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UK Government Admits Broadband Availability Maps Exclude Wireless Services

Wednesday, Mar 14th, 2012 (9:16 am) - Score 1,361

The governments Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office, which wants 90% of people to be within reach of a superfast broadband (24Mbps+) service by 2015, has confirmed that its maps of national broadband availability (example) could be seriously flawed because they often exclude wireless networks (WiFi, WiMAX etc.) and instead focus on fixed line ISP connectivity.

The somewhat unsurprising flaw was discovered as part of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by Ian Grant, which revealed that BDUK uses data from the Ordnance Survey, BT, KCOM and Virgin Media (mostly postcode based information). Extracts from these maps have been provided to local broadband partnerships, projects, and to the Scottish Government. Extracts were also “provided to local authorities bidding to participate in the super-connected cities programme“.

Crucially BDUK expects the maps, which make no mention of including data from well established fixed wireless providers, to be used by local partnerships as “a source of information to help inform their planning and procurement, and as a baseline for consultation in determining the eligible project intervention areas in accordance with the EU State Aid approval process“. This could prove critical when some areas, which might already be well served by an established wireless ISP, fail to reflect the real situation.

Last month the Managing Director of West Sussex focused wireless ISP Kijoma, Bill Lewis, whom has apparently “been challenging West Sussex County Council over their blatant pro-BT stance for years“, helped to highlight the issue. Regular readers might recall that Kijoma’s up to 16Mbps service was absent from the councils initial maps of rural broadband coverage, which incorrectly made the towns and villages that they serve show up as “Not Spots” (i.e. areas of poor or no broadband connectivity). The map was eventually withdrawn but the situation is not isolated to one region.

As our own List of Fixed Wireless ISPs clearly shows, related services are available right across the country and some have grown to quite a large scale (e.g. Kijoma, I Love Broadband (LNComms), C4L, Allpay Broadband, WiSpire, VFast etc.). Unfortunately wireless ISPs often suffer due to a lack of effective marketing and poor community awareness but they still exist and should perhaps be reflected as such.

We should point out that some local authorities, such as Kent County Council (KCC), have gone the extra mile to reflect fixed wireless coverage in their own non-BDUK based maps. As a result KCC was able to establish that VFast’s wireless service could cover 33.9% of the region and has likely factored that into their plans. On the other hand, in the grander scheme of things, wireless providers only account for a small slice of the market. Sadly many are simply too small to bid for BDUK cash in the first place.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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