestion clearly, which I guess you knew already.

having it on the upstream too is never good. So it may not just be bandwidth but could be router load in some core network devices.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Presumably the scheme got state aid approval if one company has benefited to the tune of £900,000 or so? Are they the only suppliers or are others involved too? Seems like a lot of money is changing hands here.
Posted by Waplord over 4 years ago
I actually run the usergroup page on facebook which was created as a result of them closing down their own Facebook page from users complaining

If you look here there is a wealth of information of speedtests and some graphs etc
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
As the money was in the form of individual grants it bypasses EU State Aid rules.

There are other providers working with the Welsh subsidies schemes, old and new and not all will be doing things like charging £996 inc VAT for what others do in rest of UK for cheaper.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 4 years ago
I think that report said there were delays with upgrading capacity. So hopefully when the end of October comes they will be able to sort that and sort the problems out. projects like this desperately need to succeed to bridge the devide
Posted by Enrico21 over 4 years ago
Andrew-only ResQNet & TFL Group ( cover my area it seems. TFL's installation costs are from £699 inc VAT. exWavia, not in my area, provides a set-up worth up to £1,000. Last year their installation costs were £999.60 so yes there is a lot of money changing hands. ISPreview reports the Welsh Gov have a mechanism to “recover funding under certain circumstances“.

that a mechanism existed to “recover funding under certain circumstances“.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Perhaps this goes some way to explain why the latest Welsh scheme that has only just started has much more onerous conditions attached to it.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
I wonder whether the govt confirmed this with the EU?
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
^^^^ that it bypasses the rules
Posted by flippery over 4 years ago
According to ISPreview the October renewal is broadly similar to the previous incarnation.
Given that the welsh terrain limits the number of users that can be accommodated in a line of sight installation ( unlike Lincolnshire or Norfolk)The unit costs will be substantially higher. My daughter had choice of Exwavia or Tooway. BT engineer advised the former.
The problems being encountered by ResQnet are IMO, not foreseeing the number of communities that would sign up for Wireless and not having infrastructure in place. Also not having usage limits which could have alleviated problems somewhat.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
if £900k of State Aid arrives in the hands of one provider it can't use de Minimis any more than BT could bill for individual connections to do the same ?
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
On the same day that BTOfcom publishes a report quoting 100% ADSL availability a wireless provider is overwhelmed by demand for a fairly basic 5mb service. Somehow the dots don't join up

Posted by Enrico21 over 3 years ago
Company has issued statement, see:
Posted by Shempz over 3 years ago

The Welsh government makes up to £1000 grant money available to households who won't benefit from the BT/WAG "Access Broadband Cymru" deal providing £425M of tax payer money to get superfast broadband to 95%+ of Wales.
Posted by Shempz over 3 years ago
Only BT exchanges with the "Under Evaluation" status are eligible for the grant money. Should BT change the status to "Future Exchange", then the home owners served by those exchanges are no longer eligible to receive any money.

The scheme kicked off on October 1st and by the 5th the BT exchanges all changed state from UE to FE.
Posted by Shempz over 3 years ago
Think what you will, but BT will now decide when to upgrade those exchanges with little threat of any competition from other ISPS who could leverage the grant money that is now unavailable under the ABC scheme.

It will be interesting to watch what BT delivers, and WHEN, to these shiny new "FE" exchanges. That may reveal whether this is an anti-competitive play or merely business as usual, as BT would have us all believe. It will be more difficult for a community funded scheme to deliver there, now that BT has effectively "claimed" the area, and denied the residents access to WAG money.
Posted by Waplord over 3 years ago
I know this is an older story but i thought i'd update, ResQnet this weekend have chosen to terminate my service (which while diabolical and didn't really improve) was all that i had at the time, the underlying reason being they don't like the community page for unhappy users that i run on Facebook.
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