Broadband debated in the House of Commons once more
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concern over the low coverage in their areas, but we believe that the data MPs are using is some 9 months or more out of date based on 2014 Ofcom information.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.