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Broadband debated in the House of Commons once more
Wednesday 24 June 2015 13:50:33 by Andrew Ferguson

Another debate on the superfast broadband roll-out in the House of Commons between 2:30pm and 4pm on Wednesday 24th June. Once we have found the Hansard transcript we will provide a link so people can find out what exactly was said.

Matt Warman the MP for Boston and Skegness, Conservative tabled the debate which is preceded by several points being raised about broadband during Prime Minister Questions and while nothing was solved it did give some 26 MPs chance to have their say in what was apparently a debate with a strong turn out.

Update Thursday 25th June We have published the full list of 650 constituencies over on our blog so that people can see where their area stands and hopefully provide more up to data information than the MPs appear to have access to.

To summarise some points that we felt noteworthy there are the following points:

  • There should have been rules in the previous and new BDUK contracts to ensure that BT (or any other operator for that matter) do not drop areas from a contract simply because they are proving difficult. (tbb comment: This would prove very difficult to put into practice and current contracts generally don't care where premises are, so long as the overall coverage criteria are met. For this to work then at the time of contract signing a fully defined list of premises to provide to would have to be made available.)
  • Transparency both in terms of needing to be improved was called for. Though some MPs did highlight the differences in the levels of information given out by BT and the local projects.
  • Apparently in MPs mail bag broadband is now often mentioned more than rail and road infrastructure issues.
  • A number of MPs raised concern over the low coverage in their areas, but we believe that the data MPs are using is some 9 months or more out of date based on 2014 Ofcom information. thinkbroadband would like to highlight that this is dangerous as it gives the public the impression things are worse than they actually are, our own availability tracker is more up to date, and even then may miss out some of the more interesting areas, e.g. where a new cabinet is helping an EO area, updates to the tracker are a daily process.
  • Broadband is no longer a luxury
  • 4G and 5G, as well as wireless and satellite will have a place in the coverage for the final 5% of the UK. We would like to comment that while 5G has great value, to get the highest speeds will mean a very dense network of fibre and small masts. 4G utilising the 700 MHz spectrum is much more likely to provide the superfast coverage, unless that is lots of low frequency spectrum can be found for 5G, which will also not support the 2 or 3 Gbps shock and awe demos.
  • No mention of Fibre to the Home (FTTH/FTTP), we believe FTTH was never mentioned, both in terms of the existing roll-outs and subsequent 95% and final 5% projects.
  • Excuses given by BT over some cabinet delays were said to be false, and this is a common moan on forums, where dates keep slipping too.
  • Not all the not-spots are rural, islands and pockets of poor connectivity exist in cities too, with BT roll-outs leaving them behind as resolving coverage get a little difficult.
  • Ed Vaizey MP closed with the assertion that the 90% superfast target will be met by late 2015 or early 2016.
  • Ed Vaizey MP on the Phase 3 i.e. the final 5% said "don't know how much it will cost", but that a worked set of proposals are due later in 2015, with the feedback from the innovation projects helping to feed back into the potential costings.

One observation is that the lack of data from the projects on where exactly the roll-out for phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 projects has led to many MPs believing that the 90% target meant 90% of every constituency, when the reality of many of the roll-outs is that vast swathes of counties can see nothing and the targets still be met. The reliance on old 2014 data by the House of Commons does not help either.


Posted by chefbyte about 1 year ago
Hope someone asks why i was missed off the rollout in middle of my town LOL
Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
Good point about getting BT to divulge areas they have no intention of covering.
Devon and Somerset got some mentions which is good for me! : )
Several mentioned that the final 5% should be done first or prioritised.
Good stuff so far.....
Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
Yet another point about prioritising rural.
A few mentions of FTTRn i.e Why are BT STILL trialling it and not rolling it out?
Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
Finally, Devon and Somerset possibly signing for phase 2 on Friday.
Just gotta hope I'm not in the last 5% for phase 3!
Posted by chefbyte about 1 year ago
best of luck as I never even got Phase 4 LOL
Posted by godsell4 about 1 year ago
"A few mentions of FTTRn i.e Why are BT STILL trialling it and not rolling it out?"

Training people to be able to install it maybe! And something about the need for simpler and cheaper methods of making optical connections in the field, I think have been mentioned.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
My understanding is that the cost of power feeds for FTTrN are holding adoption back.

FTTH would need no power, but the theory is a higher cost to use that.
Posted by asjonesmcguire about 1 year ago
It was certainly an interesting debate. About FTTrN / FTTdP - I was under the understanding that the customer equipment would be providing the power. As for up-to-date trackers. says I don't have ADSL2 - as does SamKnows - but I am using ADSL2 right now.
Posted by Spud2003 about 1 year ago
Watch a recording of the session here (move slider to 14:30) -
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
FTTrN VDSL2 - probably not.

FTTdP - working in labs and small scale but chipset makers are still getting the creases ironed out, i.e. its cutting edge.

The three trial areas I believe are using street mains rather than a reverse feed.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Greenlaw has just had WBC as an option added to it.
Posted by mollcons about 1 year ago
My rural exchange has got FTTC, but as I live 1.5km from my cabinet and apparently have aluminium in my line, BT cannot provide FTTC.
Posted by asjonesmcguire about 1 year ago
Ah FTTrN is different to FTTdP then? So is FTTrN just a smaller "all-in-one" cabinet? It looks like I need to go look at the research again. Yes Greenlaw was activated for WBC (or at least started accepting orders) on the 31st May. The Wholesale checker says up to 16mbps - but most of the other trackers say no ADSL2 available. My point being - how long exactly does this information take to update?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
FTTrN usually means a smaller VDSL2 cabinet

FTTPdP usually means a G.Fast node

Well ours is now up to date, and done some other WBC in the last few days too. As for providers, depends them, can be immediate can be a few weeks.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
I think the trial is more likely to use mains at the FTTC cab, forward-fed over spare copper to the node. Reverse power is part of the aim for fttdp, and just one method of powering. Unfortunately, it is probably more cutting edge than itself, and will have much more health & safety consideration needed to be considered trustworthy. BT will probably need to be convinced it presents no negative impact to 999 services.

FTTRN is the name given to micro-nodes for vdsl2, but there are no special technology advances to aid deployment implied by the name. Fttdp does have these.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Delays in deploying FTTRN are almost certainly down to power issues - where the aim will be to get power from the FTTC cabinet, and not from the nearby grid. Perhaps the vendor needs to cut power more, so fewer copper lines are needed for this.

Beyond this, all of BT's back end systems need to ensure that lines ordered have to go through the FTTRN node, and not accidentally use the FTTC node. Crosstalk from that would be catastrophic to all lines.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
On FTTRN; a reminder that North Yorkshire were told in October/November that FTTRN wouldn't be usable for widespread deployment for a year.
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
Testing of anything going up a pole or down a hole should last at least 12 months to demonstrate environmental reliability.

Gigaclear FTTH uses roadside cabs which are powered. BT's GPON is passive in the field lit from the exchange.
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
Testing of anything going up a pole or down a hole should last at least 12 months to demonstrate environmental reliability.

Gigaclear FTTH uses roadside cabs which are powered. BT's GPON is passive in the field lit from the exchange.
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
Sorry for the duplicate. The MP complaining about her email dropping out should perhaps be introduced to the concept of an email client, or wired ethernet, or both. The sob stories of businesses let down by their cheap as chips no SLA home connection don't move me personally.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
preserving the availabe subsidies is crucial. Here BT CEO says £3bn buys 50,000 cabs or £60k each.
NAO is less than £25k each for first 12,500 cabs before BT's contribution.
Essential we get oversight of BT contribution of £353m capital of the £1bn promised.
Posted by Bob_s2 about 1 year ago
What kind of contract allows the contractor to decide the scope of the work? . The contract should define the cabinets to be included within the scope of the contract

The government seem to have given BT a licence to print money
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
A contract that said this is the intervention area, and we want superfast delivered to 30,000 (number varies) of these premises with this fixed budget.

The intervention areas are largely than the footprint, that is a factor of aiming at 90% where 1 in 10 premises don't benefit - pretty simple.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Andrew @Bob Intevention Area provides the total number of premies needing an improvement.

Typically the 90% is of a county total, so it includes BT's commercial rollout as well and is not even 90% of the intervention area.

While the budget is set for the intervention area, the delivery is set for a smaller patch.

We will find both the budget setting (see second NAO report) and the subsequent delivery requires none of the capital BT promised. That may or may not come into play 36 months after the work begins.(see Oxera 3.83 for a hint)

Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
Despite what Andrew says the main danger in using Ofcom data is that it understates the lack of availability by failing to take account of not-spots
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago

The contracts were to meet a given number of premises within an intervention area, with the aim of meeting a certain percentage coverage (including all commercial areas) for the particular BDUK project.

It was perfectly possible to define requirements in another way. Perhaps particular rural areas with 100% coverage. However, if projects had done that they would have covered far fewer premises (and the bid would have taken longer due to vastly more detailed planning).
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago

So it's simply incorrect to think that this is, somehow, a licence to print money. If the government had done as you suggested and dictated the coverage area they would simply have got a lower level of coverage as the gap funding per premises would have had to be higher.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@gerarda For avoidance of doubt, we are NOT using Ofcom coverage data in our tracker. Ofcom was mentioned as that data was the basis for what MPs seem to be using.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
Andrew I never said you were.
Posted by 69bertie about 1 year ago
I think the whole BDUK and BT thing is a sorry saga for rural areas. We were first told that we might get superfast BB last January, now June. I'm not hopeful, as nothing has been done (no cabinet etc) to hold to that date. Mention it on Onlincolnshire and all you get is we can only chase delayed cabinets. Go figure. As BT never mention a date, it is never late or delayed! One day my meerkat will come running.....
Posted by godsell4 about 1 year ago
The minutes of that meeting @
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I feel the remarks from the Mole Valley MP was refering to the Cab 1 that was in the Commercial rollout which I think will be covered by the next phase claw back plus money in pot. Pot =. Clawback 27%+BTdeposit and may be extra money from SCC.
This Cab 1 has many customers which are showing (under 2 meg ) on Thinkbroadband Maps and are over 1 mile in length from Cab. The SCC BD UK was designed to get as many customers over 15 meg down as possible with the money.
Posted by otester about 1 year ago
BT is a profit centred infrastructure monopoly, you shouldn't be surprised that they cherry pick.

Eg: If you're connected to a cabinet along with a load of businesses, don't expect an upgrade any time soon.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
So commercial programme -- bts own money to do wityh it as it chooses

2 choices for countiles

Choice 1 as much as can get for the money
Choice 2 Cab x y Z (regarless of cost then what can you get for the rest of the money

BDUK -- mix of public / Private money need to make best use return value -- if cab is small and only has 20 -50 customer never going to be good value for money for anybody as the payback on the cab would be circa 15 years or so

FYI those counties that prioritised cabs have seen coverage fall as cabs they prioritise may not be good value for money
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