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44 cabinets delivering FTTC via Suffolk BDUK project
Monday 16 December 2013 13:21:00 by Andrew Ferguson

The comments sections for the broadband improvements under the BDUK programme are always interesting, and even more so as the many projects start to deliver, since the law of averages mean that the majority of people will not have benefited from the project yet if they are outside the existing commercial superfast broadband footprint.

The press in East Anglia has been closely following both the Norfolk and Suffolk projects, and on Saturday published the progress report for Suffolk, with the news that some 10,000 premises can now order a superfast broadband service if they want to. This is from 44 cabinets that have been installed, and while these are probably not in the deepest most rural parts of Suffolk yet, the nature of modern communications networks is that you have to build the core network first. You could do it the other way and install all the most rural cabinets first, but without the core network no-one will be able to order a service.

The stated aim at the contract signing for Suffolk was for 85% of premises to have access to a superfast broadband connection, the remainder getting 2 Mbps as a minimum. The difference between the urban and rural parts of Suffolk have been covered previously.

One of the big unknowns in Suffolk and other counties is what will the exact invoice amounts be to hit the contract targets and whether there will be money left over to go further and it is this attempt to catch the lower cost cabinets that need smaller gap funding that means a lot of the time it is not the most rural areas benefiting first. This behaviour is almost implicit if using a gap-funded model, i.e. if you can deliver improvements to 10,000 premises for £1.5m or improvements to 3,000 premises for the same sum which do you do?


Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
The map here shows just how wrong FTTC is for a rural county. If you add to the already considerable white areas the postcodes in the other areas (including the non-intervention areas) that are out of reach it all adds up to a failure to bridge the digital divide.

Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
227 average premises per subsidised cabinet will not be atypical. Given no subsidy needed for Middleton for 370ish users, then interesting to know how little subsidy is being paid here.
Would it not be simple to add the amount of public money spent to date? Building out from designated handover points suggests each phase would have a mix of engineering areas. If one rural handover point supports c50 cabinets, each within a 40km radius you would quickly find an average per premise served.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@gerarda if FTTC subsidy reflects the actual costs then there is room for fibre to be pushed further out to the DP.
If as the NAO/PAC fear that BT Group have imposed costs well above incrmental then the opportunity to reach into the final 5% will be lost. Claw back mechanisms will not help as the engineering decisions need to be made up front.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Project has only every promised 85% at superfast, and looking at postcode maps the white areas look about right for hitting the 85% figure. Annoying if you live in one of those areas and a crime if the aim was 100% at superfast speeds.

Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
Two weeks ago the lcoal MPs and council leader went to Ed Vaisey to ask for more money to a) extend the BDUK contract and b) in case BT renege on their commitments in the non-intervention area (they have until March 2014 to decide whether or not to they will.

The scale of the shortfall may be indicated by the picture in the article with a target of 99,638 properties compared to the original target of 226,184.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
County has around 300,000 premises and commercial superfast was around the 50-55% mark off top of the head. So ~99,000 as target for 85% does not sound too horrendous.

226,000 in intervention area would suggest commercial only covered 25%.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
The figure is quoted in here page 9.

The non-intervention areas seem to have ended up much larger than SCC expected which probably accounts for BT's difficulty in fulfilling their promises in these areas.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
A two year old figure that was before they had the actual coverage detail on commercial plans. So I still stand by figures.

Or is Ofcom telling porkies on the amount of superfast coverage in Suffolk again?
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
andrew is there is circa 200,000 in commercial area and 226 in intervention area that would need to be around 800,000 premises in suffolk for the commerial area to only cover 25% of the county - my understanding is suffolk is much smaller so the coverage is much higher than 25%
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@andrew I agree - the discrepancy is due to increased size of the non-intervention areas but as has already been established these do not all have superfast,or even plus 2mb,coverage.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 3 years ago
@andrew @gerada How can one ask for more money when the reference costs have not been established or published? They are asking for money because it is there, not that they have established it is needed.
NAO/PAC requested no more funds until unit costs were established abd verifiable. Unfortunately this is being ignored.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
And unit costs cannot be established until a project has fully delivered. Thus means delaying other projects...guess how popular that would be.

Irrespective of how you feel about BT, PAC seems to live in a different world to the commercial one.
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
@valueformoney You can ask for more money because it is already that there are too many gaps left by the current contract
Posted by gerarda over 3 years ago
missed a "clear" between "already" and "that"
Posted by WWWombat over 3 years ago
FTTC coverage is poor when looking at a map - because FTTC is indeed a poor technology for covering widespread area.

FTTC is, however, good at covering selected dense clusters - which is exactly how the vast majority of people tend to live.

England+Wales has nearly 5,500 built-up areas, where the smallest has a population of 100 people. 95% of the population lives in these areas, but altogether they only account for 9.5% of the land area.

So I agree: FTTC is not the solution for 90% of the land, and the corresponding 5% of the population. We need something else there.
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