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UPDATE3 B4RN Gasp as BDUK Supported BT FTTP Encroach on Dolphinholme

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 (10:41 am) - Score 2,599

The largely community funded and built B4RN (Broadband 4 Rural North) project, which has been rolling out a 1000Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) broadband network in parts of rural Lancashire (England, UK), has vented frustration at BT after the operator began deploying its own FTTP service in one of their areas by using public money.

Reports that BT were planning to roll-out their 330Mbps capable FTTP service in the village of Dolphinholme, which B4RN included in the expected coverage postcodes that they sent to Lancashire County Council (LCC) and the RCBF sometime ago, first surfaced last summer after a local community meeting was held and we’ve also mentioned it before (here).

At the time LCC advised the community that there was no need for B4RN’s development in the area because it’s £62.5m state aid fuelled Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, which aims to hook-up 97% of local premises to superfast broadband (25Mbps+) by the end of 2014 2015 (here), would instead bring BT’s ultra-fast fibre optic FTTP solution to local premises.

The development caused surprise among B4RN and its supporters, not least because the organisation believed that it had an agreement with LCC that the BDUK supported project would not overbuild them; though the specifics and strength of this agreement remain unclear. Indeed state aid rules prevent overbuilding of an existing superfast broadband network (stops money being wasted), although technically B4RN have yet to complete their coverage of the village.

Since then the situation in Dolphinholme has quietly cropped up several times, usually as an example of BT’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour, during various meetings and debates, yet until now very little actual development from BT has been seen.

But recently locals have begun to spot new telegraph cables, street cabinets and chambers being built around the village by BT contractors. Meanwhile B4RN’s activity is already said to be “well under way“, with the village cabinet installed and digging in progress or completed in “much of the area“.

A Spokesperson for Openreach (BT) told ISPreview.co.uk:

BT is currently planning to roll out FTTP to Dolphinholme as part of our partnership with Lancashire County Council to extend fibre to 97 per cent of premises by the end of 2015 using a mix of fibre technologies.

Our fibre roll-out in the area should come as no surprise as our plans have been in the public domain for several months. We have been fully transparent whilst the council also provided BR4N with a map of our deployment plans for the area in October 2012.

BT and Lancashire Council included the village in the plans for jointly funded fibre access following an Open Market Review process conducted by the council. All interested parties had the opportunity to participate by submitting their commercial deployment plans and the review concluded that Dophinholme was not due to be covered by commercially funded fibre broadband. BT’s roll out in the area complies with state aid rules.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that BT have been viewed as muscling in on an area where another operator is busy building or planning to build some form of alternative network (just ask Gigaclear and various other altnets or community schemes), often after previously showing little or no interest in doing so. But in the past this has usually been done via their own commercial investment and not public money.

It’s also interesting to note that BT are using similar FTTP/H technology to B4RN in Dolphinholme, instead of the more common and cost effective but slower FTTC service, which is a difficult fact to shake off as mere coincidence.

We have asked B4RN whether they also specifically submitted any plans for Dolphinholme under the Open Market Review process, which is important for helping to define which locations should be included in the BDUK intervention area, although it’s no secret that the village has been on B4RN’s roadmap for a while and LCC do appear to have been generally aware of this.

ISPreview.co.uk further understands that BDUK itself is now investigating the issue, although so far they’ve historically tended to support BT’s approach. We will post an official comment from B4RN as soon as it arrives. On the upside it looks like the people of Dolphinholme will soon have two choices for true fibre optic broadband access, which in the UK remains very rare.

UPDATE 4:18pm

Now we have B4RN’s full reaction.

A B4RN Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

B4RN’s plans to build an FTTH network in Dolphinholme long preceded any published plans by BT to roll-out a competing FTTP network in the same area. Only once a substantial amount of work had been completed by B4RN did BT become active in the area. Given that the whole area is in the last 10% which BT publicly declared could not get fast broadband without substantial state subsidy we assumed that it could only go ahead as part of the Lancashire SFBB project.

It is surprising to see the statement from BT confirming that the Dolphinholme deployment is “part of our partnership with Lancashire County Council” as this brings the subject of overbuild into play.

However, whilst this is very interesting, it does not detract from B4RN’s activity in Dolphinholme. The B4RN deployment is well advanced in the village and the community are extremely engaged and supportive of the project. Deployment will continue as planned and the village will be live in due course. B4RN also recognises that the village is somewhat unique in the fact that it has a choice of two FTTP providers which has to be a good thing for the lucky residents.”

Separately B4RN were keen to stress that Dolphinholme had been part of their plans ever since 2011, which does indeed long precede BT’s involvement, and that the data reflecting this was given to LCC as part of their Open Market Review. We expect that this will not be the last story ISPr writes about the village.

UPDATE 23rd January 2014

It took a little bit of time but Lancashire County Council has now got back to us. The council confirms that, as part of securing funding for their BDUK backed project, they undertook two Open Market Review (OMR) exercises to establish State Aid compliance.

One was conducted in 2011/2012 at the request of the European Commission and a further OMR was conducted in 2012/2013 at the request of the central Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office. But they claim B4RN had not submitted anything to either.

A Spokesperson for LCC told ISPreview.co.uk:

B4RN did not respond to either of the OMRs and all other operators who responded detailed Dolphinholme as out of scope for commercial investment plans. Based on this market-led intelligence, the OMR determined Dolphinholme to be classified as ‘White’ under State Aid rules and therefore eligible for public sector intervention. Having conducted two OMRs, the county council is confident it has demonstrated a clear commitment to complying with State Aid legislation.”

As reported earlier, B4RN claim that Dolphinholme has been a part of their plan since 2011 and that this information was given to LCC, including as part of the Open Market Review (at this stage it doesn’t really matter which OMR since LCC claim they didn’t respond to either). We have asked B4RN to comment.

UPDATE 23rd Jan 2014 – 4:24pm

B4RN have reiterated their earlier position to ISPreview.co.uk and they still appear content to let sleeping dogs lie by not pursuing the issue too aggressively. One of the reasons for that is because they already claim to have most of the community fully engaged. In other words the locals whom are helping to build B4RN’s network appear to show little interest in BT’s own FTTP solution.

Could it end up being a costly mistake for BT, BDUK and LCC to deploy FTTP into an area where the demand has already gone B4RN’s way, due to a powerful investment of local peoples time and energy? We’ll come back to find out later this year.

On the fringes of this debate it’s worth noting that LCC don’t yet appear to have put any actual funding in to help cover Dolphinholme specifically. B4RN often suggests that BT’s project there is being seen more as part of their £2.5bn commercial roll-out rather than being BDUK/LCC funded, although clearly BT’s statement suggests an opposing perspective.

Incidentally some letters and communications seen by ISPreview.co.uk would appear to support B4RN’s general position on this matter.

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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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73 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreLincs says:

    Didn’t the residents of Dolphinholme raise their own funds to join B4RN? Makes you wonder what the likely up take of BT services will be. Maybe we B4RN could throw BT Sport in for free with a connection?

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      It’s actually the take up of services from the many ISPs available.

  2. If the State Aid rules mean anything at all, then BT should be forced to return the grant money it is spending overbuilding this area which cleary does not constitute a market failure area.

    Will they be made to do this? No of course not as BDUK is a complete and utter waste of space and time, not to mention tax payers’ money.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      If B4RN didn’t bother to respond to the Open Market Review then surely the error is with it, so no point complaining about state aid issues.

    2. Avatar gerarda says:

      other than BT’s cost considerations seem to go out of the window whenever there is competitor around. They cannot provide even a 2mb service to 30% of the BDUK areas but can somehow cough up for FTTP when there is competition. If BT are 100% funding the cost that is OK but if there is any sort of subsidy or cross subsidy it is a scandal

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:


      Quote “They cannot provide even a 2mb service to 30% of the BDUK areas ”

      Are you sure? Sources, evidence? That’s not my experience of the projects close to me.

    4. Avatar gerarda says:

      @new londoner -70% commercial coverage = 30% BDUK. final 10% left out =1/3
      http://www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com/LineCheck.aspx for a specific example of a contract area left out of reach of fibre- 10-15% of the total

    5. Avatar DTMark says:

      “other than BT’s cost considerations seem to go out of the window whenever there is competitor around. They cannot provide even a 2mb service to 30% of the BDUK areas but can somehow cough up for FTTP when there is competition.”

      You’ve just described how BDUK could have got value for money, choice for the customer, and something reasonably future-proof with a path forward.

  3. Avatar PhilT says:

    I think B4RN didn’t notify their plans as Dolphinholme is an NGA white area on the maps, so it’ll be interesting to see if you get an answer to “We have asked B4RN whether they also specifically submitted any plans for Dolphinholme under the Open Market Review process”.

    I’m mindful that B4RN is part internet supply part campaigning so they may have engineered this.

  4. Avatar MikeW says:

    IIRC Dolphinholme was always a problem area. The business plan for B4RN says that they will target the rural parts of the parish, but leave the urban parts. I recall they mentioned Galgate as the exchange (and urban area), but this statement was always going to cause contention.

    1. Avatar Gadget says:

      Just looked through the appendix for V4.1 of the B4RN business plan on the web. It puts Dolphinholme as 150 properties passed in Phase2 of the plan (and second year of operation with a takeup estimate of 60% and 871 connections (which is surprising since the ISPREview article http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/11/b4rn-nears-break-even-point-1gbps-ftth-broadband-lancashire-uk.html quotes a “breakeven” achieved with 350 connections

  5. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

    Not at all surprised that the networks overlap, that was inevitable, however Openreach may well have some questions to ask as to why they just happen to be deploying FTTP to Dolphinholme while 3% of Lancashire get USO 2Mb.

    Seems a bit of a coincidence, and it’s easy to be cynical given BT have an awful lot of form for suddenly investing in areas they were previously completely disinterested in when an altnet appears.

    They did it a *lot* during the initial ADSL deployments, and have repeated the exercise during the FTTx deployment.

    I very much hope that those investigating ask Openreach to justify the extra spend in public funds to deliver FTTP here in preference to slightly wider coverage of FTTx, which is supposed to be the aim of the BDUK projects.

    The timing is pretty coincidental as well. There are still a fair few commercial FTTP areas waiting for deployment and delayed due to various issues but Openreach happen to be able to build out FTTP in this area to complete in a similar timescale to B4RN, despite the BDUK project in the area running until the end of 2015 and their being able to pass way more premises and score more ‘quick wins’ with FTTC in the interim.

    I could be being extremely cynical, but from the outside this looks thoroughly dodgy and should be investigated closely. Openreach need to explain why they are building FTTP here in preference to FTTC or network rearrangement. They can’t even claim collateral damage for any kind of BDUK deployment if the premises B4RN are passing formed part of the OMR.

  6. Avatar Darren says:

    Oh dear, that’s not cricket BT.

    Nice to have a backup but the clear winner for me is B4RN, both for the community aspect and the much higher speed, more so the upload.

    Will the competition force BT to offer higher upload, I doubt it, but if uptake is rubbish you never know.

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Given that the majority do not need speeds approaching 1G the chosen option may be a bundled Sky or other package.

  7. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

    BT network poaching again. Have always wondered why FTTC had local funding in my area when we already had Virgin and Mobile comms that gave speeds over in the required 2-24Mb ranges. Obviously even faster with Virgin.

    Same old, same old, BT say there is no demand in an area, someone sets up, proves them wrong then BT return like a fly around poop. About time this fly was swatted.

    1. Avatar Gadget says:

      If the local authority designated the area as white then it was included as part of the requirement for the BDUK contract, so not then network poaching.

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Local funding for FTTC. Please explain.

    3. Avatar JNeuhoff says:

      TheFacts: Any more stupid questions?

    4. Avatar Gerarda says:

      B4RN were a bit between a rock and a hard place. If they had used the BT ploy of declaring they had plans and then not complete on them they would get a lot of stick locally. BT on the other hand are able to do that with relative impunity protected by layers of corporate hierarchy.

    5. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      Personally if i were B4RN id now throw all resources to getting this area done before BT. Id then play dirty games like BT would and market it as being the “FIRST AND BEST” available. MArket it as being xxxxx times faster than BT (thats what BT like to do with their adverts). Generally just pull every dirty stunt in the BT play book. Literally rape them off all their predictable sales cack before they have chance to use it there self.

    6. Avatar FibreFred says:


      Sigh how long do we have to put up with this guy?

    7. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      [removed abusive post]

    8. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      [removed abusive post]

    9. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      LMAO and once again the predictable reporting when made to look stupid occurs LMAO

      Pity that still will not alter the fact your fail to understand words that have more than one meaning.

    10. Avatar FibreFred says:

      I’ve never once reported any of your personas and I’ve no idea what your comments where that were removed as I never got to see them. Mark knows what you are like and what he (not me) finds breaks site rules he removes. Complain to mark if you are not happy or simply abide by the rules

  8. Avatar Lindsey Annison says:

    That response from B4RN hardly seems to justify the headline change from frustrated to angry 😉

    What will prove fascinating is watching BT’s marketing strategy unfold around the Dolphinholme area as the competition clearly has BT on the back foot here with quality of product offered, local buy-in, local job creation in the near future, etc. LCC response will also be of interest as other areas of Lancashire question the representatives why Dolphinholme has been favoured whilst many, many other areas of Lancs will be likely to get 2Mbps.

    After all, if the idea was to roll-out FTTP in stages, then the BDUK money could indeed have been spent that way. Do the hardest to cover areas first, start bringing in the revenue, move to next area. Rather than doing a half-assed job everywhere and requiring further subsidy in the near future eg within 1-2 governments.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I couldn’t fit Frustrated in anymore after adding “UPDATED”.. the title was too long. Give me another short alternative word to Anger that best fits the situation :).


      Ah there we go.. “Gasp” any better?

    2. Avatar gerarda says:

      What about “Public disquiet as BDUK Supported BT FTTP Encroach on B4RN”

    3. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Why not the same concern about 40 ISPs encroaching on VM’s patch?

    4. Avatar gerarda says:

      Which ISPs receive public subsidy to do that?

    5. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      Link to any public subsidy SKY as one of the examples of that page have had for broadband roll out please.

    6. Avatar JNeuhoff says:

      “Link to any public subsidy SKY as one of the examples of that page have had for broadband roll out please.”

      You may have noticed by now that TheFacts never contributes useful information to this forum, he constantly asks for links only, many of them on stupid questions which already have obvious answers.

    7. Avatar CrazyLazy02 says:

      Sky has never had public funding for its broadband.

    8. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Replace ‘gasp’ with ‘irate’ Mark 🙂

      You forgot the ‘UK’ in the title by the way :p

  9. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    So B4RN is claiming that it did submit a proper OMR return for the area. IIRC the local authority validate this and then places the contract based on the area that it feels has market failure. So what does the council say about these claims and counter-claims? It will know the truth, whether it did in fact receive a complete and credible response from B4RN? If it did, why was the area included in its contract?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Trying to get councils to reply is often akin to blood from a stone.

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      True, but it is the only way to establish the facts, rather than the many speculative posts above.

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’d somewhat disagree, in my experience courts and the police try to establish facts while politicians paint whatever picture they like (i.e. most suits their interests) and call it fact. Just to be clear here, we have been trying to get a reply from LCC but without much luck.

      But if they do reply then what I expect is the usually vague representation of a position, combined with ringing support for their own project. I’m always open to being pleasantly surprised though and LCC haven’t been too bad in the past so we’ll see.

    4. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Technically there will be shortcomings in the paper trail, but it exists and the reliance on one individual may mean you cannot treat this as a piece of national infrastructure, but nothing to stop you working with them. I believe Bill Murphy, BT MD, should by now be a shareholder in BARN. They are using the same duct provider.

      Enthuasism for FTTP at Dolphonholme and not Bermondsey will confuse shareholders and customers alike.

      BARN is showing there connection cost for FTTP customer is about £1,000 (core and spine) which compares well with BDUK/LA subsidy of c>£230 for premise past for FTTC where with a 20% penentration, the cost is thus similar. There subsequent second past connection cost is £400 if you count their labour in kind cost.

      BARN may need to be crushed to prevent any detailed cost comparison but it would be better if BARN was used by the council to set thresholds for subsidies.

    5. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Fair points. Perhaps a different way of approaching this is to note the status of the community within the county’s intervention area, which is I believe a public document? If it is within the intervention area the implication is that either no OMR response was received, or that none that were received were deemed credible by the council.

      If that is the case, and if B4RN claims in did respond in full in a timely manner, then it’s a matter between B4RN and the county council.

    6. Avatar Gadget says:

      The final version of the Lancashire Broadband Plan dated 30th Nov 2011 states
      “In relation to the roll out of the physical infrastructure, it is not known at this stage exactly where the network will roll out to. Lancashire County Council is currently engaged in a Competitive Dialogue process with industry in order to select a partner to deliver the Lancashire Superfast Broadband Programme. Part of this Competitive Dialogue will be to determine the direction of travel of network roll out within the identified white areas in Lancashire. If Lancashire County Council was to be too prescriptive as to where roll out should happen, in what order and when, this would almost certainly have a negative impact on the value for money solution industry could come back with. By the same token, we accept that we would like to steer the roll out of the network to address identified priorities in a manner that doesn’t affect the cost envelope we are operating within.

      To this end, Lancashire County Council has stipulated the following conditions during the Competitive Dialogue process:

      • The following rural areas are all to be deployed to first and are to act as the rural vanguard of the Lancashire Superfast Broadband Programme
      o Over Wyresdale
      o Caton
      o Wray
      o Arkholme and/or Tathom
      o Melling
      o Wennington
      o Quernmore.”

      and is taken from http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/documents/…/broadband_plan.doc

    7. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      All useful information, but the contract will limit the rollout to locations within the so-called intervention area, which in turn is derived from the returns provided during the open market review.

    8. Avatar Gadget says:

      Agree the definitive document is the published list of white area postcodes.

      But what interests me is how the names in that Lancashire priority list also have appear to be present on the B4RN Business case v4.1(dated 16th Nov 2011) to at least some extent e.g. Arkholme. Additionally there is no mention of Wray in that version of the B4RN plan, but it appears in the LCC document as a priority rural area and now we find in 2014 B4RN new item (b4rn.org.uk/news) that B4RN have decided to deploy there.

    9. Avatar CrazyLazy says:

      Looking at the latest poll and the speeds BT are delivering B4RN hardly have anything to worry about anyway. Anyone that signs up to BT will be running a mile to get rid of them once that contract is up in that area when they have B4RN as a truly fast option.

    10. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      If people buy purely based on broadband speed then you may be right. If however they want content, particular packages such as triple play, or have a preference for a particular ISP then other factors will influence their decision making.

      The continuing use of ADSL where cable and fibre are available suggests that factors other than just speed matter to many people.

    11. Avatar George says:

      Except that same poll so far also indicates people want over 30Mb so no that explanation does not make sense.

    12. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      I was referring to current market take up, rather than the poll on this site. People on this site are hardly typical of the overall marketplace.

    13. Avatar George says:

      Yes people on this site typically are more clued up yet still seem to suffer slow speeds. This is obviously down to the poor ADSL network in this country and what i can only assume is low availability of FTTC. I can think of no other reason why anyone would take a triple play service you mention from say the likes of BT, Talk Talk etc and go for a low speed option, even more so why you can buy FTTC from BT now for pretty much near the same as their ADSL packages. Obviously this country has a very poor performing internet except if you are lucky enough to live in the likes of area with hyperoptic, B4RN, Virgin and similar.

    14. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      It looks like you’re misinformed regarding the availability and performance of FTTC, which gives an average of over 60Mbps download according to Ofcom’s most recent report. Your suggestion about cable effectively makes my point though, when you consider the low market shard Virgin has despite covering close to half the population.

      The evidence suggests most people don’t simply buy the fastest broadband on offer, do consider other factors too. Like I said earlier, the users of this site are not typical of the wider population.

    15. Avatar gerarda says:

      @new londoner -“FTTC, which gives an average of over 60Mbps download according to Ofcom’s most recent report. ”

      I have just added that to my collection of ridiculous BTOfcom stats.

    16. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Why Gerarda? Samknows has a well proven, well respected methodology, far more robust than say ookla. What exactly do you disagree with about its approach, or are you just disappointed with the positive results?

    17. Avatar Gerarda says:

      @ new londonder- your quote actually only refers to those on a BT infinity up to 76Mb service, not to FTTC as you said – so its self selecting to the 20% (http://www.thinkbroadband.com/guide/fibre-broadband.html) who know they can get near to that speeds and bears no resemblance as a sample to all those who are supposedly in the FTTC coverage figures.

    18. Avatar George says:

      No i am quite aware of BTs misguided quotes on availability of superfast broadband. Its just a pity for the over 17 Million premises they claim it is available to either nobody is buying it, that availability figure is an out right lie, or it does not reach speeds you claim.

      Please explain why it looks like it is going to be 60%+ according to the poll on this site that are stuck with broadband below 7.5Mb yet the same 60%+ want speeds over 30Mb if this wonderful FTTC you speak of does 60Mb and is available to well over 50% of premises already?

      Why would they all say they NEED 30Mb+ speeds yet buy something slower? What are these other “factors” you talk off?

      It certainly is not cost as it can be purchased for the same or even less than some ADSL products.

      Clearly it either under performs or is not available in the numbers BT and their mouth pieces claim.

    19. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      I suspect many of those people that say they need download speeds of greater than 30Mbps prefer to pay for a cheaper, slower service. If not then why do at some not opt for cable as presumably at least some are in cable coverage areas too?

      These other factors I mention include bundles, which most of the larger providers offer, content inc TV, email address(es) which may be lost, cost etc. The point I was making is that it is self-evidently more than just selecting the fastest possible download speed for the majority of people.

      None of this may apply to you, however take up of FTTC, the fastest cable options etc clearly shows this is the case for most of the population. Why do you think companies like Hyperoptic, Gigaclear offer a range of speed options if everyone simply wants to buy the fastest one?

      Whether B4RN can sell purely on speed remains to be seen, experience across the rest of the country suggests not.

    20. Avatar George says:

      “I suspect many of those people that say they need download speeds of greater than 30Mbps prefer to pay for a cheaper, slower service. If not then why do at some not opt for cable as presumably at least some are in cable coverage areas too? ”

      Nope not that FTTC from BT is basically the same price as their ADSL products.

      Tesco in latest news have a dirt cheap FTTC product so do Talk Talk and Sky. The only logical reason is its not available to the 50+% BT claim.

      Not bundles either, again Talk Talk and BT bundled products are basically the same price for ones that include ADSL or FTTC.

      Gigaclear offer options and various speeds and price reflects those options thins is not the case with FTTC Vs ADSL

      Experience across the country suggests people can not get 30+Mb even if they wanted it.

    21. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Strange that I know 2 people with well over 30M.

    22. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Sorry but I disagree, noting my own FTTC gives download speeds of over 65Mbps, upload of around 18Mbps. I could however switch to ADSL and save a fair amount per month if I wished, looking at the many offers that are available from various ISPs. I’m sticking with my service for flawless TV etc, but I accept most people make different choices.

      Like I said, your argument is obviously flawed given both the market share of cable, and the take up rates of. FTTC. So clearly most people are prioritising something else over getting the highest broadband download speeds possible.

      Remember not all the people that respond to surveys actually pay the bills, and that simply stating you “need” something does not indicate whether you have the means and intent to pay for it. This is a well known flaw in surveys about future purchasing intentions.

  10. Avatar MikeW says:

    This was a statement earlier this year: “Forde said LCC had asked B4RN to drop a complaint with the European Commission against LCC’s use of state aid to help BT overbuild a pre-existing privately funded network, namely B4RN. He agreed to drop the complaint only after LCC promised to give B4RN’s postcodes ‘immunity’ from state-aided competition from BT.” found on the brokentelephones website.

    It’d be interesting to see what the story is/was from the council’s perspective.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Shame the source is brokentelephone, too many conspiracy theorists on it for my liking, leading to much speculation and little fact. Just my opinion though.

    2. Avatar George says:

      Obviously you do not know the guys background behind that blog, somehow i think he has more experience of the industry than yourself.

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      If you mean Ian Grant, George! the actually I can probably give him a run for his money in terms of sector experience. I was referring more to the varied contributors of comments to the site though, some of whom I suspect rarely remove their tin foil hats and seem to confuse opinion with fact rather too much for my liking.

      However it is a free country, so if that is more your thing then good luck.

  11. Avatar Paul says:

    @New_Londoner so if anyone objects to what BT is doing or the way they’re doing it, that person is a “conspiracy theorist”? Just imagine what they think of you then.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      It wasn’t a point about BT-related material, more a general comment about the nature and tone of content. Too much is based on unsubstantiated rumour and unreliable sources for my liking, although I’ve no problem with people that like that sort of thing.

  12. Avatar TheFacts says:

    Routers at dawn!

  13. Avatar David Cooper says:


    I felt I had to remove my tin foil hat and once again present some facts in the link below that have been presented before via Broken Telephone and elsewhere. You and other BT defenders have scoffed at these facts when cited as the likely outcome of FTTC in other rural locations but have never put up a credible argument that disputes them. In regard to this thread Broken Telephone was reporting a factual statement. Please to see that you have no problem with our commenting on the facts as it is likely to continue all the time we do not get answers. I look forward to “seeing” you on Broken Telephone.


    1. Avatar MikeW says:


      As a supporter of FTTC for built-up areas, I’m fully aware of where their capabilities runs out – especially when theory meets the cold harsh reality of a wet English street. There’s obviously a boundary where their utility runs out, and I’m interested in exploring that boundary. Because I also think those outside the boundary deserve broadband, even if delivered differently.

      Unfortunately, that boundary isn’t a clean, pretty picture, but it is certainly some point before the needle hits zero. But it may still make economic sense to roll out a cabinet to support the inner part of the village even when the outer extremities do not benefit. Those outer extremities will probably require a different solution – and unfortunately there is little to say that the other solution will arrive in a relatively timely manner.

      Still, Ewhurst is a place where the boundary shows up, and has a wealth of data behind it. It is worth exploring.

      This place doesn’t usually foster an environment for cool, calm, detached conversation, but then neither does broken telephones. Do you mind if I contact you by email?

    2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @David Cooper
      Not close to being on topic but since you ask, I think I’ve commented on Ewhurst before, either on here or on ThinkBroadband, or possibly both. Personally I’m pleased to see that commercial investment avoided the need for our taxes to be spent, especially coming from one of the now defunct and much-criticised RDAs.

      Do you really believe that the community would have been better off saddled with an expensive network, probably without any choice of ISP and no likely prospect of further support with the demise of SEEDA? What would have happened when the money ran out? Any lessons to learn from previous wifi networks which closed once the subsidy was spent? Or from the South Yorkshire Digital Region?

      In my view, the evidence suggests the public sector is not good at this sort of thing. But way off topic so let’s leave it there.

    3. Avatar David Cooper says:

      Is it off topic to provide an example of the way BT work against community efforts when that effort is not in BT’s interests? Bravo for BT in providing a commercial solution (which is completely inadequate), but until the local community secured funding and a project plan BT were not interested. Do you not see the striking similarity of this scenario to that in Dolphinholme, except now we may have a local authority helping BT to attempt to destroy community efforts?
      Therefore, I will not leave it there, but suggest you google, Upper Dicker Broadband, Litttle London Broadband and Yarmouth IoW Broadband where you will find reports of villages that did benefit with money from the EU, via SEEDA at the time but subsequently DEFRA. BT probably allowed these projects to succeed, as in the case of two of them they were too slow of the mark and for the other one they were an indirect beneficiary.

  14. Avatar Ian Grant says:

    @New_Londoner, or should I say Liv, interesting to be drawn into this. I’m not sure what you regard as sector experience, but I have reported on telecoms companies one way or another for more than 30 years.
    Incumbents all behave the same. As far as possible they use their financial and political muscle to destroy competition, influence politicians, neutralise regulators, and buy the press. Nothing unusual in that; it’s what big companies do when they think it’s easier to make a living that way than delivering products and services people buy from free choice. As Woodie Guthrie sang “Some (people) will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.”
    I find it sad that BT is squandering whatever goodwill it had in pursuit of a tiny community effort to do something for themselves what BT was never going to do for them. You look pathetic and are contemptible.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Sorry Ian, as I’ve said more than once, I am not Liv. Simple maths ought to help clarify that – IIRC she would not be able to compete with your 30 or so years of reporting experience, given she is less than 40 years old! I do however have well over 30 years experience as a practitioner rather than reporter in IT and telecoms.

      IMHO your comments about how you believe companies behave betrays a probable bias towards your reporting, indicates you assume malpractice even when none exists. I suggest it’s possible this may sometimes come across in your writing.

      Back on topic, either B4RN did not complete the OMR in full or on time, in which case it is at fault here, or the county council discounted it during its due diligence review. Useful to understand which is correct, but it is really an issue between these two parties.

      If it is true as suggested in MikeW’s post above that there was some sort of “deal” regarding postcode areas then surely this warrants further investigation and reporting? Wouldn’t this type of behaviour usually be objected to, whether it involves a big corporate or, as has been alleged, a community interest company? Perhaps this needs investigating, I’m sure you would do so if a big company was involved.

      As to how you look, I’ll leave that for others to decide, not being one for personal insults myself.

  15. Avatar MikeW says:

    From some minutes of Lancashire County Council, it appears that the decision about whether BT could*** enter B4RN territory had been punted up to central government.

    *** I don’t know whether I should write “could”, “should”, “must”, “ought to”, “cannot”here. Take your pick.

    It seems that the possibility is there, so the area must be officially NGA-white. Quite why, is a different question.

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