Broadband debated in the House of Commons once more
Wednesday 24 June 2015 13:50:33 by
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
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
- 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believe that the data MPs are using is some 9 months or more out of date based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
- 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
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.