Broadband News

No shock that some 60 percent of local authorities not broadband ready

The Telegraph has gone with a headline that the "Government 'will not hit' broadband target", and underpinned this with a Freedom of Information Act request that indicates some 60 percent of local authorities are yet to start work on how they will fund the broadband work in their area. Over a quarter of authorities have had no contact with the BDUK.

One suspects that this lack of engagement with the central BDUK body, was behind the announcement yesterday of the deadline for submissions by councils. The BDUK allocations to the local authorities have been known for sometime, and one would like to hope that a lot of the delay is internal debates in councils who are trying to figure out how they can match fund broadband improvements in their area.

We have since the launch of the plans over twelve months ago, questioned the lack of detail in the plans, for example it seems the only technical guidance is that superfast is defined as something connecting at over 24 Mbps (we prefer to say 25 Mbps or faster), and that authorities should try and aim for 90% coverage at those speeds and where possible exceed the 2 Mbps USC for the remaining 10%.

The BDUK pilot schemes may be behind some of the slow progress, when the pilot schemes were launched an assumption was that these would provide a template for councils to follow, but with the pilots not having completed anything beyond progress reports, rather than service delivery, it is hard to draw a firm conclusion on the success and which technology mix works best.

It is worrying when you feel the need to agree with a politician, but when Ms Chi Onwurah, the shadow minister for the digital infrastructure says the Government is "making the process up as it goes along", then unfortunately one has to agree. The process is not dead in the water, enough councils are proceeding slowly, but the speed of progress is such that other than some satellite subsidy schemes and non-BDUK related projects the majority of work that the public can touch and feel will be in 2014, with a lot of pressure applied as the current 2015 General Election date looms.

The Digital Britain report first appeared in June 2009 under the previous Labour Government and carried a 2 Mbps USC target for 2012 in it, and a 50p per month telephone line tax to create a fund of £170m to fund superfast broadband in the final third up to 2017. By the change of government in 2010, nothing much had progressed, and we then had a hiatus as the new coalition Government changed the plans and shifted the deadlines. A 2 Mbps USC for 2012, was in many ways not very ambitious, and most likely would have seen a sticking plaster type solution, with many deployments being replaced a year or two later as the levy fund started its deployment work.

So looking back, we don't think that Digital Britain as a vision is something that would differ significantly even with a completely different Government. Individually and across party boundaries there are politicians that get the infrastructure benefits that the new fourth utility can bring, but the economic situation and the general slowness of the political processes mean uncertainty broadband wise for many small businesses.

A question to pose to people is this, does it matter if the UK does not hit the 2015 target with respect to best broadband in Europe? Will the rush to meet the deadline create something akin to a film set, it looks great, but go behind the scenes and the trickery is revealed, i.e. looks good to outsiders, but reality is a different story.


This is why you let the free market deal with stuff, government very inefficient in comparison.

  • otester
  • over 8 years ago

This should be nothing more than simple procurement excercises.

One you get the public sector involved they build up huge departments of people to manage this schemes. The two problems with this is you do not need an army of people to manage these schemes and the local council in any case dont have the skills

  • Bob_s2
  • over 8 years ago

your "simple" procurement exercise has to first define what it is procuring Bob, in order to at least attempt to avoid the rape of the public sector by the people that actually do stuff.

  • herdwick
  • over 8 years ago

It's a false hope anyway. If we get 90% coverage of BT's FTTC (Infinity) which looks likely, then we will still be behind most of the Nordic countries and probably Germany and France, so it is unachievable. They are trying to come up with lots more ways of measuring 'best' to try and fudge the numbers, but it still won't work.

  • nickkcin
  • over 8 years ago

The question as to whether it matters if we hit the 2015 target is irrelevant really. The Government are using a "balanced scorecard" approach and are guaranteed to "balance" the scoring such that they can claim they have hit the target! They are politicians after all :-)

  • wirelesspacman
  • over 8 years ago

Behind based on what measure?

Sweden, three FTTP providers, 11%+6%+15%availability, total may be less than the sum if there is overlap.

Japan has 92% + 29%, so will be a lot of overlap, and believe a lot of this is FTTB, and ethernet distribution around flats.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 8 years ago

Isn't it time the wired phone network, local distribution and backhaul for Internet were run by a company akin to Network Rail? They could be paid to deliver using trained engineers to design the network, competitive tendering fro delivery, in house maintenance perhaps taking over Openreach. Of course companies like Virgin could still compete with their own networks and ISPs and tecos could purchase capacity as do the open access train companies.

  • rjohnloader
  • over 8 years ago

Not that simple, how do you separate the BT backbone (which is currently part of Openreach) that feeds local distribution?
This backbone is the equivalent of other ISP bacbkones, except that is present at all exchanges. BT would get to keep that.
Then wholesaled products would have 2 rentals, one for backbone and another for local, which would become more expensive as you've split the companies doubling up overheads.

  • themanstan
  • over 8 years ago

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