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The people in Wales suffering rejected broadband grant applications
Wednesday 20 November 2013 15:21:14 by Andrew Ferguson

Adhering to the rules around State Aid is causing problems for people in Wales. Wales has three broadband schemes that are running, the Openreach commercial roll-out, the investment from Westminster and the Welsh Assembly (and BT) which aims to build on the commercial roll-out and take fibre based (mainly FTTC) broadband to 96% of premises in Wales and finally there are individual grants of up to £1,000 for locations running at under 2 Mbps.

The Daily Post is now reporting on the people who are getting their grants rejected due to the overlapping nature of the three projects and made worse by the lack of certainty over precisely what the commercial and BDUK projects will deliver.

In the past decisions over helping a specific service or industry was easier as boundaries were more clearly defined, but with the broadband roll-outs and the limited funding very few people are willing to commit to a specific cabinet being enabled and its precise footprint. The choice of FTTC as the cheapest way to bring something better than an ADSL2+ service to millions makes this worse, and while FTTP would avoid all the line length distance questions, it would cost a lot more to roll-out and is still not immune to problems of accessing some properties, e.g. wayleaves, waiting for permission to dig up a road.

It is not beyond the ability of people to estimate which properties on a particular cabinet are NOT going to get any FTTC based service, the problem is that in Wales no-one seems willing to spend the time and money doing this. Or maybe they have a hope that if the initial roll-outs work out cheaper than expected the money saved will be available to re-visit the difficult to reach areas. We have the ability to speed plot estimated speeds from individual street cabinets, which if combined with a little knowledge will give people a very good idea what they may or may not get. What is making the problem in Wales worse is that the funding decisions are made on an exchange wide basis, which means it is easy to miss plenty of properties without realising it.

Maybe the problem is that in the UK we are following the EU State Aid rules to the letter and the risk averse nature of the projects means that everything is about minimal risk, rather than absolute best outcome for the individual or business.


Posted by flippery over 3 years ago
A phone call to Welsh Government on 2nd October, grants would be available if fibre roll out 2015 or later. Problems occur with 1 wifi supplier and rules are changed.
As my daughter lives 10Km from exchange ( fibre 2015) and there are only 4 properties in a 1km radius, would appear unlikely that fibre will be an option.
maybe BT could advise on each application
Only chance of broadband now appears to be Satellite. At least up front costs are manageable.
Posted by fibrebunny over 3 years ago
The article didn't mention what if any service the people were currently getting. Other than that seems pretty straight forward. Roll-out is not fixed so predictions can't be either.

The grant for those waiting until 2015 or later seems like a good compromise.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
Sounds a bit of a mess. Leaving the individual grants until the dust of the BDUK projects has settled would be a simple approach. Or they need a rejection letter from the BDUK project saying "we aren't coming to you".
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
I brought this up here several wks ago.The problem is lack of info & clarity.The ABC grant says "The premises must not be in the published roll-out for Superfast Cymru.", but Openreach will not say if a particular house is included or not. Complete lack of cooperation & communciation between companies.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
I wrote to ABC and got a clarifcation from them that a property is eligible if their exchange is not in published rollout so far, but if the exchange is included then you have to wait until end of BDUK (2017?) to see if you're eligible, by which time the scheme could have ended! They need to spell this out and publicise it, before press report it and everything gets a bad reputation. Oops, too late.
Posted by flippery over 3 years ago
So Options are
1) Wait to 2017 to see if fibre enabled. Live without broadband until then.
2) Pay £1000 to Wifi provider for Broadband now
3) Pay £150 for Expensive congested satellite,

Surely BT,by Cabinet locations, know what premises are viable. But hey this would commit BT which they are loathe to do.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@flippery Strictly speaking state aid demands the intervention area is published before any grant is paid.

The commitment to locate a cabinet could be conditional on a meeting a threshold per premise past for delivering power, the biggest variable in cost.
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