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UK Government Takes All Credit for Virgin Media and BT Broadband Efforts

Thursday, May 16th, 2013 (7:42 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 938)
fibre optic uk superfast broadband internet cables

A new progress update from the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has slyly taken all the credit for the private sectors own commercially funded efforts to improve superfast broadband access around the United Kingdom.

The update notes that 22 out of 44 Local Broadband Plans (LBP) around the UK have now moved into the “delivery phase” (i.e. they’ve all signed contracts with BT), which under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework aims to make superfast broadband ISP connectivity available to 90% of people in each local authority area by the end of 2015 (the last 10% will only get at least 2Mbps).

The news represents reasonable progress but there’s still a risk that some of the schemes might not reach the same stage by the current July 2013 deadline, which is incidentally already representative of a 6 month delay after last year’s debacle with EU funding approval (here).

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said:

Today’s contract signing in West Sussex marks a milestone in our efforts to bring superfast broadband to those areas around the UK where it is currently unavailable. With 50 per cent of projects now in delivery phase, businesses and individuals will very shortly be enjoying all the benefits that high speeds offer.”

But so far less than a handful of the BDUK supported projects, excluding separate state aid supported efforts like the one in Cornwall, have actually begun the rollout itself and as yet this has had no tangible impact whatsoever on the number of people who can connect to a superfast broadband service.

In other words all the progress that has been made to date has broadly come from the private sector and commercial investment by BT, Virgin Media, KC and not to mention the many smaller altnet ISPs, such as B4RN, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and CityFibre, which have been busy building new infrastructure without the assistance of government investment.

However you wouldn’t know that was the case from reading the government’s announcement, which unashamedly appears to take credit for everybody else’s work. Make of this what you will and take note that the update is sub-headed “Roll-out passes halfway mark” (roll-out on BDUK projects are 50% done? Well no.. sadly not).

Progress on Broadband Transformation (DCMS Update)

As a result of the work now taking place, speeds will be dramatically higher and superfast fixed and mobile broadband will be widespread. Average speeds will have at least tripled since 2010, and an additional 10 million more homes and businesses will have access to superfast broadband.

These changes will reinforce the UK’s position as a leading digital economy and will be a major driver of local jobs and national growth. The Government’s own programmes will support delivery in the parts of the country that will not otherwise be reached by the private sector and will support our cities to become digital hubs for businesses and consumers.

Results already achieved:

•Average speeds have more than doubled since May 2010, from 5.2Mbps to 12.0Mbps in November 2012
•Superfast broadband connections are getting faster, with speeds increasing from 35.8Mbps in May 2012 to 44.6Mbps in November 2012
•100,000 more homes and businesses are getting superfast broadband availability each week
•In June 2012 superfast coverage had reached 65% of UK premises, up from 45% in 2010.
•The proportion of broadband connections with superfast speeds of 30Mbps or higher more than doubled last year, up from 5% in November 2011 to 13% in November 2012.
•50,000 superfast connections are currently being taken up per week

Broadly speaking the government, aside from supporting some pro-BT regulation through Ofcom, hasn’t actually assisted much with any of those “results“. It’s a bit like cheating in class by copying your friends work. It must give a nice sense of achievement, before later a brief feeling of guilt because you didn’t actually achieve it yourself.

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11 Responses
  1. Sledgehammer

    Will the DCMS take ALL the credit when BDUK targets fail to be completed on time or there is a delay by in BT’s roll out forcast. I don’t think so, more like a deathly hush.

  2. MikeW

    The first BDUK-funded cabinet was opened in December 2012, so *all* of the claimed improvements are 100% private sector.

    When you listen to Ed Vaizey answer questions, you find he gives a true-ish answer to something you didn’t ask, and get roughly no real information out of him. This release feels just like that.

  3. dragoneast

    But hey what do you expect from a Government that’s broke and is led by a PM whose background is as a media PR man (if I recall correctly, at Carlton TV, anyone remember them?).

    • “But hey what do you expect from a Government”

      That is the only bit you need really! This lot are no different from previous lots in that regard.

  4. Slow Somerset

    Here we go again that word by the end of 2015, it was supposed to be by 2015 which in my book is the day after the last day of 2014. Here In Somerset under the BDUK project I don’t think there has been one spade put In the ground yet. The Connecting Devon & Somerset site tells you nothing and the last bit of news there was posted at the end of March it is now mid May and we don’t even know when and where they are going to start or no timetable at all.

    • MikeW

      The initial planning, after signing the contract, takes a while. Then the actual work to rollout an exchange takes some time to deploy.

      In North Yorkshire, they were first to sign a BDUK contract, in mid-July 2012.

      They then made a PR-announcement of the first two villages to get a cabinet at the end of September, and there was a PR-event for the first cabinet in mid-December 2012. That’s five months for a single cabinet aimed at showing some progress to the media, off an already-converted exchange.

      However, the real phase 1 results only started to come out during the first part of Spring this year.

    • The first phase is being undertaken now and will be complete at the end of 2013. This is Bridgewater and East of Exeter (economic reasons) and Torridge and West Somerset(social reasons). That information is on the CD&S website but it poorly presented. The end date for the funded areas is December 2016. Use Facebook to contact me.

  5. Slow Somerset

    Just wondered where all the Bt Fanboys are who said it would be done by 2015. If Somerset county council are in on the BDUK project my guess is most of the Money will be wasted on Workshops and Meetings etc.

  6. Slow Somerset

    Thanks Somerset, just had a look under latest news but nothing there and you paste the link to me Thanks.

  7. Derek

    Governments have always and will always try and claim or align themselves with success and seperate themselves from failure, Roman emperors did just the same.

    The sad thing is that at 90% coverage they’re happy for ~2million households to be left with little more than wet string for a broadband connection.

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