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Broadband Delivery UK to Boost Uptake via Big Advertising Campaign

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 (4:29 pm) - Score 967

The Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, which is working with BT and local councils in order to help make “superfast broadband” speeds of 24Mbps+ available to 95% of the population by 2017, is hoping to foster take-up of the new service by making consumers more aware of its existence.

At present it’s almost impossible to get any take-up figures for deployments of BT’s up to 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) or 330Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connections under the BDUK project, which makes it difficult to judge progress or asses how much benefit might be derived from the claw-back mechanism.

The rules for claw-back seem to vary but many adopt a 20% take-up rule and once a local broadband project passes that mark then some of the subsidy can be “clawed back“, allowing it to be reinvested into further upgrades (though we’ve seen some projects suggest they’d use the money for general council investment). A piece on the FT (paywall) today suggests that if 50% take-up were ever achieved then that could be worth as much as £270 million.

But we’re unlikely to see adoption like that anytime soon and there are a number of reasons why this might be the case. Firstly, there’s awareness, with a recent study of 1,000 non-techy people by BDUK noting that 30% of superfast enabled households didn’t even know it was available and 50% of adults said they don’t know what it is. In fact we’ve also heard from some people who incorrectly thought they’d receive a speed boost without changing their existing service, which is usually wrong (unless you’re with Virgin Media of course).

On top of that most of the work so far has focused on delivering improvements to sub-urban areas or larger towns, where many people can often already receive reasonable connections using older ADSL2+ services (i.e. it’s harder to sell a 40-80Mbps product to somebody happy on 10-15Mbps ADSL2+, especially if they’re paying considerably less for it). By contrast those in slower rural areas can easily see the appeal, but they’re often last on the upgrade list and have a considerably smaller population density (less of an influence on the figures).

So it goes without saying that, despite some ISPs shouting about the benefits of so-called “fibre broadband” from every possible direction (e.g. BT), the Government still sees that many consumers appear not to be listening or even aware of what’s changed. As a result the Government is considering a major advertising campaign, which will go beyond the existing promotions that have tended to be aimed more at businesses.

A DCMS (BDUK) Spokesperson said:

We know that some people aren’t aware superfast is available in their areas or what benefits it could have for their business or family life, so we are looking at ways to provide better information to them.”

ISPreview.co.uk notes from an earlier development that a tender for an advertising partner to take on this task has already gone out. But as we say, ISPs have already put a lot of effort into promoting related services and that’s had mixed success, although clearly BT has derived some benefit from its direct association with the roll-out programme (they single handily account for most of the new FTTC subscribers – details).

Apparently the Government’s approach will be to focus on the social benefits, such as for parents (i.e. showing how it can help children “study” for their homework) and the elderly (e.g. the use of video conferencing). Meanwhile TalkTalk has been quick to say that bringing the price of FTTC down would help to boost uptake, although ironically this might damage their own ability to sell ultrafast FTTP in the city of York. “The approach of ‘build it and they will come’ is not working because the price is too high,” said the budget conscious ISP.

The other problem here is that most people have already gotten use to a saturation of advertising and promotional material dropping through their mail, which has given rise to what we call the see-it-and-instantly-bin-it solution. In other words, anything that looks even a bit like marketing goes immediately to the bin, especially direct mailing promos from certain political parties. Suffice to say the Government are in for a tough time.

Leave a Comment
36 Responses
  1. Avatar dragoneast

    Ah ha, is there an election coming up?

  2. Avatar Sledgehammer

    It’s all well and good if you are connected to a FTTC. For the rest of us that are still waiting fot BT’s roll out/BDUK completion it’s going to be a long time before BT can supply a FTTC product too us. Another poorly thought out campaign.

    • Avatar telecom engineer

      Local efforts maybe? Like stickers on the street cabs? Unless ofcourse one council department takes more offence to the notice than the prospect of lost clawback to another dept… :-/

    • Do we ban Virgin Media from advertising on national TV as their services are available to less than 50% of the population for fear of upsetting the other >50% who can’t receive them?

      Governments advertise services that we all can’t or don’t receive all the time.

    • Avatar Andy

      Agreed – fed up of hearing about “fantastic” services which are not available!!

    • Avatar fastman2

      assume you not a enabled exchnage / cab, I assume have you checked you’d be be amazed how many compain and found out they coul have had it 3 years ago but they never checked (though it would happen automatically)– if your business make sure you put your broadband number and not your pbx number (switcboard number) as the checker wont recognise it for fibre it is available

  3. Avatar Con Bradley

    In this long running BDUK farce, this must take the biscuit! We the tax payers are paying for a campaign to persuade us to take up a project that we were forced to pay for but have no say in.

    The solution though is simple, work out for each household their actual feeble broadband speed and send them a letter telling them what they would actually get in simple terms, no “up to” bollocks and the cost. Simple honest facts for each household that’s all it would take, a cheaper too.

    • Avatar telecom engineer

      Easier said than done, especially when eu is miles from the dp (oh what joy trying to convince farmer jones although he was predicted 80meg the 3km of carrier poles between him and the assumed last node is a genuine excuse)..
      But on reflection for 9 out of 10 people a mass mail merge using data from the checker would be the most impactful way to demonstrate the difference.

      May generate some issues when the eu gets hey you could get 5 meg with adsl and 80 with fiber if they get less with either… (unless you send just impacted predictions or a range).

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “The solution though is simple”

      No, your suggestion is simple, that solution is not

    • Avatar Con Bradley

      “Farmer Jones” eh? Please try to be less patronising and smug! It’s also spelt fibre BTW.

    • Avatar GNewton

      “It’s also spelt fibre BTW.” No, it’s spelled ‘twisted pair copper’!

    • Avatar No Clue

      He needs an British dictionary rather than American one on his phone, an app that also auto edits poop to truth would also help.

    • Avatar fastman2

      so i assume your either on un en-enabled exchange or an unenabled cab on an enabled exchnage — please can you advise which one it is

  4. Avatar Matthew Williams

    This is just a waste of money. Lot of people at moment are happy with ADSL if they get say 10-15Mbps out of it which many can. Only when BT starts to focus on the last 10% is there going to be people jumping at it because it will be light and day for them. At moment it’s still a infill project in a lot of areas. Obviously there has been take up but can’t see how this will increase it like Mark said if it’s going be leaflets they will be straight in a bin hardly any takes time to read junk email or even look at properly lol.

  5. Avatar gerarda

    Its ridiculous but I cannot say I am surprised. Splash out public money in areas that do not need an upgrade whilst ignoring those that do, and then spend even more persuading those who do not need it to buy whilst still not having enough money to sort out the rest!

  6. Avatar Chris Conder

    You couldn’t make it up! what a superfarce.

    • Sadly the wider deployments like these don’t have the benefit of the kind of small-scale personal advertising that I was able to deliver to this area or the kind of demand-driven build out alongside small-scale advertising that your project does.

      Had it been delivered as FTTC, FTTP or FTTRectum it wouldn’t have changed anything as far as people’s awareness of the product and their willingness to actually pay for it go.

  7. Avatar telecom engineer

    It makes a difference if done in the right way. Openreach set up a volunteer group called NGA champions who get sent packs of fliers and posters espousing the benefits of the new service and directing the reader to call their cp. Talking to peopke I found although people had seen infinity ads on telly many didnt realise they had to actually order a service (automatic upgrade was assumed – didnt help that sometimes cps were blaming faults on engineers installing the service in the streets).
    These days that myth is largely dispelled as more people are talking about their service to friends and family.
    The big uptake will come when non bt isps manage to get similar margins or extra revenue from the network compared to llu (and without discouraging expansion or future upgrades by bt). At the moment the llu providers have made significant investments in their exchange equipment which they obviously want to recover – most efficient way being by continuing to promote adsl. Offering nga is essential for them not to be left behind in the arms race but for a repeat of the adsl growth, there is more than a public service announcement required.

    • Avatar GNewton

      “At the moment the llu providers have made significant investments in their exchange equipment which they obviously want to recover”

      The LLU providers knew the risks. DSL technologies have always been yesterday’s technogies and sooner or later would become obsolete. No fibre deployment should be postponed because of LLU.

  8. Avatar Sledgehammer

    The big uptake will come when non bt isps manage to get similar margins or extra revenue from the network compared to llu

    No the big uptake will come when every cab is enabled to a FTTC. Many FTTC cabs have been installed but have no equipment in them to make fTTC available.

    • You do know the cabs are installed with the DSLAM, etc, already in them, right?

      They aren’t installed at the roadside.

    • Avatar Sledgehammer

      You do know the cabs are installed with the DSLAM, etc, already in them, right?

      If that is the case why have OR installed them, only to leave them unconnected and delayed the date of them being made active by 12 months or more? It’s actions like that, that alienate people to BT in the long run.

    • Issues getting fibre, copper cross-connect or power to them.

    • Avatar Steve Jones


      Isn’t it obvious? Companies love spending money on new assets and would rather see them standing idle rather than go to the trouble of actually collecting money off customers.

    • Avatar Sledgehammer

      Isn’t it obvious? Companies love spending money on new assets and would rather see them standing idle rather than go to the trouble of actually collecting money off customers.

      If that is the case it make OR and BT look like a bunch of inept companies.

    • Avatar No Clue

      “Issues getting fibre, copper cross-connect or power to them.”

      Like buying sand without the cement 😉

    • Avatar fastman2


      the standing of the cab is relatively easy (assuming of course your local authoiry) as will allow it to be stood, doesnt have the road up (section 58) up or it blocks someones view of is percieved as not it keeping with the area — then you have to get copper and fibre and power to it all of which that can be a challenge — so taking some hypothetical number on the commercial programme (excluding the BDUK) ran for circa 4 and bit year (2009 – 2013) delivery project and in that time somewhre probably north of 47,000 boxes give or take a few n around 4 years (if you take circa 279 workding days a year exluding weekend x 4 once you ramp that around 45 + boxes each day every day (so you cam imagine if one box is not doing what it shoould be when its turn to be worked on happens — its gets shelved till the next slot available (that might be another month , year and in somecases its been never

    • Avatar fastman2

      did you have a specifica cab in mind ?

    • Avatar No Clue

      As you are the king of stupid questions i have one for you. Would it be asking too much for you to use a full-stop when using your mobile phone?

    • Avatar Sledgehammer

      did you have a specific cab in mind ?

      The cab is P38 Wallasey, most of the cabs that have been active and taking orders for FTTC are in the VM area of Wallasey. Other FTTC cabs that ave been installed (in Wallasey) are in the non VM area.
      It’s as though OR have said we have done enough we will leave these cabs until the end. I check on a regular basis the BT web page for FTTC. Come January next year this cab will have its 1st birthday with nobody connected to it.

    • Avatar fastman2

      Sledgehammer the cab is a commercial cab (part of ~BT investment) – looks like blockages or duct issues as it affects more that one cab — suggest it get done when resource teams back in area – seems some work happening on recenty

      no clue – apt

  9. Given TalkTalk think FTTC is too expensive I wonder if they, amongst others, are regretting going for that lowest common denominator market and driving down the cost of access to the point where people think it’s free by hiding charges in line rental and call packages?

    When you get people used to ‘Free broadband forever’ or near-free you can’t seriously suddenly express shock when they are reluctant to start paying for an upgraded version.

    Looking at even the broadband panacea that is Sweden 50Mb there from their largest cable company is about £25/month, £30 for 100Mb, 1Gb down, 100Mb up £77/month.

    UPC Netherlands you’re talking £30 for 50Mb, £36 for 120Mb, £43.50 for 200Mb.

    UPC Ireland a shade cheaper, a couple of £.

    Here? A bunch of people complain about paying anything more than single figures a month, that potentially being 0, for a Sky or TalkTalk ADSL service.

    Just have themselves to blame for changing the market as they did. Their abysmal uptake of FTTC tells its own story.

  10. Avatar danny

    Big Deal wow VDSL is rubbish more chew than what its worth and basically no different to the tripe of adsl2+ especially when BT and the cowboys use the existing cables which are shot and been paid over a thousands of times in ripoff line rental

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