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UK Government Denies Superfast Broadband Targets Slipping to 2016

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 (11:20 am) - Score 968

The government’s Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, has told the House of Commons that he still hopes 90% of the United Kingdom will have access to a superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP by the end of 2015. But he admitted that they were still “actively looking at the options” for a post-2015 strategy.

In recent months ISPreview.co.uk has noted that a number of the related contracts, which have so far all been won by BT, have set completion dates that slip into 2016. Critics of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office have suggested that this could represent a delay, although Vaizey was keen to point out that the 90% target is a general one (i.e. some areas will get above 90% by the end of 2015, although that in turn could mean that others might still fall a little short).

House of Commons (18th April 2013 Debate)

Nic Dakin MP Scunthorpe County Constituency:

Given that the Government’s intention is to achieve 90% coverage by 2015, why are they signing contracts with delivery dates in 2016?

Mr Vaizey:

I know that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the contract that was signed on 8 March with Onlincolnshire, the brand for the delivery of broadband in Lincolnshire, with £14 million of investment from the Government and £8.5 million coming from BT. At the end of that contract, the coverage will be not just 90% but 94.5%.

Vaizey also confirmed that the extra £300m from the BBC TV Licence fee will indeed still be going towards bringing better broadband to the “last 10%” (i.e. most rural areas), which have so far only been promised a minimum download speed of at least 2Mbps (Megabits per second). But he also admitted that no firm strategy had yet been chosen for how this extra funding would be spent. BDUK currently has a budget of £530m until 2015 (excluding the urban broadband and mobile funds etc.).

However, given that BT’s past commitment to reach 90% of the UK by 2017 was contingent upon them winning practically all of BDUK’s £830m initial budget, it’s perhaps safe to say that we already have a fairly good idea of where the extra funding is likely to be headed. Just to clarify, BT’s 90% figure is for their own FTTC/P network, while BDUK’s 90% figure is general (i.e. includes Virgin Media’s coverage and that of other ISPs too).

Separately Vaizey also suggested that the government was now well ahead of schedule in terms of mobile coverage. Ofcom’s recent 4G (LTE) auction committed Mobile Broadband providers to ensuring that “indoor reception” could reach at least 98% of the UK population (99% when outdoors) by the end of 2017 at the latest. But Vaizey said,”now we are likely to get 4G by the end of 2015— two years ahead of schedule and with 98% coverage“. Credits to The Register for spotting the original debate.

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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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12 Responses
  1. Rob Turner says:

    Well I think we all know BDUK are at least 6 months behind there original schedules and the fact BT are going to be stretched to meet these targets, take with a very large pinch of salt!!

  2. Ignitionnet says:

    It looks an awful lot like BT are actually moving resources to BDUK projects at the expense of remaining commercial rollout areas.

    Looking at areas taking a year from being added to rollout to build and comparing them to the 5 months it took for cabinets to appear in North Yorkshire from contract signing isn’t flattering, especially given said areas are close to North Yorkshire so likely share resources.

  3. Chris Conder says:

    Its a wake up call. Time to get the facts to the government and expose the marketing weasel words. Time for some altnets to provide some much needed competition and stop funding going to cabinets which are a dead end. Nobody who needs FOD will be able to afford it, and those near the cabs won’t see the need for it, hell most of them don’t even bother with fttc because they are close enough to get adsl that works. The effort should all go into building alternative networks where the telcos won’t go for economic reasons. Public money should not go into patching up the old copper phone network. The whole job will be to do again once the myth is busted. Wake up and smell the roses. Fibre is the future, and building fibre rings round cities to help the digital have nots will mean the incumbents will shape up and do the rest to protect their customer base. Competition is king, and as long as openreach holds all the pipes there is no competition. They are purely and simply a monopoly with ISPs having to pay through the nose to wholesale. That is what they like to call ‘open access’. It isn’t.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Please explain ‘whole job will be to do again’. Another soundbite with no backup and scared to discuss.

    2. FibreFred says:

      Same old soundbites 🙂 though missing fibre moral and optic which is a shame 🙁

      BDUK money goes to the winner of the BDUK bid, who else was willing to put up their own money? Blame BDUK not the sad old copper network which all needs to be done again of course

      I really do wish BT hadn’t have bid on anything, but people would still be moaning then. BT.. the company everyone loves to bash whatever they do 🙂

  4. foureyes says:

    government ass wipes dont know nothing cant even run a country nevermind bloody broadband same with BT they havent a clue either them muppets .

  5. DTMark says:

    BDUK’s goals include facilitating the delivery of universal broadband and stimulating private sector investment to deliver the best super-fast broadband network in Europe by 2015. To achieve these objectives the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have agreed 3 business aims:

    1.Create a level playing field between incumbents and new providers

    2.Open up access to infrastructure to facilitate super-fast broadband in many areas

    3.Facilitate the introduction of super-fast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas

    Given the current course, how will these aims be achieved by 2016?

  6. Timeless says:

    the one thing the government are good at are denying the facts.. hell in a majority of cases the stats tell more truth than they do when they play with the numbers.

  7. Anonym says:

    What a slow moving country in Lithuania we have 100mbps Fibre optic for good 10 years in all areas available and we pay $10 per month approx for unlimited package and we don’t even need telephone line in UK it’s very very expensive for fibre optic prices should be much much lower but nobody gives a damn it’s new thing in england i guess.

    1. FibreFred says:

      A perfect comparison!

      A product is cheaper in one country than it is in another, why aren’t all products the same price in every country, petrol, bread, televisions, houses… I’ve often wondered….

    2. MikeW says:

      I guess fibre is more expensive to install here because we have to pay British construction workers to do it, not Lithuanian ones. With British health & safety overheads, and all other manner of red-tape issues.

      I guess we don’t have fibre here yet, because the copper network is doing enough of a job, at a cheap enough price, for enough of the marketplace, that no investor thinks the market would pay for his highly-priced FTTP service. There’s just not enough incentive.

      We should equally ask why it costs over $100 (£70) to get a 50 or 100Mbps fibre connection in Australia, incl phone, excl calls and certainly not unlimited. It seems unbelievably high. Would that be where our prices went if we were going for a full FTTP rollout?

  8. Sledgehammer says:

    Lets get one thing straight from the start, the BDUK fund was a ONE HORSE RACE from day ONE.
    Nothing else, BT NEVER won the money, it was given ALL the BDUK money, by our crummy government.

    As I have said before BT will be lucky to get 7 million FTTC and FTTH/B connections over all. NO need for BT to worry about the rest, it will become some one else’s problem.

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