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Broadband Delivery UK and the 1 Million Virgin Media Premises Overbuild

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 (11:51 am) - Score 9,188
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New research has estimated that between 950,000 and 1.1 million premises, which were already being catered for by Virgin Media’s cable broadband network, have been overbuilt by networks (e.g. Openreach (BT)) supported through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK project.

At present the national BDUK programme, which is fuelled by £1.6bn+ of public investment, is aiming to help extend the reach of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to 95% of the United Kingdom by the end of 2017 (they’re currently at nearly 94%) and possibly 98% by around 2020.

It’s important to recognise that the first c.70-75% of UK coverage (estimate) was largely achieved by commercial deployments via Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media (plus some smaller altnets), while most of the final 25-30% is benefiting from the work being supported by BDUK and their suppliers (Openreach, Gigaclear, Airband etc.).

Under EU state aid rules this public subsidy shouldn’t be used in areas where an existing superfast network is already present – assuming the network has identified itself as part of a local Open Market Review (OMR) or other accepted process – because it would waste tax payers money and risk distorting competition.

Over the years we have of course seen examples where the OMR process doesn’t work quite as intended or councils are slow to adapt when new network operators deploy into the area, which can result in a clash between those supported by BDUK and those using purely private investment. However that’s another story and today we’re focused on the known Virgin Media overbuild.

The EU Position on UK State Aid for Broadband

Only projects that are confined to “NGA white areas“, where no operator is willing to invest in NGA infrastructure without State aid in the next three years, are eligible to receive aid pursuant to the measure under examination.

What is more, where a broadband network already exists, the measure requires that a “step change” be achieved; the public intervention must result in significantly better broadband capacity and thus service availability and the selected bidder must carry out significant new investments in the existing broadband networks.

Thus, in line with paragraph 51 of Broadband Guidelines, such an open infrastructure brings significant new capabilities to the market as it provides further multiplication of distribution nodes, shortens “the last mile” to end-users and allows for competition between operators which will provide access to final customers.

In the rules there is some recognition that in complicated network environments a limited degree of overbuild may exist and even be unavoidable (e.g. at the edges of a network and on wireless platforms). On top of that any new state aid supported network must deliver a “step change” in performance (e.g. the UK requires that “download speeds have to be at least doubled … and substantially higher upload speeds need to be provided“).

On this point we should highlight that the majority of BDUK supported deployments have involved the use of ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable FTTC (VDSL2) lines, which are of course a lot slower than the ultrafast cable connections that Virgin Media typically sell (currently up to 350Mbps).

Despite this it’s long been known that BDUK supported projects have overbuilt some of Virgin Media’s network, which in the real-world would be difficult to avoid without leaving an unacceptably large number of premises isolated (stuck on slow connections) between the two operators. For example, Openreach may build a new FTTC street cabinet that serves 200 lines but find that 50 of those serve premises within Virgin’s area.

Back in 2014 Virgin’s Head of Public Affairs, Daniel Butler, told ISPreview.co.uk that they were working with councils to ensure proper use of state aid (here). “There is no need or value for the taxpayer in using public funds to build networks where they already exist,” said Butler. Fast forward to the end of 2015 and Virgin began calling on the EU to tackle the “unacceptable risk of overbuild of existing networks” (here), but little happened.

Scale of the Overbuild

One of the biggest question marks in this whole affair has of course been the issue of scale and related funding. Just how many of Virgin Media’s premises have actually been overbuilt by BDUK supported deployments and precisely how is the allocation of state aid impacted when such a situation occurs? A lot of assumptions have been made about this over the years and many are often incorrect, so we’ve set about trying to clarify.

Andrew Ferguson of Thinkbroadband, which is just about the only reliable and independent source of such detailed coverage data, was able to harness their vast database and analysis system to produce a figure for the overlap. Overall the prediction is that the overbuild impacts around 950,000 to 1.1 million premises across the UK (we picked c.1 million in the headline as a middle ground), although more work on this needs to be done and even the coverage data provided by ISPs won’t always be 100% accurate.

Andrew Ferguson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Analysis of the broadband roll-outs is a very dynamic time consuming job and while it is possible to roll the clock back for even deeper analysis, without access to all the corresponding Open Market Review data and invoices the local authorities are paying, it is very difficult to pin down precise figures and it is highly likely that different authorities are approaching the overlap issue differently while remaining within the BDUK framework.

The time and effort required to pin down the precise costing for an individual premise that was or was not overlapped when scaled up to a project the size of the BDUK scheme has the potential to keep a number of people employed full time and thus waste money that could be spent on delivering more better broadband.

At the end of the day the BDUK project is not perfect, but how many other Westminster/Local Government projects ever go through phases where savings are being reused to deliver more?”

The c.1 million figure might actually be higher, although some premises have been excluded for key reasons. For example, the figure excludes existing BDUK areas that have later been overbuilt by Virgin Media (c.100,000) as these are less contentious and another c.100,000 that are not superfast from FTTC (VDSL2) but are from cable etc. As the deployment is on-going then the figures remain fluid and thus perfect precision should not be expected.

A Question of Public Funding

Now to the crucial bit. In August 2017 BDUK reported that some that their public investment had so far helped 4,551,226 extra premises across the United Kingdom to be put within reach of a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network (here), although what a lot of people don’t realise is that this figure already excludes the c.1 million overbuild of Virgin Media (otherwise it would be closer to 5.5m) because those aren’t able to use the public subsidy.

A BDUK Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Only infrastructure that is required to target non-superfast premises is eligible for subsidy. If there is overspill to other premises then these are not eligible for subsidy, and they are not counted towards the contractual superfast delivery targets. However, these premises are included in the gainshare calculation, so we benefit from any additional take-up resulting from them.”

Simple enough, although it does raise an obvious question with respect to how you cope with the cost vs public subsidy of a street cabinet that overlaps into Virgin Media’s estate. For example, if a cabinet that gets built and put live costs £30,000 and serves 200 premises, then using a simplified approach – plus no overlap with Virgin – we could put that as a basic £150 per premise intervention cost.

However if the situation is changed and 50 of those 200 premises are already within Virgin Media’s network, then the cabinet itself will still cost the same to deploy (i.e. how does the public investment get separated?). Once again we put this to BDUK and were informed that it’s handled via the gap funding calculation.

A BDUK Spokesperson said:

“In the example you’ve given, the supplier could only claim gap funding for the 150 premises with no overlap. Either the supplier would need to seek more funding for each of the 150 premises (so the subsidy would be spread across 150 rather than 200) or alternatively the premises would not be included in the bid at all.

Note that the supplier also has to provide their own funding – so in the example, they would have to pay their normal commercial contribution for all 200 premises passed.”

No doubt some people will still find fault with the approach that BDUK has taken, particularly if we consider that the new infrastructure might not have been built into a Virgin Media area in the first place without such support, although the complicated reality of modern networks makes it very difficult to completely avoid overbuild. At least the public funding is being balanced to restrict its use in such situations.

NOTE: Gainshare or Clawback is the contract mechanism that returns public funding as take-up of the service rises, which supports reinvestment so that more areas can be upgraded with superfast broadband. This is the reason why BDUK has recently been able to set a higher coverage aspiration of 98% for around 2020 (here).

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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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153 Responses
  1. Avatar Lee

    I know of some here in North Tyneside.

  2. Avatar NGA for all

    The NAO, Audit Wales and Audit Scotland have not reported on these deductions. They should be very cheap cabinets, much lower than the £20-£25k if the gap funding principle is being applied and the BT capital paid. It will be good to see any funds turned into FTTP deep in rural.

  3. Avatar h42422

    —-
    Only projects that are confined to “NGA white areas“, where no operator is willing to invest in NGA infrastructure without State aid in the next three years, are eligible to receive aid pursuant to the measure under examination.
    —-

    Does anyone know what this actually means? Does it still exclude London, or would London areas be eligible as well as long as they fulfil the three year test?

    • NGA just means Next Generation Access or superfast broadband if you prefer.

      One of the problems with dense urban areas is that it becomes much harder for such projects to argue that they are in need of state aid, particularly with so many potential customers existing within a small geographic area. You’d struggle to get a state aid deployment approved, but on the other hand there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach and BDUK has helped to upgrade plenty of locations that we might consider to be urban.

    • Avatar MikeW

      It means that a local authority, while running a BDUK-funded project, has to run an “open market review” to confirm what areas will be allowed to be subsidised.

      The outcome from that review labels every property (or, as a lazy proxy, just labels every postcode) as either “NGA white”, “NGA grey”, or “NGA black” – coded by how many suppliers can provide speeds of 25Mbps+ (in early projects) or 30Mbps+ (in new projects), or plan to over the next 3 years. White = zero suppliers, Grey = 1 supplier, Black = 2 or more suppliers.

      There is nothing about this test that excludes London. It is merely left out because the government chose to allocate it no BDUK funds, so there are no authorities running projects.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Missed a bit:

      Once the OMR has labelled every property, companies like BT then bid for the subsidy to supply service … but they are only allowed to target the “NGA white” premises.

      Overbuild (of grey or black properties) is then allowed as “collateral damage” from targeting NGA white premises. The individual authorities set the rules for their local areas (documented as part of each OMR) to define what overbuild was allowed, and what wasn’t.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @MikeW

      I think OMRs were done at postcode level but actual contracts were done at DP level. I know this to be the case in Suffolk’s phase 2 as properties were originally excluded from upgrade as Openreach’s records of their DPs were incorrectly showing them to be somewhere else.

  4. Avatar MikeW

    Mark,

    I think the section on funding gets the position right – that subsidy depends on the reduced number of premises when calculating the “cost per premises” value for money.

    However, it is good to see a confirmation that BT (in this case) would be expected to calculate their share of the funds based on the higher premises count. Also good to get a confirmation that the gainshare element works over the full property count.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Not one audit report refers to what ought to be increased BT capital contributions, or reduced costs. We should be seeing about £80m worth of contributions or £80m deductions off invoices paid. It may be an adjustment to come as overbuild has been described as incidental by Oxera, yet this is c1/5 of what was intended to be a rural programme. It may translate into more FTTP in rural which will be good if those adjustments have yet to be made.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Why would you expect to see it itemised separately?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Why would you not given the scale? It is huge. It is a systematic overbuild in places of BT’s only infrastructure competitor using public subsidies meant for rural areas. The deductions/contributions have to be recorded and need to be reported on.

    • Avatar Gadget

      putting it another way – if the BT bills submitted take into account the reduction for ineligible lines why and how could the contract demand details of the bits that cannot be claimed, which presumably also into many other non-billable item lines?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gadget – to create what you say, you need the starting point which is a total amount minus what you say. So the original form is needed to prove the workings are accurate. On the thinkbroadband thread on this a BT gentleman with a handle wwwombat confirmed no such deductions were occurring. BDUK pay the bills, and the cost is reported as a cost per premise passed. You only do not pay, by paying more for a fewer number.
      What you say if true, would have been picked up by the audit functions. There is no record of such a practice.

    • Avatar CarlT

      WWWombat is not a BT gentleman.

      Do you have a Google alert for BDUK, NGA?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Carl T no but wwwombat usually a good reference. Is he an LA project manager?

    • Avatar TheManStan

      Why would there be increased capital contributions reportable within BDUK?

      I can see them having to calculate their share of cost which is ineligible for subsidy and that be verified by the LA.

      But capital expenditure for overbuild then is classified as commercial investment and therefore doesn’t come under scrutiny in BDUKs accounting balance sheet.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @NGA
      The number of cabinets is huge too.

      I’d expect someone, somewhere, to be tracking, for each cabinet, a variety of counts of premises to get the accounting calculations correct. That includes a knowledge of the total number of premises, the number of white premises, the number of white premises uplifted to over 25Mbps, and the number of services taken. There may be more.

      I’d expect the financial calculations to be performed based on those premises counts. This would get the money right – whether it related to the subsidy, to BT’s capital, or to the clawback.

      What you are asking for is…
      – Someone to count the premises incorrectly, to then calculate the financial impact
      – Someone to count the premises correctly, to then calculate the financial impact
      – Someone to track the difference between the two financial results.

      Just to tell you what the difference would have been if the rules were different.

      Why bother?

      All that is needed, for the money to be right, is for the premises to be counted in the appropriate category.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – ‘What you say if true, would have been picked up by the audit functions. There is no record of such a practice.’

      Where would you expect this ‘record’ to appear?

    • Avatar MikeW

      @NGA (cont)
      The BDUK spokesperson says…
      “In the example you’ve given, the supplier could only claim gap funding for the 150 premises with no overlap. Either the supplier would need to seek more funding for each of the 150 premises (so the subsidy would be spread across 150 rather than 200) or alternatively the premises would not be included in the bid at all.”

      In that example, then, the process would work like this:
      – BT would know about the counts of 200 and 150
      – BT would calculate total cost based on (real costs)
      – BT would calculate its capital contribution based on 200
      – BT would calculate the “allowed expenses” subsidy based on 150
      – BT would present this upgrade based on the total subsidy divided by 150.
      – The LA would approve the upgrade, as the subsidy-per-premise was still within limits
      – BT would invoice for the allowed expenses, the total subsidy.

      I imagine an auditor might want to see verification that the figures of 150 and 200 are based on fact, but I wouldn’t expect them to want to see how much the financials would change if BT had accidentally used 200 instead of 150.

      In this accounting process, VM-overbuild premises end up being treated fairly similarly to premises that are upgraded but don’t reach 25Mbps. Should BT be counting those premises separately too? And providing financial figures for those as well?

      I thought the point of an audit was to confirm that it represents the true position. Not to confirm a lot of “what if” cases.

    • Avatar Gadget

      A point. which I think has not emerged yet AFAIK, is that the OMR is the key to the calculations because only the BDUK authority will know about potential overlap and be able to quantify it because they are the only ones to the availability of all providers, since most do not publish details down to even postcode level except under the OMR NDA. Many others, rival operators and independants such as the Thinkbroadband work make estimates based on what they can see but only the owning operator KNOWs what its coverage is and therefore it is incumbent on them to input this correctly into the OMR. The BDUK authority can then correctly assign at postcode and premises level and inform the successful contractor what the relevant numbers are.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @MikeW & Gadget so which is it then? None of the 3 audit authorities outline the process.

  5. Avatar MikeW

    Note there are two distinct ways for overbuild to occur legally:

    1. BT upgrade a cabinet to FTTC to reach some NGA white premises, but also happen to reach some NGA grey premises too.

    This effect is limited by the subsidy calculations mentioned in the article. Subsidy is only available for the “NGA white” properties.

    2. The OMR can label a postcode as NGA white, even when a subset of properties receive VM service (the rules on how big/small the subset can be vary between projects).

    This happens when an OMR works at postcode level, rather than premises level.

    It isn’t clear whether the subsidy calculations now count this “VM subset in an NGA-white area” as part of the grey count or not. It often isn’t even clear whether a project is working at a postcode or property level – though phase 1 was more likely to work at postcode-level, while phase 2 might have become more premise-level.

  6. Avatar James Blessing

    The one element missing is that some providers are excluded from the OMR because its not a wholesaleable service or because they are never asked to provide figures for the OMR (or are ‘accidentally’ left out because they provide a ‘business’ service)

    • Avatar MikeW

      Versus the opposite effect, where an LA includes a service in the OMR that isn’t really available.

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/05/wrongful-overbuilding-fear-leaves-cumbria-village-without-fibre-broadband.html

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      OMR has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the provider offered wholesaling or not. Absolutely nothing. What they had to do was have credible plans to offer a service. It didn’t matter at all whether they were both the network provider and the retailer.

      Bidding for BDUK projects was different. That (at least in most cases) required wholesale services. That requirement was only eased where there was no acceptable bid with wholesaling.

      As to “not being asked”, the BDUK and OMR processes were advertised using normal channels. It wasn’t the case of every possible supplier being contacted as much as network operators being aware of what was going on. Any potential supplier could respond – they didn’t have to be asked. They could request the documents.

      Some altnets did not respond because they did not feel their plans were firm enough to meet the criteria set.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @SteveJones: Your view is a bit naive here, isn’t it? Do you seriously believe that the phase1 BDUK projects wasn’t geared toward favoring BT?

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @GN – back then who were the other companies with the funding, size, resources, experience etc.?

    • Avatar Gadget

      @GN – the aspects of how the procurement was run were being debated, and for that the EU process must be followed to secure State Aid exemption, and that process includes publishing the details of the requirement in the OJEU, and how the stages towards final contractual agreement progress, and in the case of telecoms offering wholesale pricing and services.
      IMHO The only thing that would be naïve in that is to assume that failure to follow the process would not potentially result in a lengthy EU investigation possibly rendering the whole procurement in breach of State Aid requirements.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @GNewton

      The OMR processes were run by the local BDUK projects before the tenders were issued and using principles set out by the central BDUK project in conformance with EU rules. So tell me, who will have been deliberately biasing the OMR process in favour of BT when they weren’t even involved in defining or running it in the first place?

      I should add that OMRs have been re-run in later phases as the network landscape will have changed in many cases, sometimes because of new provision, sometimes because promised networks failed to appear. As these are often follow-on phases with BT, then some might say that the local BDUK project might have been influenced, but that’s conjecture (they are still run by the local projects) and manifestly didn’t apply to the original ITT for phase 1.

      So no, I’m not naive. I just take some time looking at the process that was followed.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @GNewton

      For your information, this was the original OMR Template document. You’ll see nowhere does it ask for wholesaling, which is the point I was responding to. Wholesaling was a requirement in the ITT, but manifestly not in establishing the intervention areas.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/379335/State_aid_-_Guidance_-_Open_Market_Review__OMR_.pdf

  7. Avatar RuralBroadbandSucks

    Anyone got so any spare stickers saying ‘Virgin Media Superfast Fibre Broadband available here soon’, that i can put up, so that BT Openreach will start installing some decent broadband around here?

  8. Avatar Jim

    Heard of Harrogate? Virgin Media covers the majority of the town but low and behold there’s a Superfast North Yorkshire cabinet (BDUK funded) in the centre which is surrounded by £1M flats and houses (yes not all residents are that wealthy just exaggerating the point).

    • Avatar Gadget

      Would VM have a problem providing into large MDUs? (same as SKy on tower blocks for example as another instance where the physical layout of the building is not suitable for installation)

    • Avatar CarlT

      Yes Gadget. As with everyone else they would need permission from the freeholder / management agent to install their cabling in the form of wayleave. It’s private property.

  9. Avatar TheFacts

    I’ll ask again, as it’s important for this long discussion:

    @NGA – ‘What you say if true, would have been picked up by the audit functions. There is no record of such a practice.’

    Where would you expect this ‘record’ to appear?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @The Facts – it could appear in a few places. The BDUK quarterly reports could report overbuild and the reduction in costs presented. BDUK could take credit for another 1m premises and show even more value for money.
      section 6 of BTplc quarterly statements which seems a logical place to report the detail of state aid, a requirement which Ofcom made clear in the RFR review.
      LA could also make it clear, should they wish.
      The only objective is to check on the flows so more money can be spent transforming rural connectivity.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @The Facts it could also be reported by publishing and mapping the location of subsidised infrastructure a requirement of the state aid measure. Eircom in Ireland do a job of this in what is a more competitive environment.

  10. Avatar Nick

    The singular of premises is premises 🙂

  11. Avatar Ultraspeedy

    “New research has estimated that between 950,000 and 1.1 million premises, which were already being catered for by Virgin Media’s cable broadband network, have been overbuilt by networks (e.g. Openreach (BT)) supported through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK project.”

    “Now to the crucial bit. In August 2017 BDUK reported that some that their public investment had so far helped 4,551,226 extra premises across the United Kingdom to be put within reach of a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network (here), although what a lot of people don’t realise is that this figure already excludes the c.1 million overbuild of Virgin Media (otherwise it would be closer to 5.5m) because those aren’t able to use the public subsidy.”

    So around 20%-25% of the BDUK is overbuild into Virgin areas, No shock there something thats been pointed out many times.

    “At present the national BDUK programme, which is fuelled by £1.6bn+ of public investment”

    Or in other words £300,000 to £400,000 (20-25%) of that is/will have been pure waste spent in areas that could already get Virgin…. No doubt can probably lob on another £100,000 or thereabouts (or 5-7 ish percent) for all the areas it overlapped with 24Mb+ wireless services already available (near entire counties in some cases).

    So much for no overlap and it not overlapping much with Virgin we heard so long about from certain people.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      ^^^ opps read that as 1.6 Million rather than BILLION in those final calculations lol so its actually worse at £300-400 Million wasted. Oh dear.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @Ultraspeedy – As long as about £80m of extra BT investment (1.1m premises(es) x£75) can be identified in the process + the clawback and this is then used in rural, it corrects itself. The £80m is in addition to Phase 1 c£360m identified by the NAO as owed. The latter has not been reported on adequately as yet.
      (Cabinet equivalents 1.1m /200 is c5,000 of the 30,000 BDUK has paid for. ) You would hope this number is lower with a higher average premise count thus less gap funding needed. NAO and BDUK reports suggest BDUK is paying all costs and adjustments to cope with this scale of overbuild have yet to be reflected and reported, in my opinion.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      If you look through the BT accounts, you’ll find the net subsidy received by BT is nothing like £1.6bn. Last time I went through the accounts it was something less than half that figure (as there’s a lot of deferred liability on the books for gainshare). Even the gross figure was nothing like £1.6bn.

      Then you make the assumption that costs are the same everywhere whereas it seems blindingly obvious that the urban areas which are largely what is being talked about here will be at the cheaper end. The more remote premises are, the

      You describe the money as being “wasted” when what was being paid for was the white area post code premises supported by a PCP. The grey-area premises on the same cabinet just got enabled as a side-effect. It didn’t change costs for the white area premises one iota (capacity upgrades are paid for by OR). In principle it would have been possible to ban those premises on a BDUK PCP which had access to VM from ordering a VDSL product. That might have please VM, but it clearly wouldn’t have saved a penny as the costs of the PCP enablement would have been just the same.

      Even using your unrealistic assumption that all premises cost much the same, the range .95m to 1.1m is 17.3% to 19.5%, not 20% to 25% based on 4.55 BDUK enabled lSF premises. The denominator is obviously the total number of premises enabled, not just the ones that count towards the BDUK total.

      When you take into account the net subsidy figures, that in the worst case it’s 19.5% of the premises passed which are overbuild, and then build in some reasonable assumptions about urban vs rural pre-premises costs, the “waste” figure will be a fraction of what you’ve claimed. Even that is accepting that the money was “wasted” when there was no subsidy payment for those grey-area premises.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      “The more remote premises are, the” should have read “The more remote premises are, the more expensive they tend to be”.

    • Avatar PaulM

      “If you look through the BT accounts, you’ll find the net subsidy received by BT is nothing like £1.6bn. Last time I went through the accounts it was something less than half that figure”

      Oh dont stop now feel free to point out where the other 800 Million plus went then.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @PaulM

      Rather a lot of it is gainshare money waiting to be reinvested (somewhere over £400m) by local BDUK projects as they sign new contracts for later phases – or they can wait to the end of the contract and use money for any purpose they wish. Another tranche is savings that were made during the original phase 1 contracts, and that is also money sitting with the local and central BDUK (perhaps £200m of that). Some will have been spent with altnets (like Gigaclear and some wireless ISPs). There is the token scheme. There is also quite a sum of central money which has not yet been allocated yet, often because it requires match funding.

      As far as what has actually been spent with BT then that’s in the company’s audited accounts. It’s pretty well the only easily accessible and reliable information. The details of what is in each of the local BDUK accounts is controlled by their own project teams, and is not consolidated nationally (and often not reported at all). We do have information on the money passed over from the central BDUK projects, but that’s doesn’t include match funding payments and, crucially, only tells us what was passed to those local projects, not what they paid out.

      As it is it is, a reasonable estimate is that when all of the public funds (including gainshare reinvestment) is used up, superfast coverage will be in the 97-98% region (currently scheduled to reach 95% in December). Inevitably, as the more remote premises are dealt with progress slows and it gets more expensive per property, especially as a lot of what remains will now be FTTP.

      In any event, the idea that £1.6bn has already been spent is simply wrong.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Paul, – Of the £1.7bn budget + BT’s contribution, the subsidies paid so is about £1.2bn, the remainder if contracted is yet to be delivered against.
      The clawback or Capital Deferral in BT’s accounts is £466m (and may climb further if the overbuild monies are not fully accounted for). Of £466m, -£130m is ‘released’ for phase 3,4,5, the remainder (£333m) is tied down or resting in BT’s accounts at present until 2023.
      LOcal authorites/DCMS are reporting underspends of £180m, but we have yet to discern the Investment Account Balances which ought to hold any BT capital outstanding from Phase 1 or Phase 2 activity.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “If you look through the BT accounts, you’ll find the net subsidy received by BT is nothing like £1.6bn”

      What are you ranting on about i did not even mention BT in my post.

      “Then you make the assumption that costs are the same everywhere whereas it seems blindingly obvious that the urban areas which are largely what is being talked about here will be at the cheaper end.”

      No i do not, to have an exact figure we would have to know what BT and any others which overbuilt in a VM area spent on a street by street basis. I gave a very quick figure range in my calculation thats all. However even if you wanted to argue it all occured in BTs cheapest rollout areas and you more than generously half my £300 Million figure to £150 million that IMO is still a disgusting amount of money wasted by government.

      “You describe the money as being “wasted” when what was being paid for was the white area post code premises supported by a PCP. The grey-area premises on the same cabinet just got enabled as a side-effect”

      That to me is waste. BT cabinets come in different sizes.
      http://www.kitz.co.uk/adsl/fttc-cabinets.htm
      Using a very simple example which has basically happened in a road not far from me (though the figures for the road from me may be different the principle is the same)…

      If you have an area of 250 people and a large BT cabinet which can supply 288 connections in the area at a cost of £30,000 BUT 150 homes in that area already have VM you only need to connect 100 in that area for the entire area to have superfast speeds available.

      In which case a smaller Huawei 128 cabinet could had been fitted over the Huawei 288 cabinet at a cheaper cost (oh and no dont try to say the big cabinets cost the same as the small).

      “Even using your unrealistic assumption that all premises cost much the same, the range .95m to 1.1m is 17.3% to 19.5%, not…”

      As explained the figures were quick calculations which is why i made an initial mistake of only assuming a few hundred thousand rather than millions. If you or anyone at BT would like to provide indepth costs for FTTC deployments in VM areas then we can be 100% accurate, as it is though and as mentioned even if you want to half the £300 million figure i mentioned thats still £150 million, which to me for a country and government that bangs on about debt and making cuts is a shockingly bad amount to waste.

      “When you take into account the net subsidy figures, that in the worst case it’s 19.5% of the premises passed which are overbuild, and then build in some reasonable assumptions about urban vs rural pre-premises costs, the “waste” figure will be a fraction of what you’ve claimed.”

      Feel free to provide detailed costs of overbuild in VM areas to show the “waste” is a lot less.

    • Avatar PaulM

      “…(£333m) is tied down or resting in BT’s accounts at present until 2023….”

      Something else which should not had been allowed. All the overbuild and things like this just show how poorly planned the BDUK was and still is.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      PaulM There was only one deal on the table so the most had to be made of that by Gov officials. I cannot think what BT Group thought they were doing. I assume because Ofcom permitted cost recovery based on replacement cost while BT invested on a make do and mend basis (MPF,WLA and WBA), they could do as they wished on this and they tried and the free cash flow will have driven bonuses of those directly involved, but at an enormous cost to everyone else in BT including shareholders and customers.
      BDUK’s VFM, Clawback supported by sufficient Parliamentary and audit scrutiny has meant the money has not been lost, but much is now tied down and progress is slowing while much more FTTP could have been planned and executed. The B-USO as described is a nuisance, while the Openreach FTTP consultation is set out in self-defeating binary notation in such a way as to go no-where. Much to do but the money is there to do much much more.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Ultraspeedy

      If you can’t see why the amount that BT has received as net grant and comparing that to £1.6bn when you used the latter to apportion the “wasted amount” as you call it, then I’m astonished as almost all this overbuild has been from OR cabinets. As far as the cost of larger cabinets than is necessary for just the BDUK premises, read the article again. BDUK explicitly state they only pay for the white area premises. If a larger cabinet is installed to cope with overspill, then the contractor (BT) has to provide the extra funds. In practice, I suspect it’s small change but, in any event, it’s not BDUK that funded the extra.

      You will also note that whilst BDUK isn’t funding any extra capacity for the overspill locations, the project does benefit in that any overspill premises that order VDSL are taken into account in the gainshare calculations.

      As for stating that what you did was a quick and dirty calculation, that really isn’t good enough when you are making big claims about the amount of public money “wasted”. You seem to have estimated that £500m of that £1.6bn has been “wasted” (I assume you meant millions and not thousands as you entered it).

      If there is an issue, it’s whether the overspill has distorted competition. It hasn’t cost BDUK a penny (indeed with the gainshare calculations thee will have been some gain). VM might have cause to feel a bit aggrieved, but they didn’t choose to trigger a judicial review. As for those who live in the overspill locations they have benefited from having much wider retail competition from other ISPs.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      I have found the analysis I did in August which showed the net grant receipts recognised in BT’s accounts to which I’ve now added the 2017/2018 Q1 number (another £7m).

      Net Grant (millions)
      2017-18 Q1 £7
      2016-17 £ 28
      2015-16 £109
      2014-15 £378
      2013-14 £126
      2012-13 £ 15

      That totals £663m. There is a deferred liability figure of £465m, which is what is recognised as money to be reinvested/returned under the gainshare system. There is an accelerated process where the funds are available as new phase contracts are signed for extensions.

      Failing reinvestment a calculation is made at the end of the contract and it’s returned as cash. However, it’s to be hoped that it’s to be reinvested to extend to more premise. There are a number of local BDUK projects that have already done that, but it is their decision.

      From what I recall of the operation of gainshare, interest accumulates on the balance, although at current rates that’s not going to be a fortune.

      From the wording on the reports, the accelerated gainshare has come about as BT have revised the expected takeup (now assumed to be 39%), and any time they up that figure then the figures are moved from the “grant” side to the “contingent liability side”. It would not surprise me if this wasn’t updated again before too long which would release more funds for reinvestment.

      nb. the above is all dynamic in the sense that the gainshare money will move back into the “grant” recognition as it’s reinvested but increases in the expected takeup would move money back. We only see the net result.

    • Avatar PaulM

      ” As far as the cost of larger cabinets than is necessary for just the BDUK premises, read the article again. BDUK explicitly state they only pay for the white area premises. If a larger cabinet is installed to cope with overspill, then the contractor (BT) has to provide the extra funds.”

      Complete and utter made up BS for many reasons.

      How do BT and the government calculate any of that then?

      Why would BT even install a Huawei 288 cabinet to an area only requiring 100 connections to meet the “superfast” requirement while all the others have VM available?

      Even if BT only installed a Huawei 128 cabinet for an area that requires only 100 connections to make the entire area “superfast” capable then who is paying for the extra available 28? The BDUK or BT.

      Oh and whoever it is how is the cost for those extra 28 connections available to existing VM customers or existing customers capable of 24+ Mb from elsewhere calculated?

      Ive heard some defensive BT vomit in my time but this claim is utter unthought through bile.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @PaulM

      It’s rather difficult to overlook your aggressive approach and insulting use of language, but as being made up, then that is the information the BDUK spokesman has given ISPreview as quoted in this article.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Steve, your habit of using ‘net grants’ is misleading. BT has received so far about £1.2bn ins state aid cash.

      The £333m of the Capital Deferral totalling £463m will rest in BT’s accounts until 2023 under the current work practices.

      We also need to locate the BT’s capital contribution as the LA investment account balances are not being reported on. This is in addition to the £180m underspends reported. This overbuild once examined can add another £80m to the pot.

      What a great opportunity for OR to upgrade large sections of their network? All we need is a plan and engineering resource to do the work!

    • Avatar Gadget

      @NGA surely to be very clear it is not BT work practice it is the contractual requirement?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @NGA

      The net figure (for what has been delivered to date) is exactly the right way of dealing with this issue in accounting terms. If/when all the moneys have been reinvested, then that net figure will then the same as the gross. Should the local BDUK projects decide not to reinvest that money then any outstanding balance will be returned as the BDUK contracts stipulate. However, it’s clear that the intention was that the funds be reinvested.

      If you prefer, you could view it as the gross sum and that will result in perhaps 98% superfast coverage which will be approaching one million more premises than what was originally anticipated. This is simply the BDUK contracts working as they were set out to do. If this had been a fixed-price contract, then that wouldn’t have even been on the cards.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gadget, No, it is how BT commercial lawyers may have chosen to interpret that agreement and what they might get away with using a tightly enforced commercial confidentiality agreement. BT refuses to publish maps of what are publicly funded cabinets, so oversight can be restricted. Centroids on a third party site are insufficient to show what is being built where.
      It is the unprecedented scale of the overbuild which needs the process to be checked to make sure it is suitable to cope with this level of abuse.
      Given the poor quality of evidence BT relied upon in its representations to Parliament, then this gaming, if has not been accounted for fully, is an extension of that idiocy. It is deeply damaging to the long interests of BT shareholders and the UK rural economy. But it is good for short term cash flow and managerial bonuses.

    • Avatar Gadget

      @NGA the work practice I was referring to was the one you you referenced when you wrote: “The £333m of the Capital Deferral totalling £463m will rest in BT’s accounts until 2023 under the current work practices”

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “As far as the cost of larger cabinets than is necessary for just the BDUK premises, read the article again. BDUK explicitly state they only pay for the white area premises. If a larger cabinet is installed to cope with overspill, then the contractor (BT) has to provide the extra funds. In practice, I suspect it’s small change but, in any event, it’s not BDUK that funded the extra.”

      I of course could be mistaken but that makes no sense for numerous reasons from what i can see. Primarily that would likely mean there is no 100% BDUK funded cabinets, unless of course every area in the country has a fixed factor of 288 or 128 premises…. Using an example…

      1. Throwing VM completely out of the equation (so an area where VM are not even present), in a BDUK funded area, like a small village of 300 People how would the service be provided???

      A) Would BT install 2x Huawei 288 cabinets to serve the 300 people? (which results in an overspill or un-needed total of 276 connections)
      Or…
      B) Would BT install 3x Huawei 128 cabinets to serve the 300 people (which results in an overspill or un-needed total of just 84 connections)

      Which option would be cheaper for the BDUK to fund in areas such as this??
      Which would be cheaper for BT to fund???
      Straight away there it presents a conflict of interest as 1 party of the other is going to have to pay more.

      2) How would these costs and who has to pay what be calculated, Would the government calculate it or would BT?
      Again a conflict of interests if it is either one of the 2 parties as im sure the priority would be to get the cheapest for your organisation.

      3) In a BDUK area which is predicted to have a low takeup and so cabinets initially are only installed to serve a percentage (lets say 50%) of the population/lines in that specific area, who a year down the road when take up is better than expected and the cabinet is full pays for a new cabinet?

      Im guessing who pays in this case should be written into a contract, though if they are confident of the initial takeup figures i highly doubt it is.

      4) Is it actually even possible to buy/own anything on BTs network or can you only lease/rent things? I hear about community funded schemes to get BT to bring products to areas where BT have no commercial interest or BDUK funds BT.

      5) If i decided to stump up a few million quid to BT to get my entire road enabled which is 200 homes, do i even get to pick if i want (idea A) a Huawei 128 cabinet installed at either end of the road or (idea B) a singular Huawei 288 cabinet installed halfway along the road to cover all the homes? In fact would i even have a say where i want any cabinet installed at all?
      If i did pay up for that, then who then is responsible for paying for the overspill connections of (56 for idea A or 88 for idea B) that impede upon VM which is available in the next road which is also supplied in part by the BT cabinet. How much discount could i expect or rather how much will BT chip in as they will be overbuilding upon VM. Is it a fixed figure or would i have to have numerous haggling meetings with BT over the amount they would fund???

      Short version if you want to reply in short…. Your cost model ideas and how it works appears flawed.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Ultraspeedy

      Clearly it would be extremely unlikely that there is a cabinet that has exactly the correct capacity for a given number of premises. Most probably there are threshold levels. Say up to 100, up to 200 and so on with an associated cabinet size (which is probably not sized for 100% takeup anyway – we know that some BDUK areas have had to have extra cabinets added – which is, incidentally, the financial responsibility of the contractor as the BDUK framework explicitly states for growth).

      Cabinets are not installed fully-populated, and the original 20% takeup expectation might be what was assumed, but as I’ve no access to the detailed contracts I can’t say for sure. In any even, extra linecards are meant to be self-funded and the contractor’s responsibility.

      In reality the costs of different sized cabinets are going to be a relatively minor part of the costs compared to the fixed ones, like running fibre, power, duct clearing and any additional linecards.

      The devil is always in the detail, but when I read the original BDUK documents and the NAO reports, the principle was that once installed the infrastructure would become self-funding with the costs of future growth borne by the contractor (which would also, of course, gain the benefits of that growth).

      As for the community partnership projects, then I’d be very surprised if FTTC-based approaches didn’t have a similar approach. That is, once paid for, the costs of any capacity increased would be borne by Openreach. The one issue I can see with that is installing extra cabinets can take some time, although cabinet swaps to bigger models can be done very fast. When a 4WD flattened my local cabinet a replacement was installed and all the fibres and tie cable connections remade to a replacement cabinet in 3 days.

      There also seems to be some stories that those community-aided schemes can sometimes be offer VDSL & FTTP options in so cases.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      There is at least some evidence that OR will discuss infrastructure options with community schemes from the FAQs.

      https://communityfibre.openreach.co.uk/#faqs

      Can a community select the type of fibre technology deployed?

      We’re open to exploring different types of fibre solutions, but what we can provide will depend on the existing communications infrastructure in your area. We’ll examine this at the application stage of each request.

      We make our fibre solutions to be as affordable as possible, and can deliver fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “Clearly it would be extremely unlikely that there is a cabinet that has exactly the correct capacity for a given number of premises. Most probably there are threshold levels. Say up to 100, up to 200 and so on with an associated cabinet size (which is probably not sized for 100% takeup anyway – we know that some BDUK areas have had to have extra cabinets added – which is, incidentally, the financial responsibility of the contractor as the BDUK framework explicitly states for growth).”

      See this is another issue and technically demonstrates no BDUK cabinet is likely to be purely government funded. Which IMO makes an even further mockery of what the government has spent.

      “Cabinets are not installed fully-populated, and the original 20% takeup expectation might be what was assumed, but as I’ve no access to the detailed contracts I can’t say for sure. In any even, extra linecards are meant to be self-funded and the contractor’s responsibility.”

      What happens if that cabinet with expected low uptake becomes full though, who then pays for an additional cabinet? Again surely its too complicated to work like this, BT could in this situation rightly argue its a BDUK area so the government should fund the new cabinet, while the BDUK and government could argue they have done their part and it is now up to BT. Neither would be right or wrong, the contract may specify who is responsible but if both sides were never expecting high take up or the cabinet to become full i doubt those terms are even written into some contracts.

      “The devil is always in the detail, but when I read the original BDUK documents and the NAO reports, the principle was that once installed the infrastructure would become self-funding with the costs of future growth borne by the contractor (which would also, of course, gain the benefits of that growth).”

      Seems a bit high risk to me and would have to assume each cabinet is going to turn a profit. For some small areas with low population/amount of connections to the cabinet i doubt that is always the case. In fact if every cabinet manages to make a profit then i doubt BT would ever deem any area non-commercially viable or even want BDUK help in the first place. BT would rightly be happy to roll out everywhere and there would be no talk of “costs” if every cabinet made profits.

      “The one issue I can see with that is installing extra cabinets can take some time, although cabinet swaps to bigger models can be done very fast. When a 4WD flattened my local cabinet a replacement was installed and all the fibres and tie cable connections remade to a replacement cabinet in 3 days.”

      I think how quick and how reliable installs are be they infrastructure like cabinets or even time frame to connect users varies depending on where in the country you are. I personally can believe 3 days to replace a wiped out cabinet, i can also believe when that has happened to others (as per news items on here) its taken weeks or months before it was replaced. I imagine in areas where the exchange is larger and covers more people there are more BT staff for that area. While a small town or village with only a few hundred connections probably is less well staffed, which is not a dig, it would be common sense for BT.

      “Can a community select the type of fibre technology deployed?

      We’re open to exploring different types of fibre solutions, but what we can provide will depend on the existing communications infrastructure in your area. We’ll examine this at the application stage of each request.”

      I guess the problem bit there is “what we can provide will depend on the existing communications infrastructure in your area” which seems rather bizarre if you have a community which would be willing to pay whatever it took.

      Short version of all this still seems to be the BDUK and similar is and always has been a mess, another thing pushed out quick by the government rather than thought through fully first which in turn has led to more questions than answers in many regards.

  12. Avatar MonopolyMoney

    I am THOROUGHLY SHOCKED to see that BT ‘accidentaly’ rolled out network infrastucture using state aid in a way that harmed their competitors.

    Wait, no one is shocked by this are they?

  13. Avatar TheFacts

    @NGA – why don’t you ask BDUK to explain in more detail. Do you need their contact details?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Managing the only deal available to them is not easy. BT Group use of confidentiality agreements can mean information provided is selective until the opportunity to challenge arises. Describing a process as to what ought to happen is different to reporting on what actually is happening. Some room to manoeuvre may be needed.

      This is step 1, acknowledging that overspill is not overspill, but systematic overbuild in places. Step 2 is checking a process for managing for overspill works where systematic overbuild occurred. Step 3 is finding a way to report any corrections if needed – super savings or efficiencies, enhanced gainshare, a bigger capital deferral.. whatever as long as it happens.
      Most difficult is converting monies into coverage. We are not passed step 1 yet so it may take some time.
      Overspill was declared as incidental (Oxera/BDUK) so no audit reported on that part of process.
      I hope I have answered your question.
      There are also bigger issues to resolve within Ofcom’s WLA ‘fair bet’ analysis and a price control which reflects the levels of subsidies but I am sure you will agree it would be good if a little more transparency on this matter leads to a more complete job in rural by Openreach.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Whar is the difference between overspill and overbuild? It was always clear to all that enabling cabinets would include someVM etc. properties.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Overspill can be legitimately described as incidental (as per Oxera) with an appropriate light process without needing a great deal of oversight. Overbuilding of this scale is different. It is huge and capable of creating distortions in breech of the state aid measures, so it is important the process is shown to work, not just referred too, and the extra BT capital is visibly forthcoming and reported upon for additional work deeper in rural areas mostly by Openreach.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Are there examples of significant overbuild?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      1.1m represents c20%. If you down load Vodafone annex 2 submission to Ofcom on WLA. https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/105249/Vodafone-annex-2.pdf Annex B, Table 13 is a start.
      This can act one of what will be many dossier folk are seeking. ICBAN do something similar for Northern Ireland but do not examine overbuild.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Did I not see a post, possibly elsewhere questioning the accuracy of the Voda submission data on VM coverage? Isn’t the BDUK statement enough, especially as it acknowledges the reduction in allowable spend?
      If there is an issue with overbuild it should be related back to the published OMR and the requirements written into the contract at the time of signature, which to answer some other postings indicates in the contract (redacted IoW) a process to submit and verify claimed coverage.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gadget – If you have seen something please highlight it. The references in their doc are very complete and a great many BT sources. The Think Broadband findings are far in excess of what the Vodafone report shows. I was only attempting to answer @TheFacts question with a reference he requested.
      BDUK statement and processes assumes incidental overspill as per Oxera, not systematic overbuild, so at the very least the process needs to be confirmed.
      If BDUK can show the process working, BT’s gap funding appearing (£80-£85m) and a reduced average costs for these cabinets, then that is a great outcome for BDUK and should be applauded. If it needs some fixing, that is good as well, at least it can be done. More money for improving rural connectivity must be a good thing.
      Across an estimated 5,000 cabinets, it should be easy to see an incremental reduction in costs of £17,000 for these cabinets if this process is working. It is hard to hide such a reduction but it is not referenced in the audits (NAO, Wales, Scotland) so far published. Even if it is £5k it should be visible.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      What is the explanation for BDUK funding VM areas?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gadget ..at least give me reference something Ofcom find worthy of publishing. Please point me to a submission by BT countering Vf doc, or a submission by Somerset?

    • Avatar Gadget

      I’d suggest the definitive document is the OMR , backed by the BDUK statements Mark used in the article above, but also a time-series view of data collected by a respected third party such as Thinkbroadband. If you have the inclination I’d suggest comparing the Voda submission with the TBB coverage maps yourself.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @Facts .. I would imagine one premise in a post code not served by VM, allowed BT commercial lawyers to create a defensible position to take subsidy for the entire cabinet(s). ONce found out you step slowly backwards from the position, but you already have the cash and the Gov is now over building VM with funds meant for rural, and embarrassed to admit it, you get captured by the commercial confidentiality agreement, as fundamentally its imposition is not in the public interest.
      It can be reversed if the process does not capture all the overbuild but it takes time. It diminishes BT’s brand and LA will seek alternatives to BT.
      This is my opinion of how overspill becomes overbuild and why the Capital Contributions need to be checked.

    • Avatar Gadget

      @NGA then what you are “imagining” in your response above appears to be at odds with the statements made by BDUK rep in the article, which reads to me like “Local Authority/BDUK decide the status of a postcode or premise and we have rules and processes to ensure that money claimed is only applicable to those areas” which does not go anywhere near your supposition that it is controlled by BT lawyers

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @NGA

      The idea that just one premises unserved in a VM area would allow some sort of figleaf for overbuild is clearly untrue. The cabinet would simply never get remotely near the value criteria used by the local BDUK projects. To remind you, those are based on the number of premises unserved by SF and that would rule out the extreme scenario that you’ve painted.

      The process by which the OMR is applied is controlled by the local BDUK project, not a BT lawyer. We are already told that the BDUK subsidy payment is only made on the unserved premises.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Steve, Unfortunately that has been VM experience and they have reported this to the CMS Select Committee inquiry into Broadband. How else do you get to overbuild by 1.1m premises? LA projects managers will in the appropriate environment provide testament to this practice. It needs fixing where it occurred by showing that the process for mitigating this has actually worked.

  14. Avatar NGA for all

    Gadget, Published OMR does not deal with decisions to overbuild an entire post code where one premise in that post code is not served by VM. This needs the process MikeW kindly outlined earlier in the thread. If this practice became widespread, then the process needs to be checked to show it works.

    Jones: I think there is some evidence that BDUK paid for second cards, but again this can be fixed if the gap funding and clawback is made to work.

    • Avatar Gadget

      The OMR drives the contractual required coverage, and the decision of what is in and what is out is made by the local authority, and the rules on how they decide come at least in part if not whole from the State Aid requirements and BDUK. In creating the OMR the authority will have had input from VM (in this case) as to their coverage – which may have been at postcode level for early contracts but most likely by premises level for later work.

    • Avatar Gadget

      oh any by the way it is coverage at the time of the OMR not what is subsequently built.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gadget, are you justifying the overbuild, or can you show BT made its capital contribution to these premises? Are you celebrating a BT lawyer pulling a quicky under the commercial confidentiality agreements or are you proposing a fix to this? If it is the latter, then are your celebrating a wrong doing against the long term interest of BT shareholders and the UK’s rural economy, as this if outstanding will need to be fixed.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Just pointing out the process which has to be followed to maintain State Aid compliance, specifically how an OMR is created and subsequently used to specify coverage deliverables. I’m happy to let others debate the contribution “question” with you

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Gadget, indeed the OMR process can be compliant, but the subsequent process must also be enforced fully if the state aid measure is not to be breached. All I am suggesting is that given the scale of the overbuild should be checked and reported upon.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – ‘All I am suggesting is that given the scale of the overbuild should be checked and reported upon.’

      Do you know it is not being checked and reported? Reporting does not mean telling you.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @Facts it would or should appear in the NAO, Audit Wales, Audit Scotland reports, or the evidence relied upon in the Parliamentary Select Committees. It has not done so.

      It is in BT’s shareholder, customer and Openreach engineeting interest to show the process working so funds are optimised.

      It is not in interest of those earning bonuses on generating short term free cash flow.

  15. Avatar TheFacts

    As an example – Rugeley build with FTTC in 2004. How much was a VM area then and why did BDUK/the LA overbuild it?

    • Avatar TheFacts

      A check of a few postcodes in Little Clacton, 2237 subsidised properties, shows no VM.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      The Superfast Staffordshire website shows existing and planned commercial roll-out and you can zoom into a very detailed view, right down to street level. It demonstrates the issue that commercial coverage was patchy some areas are pretty well universally covered, other, quite substantial areas are not covered at all. The effect is a bit like Swiss cheese, albeit with highly irregular holes.

      If there was a map of PCP coverage to overlay, it would undoubtedly show something that doesn’t neatly line up with any of the existing provision at the time it was produced.

      http://www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk/where-and-when/where-and-when/#.WdjjwjBrxaQ

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Facts .. Rugeley would be an excellent opportunity to show the process working. The level of overbuild and BT’s capital contribution would suggest very little gap funding would be needed, allowing examples like Cotwalton to become the norm. It would also be good if the business parks in those areas could order FTTP-GPON in line with the consultation to take FoD back to what it was. If we can overbuild VM to this degree then the provision of the GTTP-GPON for SME’s in the area must also be possible.

  16. Avatar TheFacts

    Has anyone looked at the Vodaphone report?

    It shows putting in a postcode and if it is in the dropdown assuming this means coverage whereas you need to click on an actual address to find out.

    @NGA – Table 13 is interesting, 169 exchanges. Compare the exchanges with the VM list in SamKnows and 392170 properties are in 107 exchanges that do not have VM coverage, with Vodaphone claiming a total of 801984. To that needs to be added properties that do not have VM in the remaining exchange areas.

    Discuss.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Facts, we just need to see the process whereby the deductions are made so it can be shown that BT has not benefitted from diverting subsidies from rural to urban.

      You asked and received a reference. I think you are showing that half those do not VM but half do, so show the process where BT is not being rewarded for half covered.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      I’m showing that the Vodaphone report has some big errors.

      Again, I ask why you have not contacted BDUK for an explanation.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Fcats, Vodfone never said 100% overbuild, but you have begun to estimate 50% on this example, and I am sure this will reduce again, but you prove there is a case.

      It is BT taking the subsidies, submitting invoices, calculating gainshare, and I sure BDUK reporting will begin to confirm the process is either working or will be modified to work.

      But this level of overbuild of VM has been denied. Your example of Rugeley suggests your have more than a passing knowledge of the matter and thus you can confirm the level of reduction of cabinet costs for those installations. That is all that is needed, so monies available can be spent on OR engineering, not diverted for other purposes. That must in BT’s interest to show that very clearly.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – where is the denial of VM over build.

      Your grasp of figures is showing, I pointed out that Voda claim VM have a significant presence in those 392170 properties in 107 out of the 169 exchanges which does not agree with the SamKnows data. Proof this is wrong please.

      That leaves the overbuild in the remaining exchange areas on the list.

      I’m still trying to understand your obsession with this, is your problem with BDUK and/or the LAs who set up the contracts and knew exactly what was involved?

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – with Christmas coming we must assume there will be a big event with all involved to spend the spare money.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @The Facts The obsession – fair comment and good question. I am ex BT, ex because I could not see BT investing given the debacles occurring in BT Global, and the failures of 21C -voice. I wrote the BDUK technical requirement -(copied NICC standards, take fibre as far as you can with the money available) and estimated the budgets in 2011. I witnessed a gross abuse of power and position in the Framework pricing and early abuse of commercial confidentiality. I reported it within the system as best I could and due to inaction someone decided to leak those efforts as imperfect as they were.
      There is no justification, commercial, moral, none for how BT Group decided to manage these deals. The advent of OR shows BT Groups approach was tantamount to a suicide note.
      The overbuild of VM is another part of the jigsaw that must be unpicked and reversed, if the problem exists.
      To understand the obsession, you need to appreciate what it means to be denied an opportunity to do business, to work and live where you want. The UK has an unique need to permit all its spaces to be used. Connectivity contributes or enables equality of opportunity at many levels.
      The properties of electromagnetism, which includes the transmission of photonic waves through glass are a gift of nature, not something to be withheld by some idiot in a shiny suit chasing this years maintenance payments or school fees.
      Ultimately this is an ethical issue, and these events mark a very large ethical shift in a company for which I had and still have great admiration. There is absolutely no reason given the resources available a more ambitious plan (more FTTP in-fill and FoD) was not brought forward. The resources emerging means it still can be. You still have too many BT people and I include you in this that believe you can game the outcome at the expense of BT shareholders, customers and the rural economy. To date of course, the gaming has worked, your sitting on a cash pile owed back to Government and this can be deployed for other purposes.
      So in a word, the plan to overbuild VM to this degree is also a plan to deny some rural users the upgrades they need. It needs fixing where it has occurred and the money needs to be returned and to be seen to be returned so trust in BT’s brand can be restored at Local and National government level.

  17. Surely the question is whether any cabinet has been enabled where the per premise cost exceeded the limit set for that project, usually around £1,700.

    Find proof of that happening and you’ll have the reporters camped out at the bottom of your drive and a few days giving evidence to PAC and NAO.

    The message is clear for future roll-out would be play it cautious and avoid any area that might even be seen as over build even if that means not reaching the project target.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      It is simpler than that, @thefacts references Rugeley overbuild of VM. All that is needed to illustrate how the gap funding reduces for those cabinets. If VM can serve 50 premises of the those served for each cabinet in Rugeley, then we see a reduction in the invoice of c£80×50 for each cabinet.
      If the process is in doubt or needs confirming, Think Broadband could help VM, BDUK, BT and Ofcom do a calculation for each county and publish it. Oxera earned £100k plus from BDUK reporting incidental build. A commissioned Think Broadband report on the matter would be a worthwhile exercise if the matter remains unclear. Maintaining ‘independence’ would be a challenge, but securing participation by VM would need to be accommodated. We can write a ToR from this thread.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – again, why don’t you ask BDUK how the funding works for overbuilt areas?

  18. Avatar CarlT

    This is the 92nd comment on this article. You’d think this were a Parliamentary investigation.

    LLU screwed up the market. BDUK has again distorted it. I’m sure there will be plenty of use for deep rural FTTP at the taxpayer’s expense while millions in urban areas, where the vast majority of GNI is generated, are stuck with inferior services for the foreseeable future.

    Many in the UK are fairly used to the Government screwing things up and ensuring there is no business case for the private sector to pick up the slack. It’s a sad fact of life.

    Wake me up when the UK’s ruling classes and regulatory bodies adopt an approach that isn’t a mess.

  19. I propose a way to stop all these comments…

    Courts force all (commercial and public funded) broadband roll-outs to stop until such time as everything has been mapped with 100% confidence and then a plan be arrived at that avoids any overbuild or upset to commercial operators.

    The risk of continuing is clearly too great that some money might be ‘wasted’

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      Or we could have a system where things continue to be funded but then if they do not reach the ORIGINAL aims of the funding or ORIGINAL aspirations and goals of the funding the company concerned that took the funding has to pay it back IMMEDIATELY.

      Any accurate mapping should of been done before hand.

      Obviously it was not. Or if it was based on how some of the roll out has gone and not just overbuilding these plans have gone out the window.

      Ensured planned scheme which would not waste money should had been thought of in the first place.

      Again clearly not done with a scheme now totalling almost 3x the original estimated cost.

      Short version another clueless government cock up.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @US – how do you know accurate mapping has not been done? A cabinet based solution is bound to involve some over building and LAs are managing the contracts.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “how do you know accurate mapping has not been done?”

      If it has been done then where does it factor into the costings? If it had been done also we would not hear about things such as…
      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/09/openreach-overbuild-fun-b4rns-1gbps-ftth-broadband-cumbria.html

      “A cabinet based solution is bound to involve some over building and LAs are managing the contracts.”

      Considering VM only cover around 50%-60% of the country i do not see why any government funded FTTC should had overlapped, this applies even more so for niche FTTP providers and wireless providers. Yet BT has in some cases overbuilt those rollouts also.

      Clearly mapping and planning of the rollout was not done unless you are saying it was done but they just went ahead and overbuilt despite information about which areas could get 24+ Mb already.

    • Avatar Gadget

      @US – the B4RN overbuild has been “discussed” many times on this forum and what has emerged is either that B4RN did not contribute to the OMR, or that whatever they submitted was not considered either viable or correct by the local authority, who tagged the postcodes as white.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Ultraspeedy

      “Considering VM only cover around 50%-60% of the country i do not see why any government funded FTTC should had overlapped, this applies even more so for niche FTTP providers and wireless providers.”

      The reason overlapping builds were inevitable was that the government prioritised the total number of premises enabled in the most cost effective way and the speed at which it could be rolled out. Inevitably that prioritised those areas which were relatively densely populated and yet had only partial covered.

      If it had been done the other way then BDUK would have enabled a fraction of the 4.55m properties it has currently reached (although, not doubt the commercial roll-out would have picked up a some of the difference.

      In any event, what has resulted has come about through the priorities set by the politicians and that has meant more premises have been enabled faster than would have been otherwise the case. It would just have been a different, and probably larger, group of people complaining.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “@US – the B4RN overbuild has been “discussed” many times on this forum and what has emerged is either that B4RN did not contribute to the OMR, or that whatever they submitted was not considered either viable or correct by the local authority, who tagged the postcodes as white.”

      So they knew a service was there already yet wasted more money on FTTC rollouts. All because they did not like how any information provided was submitted.

      Not enough for an organisation to say we have rolled out a service already to prevent spending tax payers cash and the council is uncapable of even going to check the status for thereselfs before they hand out the money.

      Hardly accurate mapping or certainly NO planning there to avoid overbuilding. I wonder if the local authority has the same difficult time acknowledging an area exists on a map when it comes to billing residents council tax?

      AGAIN another fine example of how idiotic the BDUK was and still is.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “The reason overlapping builds were inevitable was that the government prioritised the total number of premises enabled in the most cost effective way and the speed at which it could be rolled out. Inevitably that prioritised those areas which were relatively densely populated and yet had only partial covered.”

      Wasn’t the BDUK only supposed to cover only something like 20% of premises? Why was money even being spent on “densely populated” areas as a priority if this is the case?

      Why would “densely populated” areas also only be “partially” covered in the commercial rollout also?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @Ultraspeedy

      The BDUK target might well have been aimed at 20% coverage. The 4.6m reached now is about 16% of UK premises, and there’s enough money to add about 4% (which would get the UK to about 97-98% coverage.

      However, I think the government has actually been stating targets of 90% & 95% rather than than the incremental figure. We ought (near enough) hit the 95% SF figure by the end of 2017.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      And you expect anyone to believe no overbuild was impossible when they only had to do 20% of premises? The could had done 20% of premises without even going near a VM area.

  20. Avatar Gadget

    @US – actually at the time of the first OMR there was no service from B4RN, and they were in a position where if they bid for the money they could not offer a viable wholesale product which would defeat a different State Aid Requirement, if they indicated their plans covered the area they could have turned the postcodes black, at the consequence of denying themselves any State Aid funding. Additionally posts by one of the members on this forum indicated that they were not able to meet the technical requirements of notification (ie response by postcode).

    • Avatar PaulM

      So what you are saying is local authorities expect others to tell them what services are in an area rather than check for thereself and not only that but the other providers have to submit they run a service in the appropriate manner.

      If that does not happen the the local authority hands out the shiny gold coins for projects anyway. Sounds rather dumb to me.

      Why would you have anyone in charge of anything when they rely on others to do the work for them? You many as well using this idiotic logic let monkeys run the zoo.

      I hope you never decide to start a business and rather than research where you should have your business and what it will sell you expect all the businesses in the area to come to you to tell you if your business idea already exists in the area.

      No wonder local authorities often waste money hand over fist, because they have no clue what the area needs money spent on it the first place.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Who else but the individual operators actually know and can say with confidence where they serve?

    • Avatar Gadget

      In terms of running your own business I would suggest if it were your business you would want to be familiar with PQQ and ITT phases and want to be sure yourself of what you might contractually commit to rather than have someone else tell you what they think you supply and where.

    • Avatar Gadget

      And if you think the local authority know in detail where you are going to go and what you are going to offer in 3 year’s time perhaps you should either a) invest in better information security for your business or b) ask them to let you know next week’s winning lottery numbers

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “Who else but the individual operators actually know and can say with confidence where they serve?”

      Considering that information is supposed to be freely available to the BDUK and other schemes you do not need an OMR to get it. Having an OMR is also pointless even if they tell an authority where their services are or where they plan on putting their services as the authority can choose to ignore subbmitted information anyway.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “And if you think the local authority know in detail where you are going to go….”

      The local authority should had known already where all VM services were, or is using the postcode checker on their website too complicated for fragile minds?

      The same goes for any B4RN project which was available in an area before BT. Perhaps reading news items is also too difficult for them.

      If a local authority can not even be bothered to check for what is in their local area with simple tools then not only are they lazy but clueless to the situation they are making decisions about.

      In areas where BT have overbuild wireless broadband providers the local authority should had also known about them from the outset as planning permission for the antenna would had be granted. Can local authorities not even read their own documents??

      Anyone that thinks an authority that just sits on its backside expecting others to come to them while spending money loose and free, rather than find out the information they want thereself is shambolic, anyone that agrees that work ethic is a good one is equal in incompetence. It is that damned simple.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      “So what you are saying is local authorities expect others to tell them what services are in an area rather than check for thereself and not only that but the other providers have to submit they run a service in the appropriate manner.”

      Exactly that. Just how are local authorities meant to (a) check what services are available at every postcode (b) possibly know what commercial plans have been made by which organisations in their area. Hence all network service providers were given the chance to respond. Can you imagine just how much resource it would required for individual local authorities to try and find out which premises could already be serviced with SF speeds? Not to mention the consequences of any mistakes made.

      @Ultraspeedy

      “The local authority should had known already where all VM services were, or is using the postcode checker on their website too complicated for fragile minds?”

      Seriously? There are approximately 1.7m postcodes in the UK. So a typical local BDUK project. Even allowing for some areas, like London, not being granted any BDUK money that means a typical local authority will have a few tens of thousands of postcodes to check. If they follow your idea, then they’d have to check each of those postcodes manually against (at least) the VM & BT availability checkers to which they would have to research any other network operators in their area, like Gigaclear. Not just that, the local BDUK projects also had to take into account commercial plans too, something postcode checkers are unlikely to have.

      As for B4RN, they were well aware of the OMR, and their problem with providing commercial plans (which they’ve written about) was that they weren’t able to meet the criteria for firm plans as they were dependent on raising finance and the support of communities. Hence some areas they subsequently built into were “white” because they were unable to commit at the time of the OMR.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “Hence all network service providers were given the chance to respond. ”

      I still fail to understand why they need to respond.

      “Seriously? There are approximately 1.7m postcodes in the UK. So a typical local BDUK project. Even allowing for some areas, like London, not being granted any BDUK money that means a typical local authority will have a few tens of thousands of postcodes to check.”

      Please feel free to name any local authority area that has “tens of thousands of postcodes” the BDUK has rolled out within.

      “As for B4RN, they were well aware of the OMR, and their problem with providing commercial plans (which they’ve written about) was that they weren’t able to meet the criteria for firm plans as they were dependent on raising finance and the support of communities. Hence some areas they subsequently built into were “white” because they were unable to commit at the time of the OMR.”

      Was any evidence of network coverage from VM also deemed not good enough?

    • Avatar PaulM

      “Seriously? There are approximately 1.7m postcodes in the UK. So a typical local BDUK project. Even allowing for some areas, like London, not being granted any BDUK money that means a typical local authority will have a few tens of thousands of postcodes to check. If they follow your idea, then they’d have to check each of those postcodes manually against (at least) the VM & BT availability checkers to which they would have to research any other network operators in their area, like Gigaclear. Not just that, the local BDUK projects also had to take into account commercial plans too, something postcode checkers are unlikely to have.”

      Is clicking on a product and using a scroll wheel on a mouse for a local authority to check and area also too much trouble?

      http://maps.thinkbroadband.com/

      Far too much hard work for them to do before you float contracts for a rollout eh? Might get finger clamp in those 30 seconds LOL

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @PM – you clearly do not understand what is involved. Clicking on a website does not show future plans and would not be contractually binding. Hence needing a formal response.

    • Avatar Gadget

      @PaulM – funny you should use thinkbroadband as the example as the general principle here about a local authority harvesting information is that it is not theirs to take, but the owner operator to give.
      So in your example Thinkbroadband have this to say here: https://www.thinkbroadband.com/about
      “The Legal Stuff
      Intellectual Property Statement
      All material contained and presented on this website, including but not limited to text and graphics is the copyright or similar rights of thinkbroadband, unless otherwise expressly stated.
      thinkbroadband reserves all its rights and strictly forbids any unauthorised use or duplication. Any statutorily authorised rights to print or download are strictly limited for your sole personal use. No material, however, can be used for any commercial purpose whatsoever.
      Any copies of the pages of this website which you save, by any means whatsoever can only be used for subsequent viewing purposes or to print extracts for personal use.
      Unless otherwise expressly permitted in writing, you may not create a database or derivative work in any form whatsoever of these webpages or other content provided by thinkbroadband.
      Unless otherwise expressly permitted in writing you may not associate this website to another website by employing any technology including but not limited to framing or crawlers where such association seeks to bypass parts of thinkbroadband.
      You grant thinkbroadband a non-exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual free license to use and reproduce any contribution you make on the site (such as posts you make on the forums for example”

    • Avatar PaulM

      “@PM – you clearly do not understand what is involved. Clicking on a website does not show future plans and would not be contractually binding. Hence needing a formal response.”

      It shows quite nicely all the existing VM areas they overbuilt in though doesnt it.

    • Avatar PaulM

      No idea what your ranting about regarding copyright, the information on there would not need to be be copied, duplicated, reproduced or distributed by anyone using it.

      In fact quite the opposite you would use that map to determine areas which have no coverage and use that information to plan your rollout. You would not be using any data thinkbroadband has placed on the map.

      Furthermore if you want to be pedantic they have no right to alter the terms of a service which they have used to produce their mapping, which in this case is all found on this site https://developers.google.com/maps/

      The google mapping API can be used freely by anyone.

      Good try though.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Nothing to do with the mapping but the intellectual property refers to the coverage data collected by TBB, and its use as set on in the T&Cs of the website “Forbid unauthorised use or copying”, “for sole personal use”, “cannot be used for commercial purposes”, “may not create a database”. Not such a good try on your part I would suggest……..

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      This is getting increasingly bizarre, convoluted and smacks of conspiracy theories. The OMR was done the way it was and (especially) for future plans, entirely necessary and reasonable. People can argue about the criteria used for such things as assessing the credibility of plans, but there really is real issue about asking for responses.

      In any event, it’s what was done and is past history.

    • Avatar PaulM

      “Nothing to do with the mapping but the intellectual property refers to the coverage data collected by TBB, and its use as set on in the T&Cs of the website “Forbid unauthorised use or copying”, “for sole personal use”, “cannot be used for commercial purposes”, “may not create a database”. Not such a good try on your part I would suggest……..”

      I would suggest you get a clue
      http://point-topic.com/services/broadband-geography-uk/
      is where thinkbroadband get the data for those maps its not their own data or property and they certainly have no say in what can be done with something which does not even belong to them.

    • Avatar PaulM

      “This is getting increasingly bizarre, convoluted and smacks of conspiracy theories. The OMR was done the way it was and (especially) for future plans, entirely necessary and reasonable.”

      There is no conspiracy unless that is what you think the news item is. The BDUK project overbuilt in a million plus places VM already catered for, so your idea of the OMR being a good thing is bizarre as it obviously did not work to prevent overbuilding. You can not explain why this happened or why the 20% of premises the BDUK was aimed at did not focus on premises nowhere near any existing products.

      “In any event, it’s what was done and is past history.”

      If you feel that way there is no need for you to continue to post on this news item that due to being history you have no interest in.

    • Avatar Gadget

      And you will see from the link you gave that the Point-Topic information is not free and requires the purchase of a licence.
      They do not however have the years of speedtest data that TBB can also associate with a postcode.
      In both cases the respective information about what is in those postcodes is the intellectual property of the owner. Point-topic and TBB have conditions of use for that data – I have posted the TBB T&Cs from their website as an example.
      If you have ever purchased survey data or marketing data you would be aware of the restrictions that get put on its use and dissemination to protect the intellectual property of the owner.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      If BDUK is about covering the maximum number of properties for the money available then if any overbuild occurs it does not matter as long as the objective is achieved. To not build an FTTC cabinet because of some VM properties is not realistic.

    • @PaulM

      “I would suggest you get a clue
      http://point-topic.com/services/broadband-geography-uk/
      is where thinkbroadband get the data for those maps its not their own data or property and they certainly have no say in what can be done with something which does not even belong to them.”

      This statement is incorrect.

      http://maps.thinkbroadband.com did have a layer or two that was sourced from Point Topic but that is history, there is also https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map for a different map system

      The data on labs.thinkbroadband.com/local and making up the map layers is all self generated and updated by thinkbroadband.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “And you will see from the link you gave that the Point-Topic information is not free and requires the purchase of a licence.”

      If its point topics info not copyright to thinkbroadband, unless of course you think they are using the information illegally without purchasing/permission from the rights holder.

      “…http://maps.thinkbroadband.com did have a layer or two that was sourced from Point Topic but that is history…”

      Then why does that page say at the bottom left “In partnership with Point Topic” if using their data is history?. If it uses their data thats not your information it belongs to point topic.

      “…there is also https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map for a different map system”

      and that site is the one that contains your own collected data, is it not?

      2 Different sites and sets of data from what i can see 1 your own and 1 from another source.

      [b]THE most important bit….[/b]
      Even if all of the data were copyright to yourself which considering its sourced from more than one place (IE exchange locations is samknows info), then would you actually refuse schemes like the BDUK access and use of the data in which to help improve broadband in the country?

    • @Ultraspeedy

      Because the knucklehead (me) forgot that that mention was still on the page, and will see if can get it removed.

      As for the two maps being two different sets of data, they are actually the same sets of data, but then given the level of responses on here I don’t expect anyone to actually bother looking at the data itself.

    • To add the exchange location information is not SamKnows data either but then you are free to have your own ideas on data sources, but when the person who is generating the map tiles tells you the data is not from SamKnows you might want to reconsider your opinion.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Since no public domain source that I know of holds the plans of the operators 3 years out as well as current coverage this plan of @US and @PM to get the authority to do the work will still need to get that future information from the operator themselves (no doubt with tightly written NDAs).
      So as far as I can see they have added lots more work for the authorities and the public information providers, more risk that current coverage is not captured (postcodes where no speed test has been run as one example) only to have to go back to the source (ie the operator) to get the additional future information anyway.
      Not a “cunning plan” in my book.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “they are actually the same sets of data, but then given the level of responses on here I don’t expect anyone to actually bother looking at the data itself.”

      I did look at the mapping first, particularly my area. I assumed and freely admit possibly wrongly it was different data as feeding my post code to both maps returns slightly different information.

      If i feed my postcode to the labs. site it shows numerous speed results (around 5 mile radius guesstimate) around my location they are all in the 15-40Mb range.

      If i feed my postcode into the maps. site it returns an additional 2 speed test results of 72.2Mb basically right on top of my location which are not shown on the labs. site at all (no matter how much i zoom in or out or even if i zoom to that area without entering a post code).

      I guess its possible one site is updating quicker than the other? Is there any other reason this could occur?

      “To add the exchange location information is not SamKnows data either but then you are free to have your own ideas on data sources, but when the person who is generating the map tiles tells you the data is not from SamKnows you might want to reconsider your opinion.”

      Interesting, is exchange locational for both mapping sites your own generated information entirely? Well done to you if that is the case.
      I imagine just that in itself was a fair chunk of work, much respect to you Andrew in that case. Ill slightly but more fairly rephrase the question…

      “”Would you actually refuse schemes like the BDUK access and use of your data in which to help improve broadband in the country and rollouts in general?””

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      @Andrew
      Sorry to harp on but while you are here is there anyway to find out what ISP a person is using when the mapping tools does not identify it, as an example from the maps.thinkbroadband site like this speedtest result…

      https://image.ibb.co/iy2Y6G/unkspeed.jpg

      That test is not too far (literally a couple of streets) from where a relative lives and i know they would kill for that, the upload being particularly impressive.

      See ive more than just glanced at the maps 😉

    • How speed test results are plotted may vary depending on numerous factors, without specifics and a lot of digging its hard to say any more – hint try working with highly dynamic large data sets.

      Exchanges are child play, lots more important things to position with an awful lot more of them and things are far from static.

      Would we refuse data access requests? Depends on what terms were negotiated and the intent, so cannot answer until someone makes a formal approach.

      As for not detected providers speed tests, again they can sometimes be deciphered but again its a time equation

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “How speed test results are plotted may vary depending on numerous factors, without specifics and a lot of digging its hard to say any more – hint try working with highly dynamic large data sets.”

      Understandable really things can go wrong/have kinks, especially with large numbers of data and it being placed on 2 differing maps. Im impressed you and your team keep things as accurate as they are. I hope due to what i explained you can understand any mistake on why i thought it was 2 different sets of data for the recorded speeds on the maps.

      “Would we refuse data access requests? Depends on what terms were negotiated and the intent, so cannot answer until someone makes a formal approach.”

      That is good to know the answer is not an automatic “NO” especially over something like copyright and you would realistically consider the requests and the reasons for them. I would not be shocked if some smaller ISPs at some point have used your mapping tools for information in some manner for them i can imagine it MAY be a useful resource. I am shocked though that nobody has came to you with a actual approach at using it officially, given the right deal/agreement it could be a benefit for you both.

      “As for not detected providers speed tests, again they can sometimes be deciphered but again its a time equation”

      I guess you can have trouble automatically detecting every provider with 100% accuracy (i know some TalkTalk resellers ISPs still ID as TalkTalk rather than the ISP) and no doubt there are other bigger nightmare issues i could not even begin to think about.

      For any unknown provider speed tests would it be possible to look back via a database for an IP record and from that detect the ISP? A lot of work (and the time you mention) to do them all and update map accordingly im sure. It would be a really useful addition though. For ones like i mentioned i would be curious as i know (or thought i did) the best that area offers is FTTC and VM neither of which gets near 100Mb upload rates. There is no FTTH in the area which i am aware of, ive even tried running the relatives postcode through gigaclear B4RN and just about every provider thinkbroadband and ISPreview lists which could deliver those upload speeds but no luck so far.

      If i passed the info over to my relative and they had as much interest, could they contact yourself to ask if its possible for you to shed any more light on things? I appreciate you are a very busy man and would make it clear to them they may have to wait several months for a response and potentially never hear back at all.

      Thanks for all the responses Andrew.

  21. Avatar BillyBob

    The answer has nothing to do with the OMR. If a cabinet covers both white and grey postcodes, but is the cheapest solution to provide superfast BB to the white areas. That is what is chosen as a solution. The side effect is that grey postcodes also get covered.

    The alternative is a bespoke FTTP network to target just the white postcodes that would be far more expensive than a cab upgrade and if every cab with overlap needed a bespoke FTTP network, then the coverage would have been far less, and timescales far greater than what we have now for the BDUK programme.

    Bit obvs really.

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      “The answer has nothing to do with the OMR. If a cabinet covers both white and grey postcodes, but is the cheapest solution to provide superfast BB to the white areas. That is what is chosen as a solution.”

      If that were true then the whole bidding process of the BDUK is pointless as that automatically means whoever is cheapest gets the job. Which clearly is not the case based on some gigaclear won contracts as just one example.

  22. Avatar TheFacts

    @VFM – ‘The overbuild of VM is another part of the jigsaw that must be unpicked and reversed, if the problem exists.’ You say it’s a problem, please explain what you mean, would you seriously propose that cabinets are removed? Why deny those in the area who are not overbuilt a faster service?

    Any build in a urban area ‘is also a plan to deny some rural users the upgrades they need’.

    At 94% superfast coverage across the UK we see contracts to increase this in areas so there is progress.

    Again – the LAs are managing the contracts with BT and others – they determine the outcome.

    • Avatar Gadget

      Any part of the remainder, not getting “superfast” coverage, is by definition a) deemed uncommercial by any operator and b) passed over by the local authority in previous BDUK rounds.
      So regardless of whatever label anyone may put on the remainder if the aspiration is 100% cover these remaining areas need to be covered.
      We already have above in the article, pretty much in single syllable words, a statement from BDUK above which indicates that a) any “collateral damage” cannot be claimed by the builder and b) “collateral damage” revenue is taken into account.
      So why should the local authority not continue to prioritise the best value for money ie most coverage for least money?
      If the issue is that the local authority still does not publish every single detail for public scrutiny, but satisfies the audits without raising either illegal actions or major questions then perhaps we need to debate what benefit would be gained?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @Facts – what are you trying to achieve? – All is being suggested is that the process is checked so the incremental capital payments for overbuild are paid by BT and any balances allowed to extend coverage as originally intended.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – why do not think that this is not checked? As BT and an LA look at a particular area the cabinet coverage shows part is covered by eg. VM and the financials set accordingly.

      Maybe there won’t be any ‘balances’ as BT are paid less than the full cost of coverage of the full area.

      And no, details of every invoice and cabinet etc. build won’t be published. The LA will, we hope, be managing this.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      @Facts Thanks, your intent and motivation is clear.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – is it, please tell me what it is other than using some common sense.

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