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Rala Refuse to Name New UK Fibre Broadband Rollout Due to BT Fears

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 (1:24 am) - Score 1,879

Swedish fibre optic equipment supplier Rala claims to have been hired to design a “fibre focused network” in the Northern United Kingdom that will connect almost 1,000 properties to an ultrafast broadband service. But they won’t say where it is and perhaps with good reason.

Apparently Rala will employ its “strategic planning capabilities” to help the “community project” do things like estimate the financial costs for establishing a new fibre optic network. Unfortunately Rala and the projects leaders are both staying quite about the schemes name and precisely where it is.

Tobias Ahl, CEO of Rala, said:

We are really proud to be delivering this project which is an important step forward for us, the project as well as a good showcase for others in the UK. Over time we have developed the technology and skills to enable exceptional accuracy at the planning stage. For this project in the North of the UK, and potentially others, we can by far reduce risk of failure, due to incorrect financial planning

It is a sign of the conditions currently facing fibre projects in the UK that both we and the project managers are unwilling to disclose exact details for fear of disruption to the project by the incumbent.”

It’s a situation that we’ve seen repeated elsewhere around the country. A small ISP (altnet) agrees to build a faster broadband service in an isolated village or town, usually because BT has either refused to do so or would require too much money to do the work, only for the incumbent to suddenly do a U-turn and upgrade the area.

Admittedly that’s good news for the community because they can finally get a hopefully better service than before, although it’s bad news for the smaller ISP which would struggle to compete. Local projects such as B4RN, Gigaclear and a number of others have in the past all reported similar situations and concerns. Clearly the scheme above has decided that on this occasion it’s better to keep quiet until after the deployment.

Apparently funding for the project has already been identified and is coming from a number of different sources, which interestingly includes “the state and other schemes acting to benefit the population“. This is unlikely to include BDUK and the £20m RCBF grants are still in limbo, although it could also come directly from the local authority.

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5 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark

    “A small ISP (altnet) agrees to build a faster broadband service in an isolated village or town, usually because BT has either refused to do so or would require too much money to do the work, only for the incumbent to suddenly do a U-turn and upgrade the area.”

    The point totally missed by the identification of the “commercial” rollout areas.

    It’s not just about the cost of “upgrading” an area. It’s also about the loss of market share in said area.

    While there is no competition, the loss of market share is minimal. At least two people in this village have cancelled their landlines and moved over to mobile broadband, but it’s no great shakes to have a couple of knackered old pairs lying unused and it’s not even really “identifiable” anyway.

    Large sections of the community getting rid of their landlines is a bigger deal, and more identifiable not least with BT’s effective “veto” over the planning process, which has managed to make the RCBF a laughing stock.

    As if by magic, such areas now qualify as “commercially viable”. The community that manages to get one over on BT in this manner by pretending to deploy a network to force them into upgrading only to giggle afterwards and confess that such a network was never actually planned will prove this point.

    Good luck Rala and whoever you’re working with.

  2. Avatar Bob

    BT have a long history of moving in on an area they have claimed as unviable as soon as another operator moves in. Many small schemes have been wrecked by these tactics. Possibly in areas where BT have declared it non viable and another operator moves in BT should be prevented from competing for say 2 years subject to certain safeguards should so that the new operator has some chance

  3. Avatar telecom engineer

    Surely if state money is involved they mmust state what their plans are? Or does commercial confidentiality and survey timelines acceptable excuses for every company adide from bt?

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