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UPD Broadband Delivery UK Invite BT and Smaller ISPs to Crucial Meeting

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 (7:55 am) - Score 1,175

The Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has put out a new tender that is seeking “as many suppliers as possible” to help it spend the extra £250m, which will be used to extend fixed line superfast broadband coverage from around 88% of the population by the end of 2015 to 95% by 2017 (or 99% by 2018 if you include wireless).

The extra £250m was first announced at the end of June 2013 (here) and is expected to be used alongside an enhanced Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework that could potentially adopt a more commercial focus and might even allow smaller (altnet) ISPs to bid for related contracts at a local level (i.e. as opposed to the current situation where BT is the only choice).

But according to the tender, which was issued on 28th September 2013, three delivery options are now under consideration for the expanded coverage commitment and to discuss this BDUK has, at very short notice, invited all potential suppliers to an industry information day event that will take place on 7th October 2013 in London.

The 3 Potential BDUK Delivery Options (£250m Commitment)

1. Establish alternative commercial arrangements where it can be demonstrated that there is supplier interest and capacity to compete for and undertake the provision of broadband infrastructure. These might be organised at a local body level, aggregated and coordinated at a national or sub-national level or alternatively organised by another means.

2. Extend existing contractual arrangements, potentially including extending the use of the Broadband Delivery Framework.

3. A combination of the above.

Apparently ISPs or related organisations that wish to attend the industry day must register their attendance in advance and any expressions of interest will be “dealt with on a first come, first served basis” (altnets should email bdukf10@culture.gsi.gov.uk). Only two representatives per organisation are allowed (preferably those with commercial and/or technical expertise) and supplier views must all be submitted by the end of October 2013 at the latest.

Statement – Object of the Contract (In-Fill Consultation)

BDUK is keen to understand the potential to expand the network of suppliers involved in the delivery of superfast broadband and as such is seeking supplier views on the delivery approaches to extend superfast broadband coverage beyond the levels currently provided for by local bodies’ existing supplier contracts.

We are particularly keen to see suggestions for how to deliver superfast broadband to some of the UK’s hardest to reach areas, including those options which might give communities an opportunity to shape local solutions. Any future procurement activities may be led by BDUK or by Local Authorities or Devolved Administrations.

BDUK is seeking expressions of interest from potential prime contractors, consortia, sub-contractors or other interested parties in the broadband delivery supply chain who may be interested in responding to any subsequent procurement activity.”

The Government are currently under a lot of pressure, thanks to some recent and quite controversial reports from the National Audit Office (here) and Public Accounts Committee (here), to show that BDUK isn’t a game that only BT can play.

Separately it’s also trying to unlock funding for altnet schemes through the £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF), which has been stalled due to a lack of clarity from BT and local authorities about their expected coverage under BDUK (here). Sadly altnet projects can’t get their funding approved if BT/LA’s don’t say in DETAIL where their BDUK networks will go, which in fairness isn’t always easy to answer before BTOpenreach has had a chance to complete its survey work.

The Government hopes that its expanded coverage commitment could help an extra 1.4 million more premises gain access to a fixed line superfast broadband service. Now if only the process was more flexible than it currently is. Credits to Ian Grant (Br0kenTeleph0n3) for picking up on the tender’s publication.

UPDATE 4th October 2013

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) recently put out a comment that sums up quite nicely the current mapping issue (i.e. lack of coverage/speed data from BDUK projects).

Janice Banks, ACRE Chief Executive, said:

Many local councils have published maps for the rural broadband programme, which is meant to extend superfast coverage to 90% of the premises in the UK. But despite an earlier pledge from the Secretary of State Maria Miller, the information provided by some councils is so limited and inconsistent it is impossible for people to tell whether their homes and businesses are included or not.

This confusion ties the hands of innovative communities who want to come up with their own broadband solutions. No one will invest in a plan that could be overtaken by the BT rollout. Defra’s rural proofing guidelines says this Government wants to be sure rural areas get a fair deal from all Government policy. We fear that, once again, rural communities are getting a raw deal.

We echo the call from the [PAC] to make sure that the rollout plans are published in a consistent and meaningful way so that other solutions can be found to reach the remaining 10% of the population that will still be without superfast broadband. This information needs to be available straight away, irrespective of the local authority area, so that communities and businesses can benefit from the broadband that their urban counterparts take for granted.”

ACRE also notes the huge different between Local Broadband Plans with some local authorities, like the Devon & Somerset scheme (here), posting fairly useless / vague maps and others, such as the Dorset project, producing comparatively detailed information (here).

Leave a Comment
25 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Let’s hope the requirement for suppliers to stump up part of the required investment is retained. This will help cover more premises and also weed out those seeking a free ride on the back of us taxpayers.

    • Avatar DTMark

      “This will help cover more premises and also weed out those seeking a free ride on the back of us taxpayers.”

      That’s your best yet.

      You didn’t reply to the question I posed, and since it’s highly related to this, it’s worth asking again:

      “What is BT’s objection to those [the BDUK local authority contracts with BT] being placed wholly in the public domain? It could resolve a lot of questions and extricate BT from this position rather readily enabling everyone to see what has been purchased with their money?”

      .. also enabling the alt-nets to move ahead, as per this article.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Can we also see the contracts for nuclear submarines please.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      Well when I worked in local government a few years ago (and I don’t think the audit rules have changed) once the audit is concluded for the financial year in which any expenditure under the contract is incurred a local taxpayer could inspect inter alia the contract under which that expenditure is made and any vouchers receipts claims etc. relating to it. It might be stronger than an FOI request (which has a commercial confidentiality exclusion), but I recall was limited to a request during a few weeks after the conclusion of the audit was advertised i.e. post the following April for the preceding 12 months) and a right for local (individual) taxpayers of the area only. Objections could be made to the auditor. Never applied to central government contracts though, in the way that Westminster politicians have always been addicted to one rule for themselves and one rule for everyone else.

    • Avatar Roberto

      “Can we also see the contracts for nuclear submarines please.”

      Depends what contract you are referring to. Military budgets are public knowledge if you want plans of the reactor and the subs weapons though then, no i doubt you will get that. For obvious reasons which you should not need to ask they do not hand them out to the stupid or irresponsible.

  2. Avatar JNeuhoff

    Let’s hope no taxpayer’s money is wasted on BT again for no ROI.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      You must have a very narrow definition of ROI if you seriously believe there is none from the current BDUK schemes. What about the large number of business premises and homes gaining faster broadband? Do you see no ROI for the taxpayer in that?

      Remember the purpose of the scheme was to achieve coverage of faster broadband in areas otherwise destined to go without.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      He might be referring to actually £££ ROI, if so its a little early for that surely? It will take years

    • “otherwise destined to go without”

      That though is the rub as they would almost certainly have got it, just a few years later, as was the case with the adsl roll out days.

      Thus around a billion pounds is being spent on little more than bringing things forward a few years – and of course all that is being brought forward is lots of homes passed and not many homes connected.

      It is not as if BT really needs the money – except perhaps to help offset the £700 million it spent on TV rights and is now giving out for free to its own broadband customers. 🙂

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Is it really the same as DSL though wirelesspacman, I know what you are getting a bit I don’t think its the same.

      I know they did go back around and fill in with ADSL but all that kit was concentrated at the exchange, there’s a lot more expense involved with FTTC so I’m not sure they would be getting it a few years later.

  3. Avatar Slow Somerset

    I put money on BT getting all the Money again and totally agree it’s about time we can all see what we are getting for our Money. When you look at the Connecting Devon & Somerset maps there’s no detail there at all, why all the secrecy no doubt some of the BT Fans will have an answer.

  4. Avatar Slow Somerset

    What no one ? surely BT must be accountable to someone and not just their shareholders seeing they are using Public Money. as for seeing the contracts for nuclear submarines that is totally Different that is a matter of national security. And why do TheFacts and FibreFreds posts seem to jump in between everyone elses ?.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      OK, bad example. Why not ask your council to see their contracts for grass cutting.

      BT are accountable to the county councils that let the contracts. Simple.

    • Avatar Roberto

      And why do TheFacts and FibreFreds posts seem to jump in between everyone elses ?.

      Because every hour or so he has to pretend there is someone equally dim enough to agree with him.

    • Avatar DTMark

      I didn’t expect an answer. It isn’t about “debate”; the PR man from BT is having to pop back to the forums and re-educate the masses that their best interests lie in BT.

      It’s fairly clear from the forums I read that people are questioning the BDUK process more and more. Even the “ThinkBT” website is struggling to put a positive spin on things these days.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Hmmm. Just seen this:


      Very well done. If I weren’t busy with a stack of projects, I’d be coming up with something similar for the whole country so users could put their address in and answer a couple of questions on the page to ascertain the likely minimum and maximum speeds than VDSL could deliver so as to hold local bodies/BDUK to account for their choice of supplier and technology. That is excellent (the map, not what the rather sad example shows!)

  5. Consumers want choice. BT has manoeuvred itself into a monopolistic state and (seriously) needs competition. A bunch of ISP’s all using BT infrastructure is not choice.

    I hope this is not just a Govt PR exercise and that local providers will be given a fair crack of the whip to provide the rural broadband service that the 10% ‘ers are crying out for.

  6. Avatar X66yh

    No different to a bunch of gas suppliers all using Transco’s delivery pipes to your house – added to which most villages in the UK don’t have gas and have to rely on other more expensive heating methods like bottled propane and oil.

    All in all it sounds exactly like telecoms and internet availability.

    • Avatar Roberto

      “No different to a bunch of gas suppliers all using Transco’s delivery pipes to your house”

      No idea where you got that incorrect info from.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      ‘National Grid is responsible for ensuring that gas is delivered to over 20 million consumers around the country safely and efficiently.’

    • Avatar TheFacts

      And for local distribution eg. ‘National Grid own and control both East Midlands and East Anglia gas networks.’

    • Avatar Roberto

      Indeed but still nothing to do with Scotland as i educated you on before.

    • Avatar GNewton

      Actually, no. It’s really quite a poor comparison.

      If the fibre network was as widespread as the National Grid is in e.g. the South East, we wouldn’t even be discussing the need for fibre broadband. Fibre broadband is almost non-existent from BT, and even its next best alternative, VDSL, has only a patchy availability, and is heavily relying on taxpayer’s subsidies. It’s as if Gas was available, but only to few, or frequently only in too narrow gas pipes, not big enough to keep a whole house warm in the winter, perhaps only one room for a few hours 🙂

    • Avatar FibreFred

      FTTP available to 100,000
      Fttc available to over 10 million

      Patchy? Name a uk ISP that has done more

    • Avatar Roberto

      Virgin Media, faster than FTTC in addition to mobile 4G now.

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