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Cross-Party UK Inquiry Finds Failing BT Must Invest More into Broadband

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 (8:53 am) - Score 1,450

The cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into the coverage and performance of “superfast broadband” in the United Kingdom has today published its outcome, which heavily criticises BT for “over-reliance” on its old copper network, “significantly” under investing in Openreach and their “lack of ambition” towards rolling out ultrafast FTTP/H services.

According to the ‘Establishing world-class connectivity throughout the UK‘ (PDF 1,4MB) report, the UK is currently doing well in comparison to similar EU countries on superfast broadband deployment (i.e. good coverage, take-up and low prices). But in the same breath it warns that BT’s “over-reliance on Openreach’s copper access network, and its supposed lack of ambition for driving fibre to the premises across the country, could result in a hard-to-solve digital divide beyond 2020.”

Dido Harding, CEO of UK ISP Talk Talk, said:

“This report puts beyond doubt the need for radical reform of Openreach. MPs have concluded that Openreach is not fit for purpose and is letting Britain down. As Ofcom considers how to improve Britain’s broadband, it should feel emboldened to know it has cross-party political support to be radical.

BT’s broken promises risk creating a two-tier digital Britain, with millions of homes and businesses denied fast, reliable broadband. Britain needs an independent Openreach, freed from the shackles of BT and able to invest in world-class technology for the whole country, not just parts of it. After years of suffering, customers deserve nothing less.”

At present the existing £1.7bn (public funding) Broadband Delivery UK programme and related projects have already helped to make fixed line “super-fast broadband” (24Mbps+) speeds available to 90% of premises (here) and a second phase will take this to 95% by 2017/18 and possibly 97% by 2019. The vast majority of this state-aid supported work involves contracts with BT, which has predominantly been deploying its cheaper ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL) technology.

On top of that BT (Openreach) and Virgin Media are separately working, via commercial investment, to expand their latest hybrid-fibre (G.fast and DOCSIS 3.0/3.1) “ultrafast” (100-300Mbps+) connections to around 60%+ of the UK by 2020, which is mostly focused on the easy low hanging fruit of urban and suburban areas. In keeping with that both BT and Virgin have very recently pledged to do more Gigabit-capable pure fibre optic FTTP/H broadband (here and here).

Lest we not forget the FTTP/H trials from TalkTalk and Sky Broadband, as well as the commitment from alternative network ISPs like Gigaclear, B4RN, Hyperoptic and Cityfibre plus many more. All of those are working to expand pure fibre optic connectivity to more premises, but today’s report suggests that this may not be good enough and more must still be done.

Meanwhile the strategy for closing the final 3% gap, which is partly dependent upon the new EU State Aid agreement (details here), is not yet concrete and seems to depend upon the introduction of a legally-binding 10Mbps for all Universal Service Obligation (USO) for 2020 (here and here). The new report supports the USO, but warns that it must be designed to “incentivise investment, without creating consumer detriment or overly inhibiting take-up” and could be raised to 30Mbps by 2022.

However it’s clear that most of the criticism is being firmly directed at BT’s feet, with a strong focus upon the group’s network access division (Openreach). The committee also recommends that Ofcom must keep the option of splitting BT from Openreach firmly on the table (Strategic Review), in case they don’t improve. Ofcom are due to publish a final statement on this within the next few weeks.

Inquiry Statement

The Committee says BT has exploited its position to make strategic decisions that “favour the Group’s priorities and interests” – and is likely to have sacrificed shareholder value and customer benefit as a result. Capital investment in Openreach has been broadly flat since 2009 until this year, and quality of service remains poor.

The Committee is demanding that BT invest significantly more in Openreach, and allow Openreach much more autonomy over what it invests, when and where. It supports Ofcom’s plans for establishing greater separation between Openreach and BT Group, but makes clear that if BT fails to “offer the reforms and investment assurances necessary to satisfy our concerns“, Ofcom should move to enforce full separation of Openreach.

In the Committee’s judgement, Ofcom has not placed enough emphasis in the past on improving Openreash’s quality of service: it says the prospect of stiffer penalties should also encourage BT to voluntarily invest more in infrastructure.

As usual the committee has published a long list of recommendations alongside its report, although the short summary of those is as follows. We should point out that the report talks a lot about bringing superfast broadband to the final 5% of the UK, although it’s widely expected that BDUK will now reach 97% coverage and so really it’s the final 3% that matters most.

Key Recommendations


* The lack of transparency in BT Openreach’s costs and deployment plans in relation to the BDUK programme has stifled local competition and thwarted other network providers’ planning.

* BT has allowed service quality levels to remain low at Openreach in recent years = from an arguably low base – while investment in Openreach has been flat. Ofcom was slow to introduce minimum service standards with financial penalties for Openreach, some nine years after its creation.

* The shortfall in investment in Openreach could potentially be hundreds of millions of pounds a year. It arises because BT appears to be deliberately investing in higher-risk, higher-return assets such as media properties, and not investing in profitable lower risk infrastructure and services through Openreach.

* BT Group is exploiting the position of vertical integration to make strategic decisions that favour the Group’s priorities and interests, at the expense of its access infrastructure business. Its current structure allows it to use Openreach’s utility-type assets to cross-subsidise riskier activities elsewhere in the Group, while significantly under-investing in the access infrastructure and services on which a large part of the public rely.


* Ofcom’s charge control regime has kept a downward pressure on prices, so that the UK’s communications prices are among the lowest compared with similar EU countries. But this mechanism has not been successful in holding Openreach to an adequate quality of service; and it is an open question how effective overall it has been in stimulating investment in Openreach’s infrastructure.

Reaching the “final five percent”

* For those households and businesses in the “final five percent” there will need to be judicious deployments of interim technology solutions to provide improved connectivity to those households and businesses which currently have little or no coverage.

* The challenge of reaching the final five per cent is likely to demand the active and willing co-operation of local communities wherever possible. BDUK will need to offer guidance and support in key areas such as: choosing the right technology solutions, raising finance, stimulating demand and minimising other costs of provision.

Expanding the USO

* That there is a compelling case for expanding the current USO (Universal Service Obligation) for telephony and dial-up internet to cover broadband, given the vital role it plays in people’s lives. The report notes that “the need for an increase in the USO minimum download speed to 30Mbps by 2022 is entirely foreseeable, and the Government should be making active plans for this eventuality,” although it supports a 10Mbps USO for now because there is “no advantage in setting the USO” too high before the right infrastructure exists to deliver it. On top of that it warns that “a higher specification would force industry to pass on the extra cost to consumers as well as in higher charges.”

* Ideally, the USO must be designed so as not to impose too great a burden on industry: to incentivise investment, without creating consumer detriment or overly inhibiting take-up. The committee sees BT has being able to do most of the heavy lifting here (e.g. Long Reach VDSL / FTTC), but it also warns that a balance must be struck in order to prevent the USO becoming a tool that would support a monopoly position and thus discourage investment from alternative networks.

No doubt BT would argue, exactly as it did yesterday (here), that they’ve already made big improvements to their customer service and have continued to invest in new broadband infrastructure. In fairness, it’s worth considering that the roll-out of their “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services actually began in 2009, which also occurred during one of the UK’s worst recessions.

A BT Group Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

We are disappointed to be criticised for having invested more than £1bn a year in infrastructure when the UK was emerging from recession and rival companies invested little. As the report acknowledges BT’s investment has made the UK a broadband leader among the major economies in Europe.

Today’s report is in any case largely historic given Openreach investment is 30 percent higher than it was two years ago and it will grow again this year. We are already pumping in hundreds of millions of pounds of extra money and we have also committed to invest a further six billion pounds over the next three years.

We agree that service levels have to improve and yesterday we announced that we are making significant progress in this area. Thousands of engineers have been recruited and we are fixing repairs and installing new lines quicker than before.

We are in discussions with Ofcom about increasing the autonomy of Openreach and are hopeful that a settlement is possible that will meet the concerns of the committee. Separating Openreach from BT would lead to less investment, not more, and would fatally undermine the aims of the committee.”

The full 101-page report covers a lot of different areas and appears to represent a reasonably balanced study of the market, which in many ways mirrors the initial outcome of Ofcom’s Strategic Review from earlier this year. Never the less it remains to be seen how much of what they recommend will actually be accepted into future policy and regulation, but the pressure on BT has clearly been turned up a few notches.

The committee itself were sadly unable to cover a number of “significant” consumer issues, not least with regards to “misleading ‘up to speeds’” (broadband advertising), as well as the standard of customer service from ISPs and how the recent Brexit vote (leaving the EU) could affect the EU laws for telecoms, Internet, broadcasting and transmission services (e.g. the position over roaming mobile charges).

In keeping with the above issues, the committee has proposed to return to these during autumn 2016 by holding “one-off evidence sessions” to look at a variety of specific areas.

UPDATE 11:39am

A comment from Cityfibre has just come in.

Mark Collins, Cityfibre’s Director of Strategy, said:

“We welcome this morning’s report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Exposing BT’s underinvestment in UK digital infrastructure is long overdue. CityFibre has campaigned the need of sustainable competition to Openreach and significant further investment in fibre infrastructure. As this report highlights, Openreach’s legacy networks are not able to meet the requirements and demands of businesses, local government and consumers. Competitive investment in fit-for-purpose fibre infrastructure is now critical, and this need must be recognised and supported by both the Government and Ofcom.

Ofcom’s historical desire to regulate to lowest prices and devalue infrastructure investments must be curtailed. We need a regulatory and policy environment that underpins the building of new digital networks across the UK. A restructured Openreach will continue to have an important role to play in the future, but it cannot, and should not, anchor the entire UK broadband infrastructure alone – its poor performance is testament to this. Today’s report recognises the need to foster a competitive environment where the role of alternative network providers are encouraged and supported to ensure the UK’s digital infrastructure is capable of meeting current and future demands.”

UPDATE 1:10pm

The ISPA has responded to express its belief that a mixture of technologies, supported by “highly targeted public funding” is the best way to meet the challenge of connecting the final 5%. The Committee recommends limiting the burden of a USO on industry, thus the ISPA says that it should be supported via public funding rather than an industry levy (tax).

However the ISPA also believes that the Committee could have gone further, such as by calling for reform of the VOA’s fibre-tax and wayleave agreements that add time and cost to deployments of vital infrastructure. In fairness, the Government’s new Digital Economy Bill does hint at improvements to wayleaves through changes to the Electronic Communications Code.

James Blessing, ISPA Chair, said:

“ISPA members have invested hugely in bringing superfast broadband to the vast majority of the country utilising a variety of technologies and we re-iterate our call for the new Government to spell out its vision for broadband. ISPA supports the objectives of a USO, but given the socio-economic benefits of broadband we feel public funding should be considered as the fairest option.”

UPDATE 3:12pm

Now it’s Gigaclear’s turn and it’s not in the form of a normal comment, so we’ll format it differently.

1. Investment in new infrastructure

Overview: The report highlights the need for more investment in new infrastructure, especially Fibre-to-the-Premises.

“There is a serious public concern that the UK is not adequately investing in critical telecoms infrastructure. The UK is a laggard by international standards in providing fibre connectivity. This could result in a widening, not a narrowing, of the digital divide; especially as demand for faster services escalates after 2020.”

Comment from Matthew Hare: “It’s not enough just to continue to patch and mend the existing copper network. Gigaclear delivers a step change by putting in new FTTP fibre Infrastructure that we expect to be still serving homes and businesses in 50 years’ time.”

2. Investment for the ‘final five percent’

Overview: The report is highly supportive of a 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation and looks to support funding from the telecoms industry.

“The Government has determined that probably the most effective way of providing access to broadband for those in the “final five percent”, whether in rural, urban or suburban not-spots, is through the introduction of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) whereby a householder or a small business would have the legally enforceable right to an affordable and reliable internet connection.”

Comment from Matthew Hare: “Gigaclear believes that the bare minimum for the USO should be 10Mbps: our own entry level products run symmetrically at 50Mbps, and the demand for much higher performance is already there.”

3. Competition from BT

Overview: The report suggests that BT has kept rollout plans confidential, thus putting other ISPs and operators at a disadvantage.

“A further downside of the BDUK programme has been the lack of transparency in Openreach’s costs and deployment plans, the apparent effect of which has been to stifle local competition and thwart other network providers’ planning.”

Comment from Matthew Hare: “Planning our own investments when we have no sight of where BT will be upgrading their network using taxpayer’s funds is difficult for Gigaclear and for homes and businesses in the affected areas. It still seems incredible to us that BT does not publish detailed plans of its proposed paid-for roll-out.”

4. BT overbuilding networks in Oxfordshire

Overview: The report discloses that Oxfordshire County Council allowed BT to overbuild on Gigaclear’s networks due to existing contracts with BT and a lack of confidence in Gigaclear to deliver.

“Gigaclear cited 24 incidents to us in Oxfordshire where its networks had been overbuilt by BT’s BDUK deployment. In response, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) explained that when the Council had signed a contract with BT in 2013, although it had excluded some areas from BDUK deployment, as a result of Gigaclear’s existing and planned fibre network, some areas were not excluded owing to uncertainty over Gigaclear’s size and viability as a relatively new market entrant.”

Comment from Matthew Hare: “Different counties have taken different approaches to commercial investment by Gigaclear: some have worked hard to incorporate Gigaclear’s plans into their own programmes, to extend their funding to as many homes and businesses as far as possible by getting BT to modify their plans and upgrade their network to superfast in areas that would otherwise have received no upgrade at all.”

Leave a Comment
55 Responses
  1. Ignition says:

    It is true that BT invest less as a percentage of their revenue in CapEx than their European peers.

    It is also true that BT are paying out pretty high dividends, returning cash to shareholders potentially at the expense of CapEx.

    What I don’t understand is why this is the case, and hopefully the report will analyse some of this.

    I’m very interested in reading this report when I next have insomnia.

  2. chris conder says:

    Wonder how much that report cost? We seem quite good at writing reports. Shame we don’t do owt about them once written.

    1. GNewton says:

      BT suffers from a severe “Can’t Do” culture, as is evident from the Cross-Party findings. It needs to act like a real commercial company, and not like a beggar for taxpayer’s money.

    2. Ignition says:

      The complaint being levelled is that it is acting as a commercial company, too much like one, maximising profits and shareholder returns over infrastructure investment.

  3. Matthew Williams says:

    It is true though that BTs strat for the future is keeping the copper going as long as possible. One of the big reasons people were pleased about G.Fast is because at first it looked like FTTDP was going to be use dominantly along with G.Fast to push the fibre very close to people’s homes. Also there was talk of a new revamped Fibre on demand from the DP for the last bit if people wanted to go that route.

    But now it seems it will in vast majority of areas just be another small box next to there FTTC Cabinet this doesn’t push fibre any closer and eventually we will have to go FTTP and BT will have wasted billions on G.fast.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I doubt they’ll waste billions, as a commercial company it must make sense for them to keep up with the likes of Virgin Media and consumer demand by adopting the cheapest / fastest to roll-out approach to delivering an affordable ultrafast solution.

      Likewise the investment they’ve put into FTTC and G.fast is within their existing expenditure and won’t simply go to waste. By bringing fibre optic cables much closer to premises they’ve made it easier to expand FTTP/H into homes later on, which is what we’ll see more of in urban areas over the next few years.

      On the other hand, they could definitely have done a lot more had the top-level drive and shareholder backing been there to support it.

    2. Ignition says:

      ‘Likewise the investment they’ve put into FTTC and G.fast is within their existing expenditure…’

      I think, Mark, that’s part of the MPs’ problem. Openreach CapEx hasn’t really budged in years, despite the NGA deployment. It’s a reasonable question to ask how, with all this additional expenditure, Openreach managed to keep within the existing CapEx envelope.

      The MPs see dividends steadily going up, investment apparently remaining constant.

      BT have gone for a wide, fast and cheap deployment. This is fine for right now, however there is, of course, the potential for it to prove insufficient at some point in the future.

      Whether that’ll happen we’ll see I guess.

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      I don’t disagree on that, I just wouldn’t call it a wasted investment, it’s pushed the core fibre a lot closer to homes and that’s a big part of what they’ve spent so far.

    4. Ignition says:

      It certainly isn’t a wasted expense, however I am interested to see the business case for G.fast longer term as it seems for right now to rely extensively on the existing FTTC fibre and power delivery.

      I guess for me it’s not about where BT are doing pod-based G.fast but if/when they start pushing fibre even deeper. Doesn’t need to be DP, Swisscom have done FTTS.

    5. Matt says:

      I’m not saying that FTTC was a waste as that has pushed fibre closer to the premises but it’s looking like G.Fast won’t at all will just be a new cabinet in majority of areas. That to me screams off wasted money on those cabinets they will just be useless when FTTP comes and we all know eventually it will. It surely makes more sense in a long term economic sense to do a mix of G.Fast with FTTDP/FTTS and mix of FTTP it will push fibre closer to the premises.

      Compare Virgins investment at moment with BTs there’s is far more future proof where as BT just aren’t.

    6. MikeW says:

      I agree that the money spent so far hasn’t been wasted – it has had a positive effect on getting fibre considerably deeper. I happen to agree with the breadth-first policy.

      The next stage, G.Fast on pods, doesn’t appear like it will send fibre any deeper, but it does take better advantage of the fibre where it currently sits. Yes, cabinet-based pods is not the original expectation for G.Fast – but the actual outcome of G.Fast (plus its next 2 iterations) equally defies those original expectations.

      But more is undoubtedly needed.

      The question of CapEx is indeed the key point. Although the headline total might be described as flat (it doesn’t look that way to me, but heh), BT make the counterpoint that Ofcom’s charging regime is designed to cause cCapEx to reduce … there is an implicit expectation, therefore, that more – much more – can be done with a flat CapEx.

      Is it enough? Should it be more? The devil is in the detail, and I look forward to seeing the nuances in the report; tonight looks a good one for insomnia 😉

      One significant step is that back in 2009, BT had to work to get funding for NGA – which has amounted to a stated £300-400m pa CapEx within Openreach. Roll on into 2015/16, and BT now seem to have that pegged as “expected annual spending” for ongoing rollout. That is a step-change in perception, if nothing else.

    7. MikeW says:

      “Wasted money … when FTTP comes”

      The money spent on electronic bobbins is not insignificant, so you make an interesting point.

      There was a Nesta report that concluded…
      “The discounted cost of FTTH deployment in 2016
      is the same as
      The discounted cost of deploying G.fast in 2016 and overbuilding with FTTH in 2023

      If FTTH not needed before 2023, better to deploy G.fast (though deploying neither in 2016 may be preferable)”

      And that conclusion was reached before the G.Fast potential for longer lines was understood (by “longer”, I mean lines of 300-400m compared to the “shorter” lines of 50-100m that G.Fast was originally aimed at).

  4. DC says:

    I do sympathise with BT, they have done far more good to the telecommunications network than they are given credit for, however, have they become to big to the extent that the ordinary Joe is pushed away and tried to be ignored? I use my scenario as an example. I live about 800 metres from the FTTC distribution box in a semi rural area. I get around 19Mb down and 2.1Mb up. My estimates on a clean line are 37/14.2 and on a “dirty” line 29/7. There is one stretch of overhead cable around 70 metres in length which has had tree branches rubbing on and damaging in three separate locations, the result is three joints in this close proximity. As soon as it rains or is windy, my connection drops to below 5/1. There’s another length of cable approx 100 metres in length, which goes underground in front of a church. I’ve had 3 separate engineers out testing my connection. All of them tell me that there is around a 30Mb drop just along this length. They all agree that it needs replaced, but 4 years on and it still remains. Through my work I deal with BT engineers often, when I tell them about my situation, they all shake their head and agree that it should be remedied, and if it was “Their area” their manager would sign it off straight away. That is my frustration with Openreach, they seem to do as they like, wherever they like and nothing/nobody can ever do anything about it.

  5. Stuart Andrews says:

    Want to start replacing alumimum cable with fibre first, then look at the copper.
    Had a persistant fault here, in the end they had to replace the rotten alumimum which was the cause.

  6. jeep says:

    please could someone explain how g/fast would improve my fttc product, as I understand from past comments it is another box sat next to the fttc one which in my case is approx. 300m up the road, as I am fed by pole this to me wouldn’t seem to make any difference to my speeds etc ? many thanks to any replies from you in the know people.

    1. NGA for all says:

      At 300 metres your at that cusp where only a marginal gain is possible from G.Fast. To make a meaningful difference a fibre would need to be brought onto a pole closer to your home.

    2. New_Londoner says:

      I don’t agree with the above comment. From previous stories etc, I think you would expect approx. 300mbps download speed given BT has publicly stated it is targeting 300Mbps at 300m using G.Fast.

    3. NGA for all says:

      @Jeep Go with New Londoner, 250-300m was an ITU reference. BT implementation will need to use 106Mhz to achieve the 300Mbps referred too.

    4. Ignition says:

      Wasn’t aware G.fast came in anything other than 106MHz or higher flavours?

    5. NGA for all says:

      Ignition, indeed, at that throughout I thought you must using 212. Can you confirm the vectoring and the frequency range for Jeep, 300Mbps at 300m is what New Londoner is advising? What is the upload performance?

    6. MikeW says:

      It depends on some of the future improvements to G.Fast.

      Right now, the ITU standardised version has target speeds for only short lines of up to 250m (but really targetting up to 100-150m), and it turns out that the equipment can meet those requirements easily.

      As a result, BT (and other telcos) have started asking for a longer-range variant of G.Fast that likely would improve lines like yours. As @NGA mis-tells, the best improvement will come from use of the full 2-106MHz spectrum, but BT will have to co-exist with VDSL2 for a long time, so can only use the 20-106MHz spectrum; that will reduce speeds from the “best possible”.

      BT have asked for the improvements, researchers are working on them, and chipset manufacturers are getting them to work. It’ll still take another year+ to get all the ducks in a row, and have deployable hardware.

    7. NGA for all says:

      @MikeW – so for Jeep at 300m what is your best judgement?

      I was happy to be corrected by New-Londoner. I said marginal gain based on ITU sheets I had studied but these could be out of date. New-Londoner, said 300Mbps at 300m. This is a good gain. More than happy to be corrected.
      Is the latter your understanding?

    8. MikeW says:

      This is what Sckipio were touting last year as their “best achievement” speeds (ie beyond the current standards):

      This is what Sckipio are touting this year in the same vein, but labelled this time:

      Using this image to decode things: https://postimg.org/image/fymool6z5/
      it appears that the labels mean
      – “Target” = old targets
      – “Today” = can be achieved with “amendment 2” (ie BT’s longer range requirements)
      – “Amend 3” = can be achieved with “amendment 3” (ie using 212MHz and/or coax for America)

      It very much looks like the “300Mb at 300m” comes from the long-range requirements, and not from the “212MHz” changes, which look to pete r out at 250m.

      The original ITU requirements were:
      o 500-1000 Mb/s for FTTB deployments at less than 100m, straight loops
      o 500 Mb/s at 100m
      o 200 Mb/s at 200m
      o 150 Mb/s at 250m
      o Aggregate service rates of equal to or more than 500 Mb/s with start frequency of 23 MHz and VHF and DAB bands notches

    9. MikeW says:

      My judgement?

      Unfortunately, I really cannot tell. We can be sure that real-life performance will be some fraction of the best lab results, but the question is … how much. The answer is unknown to me, so I remain open-minded.

      The graphs do give us some idea of just where the research is focussing, and what level of improvement we might expect of the separate amendments.

    10. Ignition says:

      You should see some substantial benefit from G.fast, jeep.

      Sadly at 500m away the same cannot be said for me 🙁

    11. NGA for all says:

      @mikeW – that is why I said marginal in the first response, I was reading the same information as you, but you know more.
      @New_Londoner – 300Mbps at 300m, what are your assumptions to make that statement? Likely frequency block used, vectoring type used and assumptions on sharing with VDSL. , even the assumption on the grade of copper?

    12. MikeW says:

      I guess it is worth remembering that each DSL generation has been a step-change in speeds, of around 3-4x the previous generation. Offering 300/50 to someone getting 80/20 at 300m actually just follows that tradition.

      I think the current-generation hardware can get (350Mb at 150m, 230Mb at 200m, 150Mb at 250m) in real life deployment, without using the 2-20MHz spectrum.

      I suspect the numbers might be closer to (500Mb at 150m, 400Mb at 250m, 300Mb at 350m) with the long-range amendments, and perhaps better when 212MHz working finally comes into play.

    13. NGA for all says:

      @mikeW Thank you. Look forward to the service.

  7. GNewton says:

    “The lack of transparency in BT Openreach’s costs and deployment plans in relation to the BDUK programme has stifled local competition”

    This is very true, and is one of the reasons why the BDUK has been a long term failure. We tried several Freedom of Information enquiries into local BDUK coverages, and both the county and BT are hiding behind so-called commercial confidentiality clauses.

    1. TheManStan says:

      What needs to happen is for a few of the projects to be fully audited.
      Then at least we could have an executive summary which would either endorse expenditure or the auditors refusing to sign off on accounts… the status quo doesn’t help either the public or politicos have any confidence in the BDUK process being value for money.

    2. NGA for all says:

      @TheManStan – I concur. Even in this report Para 23 says £124m capital might be owed, while Para 16 refers to a £268m contribution. Para 168 provides a BT table with a forecast for 2015/16 for more than half the money claimed. BT conceeded their were counting work in progress as capital in their written evidence.
      No LA project manager I have spoken with can state they have received a direct capital contribution from BT.
      How can you plan efficiently in these circumstances?

    3. Ignition says:

      I’m not convinced BDUK has been a failure let alone a long term one. It set out to achieve objectives and appears to be doing so. The amount of public funding available was relatively modest, the objectives and results reflect this.

      As an aside the contribution from BT to the projects includes operational expenditure as well as capital. Due to the manner of deployment this is non-trivial

    4. NGA for all says:

      @Ignition, the issue is not BDUK, the issue is the decision by BT to game its costs.
      The £258m clawback which is likely to grow – fixes half of the 2012 Gambit. We now need the same attention on BT capital contribution.
      Para 168 – states BT capex is £485m, but not one LA project can confirm it. They are expecting it, predicting it, anticipating it even, but none seeing it yet, perhaps this is sitting in a BT capital accrual waiting to be allocated.

      Putting that aside, significant progress has been made but think how much can be done given that most if not all of phase 1 can be recycled into final 5% and in-fill.

    5. TheFacts says:

      @NGA – How did the counties and BDUK manage to set up a contract where they did not have the information they needed? Is this typical of government contracts?

    6. TheFacts says:

      @GN – more some counties the phase 2 tender shows phase 1 coverage.

    7. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: So how did your Freedom of Information requests go then? Care to share the details with us?

    8. fastman says:

      The lack of transparency in BT Openreach’s costs and deployment plans in relation to the BDUK programme has stifled local competition” – G Newton — really me please mane one and where they were going to invest ?

    9. MikeW says:

      Everyone seems to miss the fact that “local competition” didn’t need to get stifled. It could have stifled BDUK funds if it only put its plans forward during the tender process.

      The BDUK-funded plans were the provider of last resort, to be spent where no-one would rightly go.

      Why would “local competition” suddenly be stifled by not knowing where BDUK was going? All it needed to do was tell the council where it would go – at the right point in the tender process – to stop BDUK in its tracks.


  8. karl says:

    “No doubt BT would argue, exactly as it did yesterday (here), that they’ve already made big improvements to their customer service….”

    Funny how that statement came days before reports and complaints start tearing them a new one…. AGAIN.

  9. David Wilson says:

    We as a household have been using the internet since it came into existence. We have paid thro the nose for this service from BT. We recently changed our provider to sky and the download speeds immediately went up to 1.7 mps. This is about double the speed we had for years with BT. It would be quicker to walk down to the exchange box and throw packets of data at it than transmit it over wire if it wasn’t 5.2 miles away! When I read of the download speeds most are getting I feel shoddily treated by BT.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Unfortunately without 100% coverage some miss out. Nobody has ever suggested who they should be…

    2. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: No problem for you, with your fancy nationwide FTTP deployment idea paid for by the government, see your posts from about 1 1/2 years ago.

      How about you come up with a realistic proposal for David Wilson, and others in a similar situation, rather than posting irrelevant statements or questions? Do you agree with the Cross-Party findings here, or not?

    3. karl says:

      “Do you agree with the Cross-Party findings here, or not?”

      Of course he doesn’t everyone is a liar and troll except BT

    4. fastman says:

      David Wilson so where are – in location — curions comment paid through the nose for BT I assume that is the service prover rather than operator

      Karl — glad so see you as positive / objective as ever

    5. karl says:

      Glad to see you still dodging simple questions like “Do you agree with the Cross-Party findings here, or not?”

      Continuing to defend an organisation that even a cross party group of MPs ‘heavily criticises’.

      Your PR line manager will be proud.

    6. TheFacts says:

      @GN – David should contact Virgin, Hyperoptic, Cityfibre, TalkTalk and the other companies installing broadband.

    7. fastman says:

      Karl frankly offered some David Wilson some support which he can accect or reject after working an 18 hour day yesterday — so karl so are someone else in Disguise – your posts look remarkably similar from someelse else here) and where the Country are you ?

    8. karl says:

      Lets try that again shall we…

      Do you agree with the Cross-Party findings here, or not?

    9. GNewton says:

      @TheFacts: Do you have any realistic proposals for David, other than resorting to your sarcasm and irrelevant statements? Something from the real world? Also, what is your position on the Cross-Party findings?

    10. karl says:

      He will not answer reasonable questions like “Do you agree with the Cross-Party findings here, or not?” as usual yet continues to pester users with his own pointless and meaningless questions like the example to me below. http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/07/select-committee-inquire-concludes-uk-needs-radical-broadband-upgrade.html#comment-168123

  10. FibreFred says:

    I’ve not read the document but can someone tell me whether it states how much other providers are investing in FTTP across the UK?

    Total of all other suppliers, or breakdown per

    Seen as BT isn’t the only provider….

  11. fastman says:

    so karl what have you invested — I do wonder if we have met !!!!

    1. karl says:

      Im not even sure what that question means. If it is asking have i invested anything towards broadband in this country then, i am even more confused by the question.

      Any investment i have or have not made has/is NOT been subject to a government inquiry. My investment or lack of, does not need your personal and unimportant attention on the matter.

  12. Billy says:

    I’ll be happy when FTTV (fibre to the village), arrives, this waxed-paper insulated copper that BT put in in 1955, doesn’t really cut the mustard any more. I’m really looking forward to a 10Mbps USO…

    1. fastman says:

      what is FTTV ?

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