Frustration with councils causes Maria Miller to write to them
The Culture Secretary Maria Miller has sent a letter to local councils to ask them to reveal more about their plans to the public and operators looking to potentially bid for work under the smaller RCBF scheme. The letter has been seen apparently by The Daily Telegraph and follows on from the complaints levelled at BT about them being too secret about their plans which was dismissed by BT who announced they had no objection to councils revealing the plans, and to some extent this appears to have been the case as some councils have published information on where and when upgrades will be taking place.
The Devon and Somerset project is the latest council to reveal its plans ahead of this letter, but apart from the slow loading page, the detail level is sparse, with the granularity only going down to the exchange level, when what the public needs is information about their individual property, or failing that their postcode.
The confusion amongst the councils becomes apparent when you see the exchange they had with someone asking about their area. It is a well known fact that Openreach only enables the cabinets on an exchange that it considers commercially viable, but the person responding on behalf of the council on twitter seems to suggest that as a cabinet is on an enabled exchange it will not fall under the projects remit due to EU state aid rules. The response contradicts the wording for the coverage map, where there is talk of the project providing coverage in some exchange areas that Openreach has already enabled some cabinets.
Openreach itself still has some way to go, as its own Where and When website can give people the false impression by only giving exchange level information. Our advice if they do not want to reveal the precise cabinet locations, would be to show a summary for the coverage levels on the exchange at least, e.g. 20 out of 28 cabinets enabled covering 65% of premises. Occasionally the Openreach site will show a flag for a specific cabinet if there are delays on enabling it.