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UK Government Complicates Superfast Broadband Definition with 30Mbps Target

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 (1:52 pm) - Score 3,486
fibre optic uk superfast broadband internet cables

The UK governments Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has quietly complicated its existing definition of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) by bringing it more into line with Europe’s Digital Agenda target of 30Mbps by 2020 (minimum download speed / Megabits per second), but the subtle change could prove tricky to apply.

At present the government aims to ensure that 90% of “people in each local authority area” can access a superfast broadband ISP service by 2015 (the last 10% will have to make do with download speeds of at least 2Mbps). BDUK officially still defines this as being a service with “potential headline access speed of greater than 24Mbps, with no upper limit“.

But a recent State Aid Guidance (PDF) document, spotted by Thinkbroadband, points to this now being confusingly defined as “speeds of 30Mbps or in any event more than 24Mbps“. Thankfully a slightly more logical explanation is given in the small print.

Eligible projects

All new projects must target delivery of superfast broadband speeds of 30 Mbps or more, which is in line with the EU’s superfast/NGA broadband targets. However, due to earlier UK definitions of superfast referring to speeds of more than 24 Mbps, projects already underway will be satisfying the superfast broadband speed requirement if they seek to deliver speeds of more than 24 Mbps.

BDUK is working at present on the basis that access to basic broadband infrastructure is not affordable if the installation cost is £100+ and/or the rental price is £25+.

As a result any “new projects” must aim to deliver a minimum download speed of 30Mbps, while existing (old) ones should continue to conform to 24Mbps+. A split target like this could easily cause confusion, especially with Europe still expecting everybody to have access to 30Mbps (with 50% or more using a 100Mbps product) by 2020.

Similarly there’s the question of how you define a “new project“, at the tender or deployment phase? For example, BT’s national rollout of 40-80Mbps capable superfast FTTC services will reach 66% of the UK in 2014 through private sector investment and could hit 90% with full public funding. This might potentially be described as “underway“, yet officially the majority of Local Broadband Plans (LBPs) have yet to award their contracts.

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Avatar Deduction

    quote”Eligible projects…
    BDUK is working at present on the basis that access to basic broadband infrastructure is not affordable if the installation cost is £100+ and/or the rental price is £25+.”

    So why are they giving most of the money to BT? Unlimited Infinity is £26 a month.
    Likewise for other ISPs to make any money they often bill around £100 for the install.

  2. Sky do it at £20 a month and the install price is usually just under £100, so it does just fit. BDUK are talking about the network and not BT’s retail ISP division. On top of that I’m not sure if the price they mention is +vat or inc. VAT, though public papers often use +vat.

  3. Avatar Deduction

    Sky havent been given BDUK funding though, have they?

  4. Avatar dragoneast

    I just get the impression that “Europe” and the UK is not an exception, has become some sort of fairyland in which half of the bureaucracy devises ever more elaborate ways to spend money, whilst the other half struggles to keep the bankrupt states (and I include the UK among their number) afloat. Dream on I suppose, but one day soon we’ll wake up and get quite a shock.

  5. Avatar onephat

    With all the money we’ve spent on broadband consultants/ this office, that forum etc etc we could of cabled the whole UK several times over i bet. Why do we have to have so much talking. Someone grab a spade and some fibre and away we go 🙂

  6. Avatar Deduction

    quote”Sky don’t own lines.”

    Dont see what that has to do with funds.

    So you saying satellite providers that have no real physical lines and Virgin who are still in debt (IE still paying) for their lines were never eligible for BDUK funds whether they bid or not.

    Thats an interesting new theory, total nonsense like most you have though.

    @onephat… It was going to be a complete joke, waste of time and money from the start, most things involving BT and the government are.

    • Avatar Somerset

      BDUK funding is for infrastructure to be used on a wholesale basis by eg. TalkTalk, Sky, BT Retail. Hence why Sky could not get BDUK funds.

  7. Avatar DTMark

    Really odd. To get a true 30Mbps to everyone in the UK by 2020 is going to be a pipe dream if we continue with cabinet based solutions.

    “BDUK is working at present on the basis that access to basic broadband infrastructure is not affordable if the installation cost is £100+ and/or the rental price is £25+.”

    In that case, we have no access to basic broadband infrastructure. The cost to set up ADSL is something like £85 line (most ISPs, some are much dearer) plus another £45+ to set up the line card + broadband, so that’s over £100. Then add the monthly cost, and that’s over £25 a month with most (?) ISPs – the line is circa £16 so that only leaves £9 for the broadband.

    This is to say that nobody in a market 1 area has access to basic broadband and all need subsidising.

    It gets more and more silly by the day.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Quote ” To get a true 30Mbps to everyone in the UK by 2020 is going to be a pipe dream if we continue with cabinet based solutions.”

      Why? 90%+ of us are within 1km of a cabinet. The simple addition of Vectoring to Profile 17a would deliver the target speed, and that before any other developments that come up in the next 8 years are deployed.

      Useful to take the facts into account when offering up such sweeping generalisations – some posters here would do well to read and reflect on some of the points in the Geek Manifesto, only 49p for the summary from Amaon and others!

  8. Avatar Deduction

    quote”It gets more and more silly by the day.”

    The whole funding idea and how its been allocated was silly from the start. It was only the silly that defended it then and still pop up here to defend it now.

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