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Manufacturers Criticise “Poor” National UK Broadband Infrastructure

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 (8:42 am) - Score 1,080
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A new report from the EEF trade association, which claims to champion manufacturing and engineering in the United Kingdom and Europe, has highlighted the problem of “deteriorating confidence” in wide areas of the country’s infrastructure, especially the road networks, broadband connectivity and energy supply.

The report includes a survey of British manufacturing and engineering companies, although it’s not clear how many were actually involved. Never the less 40% of companies view the national broadband network, which is mostly dominated by BT and Virgin Media’s infrastructure, as being “poor” or “very poor“. Similarly 45% of companies said they would put investment in broadband infrastructure among their top three priorities (15% said it would be their no.1 priority).

Meanwhile the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme has already put around £1.7bn+ of public investment into improving related infrastructure, which aims to make “super-fast broadband” speeds (24Mbps+) available to 95% of the country by 2017 (mostly via BT contracts).

But BDUK has tended to focus on residential areas and there has been criticism that some business locations are being shunned in order to protect existing revenue sources, such as lucrative leased line solutions. Separately the Connection Vouchers scheme offers grants of up to £3,000 to help SMEs connect to a superfast broadband service (here), although this is only available in some cities and can’t always cover the full cost of a new leased line.

Apparently manufacturers are said to feel that the current high speed broadband programme is being “rolled out at a slow pace with poor communication and a lack of clarity on when upgrades will take place“. The EEF said that a more “hands on approach is needed in the remainder of this Parliament to provide certainty on when investments will be made“.

Terry Scuoler, EEF CEO, said:

These results highlight widespread concern that the quality of business critical infrastructure is declining rather than improving, with the deterioration of the road network of particular concern. Roads are the backbone of the economy and the glue that holds the rest of the transport network together, with four-fifths of manufacturers saying they are critical to their business operations. Similar concerns exist about our energy and digital networks.

The message from manufacturers to the Chancellor for the remainder of this Parliament is clear, complete the job on vital roads, energy and broadband projects. As far as Industry is concerned these are far more important than redirecting planning resources to new aspirational projects.”

Broadly the EEF seeks a commitment from the Government to ensure that the whole of the UK can access “high speed broadband and effective mobile networks as soon as possible“, which they’d like to see unveiled as part of the Chancellors Autumn Statement during early December 2014. It’s also a view shared by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The EEF might thus be pleased to see the Government’s push for a national mobile roaming solution (here) and not to mention our expectation that more funding for broadband will be unveiled as part of the Autumn Statement 2014 (here), which is due to be held on 3rd December 2014. Precisely what form this will take and whether or not it will be another investment for the seemingly sole benefit of BT remains to be seen.

Leave a Comment
19 Responses
  1. Avatar TheFacts

    ‘as soon as possible’. OK.

  2. Avatar Gadget

    Not all doom and gloom though


    “Looking at the balance of companies, only in one area, the provision of broadband internet, do companies cite a significant improvement in quality over the last two years. ”

    In fact double the responders put the improvement of motorways and strategic a-roads as top priority than put broadband.

    No reason to be complacent in broadband provision, but also given the almost universal availability of leased lines from one or more suppliers I’d suggest the above link makes interesting reading.

    • Avatar GNewton

      “given the almost universal availability of leased lines”

      Leased line availability is NOT universal in the UK. And even when available, for quite a few areas they don’t make commercial sense (e.g. costs higher than simply moving business premise to another location which has better broadband provision).

      You can always check with BTnet to find out about availability and costs.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Almost… He said almost

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Yes, and railways aren’t available everywhere, or motorways, or gas, or multi-MW power supplies, or easy access to an airport or any number of other things. Companies tend to gravitate to where services are available. Telecoms services are relatively widely available, but there are always issues of financial viability. Ultimately somebody has to pay. Either the customer, the supplier or via public money. That there is a demand, doesn’t always mean there’s a viable market.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Well here’s some supplier’s information that seems to suggest otherwise


      Quote from site “Forget about distance

      Our Ethernet Services can reach 90% of businesses in the UK. And we can connect you internationally, too.

      Ethernet networks link your sites together into a single and secure Wide Area Network so they can effectively work as one site.”

      As for commercial sense – there are lots of operators offering leased lines out there (not just BT) so if the prices don’t make commercial sense to you then providing them in your current location doesn’t make commercial sense to them.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      As you have said previously leased line is an old term so why are you even talking to yourself about that?

  3. Avatar Gadget

    Well if that’s your considered contribution to this thread you clearly agree with everything else posted debunking the poor coverage claims.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      I mentioned nothing about coverage of leased lines so how that proves or disproves any coverage figure i guess only your schizophrenic mind would know.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Precisely my point – your contribution to this thread, as you just acknowledged, contained nothing to do with the discussion.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      You have no point. The news item is not even about leased lines so why you even whittled on about them in the first place if you want to talk “points” of the discussion like you is only something your disorder whatever it may be would know.

    • Avatar Gadget

      My point, if you read the thread, is that GNewton disputed the widespread availability of point-to-point services/leased lines or whatever you choose to call them. I provided a link which showed that at least one supplier of such services is claiming a 90% business coverage.
      And going back further my assertion was that for broadband access for businesses who cannot be supplied with FTTC/FTTP/DOCSIS services there is another product set out there using point to point technology with (as I indicated in the link) around 90% availability to business.
      Personal abuse seems on many instances to be your first and only resort to any discussion.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      He cant remember what he said 2 minutes ago let alone 2 days

  4. Avatar DTMark

    The quote marks around the word ‘poor’ in the article title make me giggle.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a quote, and so therefore should be in quotation marks. It’s correct. It just makes me giggle.

  5. Avatar Gadget

    AS an alternative to DSL delivered broadband, which prompted GNewton to state that my option was not widely available, which was quickly disproved.

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