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Lack of information causes anger in South Gloucestershire
Monday 29 September 2014 10:47:55 by Andrew Ferguson

The realities of the BDUK process is starting to be obvious for those areas that had that not previously grasped the decimation that a national 90% superfast target would result in. The other reality is that with the constant pressure from committees and campaigners to delivery value for money on every pound of public money spent, the biggest bang per buck is often the result, rather than the most deserving needy being helped.

The anger surfaced at a meeting in the Horton village hall in South Gloucestershire which was attended by the local MP and it appears the BT representatives were told to be more open. What is interesting is observing the vastly differing approaches across the UK, with some areas tweeting photos of the new cabinets and names of the roads as cabinets go live and a sliding scale down to the councils who are keeping the plans locked in a dusty basement.

Suffice to say that the South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire project is delivering cabinets, and some 19,755 premises were declared passed back in August 2014 by the DCMS.

Looking at our speed test results there has been significant changes in the median speeds across the two unitary authorities involved, with South Gloucestershire going from 9.7 Mbps in Q1/2013 to 26 Mbps in Q2/2014 and Wiltshire showing an improvement but not to the same scale, 6.2 Mbps rising to 9.9 Mbps.

In terms of superfast coverage across the areas we estimate the following based on live services that are available.

Unitary Authority Superfast cable & FTTC (30 Mbps and faster) Superfast FTTC Only Cable coverage
South Gloucestershire 81% 75% 71%
Wiltshire 45% 43% 21%
NOTE: 86% of households in South Gloucestershire are in a fibre based area. 53% of South Wiltshire households are in a fibre based area.

The table above shows that it is Wiltshire where the majority of the work to reach the projects own goal of 91% with access to a superfast broadband service is needed. Even if this goal is reached this would still leave some 27,000 without a superfast service, and while half of those may still be fibre based with a speed below the superfast threshold, there will still be 1,000's that see no improvement.

Suffice to say the reality of funding and ambition that never set out to reach a 100% coverage target, other than the 2 Mbps USC which in theory the EU has said is already met with satellite provision across Europe.


Posted by PhilCoates over 2 years ago
BDUK and BT/OR have not been entirely transparent about what the average punter can expect. Most will see a Fibre Enabled cabinet and expect to see big improvements in BB. What happens beyond 1500m from a cabinet has not been explicitly spelled out to those who do not read technical papers. Most will not appreciate the piecemeal creep of BDUK targets either.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
But then the average punter is not 1500m from their cabinet and that is from someone who is at 1300m from theirs.

Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
I rather suspect that many local projects haven't worked out exactly where coverage will be provided. However, making a bit of political fuss will probably do no harm as I suspect that there's a bit of discretionary scope to prioritise some areas over others provided the costs per household aren't wildly different.

Anyway, all an exercise in trying to stretch a limited pot as far as possible. It's never going to satisfy everybody.

Nice technical use of the word decimation by the way.
Posted by PhilCoates over 2 years ago
Average in sense of knowledge of the technologies involved is what I mean. There has been a great deal of talking up the delivery of Fibre and very little information about who will not benefit - perhaps understandable from BT/OR/BDUK. The people of Horton clearly did not understand that the nearby presence of a Fibre cab did not guarantee they would see any benefits. As adults, I presume most of us would want to know at the outset what to expect and when - 'secrecy' doesn't seem to help.
Posted by timmay over 2 years ago
Secrecy helps OR because until other operators are sure that OR won't gazump them they will not invest in building an altnet.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Central BDUK know that most county-projects haven't worked out (with accuracy) where coverage will be, and what speeds will be attained.

Best described by pages 19-21 of this document:

We're still pretty close to the start of the graph on page 21. Even BT don't know... and where they do, don't the contracts mean that the information has to come from the counties, not BT?
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Adding to the problem, for the public (and nosy MP's), is that the 90% target seems to roughly match the threshold from being successfully serviced by one technology (FTTC at the PCP), to needing service by a different technology (FTTC for EO, FTTP, or FTTRN) - all more expensive to deploy.

The people of Horton may be unhappy with what they've currently got, but even that isn't necessarily the end game.
Posted by godsell4 over 2 years ago
I am in Wiltshire and on a small market 1 exchange, all +200 lines are EO, two new Cabinets have been built and it looks like all the EO lines will be FTTC enabled later this year. When contacted, WCC have been clear and open.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 2 years ago
Perhaps asking how much has been paid so far to deliver extacly what would be useful? It is state aid and the moneies are to cover a proportion of the incremental capital cost.
Posted by leexgx over 2 years ago
unless you let BT expand Altnets just go bankrupt or have silly per month download caps (50GB) on 1000mb FTTP lines

for the most part FTTC works as msot are realtily close to the cab, the ones who are not should get served via FTTP later on once the FTTC cabs have been installed (as the FTTP comes from the cabs any way)

but New housing estates should be FTTP right from the get go and have Virgin Cabled if in the area (in Warrington i was amazed that they fitted Virgin cable to each house on a Brand new estate ready to become a VM customer)
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
I'd agree that new estates ought to be fibred from the beginning. However, I do wonder if there's a regulatory issue in that BT are required to provide an MPF product. It would be crazy to have to provide both copper and fibre when voice fibre access (VFA) is available. As far as I know, fibre-only (at exchange level) has only been authorised for limited trials where there's no LLU present.
Does anybody know if BT would be allowed to provide fibre-only to new housing developments under current regulatory rules?
Posted by ValueforMoney over 2 years ago
TheEulerID - FTTP with an ATA for PST is included within the definition of a analogue exchange line for cost ecovery purposes -see FLAM review for 2014-2017, so yes BT is free to invest in FTTP in new builds, nothing preventing that.
MPF only need where an MPF exists. VULA adequate for fibre access.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
I don't see what cost recovery is to do with it. BT seems to have an obligation to provide MPF to new premises on demand subject, I assume, to the normal "reasonable cost" constraints.

This case refers to a dispute between BT and TalkTalk on new MPF provisions. Not definitive I know, but it points towards BT being obliged to supply MPF to new premises. I rather think LLU operators might object if MPF isn't available.
Posted by WWWombat over 2 years ago
Sticky problems occur on new builds. While BT are required to provide a voice line to anywhere, there is no reverse requirement on builders: they can choose to have someone else pre-fibre (or pre-copper) their development and have no BT comms at all.

The sticky problem arises in the time between selling a property and the roads becoming adopted a few years later. BT have no right, in between, to come along and add their lines. For that period, a de-facto monopoly exists for whoever the builder agreed with.
Posted by fastman over 2 years ago
WWWombat there is also the increasting scenario where this is a new cab provided in the development (Cab will be at entrance) and only voice will be provided- These new developement will normally have new postcodes so they will have notbeen picked up by Commerucla (too late) and nd good percentage wont get picuk up by BDUK (no postcode / visibility at market test)-- leaving new not spots
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