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UPD3 UK Councils Publish PAC Approved BDUK Broadband Rollout Maps

Thursday, Mar 6th, 2014 (1:16 pm) - Score 1,267

The £51m Connecting Cumbria project and other councils claim to have published a “Final Coverage” map for their Broadband Delivery UK and BT supported rollout of superfast fibre broadband services, which appears to be one of the first to be “agreed” by the DCMS and Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Sadly they’re still set at a low-resolution and thus of only limited use.

At present most Local Authorities, with some exceptions like Dorset and North Yorkshire, have only been willing to publish vague coverage maps for their respective deployment of BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network. The result has been that many people on the borders of the roll-out would still struggle to identify whether or not they’ll be covered.

Similarly many smaller altnet ISPs and community broadband projects have been unable to obtain grants from the £20m Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) because they cannot confirm whether or not BDUK and BT will overbuild with their own network (this information is required for state aid clearance).

However the PAC has been campaigning hard for this to change and Cumbria, which last month confirmed that they were working with BT to publish the full roll-out data, based hopefully on seven-digit street level postcodes (here), looked set to be one of the first examples of this effort. BT’s Group Strategy Director, Sean Williams, recently “made clear in all cases that we are okay for this information, down to seven-digit postcode level, to be published by local bodies if they so choose“.

So here’s what they’ve today released for Cumbria..

cumbria nga bt deployment coverage map

According to the project’s website, “the level of detail provided on this map is as agreed with the Department of Culture Media and Sport and the Public Accounts Committee. No further detail will be provided.” A slightly higher quality version of the map can be viewed here, although we use the words “higher quality” very loosely.

Perhaps we’re missing something but for now the improvement escapes us. The map might well be based upon more detailed source data but the fact that they’ve only supplied a low resolution copy for public consumption, which you still can’t zoom in on, isn’t really representative of the significant step forward that the PAC had been promising.

As usual there are some familiar caveats here. In particular BTOpenreach’s roll-out is always subject to change and so nothing will be completely certain until after the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project completes in 2017, so take this “Final Coverage Guide” with a suitably large pinch of salt.

We have requested that the Cumbria Council release a higher resolution copy of the map because at present this really isn’t very much use. Similarly no actual postcode data has been published, thus we’re assuming they’ve only used it on the map and won’t be making that more widely available.

UPDATE 7th March 2014:

The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) project has joined the fun to publish their own “final” map (here), which suffers from the same low-res / low-detail problem as Cumbria’s and more councils are slowly following suit. PLEASE.. give us a high resolution map that we can zoom into.

UPDATE 9th March 2014:

Now here’s the big twist. Thinkbroadband has noted that the head of the PAC, Margaret Hodge MP, was asked (via Twitter) on what basis they allegedly gave their approval to the council’s supposedly “final” coverage maps and her response is as follows: “We didn’t – thanks for bringing to my attention“.

In other words that line about the maps being “agreed with the Department of Culture Media and Sport and the Public Accounts Committee” is at best incorrect and at worst a deliberate attempt to mislead. Oh dear.

UPDATE 11th March 2014:

Tim Farron MP told Cumbria Crack today, “After a year of waiting this detail is still not enough, communities need to see detailed plans. This map is totally unacceptable and residents deserve much better. I will keep doing all I can and fighting for the best broadband provision possible for local people. I think both BT and Cumbria County Council are at fault.”

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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