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Overbuilding Error Leaves Cumbria Village Without “Fibre Broadband”

Friday, May 20th, 2016 (1:41 pm) - Score 1,024
welton_cumbria_uk

Residents of Welton, which is a small rural village in Cumbria (England), have vented their anger at the local authority after they were excluded from being within the scope of BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) roll-out due to a wrongful fear of NGA network overbuilding.

Strictly speaking the regional Connecting Cumbria project, which is currently aiming to roll-out “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to reach 95% of premises in the county by around mid-2018, should ideally have included Welton as part of the consultation phase for the local Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) contract in 2014.

The village currently suffers from extremely slow broadband speeds of around 1Mbps and one of Openreach’s (BT) high capacity fibre optic cables already passes nearby, which would have made it easier to connect than most such communities.

Sadly the Cumbria County Council did not include the village in their plans because a fixed wireless network, delivered via Solway Communications, “has stated they can deliver broadband to Welton,” said a council spokesperson. EU state aid rules limit the use of public funding in situations where there is a risk of overbuilding another superfast capable network.

However Solway, which does offer a 30Mbps residential family package on their website, claims 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 (News and Start):

“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 outcome means that the BDUK subsidised roll-out has oddly been approved for use in some areas where Solway’s network already exists and also in other areas, such as Welton, where it doesn’t. But getting such errors corrected can often be an uphill struggle.

In the meantime locals have been left with the option of either clubbing together to fund an expensive community project (not so easy with only a few homes in the village) or taking a subsidised Satellite or Wireless connection, although they might not even be eligible for the latter due to the same error. Incidentally Solway are also members of the subsidy scheme.

Solway must perhaps also take some of the blame for failing to provide a clearer confirmation of coverage to the council.

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar InterestedInProgess

    I thought Councils based coverage on postcode data provided by suppliers through open market reviews not on infrastructure location? Surely Solway must have stated they were delivering Superfast to these postcodes for them to be excluded?

  2. Avatar Stuck InTheSlowLane

    This is happening around Hayton in Cumbria, to the east of Carlisle too. Solway have grabbed postcodes they can’t serve, and despite previous undertakings to relinquish claims to them so that state aid can be applied to upgrade our local cabinet to FTTC, are now refusing to do so.

  3. Avatar High in Fibre

    If the model of Connecting Cumbria is to be used for rolling out the USO (http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/05/queens-speech-2016-no-big-broadband-connectivity-surprises.html) then these problems must get sorted. Otherwise the nation will be liberally peppered with communities where Alternative Service Providers cannot provide and Openreach cannot reach.

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