Skip Navigation


Parish Councillor challenges Bill Murphy of BT over superfast roll-out
Friday 13 March 2015 12:16:40 by Andrew Ferguson

The reality of what a UK wide target of 90% superfast coverage really means is becoming clearer to many people now, since it started for those looking behind the press coverage it was clear that the urban areas were going to pull up the figures for the rural, i.e. the project was never about getting 90% of every parish with the option of a superfast connection.

This reality has hit home hard in Upottery, Devon where the village and neighbouring Rawridge are not part of phase 1 and five minutes spent looking at a map reveals why this is probably the case, the cabinet is ideally located in the middle of Upottery but Rawridge which is a major cluster would be at a 1.3km radial distance from the cabinet and most definitely not get superfast speeds. Of course deploying FTTP or several mini-cabs (FTTrN) would resolve this, but when the choice of cabinets and areas is so large there are plenty of other cabinets to choose from that would allow Devon and Somerset to hit its target within budget.

thinkbroadband calculation of current fibre and superfast broadband coverage in Devon and Somerset - March 2015
Council % fibre based % superfast (>30 Mbps) % cable % Openreach FTTP
East Devon 52% 43.6% 0.1% 0%
Exeter 92.4% 90.7% 84.9% 6.7%
Mendip 62.4% 53.5% 0% 0%
Mid Devon 48.4% 39% 0% 0%
North Devon 68.4% 56.3% 0% 0%
North Somerset 71.8% 63.7% 20.4% 0%
Plymouth 98% 96.7% 90.1% 0%
Sedgemoor 69.5% 59.9% 0% 0%
South Hams 57.7% 45.4% 4.5% 0%
South Somerset 44.8% 39% 0% 0%
Taunton Dean 80.2% 67.4% 0% 0%
Teignbridge 74.2% 61.7% 23.8% 0%
Torbay 86.9% 86% 45.9% 0%
Torridge 53.2% 45.2% 0% 0%
West Devon 38.6% 28.6% 0% 0.1%
West Somerset 38.5% 35% 0% 0%

The long list of council areas above breaks down the situation for Devon and Somerset to a much more granular level than we have published before. The questions raised by Graham Long (Upottery Parish Councillor) are summarised below:

  1. Why is it looking like that only 15% of people rather than 90% in Upottery will have a chance of getting superfast broadband by 2017?
  2. Why with BT as the de facto monopoly owner of the UK's telecoms infrastructure do the phase 1 contracts contain confidentiality clauses.
  3. Why is BT threatening to withdraw from phase 2 tender if Devon and Somerset were to insist on an open market tender the next phase, rather than existing BDUK framework.
  4. BT is investing some £41m in the phase 1 for Devon and Somerset will a similar proportionate amount be invested in phase 2 and how much will that investment be.

The Phase 2 project for Devon and Somerset had its funding announced in January with a target of 95% coverage at some point in 2017 and the stated goal of continuing to work to deliver Superfast Broadband to 100% of premises by 2020.

We suppose that at the end of all this the question has to be asked whether the public money committed to the eventual 2020 goal and its actual target of 100% coverage is value for money and whether it is taking too long to achieve? If the 100% superfast goal really does exist, as frustrating as it would be to be in the batch that only saw improvements in 2019-2020 one has to accept that as the roll-outs need new infrastructure that takes time to build then someone has to be first and someone else last. Throwing more money at the problem might speed things up, or choosing a technology that needs less infrastructure might help, though there is also a lot of pressure to include more infrastructure in the form of FTTH/FTTP which means many more hours of labour compared to a cabinet heavy roll-out.

One wonders whether BT has actually considered simply not bidding for some of the extension projects and then we can see if the alternative operators both large and small are willing to step up to the plate. Oddly the winners if there was competition between neighbouring projects might not be the residents but the civil engineering firms who are often contracted to do a lot of the work.

Comments

Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
90% coverage of the UK does not mean every small area gets 90%. Clearly some will get 100% and some 0% with other something in between.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
The problem we are now faced with is that public money has been spent to reduce slow spots into a multitude of small areas that are unlikely now to be ever viable. This was an easily foreseen consequence of the BDUK approach but one they preferred to sweep under the carpet.
Posted by Croft12 about 1 year ago
Quite: seems odd that somehow 90% was assumed to mean 90% in every possible geographical subdivision.

Though as CDS now committed to 100% SF DS are doing better than many other areas on plan at least.
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
Clearly anything less than 100% means some properties would not be covered, nobody thought otherwise. What approach would be any different?
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
@somerset Spending public money ensuring the worst areas are done first would have given a better chance.
Posted by Croft12 about 1 year ago
@gerarda: That's the worst way since its the maximal cost at the minimum benefit to the majority on slower speeds.
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
@gerarda - Define the worst areas. Better chance of what? We would still have to decide the not/slow spots not covered.

We should not worry about the order of a 2/3 rollout.
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
... 2/3 year rollout.
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
"3.Why is BT threatening to withdraw from phase 2 tender if Devon and Somerset were to insist on an open market tender the next phase, rather than existing BDUK framework."

Guessing because tenders cost a lot of money to produce and legal hoops to jump through. Fine if you are applying for 1 but if they had to do this in every area it would cost a small fortune.
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
The answer to Point 2 is that the costs reflect those of BT's commercial rollout and therefore they do not wish to disclose them, see PAC minutes and videos ad nauseam.

Silly how many people think 90% means 9 houses out of every 10 in every street or village.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
@croft12 at least it means the not spots and slow spots get an uplift or service so you have universal availability instead of leaving them out yet again while spending money on a service in areas where 80% do not want it (BT's assumption not mine)
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Building on @ian72's point on Q3.

I think BT need to respond to 2 ITT's per week in order to get all the projects approved in the necessary timescale.

If CDS wanted to go back for a complete new tender, then BT would probably have just concentrated on the other projects. By the time someone could respond to CDS... time's up.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@gerarda
It is the politicians that decided on the value-for-money requirement - which necessitates a rollout done by cheapest-per-property area first.

If you ran a tender for the most expensive areas first, could a commercially-oriented company bid with realistic numbers?

Wouldn't they have to assume that they would subsequently fail to win any of the bids for cheaper areas - so making the least desirable areas extortionate?
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@andrew
It looks like you missed question 3 off the article: "Why is FTTRN still designated a research programme in BT?"

The answer appears to be the cost of power, still.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
@wwwombat
It would depend on the subsidy being granted, but its a hypothetical point. The damage has already been done. No-one appeared to point out to the politicians that a 90% nationwide target meant 50% of the rural areas missing out.
Posted by Michael_Chare about 1 year ago
AIUI Fujitsu told the House of Commons committee that there proposals where for complete coverage not the partial solution that BT has been allowed to get away with.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
And AIUI the Fujitsu was a mixture of FTTH and fixed wireless.

On the 90% meaning half the rural missed out, pretty sure we covered that a long time ago and it does get mentioned when people ask for briefings on what all the numbers mean.

On FTTrN - yes skipped it as we've covered the power issue and BT has said this itself too.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
Andrew

Unfortunately it never got mentioned in 2012
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
Where does the 50% come from? Loads of cabinets appearing in CDSland villages including outside exchanges for eo lines.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
At the Dorking Surrey meeting Bill Murphy did state via BT Officer what the time scales would be and the %,s so far the results are not far out. The post code speeds are starting to stack up and the black spots are being removed and in the next few Q1,Q2 FTTC/P will be provided via overhead fibre.
Posted by Dixinormous about 1 year ago
Which has what to do with Devon and Somerset?
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband watchers.
The council areas should be split down to Exchange Area this will give a better picture of the speed on the post codes and the black spots this also shows where the money is required.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
michael

AIUI Fujitsu told the House of Commons committee that there proposals where for complete coverage not the partial solution that BT has been allowed to get away with

interesting so the LA ask for a price for X% coverage and you provide a price for a Yfor a price of X% either you missed the point of the requirement / you win the bid and then spend the next X years trying to get out of it or you provide disinformation in the home and you get more budget to play with on another day
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/474/474vw05.htm

The complete coverage hinged on permanent use of fixed wireless, which BDUK (and EU too at that time) had doubts about.

Interesting that UK Broadband may be getting a phase 2 area.
Posted by cyberdoyle about 1 year ago
Upottery just need to invite an altnet in, and BT will soon appear to plop a couple of cabinets in the village, one for the copper phone lines, and one for a fibre cab. That's what they are doing here in B4RNland. Everyone has 1000 Mbps symmetrical on real fibre here, why is the council overbuilding in tiny little villages that have never had cabs (one village has only 15 properties) when there are bigger villages desperate for broadband?
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
Andrew

My first comment in the section more or less summarises that document.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
cyderdoyle sugges you then ask the LA - as there will only be build as part of a BDUk contract and that would have been part of Ask --
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
Gerada Fastman used to be involved in multinational Bids and Tenders for a living in a previous role
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Cyber and other Broadband Watchers.
I think when Openreach provides a Cab FTTC which has other options available I think they call this fair compertion even when it is used as a lost leader.
If the FTTC has been Subserdised by the LA then it it is up to the local customers to claim back via the clawback it is their perogative which option they take up.
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
As Andrew says the problem would appear to be the cost of providing connectivity to the cabinet and that those in Rawridge would not benefit.

The CDS map shows areas that will not benefit in the current plans, typically low density. Upottery is a different issue.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@cyberdoyle There is already a copper cabinet in Upottery near the War Memorial, hence ability to know where a fibre twin would go.

As for B4RN overbuild, will have to go digging later and see which cabinets are live and in B4rn area.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrew Staff
The problem is B4RM did not plan that fibre could be extended from the local node very near the FTTC using native fibre if at that location , as I stated before it is just starting to kick in this is also showing should the LA got involved with this problem .
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
So what I can see is Dolphinholme as main talking point because of FTTP, but would also serve a chunk to the West of M6 (which is not B4RN area). That FTTP does extend to some EO in B4RN areas IF the roll-out goes ahead.

Caton Cab 2 is live for FTTC, is B4RN IN Caton or just the surrounding countryside.

Wray covered by B4RN and FTTC via cab 2
Cab 3 Melling due for FTTC
Betham cab 2 is live for FTTC
Yealand (B4YS) is down for FTTP, but we've mentioned the pre-existing plans for that area when B4YS was announced.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Boils down to 'gentlemans agreement' instead of formal OMR submission and the local politics which one gets the impression is not looked on favourably at all. That and the 97% fibre based target, i.e. probably every 200+ premises village will get something.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@Blackmamba - the B4RN network needs 10 Gbps diverse point to point fibre, which hooking into the BT GEA fibre network would NOT provide.

The GPON 330 Mbps GEA-FTTP is seen as inferior to the B4RN point to point deployment.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Andrew staff
The custermer will decide on the product that is on offer by cost and service as you can see off the outlets on the FTTC eg speed and service. Most customers are only interested if they are above 10 meg down. This will effect both FTTC/P and B4RN if they are located close to each other.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.