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UK Fibre ISP Gigaclear Calls for More Predictable and Useful BDUK Contract

Monday, November 4th, 2013 (1:50 am) - Score 2,889
fibre optic and ethernet network cables

Q3. Similarly the government has also revised its target and now aims to reach 95% of the country with a fixed line superfast broadband service by 2017 (99% by 2018 when mobile broadband and other wireless services are considered).

Not forgetting that Europe’s Digital Agenda also wants 100% to have access to superfast connectivity by 2020. Do you think this new target will be achievable or is it just a pre-general election gimmick?

ANSWER:

This target is again commendable and essential, and given cross-party support, is unlikely to be politically motivated. However we believe that it has the best chance of being achieved with additional competition. BDUK need to create a more predictable and useful contract that more than one supplier is interested in bidding for, and can win. Many question the durability of solutions based on additional investment in the old copper/aluminium infrastructure when its life is limited already.

Is this really going to get the UK to a position where it leads the way in communications infrastructure, a key enabler for economic growth and development? Faster progress towards a national FTTP roll-out will be needed to hit the EU targets.

Q4. One of the biggest problems for smaller rural ISPs (altnets) this year has been the struggle to get funding grants released from the £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund, which is partly because BT and local authorities have preferred not to reveal which areas they intend to cover as part of the BDUK scheme (at least not all at once).

Thankfully pressure from the central government has nudged local authorities to engage on this issue. Do you think this will be the end of the problem and, given that the EU still expects 100% superfast coverage by 2020, what more could be done to help the final 5-10%?

ANSWER:

Despite BT’s evidence to the Public Accounts Committee, the evidence so far suggests that this pressure is yet to have the desired effect. How many counties have been allowed to publish their speed and coverage maps to date, which would identify where RCBF grants could be applied for? So the answer is no, this is not the end of the problem.

What is needed to help the final 10% is action to ensure that they are aware sooner rather than later what they may get, when, and what their alternatives are. I am sure the county councils would be delighted to be able to obtain infrastructure upgrades for the entire county. But until they are able to recognise what still needs to be done, and are therefore able to seek new solutions, this is not going to be solved quickly.

Q5. Has Gigaclear itself suffered any problems as a direct result of the RCBF funding situation and or pressure from BT through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme?

ANSWER:

In all the communities we are working in, the communities tell us that they have had representatives from BT telling them that they do not need to talk to another provider. This has led to confusion in the minds of local communities as to what their choices really are and as a result delays our projects. The sooner the detailed county plans are allowed to be published the better for rural communities, business parks, and for competition in this market.

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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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19 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Interesting questions and responses.

    No real answer to question 6 “can somebody order Sky Broadband’s £10 a month unlimited ADSL2+ service or the same sort of product from TalkTalk and if so then how does that work over your fibre infrastructure?”, so presumably the real answer there was no? This is important if you want a choice of service providers, including at least some of the well known national providers.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @New Londoner – what choice of service provider is there when Openreach decide not to install a cabinet?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      gerarda that is a totally different question, how is that relevant at all? New Londoners question is a valid one, lets stick with that?

    • Avatar Gerarda

      @fibrefred
      Its as valid as New Londoner’s. Alternatives to BT in the BDUK process were ruled out on spurious open access grounds but that has simply led to a situation where BT have a state subsidy but can still decide whether or not to offer a service in that area. No service =no sky broadband.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      The alternatives to BT in the BDUK process – would they have offered Sky broadband?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Gerarda Hmm I get what you are saying but I still see it as different. We are talking about someone physically providing a service to a customer and having the ability to offer it out wholesale to others. You are talking about something a bit different.

    • Avatar Gerarda

      @the facts The BDUK process was designed to ensure that this question remained hypothetical.

      @fibrefred The end result to the user is still the same.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      No it’s quite simply not.

      I’m not sure why you keep making comparisons that are not relevant to anything , simply to get the boot into BT?

    • Avatar gerarda

      @ fibre fred – so how does the end result differ?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Why because one of the options gives a user “something”

      New_Londonder (and Mark) asked if Gigaclear could provide a cheap service to wholesale to Sky, the answer looks like a no

      So basically the customer would end up with a choice of one for their service provider, i.e. Gigaclear.

      You come along and compare it to getting nothing at all from BT as they wouldn’t supply a cabinet at all.

      So the first example gives the end customer a service but a choice of one, the second gives them no service at all.

      But you some how think they are both the same???

  2. @New Londoner actually I thought the answer given was pretty clear.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      It was, but it didn’t answer the question that was asked.

    • Yes it was a bit of an evasive answer as we wanted to gain a real idea of what people could actually receive but it’s still not clear.

    • Avatar Gerarda

      @ new londoner

      Its a lot less evasive than BT’s response to how they are going to complete their BDUK contracts for premises beyond the reach of their FTTC roll out and what choice of services these are going to receive.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Gerarda
      Interesting point but not relevant to this story, which is an interview with Gigaclear. I think it is reasonable to have clarity on which ISPs offer service over its network, note that both I and Mark J concluded this question went unanswered. I make no comment other than to note this is the case and that it presumably means neither of the two named ISPs do in fact use the network.

      Perhaps an actual Gigaclear customer could confirm what the actual situation is as I find hard facts generally inform the debate.

  3. Avatar Diplodicus

    The lack of access to these two major ISPs is due to the costs to these large organisations of amending their software-based order fulfilment systems to accommodate what is likely to remain for the foreseeable a “small” network operator with a highly-dispersed customer base.

  4. Avatar Diplodicus

    The two being Sky and Virgin.

  5. Avatar fastman

    Gerarda

    assuming your exchange is enabled and not covered under BDUK then why not look at gap funding the cabinet in the same was as other villages and business parks have so it is enabled

  6. Thanks for the interview, its interesting to read how companies like Gigaclear work.

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