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UPDATE Tiny Village of Claverton co-Funds BT Fibre Broadband Rollout

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 (11:19 am) - Score 3,756
claverton

A tiny rural civil parish village called Claverton in Somerset, which is home to around 115 people (70 homes) and resides near Bath in England, has apparently become the first such UK village to privately co-fund with BT to build a completely new “fibre broadband” (FTTC) network.

Unfortunately BT has refused to tell us how much the community itself contributed to the project, which is apparently deemed commercially confidential, although the operator did say that almost every household in the village made a contribution. Similarly we do not know how much BT itself contributed, although the project was probably quite expensive.

As part of this effort engineers from BTOpenreach installed 2 kilometres of underground ducting and 4 kilometres of overhead and underground fibre optic cable, including two new roadside street cabinets. Just to be clear, one of the cabinets was a bog standard one for pure copper ADSL + Phone services and the other was used to deliver ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

Prior to the work it’s understood that most locals were only able to receive broadband download speeds of less than 1Mbps (Megabits per second) and thus the new connectivity has delivered a significant boost to the community, which clearly didn’t want to wait and see if the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme would ever get around to them.

Dr Rodger Sykes, Campaigner and Parish Councillor, said:

We realised the high costs involved meant Claverton would not be upgraded as part of BT’s normal commercial fibre broadband roll-out for some time, so we set about working with the company to jointly solve the problem.

It has been hard work over three years to get to where we are today both for the residents of Claverton and the BT people involved, but we have worked together very well. Claverton residents really appreciate the benefits superfast broadband can bring and are excited at the thought that this project provides everyone in the community with the kind of speeds we could only dream about having in the past.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of NGA, added:

The people of Claverton are true national trail-blazers and are setting the pace for rural communities through their collaboration with BT. They have worked tirelessly with us to turn this ambitious project into reality. Their enthusiasm and commitment is infectious and we’re pleased to have worked in partnership with them.

We’re working in partnership with local authorities and communities to make high-speed broadband available in the more challenging areas of the UK. There are many examples of us doing so, but this is the first village to work with us on creating an entirely new broadband network for the local community.”

Apparently locals are now also clubbing together in order to provide WiFi at the village church so that, in the absence of a village hall, it can play a greater role in community activity.

It’s of course possible to read this story in one of two ways. On the one hand it shows that BT has the capacity to adapt and deliver a useful service by working with a very small community, but on the other hand it’s arguably a bit sad that the community felt it had no other option than to donate money to get better broadband.

UPDATE 21st May 2015

One of our readers noted that some estimated details for the project’s cost were actually made public and after some digging we found a related 2013 document from the Claverton Parish Council (it’s always nice to breakdown those secrecy barriers). At the time this is what they said.

Claverton Parish Council Statement

Cllr Sykes updated the Parish Council that the Claverton Broadband working group have now received the draft engagement offer from BT Openreach for the installation of the necessary cabinet equipment to enable the upgrading of the Broadband service to the village to Infinity (superfast broadband).

The required community contribution cost is £40,081 exclusive of VAT. VAT at 20% will add a further £8,016 to the cost. The total cost including VAT is £48,097.20. This is a fixed price contract, providing it is accepted within a 60 day period. If the contract is signed by the end of August BT will also commit to the project being completed by May 2014.

It’s worth pointing out that the final cost may have changed since then, not least because Openreach was in discussion with HMRC as to the necessity of charging VAT on projects of this type.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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43 Responses
  1. DTMark

    The LA must have planned a technical solution for upgrades to the area such that everyone there could get at least 2Mbps by the end of this year, in line with the BDUK programme.

    Was there a veil of secrecy about it which meant that the inhabitants were unable to find out the details of the planned solution and now, lacking any confidence in the LA, have paid twice, first through their taxes and then second, through their direct contributions?

    Now, the LA money that was already earmarked to upgrade that area can be put to use somewhere else.

  2. Patrick Cosgrove

    I have some sympathy with them for being forced into this situation, but now they’ve paid twice – once through their taxes, for which they received nothibg, and and again by paying directly. I wonderif BT made them all sign non-disclousre agreements.

    • TheFacts

      If there is not enough funds for 100% maybe people would like to propose areas that will not be covered.

    • @The Facts -https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-national-broadband-scheme-an-independent-evaluation

      See clause 3.83 – page44, BT makes no capital contrubtion to any BDUK project for three years.

      And this report pretends there is only £750m of state funding when phase 1 alone is £1.2bn. It reports BT of a simple of £32k BT bid cost against the £750m – which needs re-stating given Phase 1 funding is £1.2bn alone.

      So we now know total cost and we know BT invests no capital for 3 years.

      So we can confirm BT could not spent £2.5bn on 50k commercial cabs.

      Let’s guess at the co-funding? £35k minimum!

    • DTMark

      If there were not enough funds to provide everyone with 2Mbps+, why did BT sign a contract to provide everyone with 2Mbps+?

      What was the penalty for breach of contract to be, as set out in said contract?

    • fastman2

      it if was your village would you want to make public the amount you have raised

    • fastman2

      NGA the business has spent 2.5bn on commercial programme – not all of capex but whoeever said it all was (if you build somethine you have to fund, develop, manage and deploy that) — ou can choose to belive that or not — its a fact ,

      so you can talk, moan, complain about paying taxes twice (whish is frnakly asburd as the area was in the sub 2 meg commercial 4km from an enabled cab) or you do what the community did and take some action and end up in a better place from from a technical perspective but also from a communuty perspective

    • DTMark

      So, if I understand correctly, in order to achieve the BDUK project goals, the LA effectively went into an implied partnership with BT. Who said “We’ll do these bits, you pay for those bits” to achieve set goals, one of which was 2Mbps+ for everyone.

      How far the village is from the cabinet is irrelevant. VDSL is but one possible solution in some circumstances.

      Having then trousered the contract BT then consider it acceptable to imply that the village somehow made itself inaccessible, perhaps by growing legs and walking a few km from the cabinet, and now it can’t be done, so more taxpayer’s money, please?

      The BDUK process is so badly flawed it’s negligent.

    • fastman2

      the village was not in the intervention area and so was outside of BDUK

    • DTMark

      “Prior to the work it’s understood that most locals were only able to receive broadband download speeds of less than 1Mbps (Megabits per second)”

      “the village was not in the intervention area and so was outside of BDUK”

      How come it wasn’t in the “intervention area”?

    • X66yh

      My Council definition of intervention areas are only for those where they intend to uprate the cabinet to superfast.

      For the remainder coloured white on the map it is case of either you are already above 2Mbps so we are doing nothing or you are below that in which case we will do something but what that something is has not been stated. The differences between these latter two cases is not shown on the map.

    • DTMark

      So in the analysis of this car-crash project, then, this village would have been in line for upgrades under BDUK by the end of this year because residents can’t get 2Mbps+.

      So when BT were contracted there would necessarily have been a plan to deliver this, unless the LA were negligent and deliberately planned for project failure.

      So by the end of this year, this village would have been upgraded under BDUK anyway like every other similar village in the country below the minimum speed will of course be. This must have been planned. If it wasn’t, there’s some serious negligence involved either from the LA, or BT.

      Otherwise, we have project failure. So assuming we’re not coasting towards project failure, why didn’t the LA simply communicate what the plan was?

    • @Fastman2 – £40k + VAT I was out by £5k so I hope it is 1Km of new duct.

      It is essential £2.5bn is re-stated. It is not whining. It is a signficant in whether Openreach is being boken or not.

    • GNewton

      “If there is not enough funds for 100% maybe people would like to propose areas that will not be covered.”

      Absolutely ridiculous. Maybe people should also propose areas which have no electricity, no roads, etc ?

  3. Chris Conder

    All they had to do was invite an altnet in, then bt would have funded it themselves. In B4RNland they are deploying copper and ‘fibre’ cabinets in our tiny villages of less than 20 homes. Double the cost when it means they have to put the PCP cab in as well as the so called fibre one next to it. A superfarce. The bigger villages would love the chance to have superfarce, but BT won’t go there until B4RN says they are going there, and then plans mysteriously change. Competition is all you need. I think these folk at Claverton have been conned, because they haven’t got fibre broadband, they have got a stop gap solution, and those further from the cab won’t be any better off, so they will be surrounded by little notspots that aren’t economic to provide for by altnets. If an altnet had got the whole village the job would have been done right, and all the outlying places could have been helped too, whereas now they have settled for copper they are stuffed. Well done to the snake oil salesman, he’s really good at this.

    • fastman2

      the village now has circa 60 – 70 m/bps at a network level based on the distance between the cab and premises ,

    • fastman2

      chris not quite sure this connectio brtween inviting an altnet in and it being funded — i think the situaion in lancashire is differeint where those areas wehere it was part of bduk contracr

      there are a vast number of villages being excluded from bduk due to supposed alntet presense where community will have no choice — i cant count the number of villages i have been involved in where villagers have told me im going to have 1 gi each in the village and every one wil have that all of the time !!!!

    • X66yh

      As usual – more rubbish from Chris

      I know several cabinet areas and even one whole exchange where that well known altnet came in and BT has in ALL cases done NOTHING.
      So they have left the area on ADSL – effectively abandoning it.

      In fact on the MSE “phones” sub-forum at the moment there is a resident of some village outraged at precisely this result. They they have no intermediate choice. They can either have BT ADSL at a bare 1Mbps or Gigaclear at 50Mbps at a price they cannot afford: again there BT have done NOTHING in response.

      Secondly I can assure you that any outlying small groups of houses remote from the village are NOT covered by the above altnet unless the house group themselves pay a contribution to getting the fibre to them: “excess construction costs” they call it. These altnets are profit driven commercial groups and are not dedicated to universality of access.

    • Chris Conder

      What you have to look at with altnets is the nature of the connection. If it is a choice between adsl and nothing then you make your choice. If you have to pay through the nose to get FTTC from openreach it is a waste of your money. Gigaclear are providing a futureproof connection, so its worth the effort. Do the job once and do it right. Cabinets are a stop gap. They are a dead end, and yes, some folk will be very happy with the service for now, but many are too far away from the cabinet.

    • FibreFred

      Cabinets are a stop gap, or dead end?

      Which is it? You said its both.

    • Steve Jones

      Do we know that the parish council didn’t invite an altnet? There are other examples where this has been done and the village in question has still gone down the Openreach route. Sometimes that’s based on having a choice of ISP, the time taken to deploy and the aesthetic impact of some of the fibre installs.

    • TheFacts

      Chris – any decent altnet would have spotted the opportunity.

      ‘those further from the cab won’t be any better off’ So you know the area?

    • fastman2

      Chris the village is very tech savyy with a number of senior people involed in mmwave/ Feomtocell technology who did their due diligence as what was on offer and made an informed decision based on that

    • GNewton

      @TheFacts: “any decent altnet would have spotted the opportunity.”

      Care to explain what you mean by “decent altnet”? Who are they? Links?

  4. fastman2

    this was a sub 2 meg commercial cab not in LA

  5. TheFacts

    The required community contribution cost is £40,081 exclusive of VAT. VAT at 20% will add a further £8,016 to the cost. The total cost including VAT is £48,097.20.

    • fastman2

      be very interest where you gained that from and whether you have permission to publish it

    • It’s from an old council document, going to update.

    • gerarda

      This was a similar cost to the one BT quoted our village of a similar size.

    • fastman2

      gerad all of those are bespoke and specific to each communtiy – they were sub 2 meg on commerical programme and would not have been in the BDUK interventional area and soudl would not have been eligible under the current bduk

    • gerarda

      @fastman2

      Ditto for us but we decided to wait for the SEP funding rather than pay twice.

    • fastman2

      gerads so you get what your given when they decide to give it — if you where i think you are that was a bespoke solution

  6. fastman2

    as there is only around 3 places you could have got that from

    • TheFacts

      Which are?

    • GNewton

      @TheFacts: “Which are”

      One of them is your (as of yet) undisclosed source of the community contribution cost. Which BTW shows that you are capable of using online research tools like Google 🙂

  7. fastman2

    community, openreach or possibly outside of community who saw sigth of funding number who were aware of project so very interested where you obatined that from — i dont think it would have been from 1st 2

  8. fastman2

    I am 100% you not part of contracting entity so that poor poor form franky to issue something between a community and a private company where you are neither and engaged or involved or has not impact on public purse bacause if you were would would have the consulted the community lead for the project

  9. “If the contract is signed by the end of August BT will also commit to the project being completed by May 2014.”

    2014? Is this old news?

    • I think you missed the context. That quote comes from the early planning stages in 2013, as stated above. Clearly, given the above news, it took them a lot longer to complete the build than initially anticipated (about 12 months longer) or somebody got the year wrong.

    • fastman2

      these are complex engineering jobs and bespoke in their nature — community has also been live for a number of weeks/ months

    • Fastman2 – apologies 2 kilometers of underground, and 4 kilometers of overhead – should be saluted. CDS could have paid, but we now know BT contributes nothing until 3 years after contract signature.

    • TheFacts

      @NGA – does anyone else confirm your understanding?

      ‘Grants are paid on a quarterly basis and the supplier is not paid more than the level of eligible costs that it is able to evidence. At the three-year mark, a calculation is made of the amount to go into the reinvestment fund.’

    • @The Facts No one disputing that point which is pretty much how the truth is emerging – slowly. The only proxy for a possible BT contribution is the intervention levels which would amount to £570m against the £1.2bn phase 1 subsides. This is against the £751m referenced in the 43/4 press releases for a BT contribution, which includes operational costs.

      The Oxera report also references BDUK are expecting £26Xm less investment from BT, which was also reported in first NAO report.

      Given BT can accumulate non-allowable costs, self-certify and re-balance costs in the next three years, then they pay nothing apart from claw-back based on takeup. Hence my alarm when I saw no reference in the accounts to a capital contribution.

      Until I saw cl3.83 I assumed they might pay £50 a customer passed in kind, but not now.

      I cannot see how this can be consistent with state aid principals, but I guess the EU will not wish to challenge BDUK

      Oxera report dealt with a lot but chickened out of dealing with the consequences of £1.2bn subsides and only referenced £780m, hence these bid prices references are understated by at least £10k a cabinet. They do not reference USC funding either.

      But getting 3.83 on record might eventually help if you can find a bureaucrat or MP interested.

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