» ISP News » 
Sponsored Links

UPD Lancashire Council Might Stop Funding BT FTTP Rollout in Dolphinholme

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 (1:01 pm) - Score 1,094

Campaigners who support B4RN’s community driven deployment of 1000Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) broadband in the Lancashire village of Dolphinholme will be pleased to learn that the county council looks set to stop the funding for BT’s rival deployment of 330Mbps capable FTTP in the area, but it may not be quite so clear cut.

A spokesperson for BTOpenreach told ISPreview.co.uk earlier this year, “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.


The deployment by BT drew strong criticism because the village has been present on B4RN’s roll-out plan since 2011 and the community scheme claims that Lancashire County Council (LCC) were made aware of this fact (ISPreview.co.uk has seen some documents that appear to support this), including during the Open Market Review process, although LCC has disputed that (detailed summary).

The EU’s State Aid rules prevent overbuilding of an existing superfast broadband network, which would have presented a tricky situation if LCC and the related Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme were found to be using public money to help support BT’s deployment in an area where a rival was already installing a Next Generation Access (NGA) network without state aid.

However, despite all of this and a quiet probe into the matter by BDUK, both deployments have continued and B4RN recently stole the initiative from BT by becoming the first to connect the local Village Hall and several houses to its service (here). Indeed B4RN’s biggest asset has been the operator’s community focus. Local residents, many of whom have helped to build the network in return for shares, often end up feeling both emotionally and financially incentivised to pick B4RN.

Stopping BT’s State Aid

Now B4RN looks set to win a second victory after a report by Ian Grant claimed that LCC had “agreed not to fund the BT rollout in Dolphinholme as B4RN is already active there. The Dolphinholme postcodes have been removed from the LCC SFBB contract” (i.e. if BT wanted to continue the roll-out of FTTP then they’d have to do so commercially – at their own cost), although no clear source for the claim was offered.


ISPreview.co.uk quickly set out to confirm this and after some hunting we discovered that the quote had come from B4RN, which was distributed as part of a private local mailing list for the project. Meanwhile BT’s press office appears to be short staffed today (we’ve been told the response might take a little longer than usual) and we’ve also yet to receive a reply from LCC.

Thankfully we have managed to get in touch with B4RN’s CEO, Barry Forde, who confirmed that the situation is a little less clear cut than suggested in Grant’s report. According to Forde, on 12th May LCC provided B4RN with a spreadsheet listing some postcodes that LLC said “will not form part of Superfast Lancashire” (de-scoped) and amongst them are the Dolphinholme postcodes.

But crucially, and this is where the confusion occurs, the spreadsheet included a description that made reference to postcodes associated with nearly 500 premises that achieve less than 24Mbps, which are described as partial post-codes where Superfast Lancashire will still be deploying to some premises within those postcodes. So the statement “will not form part” might not be entirely correct.

Understandably B4RN aren’t sure what to make of this conflicting commitment and have rejected the list until LCC can confirm that all of their related postcodes have been fully de-scoped, with no more public funding going towards BT’s FTTP roll-out in Dolphinholme.


Meanwhile BT’s physical deployment appears to have picked up again and Forde suggests that they might be rushing to complete it before July 2014, which looks like a tall order for such complicated and expensive work. Mind you if BT can complete the effort before LCC confirms their decision then they could have a claim for public funding to cover the bill.

As it stands neither BT nor B4RN have completed their coverage of the village and even if state aid was stopped then BT could still potentially continue the expensive deployment of FTTP under their £2.5bn commercial programme, which won’t breach any state aid rules but will raise different questions of economic viability etc.

Meanwhile the locals in Dolphinholme would at least benefit from the rare choice of having access to two competing fibre optic infrastructures with different pros and cons. For example, B4RN’s service is faster and doesn’t require the customer to take an old phone line alongside their fibre deployment, although BT’s platform gives subscribers’ access to a variety of mainstream ISPs with very different service options.

Now, while we wait for LCC or BT to respond, here’s another video of B4RN knocking the socks off one of their latest customers. We like the bit where the customer is initially surprised to even get above 1Mbps via their old line before seeing the new service hit around 500Mbps (note: the line might be 1000Mbps capable but not all computers/routers can actually handle that).

UPDATE 24th May 2014

BT has chosen not to comment but after a few days waiting a spokesperson for LCC finally told ISPreview.co.uk, “The B4RN Newsletter was produced without prior consultation with Lancashire County Council. Dolphinholme is part of the overall Lancashire superfast broadband and has not been removed from the County Council’s contract with BT.”

Tags: , , ,
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 .
Search ISP News
Search ISP Listings
Search ISP Reviews

Comments are closed

Cheap BIG ISPs for 100Mbps+
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
NOW £24.00
Gift: None
Virgin Media UK ISP Logo
Virgin Media £26.00
Gift: None
Vodafone UK ISP Logo
Vodafone £26.50 - 27.00
Gift: None
Zen Internet UK ISP Logo
Zen Internet £28.00 - 35.00
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
New Forum Topics
Cheapest ISPs for 100Mbps+
Gigaclear UK ISP Logo
Gigaclear £17.00
Gift: None
BeFibre UK ISP Logo
BeFibre £19.00
Gift: None
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
YouFibre UK ISP Logo
YouFibre £22.99
Gift: None
Hey! Broadband UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 15 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (5720)
  2. BT (3569)
  3. Politics (2602)
  4. Openreach (2342)
  5. Business (2323)
  6. Building Digital UK (2277)
  7. FTTC (2061)
  8. Mobile Broadband (2039)
  9. Statistics (1830)
  10. 4G (1724)
  11. Virgin Media (1674)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (1494)
  13. Fibre Optic (1426)
  14. Wireless Internet (1417)
  15. FTTH (1383)

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact