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Durham Sign Extended BT and BDUK “Fibre Broadband” Rollout Contract

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 (7:51 am) - Score 1,854
openreach_bt_engineer_next_to_a_river_in_durham_progressive

The Digital Durham project in England, which includes Gateshead, Tees Valley, Sunderland and currently aims to make BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network available to 98% of local premises by September 2016 (96% will get “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+), has signed a second contract that should push the network coverage near to the magic 100% mark.

At present the existing project, which should help to reach an additional 72,000 homes and businesses that might have otherwise been left without access to faster broadband connectivity, is collectively funded by £19.76 million of public investment and another £6 million from project partner BT.

But last year the Government’s umbrella Broadband Delivery UK scheme, specifically the Phase 2 Superfast Extension Programme (SEP), committed another £6,080,000 to help further improve the reach of superfast broadband connectivity in the area. The new contract also includes North and South Tyneside. Interestingly this should push the project well beyond the Government’s national target of deploying fixed line superfast broadband to 95% by 2017.

According to the projects official Twitter account, the new contract was signed with BT yesterday afternoon, although curiously this signing was not accompanied by a press release to detail precisely what the new deal aims to achieve. We have asked BT to furnish us with some information and they are currently investigating. We hope to update again shortly.

Separately it’s worth pointing out that BT are also deploying some ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connectivity in certain parts of the intervention area, although the deployment is still broadly dominated by their ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

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48 Responses
  1. Avatar hmmm

    wow it be a shambles as usual with the cowboys and 24mbps+” more like 18mbps” they having a laugh and there superfast tripe. “Go back to the drawing board and start again “.

    • Avatar X66yh

      So are you yourself prepared to
      1. Pay up for full FTTP to be installed everywhere, either
      a) though your taxes or
      b) though higher telecoms charges generally.

      2. Wait for a decade or more until FTTP comes to your area rather than having a cheaper FTTC grade service installed now/next year. In the meantime you would be on 2Mbps or whatever for the next decade.

      Instead of just endlessly making negative comments on here, why don’t you produce solutions which are achievable in terms of both time to complete and answers from where money to complete is to come from.

      In the meantime I know many villages of 500 or more houses formerly on around 2Mbps now on 50 to 70Mbps – and they are delighted.

    • Avatar hmmm

      well I wouldn’t like to say when FTTP is because we behind in the times at this crappy exchange. BT don’t like to spend money they rather bodge it .

      Its took them bloody ages to install “FTTC” for what good it is “. If I could get internet elsewhere instead of relying on the” BT cowboys” id jack it in tomorrow for what good it is”.

      im hoping VM come in the area and once and for all get rid of this BRITISH TRIPE (BT)

    • Avatar DTMark

      @X66yh

      To misquote Orwell:

      “Public investment good, private investment bad”.

      Repeat ad-infinitum.

    • Avatar Superfarce

      Sounds about right for an Organisation that is obviously looking at the figures mentally challenged.

  2. Avatar fastman2

    hhhhmmmm you can either have your 20meg FTTC or Buy FOd — but change the record — did you get your via Commericla or BDUK

    • Avatar Superfarce

      SO a person can either have a substandard NOT “superfast” product which as a tax payer they have funded or they can line the pockets of the same organisation again with FOD. Can BT not do anything for thereself, the way you describe things people would think they are a charity rather than just acting a charity case.

    • Avatar GNewton

      “or they can line the pockets of the same organisation again with FOD.”

      Wrong, BT has currently withdrawn its FoD, which has always been a dead product, and which wasn’t even everywhere available. And don’t expect any radical changes come April, BT may make announcements about another FoD, but it won’t follow through.

      FoD, if it where available nationwide, would have made sense at least for businesses, especially since most business parks don’t have any nextgen broadband.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Suspended, why can you never get the wording right on this one?

      “Following an increase in demand for FoD … [we’ve] identified that the customer experience and lead-times are currently not meeting the product specifications. Because of this, we’ll be implementing a temporary Stop Sell. This will allow us to review current processes and make changes to improve the overall customer experience on this product.”

      If they are looking to improve customer experience on the product they aren’t looking to withdraw it

      Doh

    • Avatar FibreFred

      And most business parks don’t have next gen ? got anything to back that up or is it just your usual broad brush fantasy statement of non fact

      Fancy sharing the foi covering all business park services ?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      I suspect the main reason FoD has been suspended is that there isn’t the resource to fulfill orders reliably. All the priority will be getting the BDUK projects on track, as the downside on failing there would be serious indeed (and I think there may be some moderate slippage on some projects – something that big is bound to have troubles somewhere). As it is, I suspect that it’s difficult to sustain the existing 40,000 premises per week as the more difficult areas are tackled.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Steve Jones:

      “I suspect the main reason FoD has been suspended is that there isn’t the resource to fulfill orders reliably.”

      What are your sources for this?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      As he said “suspect” I doubt he has a source, but we are still waiting on yours?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Gnewton

      I don’t have a source, which is why I just said I suspect it. However, there’s good circumstantial reasons to think it might be true. The Openreach announcement talked of problems in achieving reliable delivery and poor customer experience. We know (from the NAO report) that the BDUK roll-out is, near enough, on schedule but we also know the easier locations are being done first. I think it’s going to be difficult to keep that going. Come another year and much of that resource tied up on BDUK will start becoming free again.

      So, just a suspicion, but it seems an obvious fit. I can’t see why BT would just want to stop selling the product unless there was a good reason.

    • Avatar AndyH

      Steve Jones is correct on this.

      The stop/sell was issued because the builds for many existing orders were quite simply being continually delayed. This led to unhappy end customers, so BT Wholesale took the decision to suspend new orders for the time being.

      There were planned process changes due to come into effect in Jan/Feb for FoD (they were briefly covered during the ISP Forum in BT Towers back in September), however these were delayed. An update is due in the next few weeks.

      I think the main reason behind the delayed orders has been resources. With the upcoming general election, there seems to have been a big push to roll out NGA earlier than scheduled in quite a few BDUK areas. Also, Openreach has tried to clear a backlog on the ethernet side and has taken resources to achieve this.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @AndyH

      Thanks. It just seemed the obvious reason. Of course many might argue, why not just increase the workforce and train more people but that takes time. However, in an environment where the regulatory impetus is to keep down costs, substantial increases in permanent staff are a problem.

      However, I don’t see this issue going away. If BT are to start rolling out g.fast in a couple of years time, that has the potential to require even more resource.

    • @andyH – thanks for the insight, much appreciated. I would hope the original wholesale price can also be restored.
      It is going to be neeeded.
      You also going to need to plan for far more of the smaller hamlets moving direct to FTTP. It would do no harm if some scenarios were published in white papers, so communities can be prepared for demand aggregation by DP or clusters of DPs so Openreach can get used to catering for fibre only access in places.

    • @MikeW satellite referenced in UK Broadband strategy doc for final 1/2% edge of network.
      The 1% finds its way into contracts where North Yorks uses 1% of the intervention area as a reference point.
      The requirements would have been written in a way which encouraged maximum fibre access but giving the engineers enough leeway to do what was most practical given the geography and money available. You also need to allow for customer preference and the ability of a community to aggregate demand to get something better for themselves from the process.
      With NAO identifying 38% inflation in the capital budgets for phase 1, let’s hope each County releases revised coverage targets. This will not solve the resource issue.

  3. Avatar fastman2

    if you dont live in urban you got no change of virgin — to coin a phrase your probably not good value for money

    • Avatar Superfarce

      You know where the Virgin new £3 billion rollout is going to go already do you? More BT crystal ball gazing was it?

    • Avatar X66yh

      @Superfast.

      The interview the CEO of Virgin gave on Radio 4’s “Today” program the morning the story broke was quite clear.
      He stated that Virgin was not interested in any places other than urban areas. He continued by explicitly stating that all the various grades of rural areas of the UK were for “BT to fix”.

      Fastman2 probably listened to the same interview, so while we do not yet know which urban areas VM are going to expand into it is totally correct to say that if you do NOT live in an urban area you have no chance of VM.

    • Avatar DTMark

      “He continued by explicitly stating that all the various grades of rural areas of the UK were for “BT to fix”.

      Correct. They voluntarily accepted a contract to ‘fix’ them. Of course nobody can look at those contracts, but that’s what we have all been reassured to be true.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @DTMark

      BDUK contracts are, of course, visible to the relevant public bodies and legal teams. If BT fails to meet it’s contracted responsibilities, then there is the potential for legal action. However, that seems extremely unlikely. No doubt that’s because the original bid modelling was on the conservative side, but as the downside of being too ambitious would have been costly in monetary and publicity terms there weren’t any prizes for that. In any event, BDUK was setup by politicians and they are accountable for the way it was done.

      As it happens, VM weren’t specifically talking about BDUK, but what they did say is they had no interest in the less populated areas. Which is fair enough. They are free to pick those areas where they see the best prospect of a return.

    • Avatar DTMark

      The BDUK process prescribed a minimum of 2 Meg for all.

      The logistics of doing so would have to have already been worked out before BT tendered, and well before accepting the contract, so the planning has already been done and BDUK, BT, the authorities all have a detailed plan of precisely how it’s all going to be accomplished.

      All the technical and financial challenges have been met and overcome. Necessarily. There is simply no way that anyone would have proceeded otherwise. The LAs would not have accepted the tender as it would be in breach of the BDUK goals, BT would not have accepted if it couldn’t be done for the money.

      There is no issue at all in attaining 2 Meg for all and BT is contracted to deliver it.

      If you believe all of that, you must have been born yesterday. Yet we can only go on what we are told, so it must be true. If there is some disconnect, I wonder where it may lie.

    • Avatar Superfarce

      “He stated that Virgin was not interested in any places other than urban areas. He continued by explicitly stating that all the various grades of rural areas of the UK were for “BT to fix”.”

      Yes he did and Durham is not a rural area, unless you think rural areas have major A roads running through them, are less than 50 miles from a main citys river and have their own College and University in them. DOOOH!

      “Fastman2 probably listened to the same interview, so while we do not yet know which urban areas VM are going to expand into it is totally correct to say that if you do NOT live in an urban area you have no chance of VM.”

      I dunno how much more Urban an area can be, though its interesting that you thing Durham is Rural.

    • Avatar Superfarce

      “If you believe all of that, you must have been born yesterday. Yet we can only go on what we are told, so it must be true. If there is some disconnect, I wonder where it may lie.”

      He obviously thinks the Digital Durham project is a Rural project also.

      Im sure the CITY of Sunderland will enjoy their new RURAL status LOL

    • Avatar Superfarce

      Its interesting how we are supposed to believe so many people are geographically challenged 😉

    • Avatar BT Infidelity

      Just another day at BT confused over locations, money and figures in general.

    • Avatar MikeW

      “I dunno how much more Urban an area can be, though its interesting that you thing Durham is Rural.”

      The urban area of Durham is around the 68th percentile in England & Wales (ie 68% of the population live in bigger urban areas). Similar places include Yeovil, Redruth, King’s Lynn.

      It might not class as Rural by most classifications, but it isn’t close to being one of the most urban either.

      With VM only planning to take their coverage up to the low 60%’s, there seems to be a good chance that Durham isn’t urban enough to qualify. Certainly borderline.

    • Avatar MikeW

      “There is no issue at all in attaining 2 Meg for all and BT is contracted to deliver it.”

      BT thinks there is an issue. They reckon they can get to 98.5% in 2016, and I haven’t (yet) seen them come back with a suggestion for how to go higher.

      Here, they can leave the final 1% (of basic 2Mbps coverage) to satellite.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Mikew

      Satellite was always an (explicitly stated) fall back for the 2mbps service. The aim is to minimise the number who have to resort to that. It looks very much like BT will have to provide a 2mbps (wholesale) service with some sort of credible guarantee od throughput and with costs comparable to fixed line alternatives. As that means renting satellite capacity, you can guarantee that they will be minimising the number who have to resort to that as it will be very costly.

    • Avatar MikeW

      I’m not so sure that the use of satellite has always been *explicitly* stated, even for basic 2Mbps coverage.

      Even finding out that the county here could leave 1% to satellite was from a comment made in a council report, and not from any knowledge of the contract – and definitely not from any OMR, public consultation or local broadband plan. As far as I’m aware, we know of no equivalent figures from any other counties yet.

      Most public consultations went the other way, explaining why satellite wasn’t suitable.

      I do agree that the use for the very final percent-ish is necessary. But it seems to me to be a very hidden fact.

      BTW – BDUK reported on the possible deployment of subsidised satellite for farmers, but it wasn’t clear whether that would be as part of a BT wholesale service, or left to some other provider.

    • Avatar gerarda

      Infilling with satellite is going to bring all sorts of issues in terms of competition and pricing. For example can they use state aid to undercut existing operators?

    • Avatar MikeW

      Good point.

      Deciding to infill with satellite alone wouldn’t bring any pricing or competition issues. Neither would subsidising it.

      However, requiring BT to sell a satellite-based product, and then only subsidising that product, certainly would be interference in that market.

      Given the same problems within the “cities” programme, which they worked around by using subsidy-vouchers with existing providers, it suggests they might do the same here.

  4. Avatar adslmax

    virgin media not interesting in durham area

  5. Avatar fastman2

    the virgin network probably wont go much futher than a few miles of where it does to no — it will be infilling

  6. Avatar fastman2

    most of it will be spent infilling white spots in Virgin Current area you also whot get that many premises covered but i would expect no real new areas outsive virgin current footprint

  7. Avatar fastman2

    acccording to the analysts

  8. Avatar fastman2

    and libery Glboal suggest you go and look at libery global document and you can see for your self —

  9. Avatar fastman2

    sunderland has be greater than 90% coverage since around 2013

  10. Avatar violala

    I live in Sunderland (in a busy area) and I still cannot get fibre. 90% is all well and good but my cabinet has been in place for about 2 years now and still shows no sign of becoming active. Frustrating as anything when you’re stuck on 3Meg

    • Avatar hallelujah

      The 90% figure he quotes is obviously nonsense, if they had 90% already Sunderland would not be included in Digital Durham project.

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