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Hayton Council Criticises Wireless ISP for Broadband Overbuild Snafu

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 (2:07 pm) - Score 673
solway communications uk

The Hayton Parish Council in Cumbria has criticised local wireless ISP Solway Communications after the provider allegedly failed to honour a pledge to withdraw its claim on a number of postcodes in the Parish, which has prevented Openreach (BT) from building a new “fibre broadband” (FTTC) cabinet in the area.

The situation appears to be related to the story that we ran last Friday, which saw residents of another Cumbrian community (Welton) complain that they too had been excluded from the county’s state aid supported Connecting Cumbria project because Solway’s network was already alleged to be available in the area (here).

At the time Solway, which does offer a 30Mbps residential family package on their website, acknowledged that they didn’t cover the area and blamed the local authority. Solway claimed that they only informed the council of their antennae locations and capacities and did not determine what areas would be represented by BDUK.

Nick Kittoe, MD of Solway, said:

“The maps which BDUK’s management consultants produced for this purpose are, in our opinion and that of our independent radio-propagation consultants – both of which we have expressed vociferously – wrong as to method, based on incorrect assumptions and, therefore, largely valueless.”

The situation in Hayton appears to be very similar and it’s claimed by the local authority that Solway made a commitment to withdraw the related postcodes in March 2016, which was announced as part of a meeting that had been organised by Connecting Cumbria and Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

However the Hayton Parish Council complains that this still has not happened and that they are thus again at risk of being overlook for a fibre broadband upgrade. Under rules governing the superfast broadband roll-out, state subsidies cannot be applied to the roll-out in areas where a qualifying service is already claimed, and Cabinet no.3 is caught by this rule.

The parish council further claims that a survey was then undertaken to understand the extent of the problem, which “found that almost 75% of properties surveyed were likely to be unable to receive a Superfast broadband service from Solway Communications“.

Raymond Tinnion, Parish Council Chairman, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“The position we’re in is extremely frustrating. The survey suggested a majority of properties can’t receive a Superfast broadband service, yet they are prevented from benefiting under the Connecting Cumbria initiative because Solway Communications still claims to serve their postcodes.

We felt reassured by Mr Kittoe’s agreement at our meeting in March that he would act to rescind his claim if evidence was forthcoming that these properties couldn’t be served by his company. Having had that evidence presented, we are now asking him to honour his pledge without further delay.

Rural Cumbria faces many challenges, and the provision of a modern and capable communication infrastructure is a vital part of ensuring that the Parish’s businesses remain competitive and our communities are viable and attractive for the future.”

One way or another the situation will need to be resolved soon because the next phase of Connecting Cumbria’s project is imminent and the window for inclusion is rapidly closing.

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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5 Responses
  1. Steve Jones

    The OMR guidelines for exclusion status that plans have to be credible and plausible, not just that a service provider has stated they have plans. I realise the local authority don’t want to get sued under state aid rules, but if they’ve gone through due process and haven’t received plausible plans they can presumably go ahead with the BDUK build.

    I also seem to recall that the planned service has to be in the superfast speed region (or else it wouldn’t have been allowed to overbuild ADSL2+ areas close to the exchange).

    • dragoneast

      When I read terms like “credible” and “plausible”, I shudder. What is credible and plausible to me, isn’t to my neighbour. Politicians and Councils aren’t courts (as much as they sometimes would love to act as though they are). They’re lazy (like the rest of us) and take short cuts, or in other words make snap judgements. Otherwise we’d never get the work done, since we’re never willing to pay the cost. The only surprising thing is that this sort of thing happens so rarely. So it’s OK then.

      But seriously, who ever thought you didn’t need to complain to get things done (well. properly, at least)?

    • Steve Jones

      @dragoneast

      Legislation and regulations are absolutely full of terms such as reasonable and plausible. It is left up to courts and tribunals to interpret what these mean in context. It simply isn’t possible to define all issues in completely unambiguous terms, desirable as that might appear to be. Sometimes judgement has to be used, and in the case of a network operator “laying claim” to an area, then there have to be certain criteria such as the viability of their proposal, is there finance, is there a track record and so on. If there wasn’t, then it would be open to any network operator to effectively block state aid in an area just in case.

  2. Patrick Cosgrove

    I seem to recall (not sure from where) that an OMR after Phase 1 can be applied at premises level rather than postcode level. If it couldn’t, given the fragmented geography left from Opnreach’s rollout, every new OMR would be sabotaged by companies simply trying it on in order to claim new territory. I hope I’m right on this.

  3. Jamie

    Much rather have BT install its network that is open to competition than to have one provider that charges much more.

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