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Openreach Broadband Delays Criticised by Dorset UK Council UPDATE

Friday, March 6th, 2020 (9:25 am) - Score 2,681
bt openreach uk engineers van

The deputy leader of Dorset Council, Peter Wharf, this week told a cabinet meeting that he was “now going to be not so nice” to Openreach (BT), which occurred after one of their managers allegedly told the local authority that their current roll-out of “superfast broadband” (FTTC/P) was a “shambles.

At present the state aid supported Superfast Dorset (SFD) project has already worked with Openreach (BT) to extend the reach of FTTC and some FTTP based “superfast broadband” to cover 97.3% of the county, but confusingly some recent council documents say “95.1% of premises in the Dorset Council area have access to superfast broadband [and] 3.1% have access to full fibre” (either the 97% figure is using the older definition of 24Mbps+ or they’ve excluded Poole and Bournemouth from the 95% figure – it’s never clear).

Otherwise the current aim of the SFD project is to get “as close as practicably possible” to superfast broadband coverage (at speeds of 30Mbps+) by the end of 2020, while most of the on-going work involves deployments of gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. Nevertheless a report in Bridport News suggests that the council are far from happy with Openreach’s progress, despite SFD appearing to be reasonably on-track.

Cllr Wharf (no relation to Worf from TNG) highlighted a number of problems with Openreach delays and poor performance. On top of that he said that a “senior executive” from the operator had originally pledged to attend all meetings with the council, although so far the unnamed individual had yet to attend a single one. “I have gone past the stage of being nice,” said the councillor.

A Spokesperson for Openreach said:

“No company is investing more into Dorset’s broadband infrastructure than Openreach. We accept that the current phase of the Superfast Dorset programme was slow to start due to contractual difficulties with suppliers, but we’re on track to reach every property in the current phase by this summer.

We’ve been discussing further changes to our contract with Dorset Council since September 2019 and, once agreed, we’ll be able to build even more full fibre broadband across Dorset. At least two members of our senior management team have been at every meeting with the council to ensure progress on key issues is made.

We look forward to continuing to bring our world-class infrastructure to the homes and businesses of Dorset.”

Interestingly Openreach suggested that, out of the “95% of Dorset” that can order “superfast broadband” today, “almost 93%” had been “built by Openreach“. We think this may be ignoring the impact of Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband network across urban areas like Poole and Bournemouth.

Otherwise the operator is currently extending FTTP into parts of Beaminster, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Motcombe and Verwood. We expect details on a new contract for further roll-out to be revealed in the not too distant future.

UPDATE 2:42pm

The original newspaper article doesn’t clarify, but we think the concerns about delay might not specifically relate to SFD as we can’t see much in the way of an issue with progress on the existing contracts. We think that the problems may instead relate to the Dorset/Openreach Local Body Partnership scheme (LBP). This is a variant of co-funded Community Fibre Partnerships (CFP), where the council put some funding into the CFP too (some of these are known to have been delayed for various reasons).

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Avatar James says:

    Ask North Yorkshire to comment on their latest stats, it seems as though the Council’s current project is to cover ~50000 premises up from a previous ~30000 even after BTOR won and should have taken the latter figure down significantly.

  2. Avatar Tony says:

    So is it Openreach directly or the Superfast Dorset project they have the issues with?

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      As always probably a bit of both. But if OR are trying to switch from FTTC to FTTP provision the council should welcome that.

      I do wonder whether there is enough pragmatic thought. They should be concentrating on the 10Mbps to 24Mbps space left and possibly leave it to BT to do the sub 10Mbps under USO. That in turn will leave a very small percentage that need a higher grant on top of USO. I just wonder sometimes whether LA involvement is the hinderance here.

    2. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      It doesn’t help of course that the Dorset County Council no longer exists and the new Dorset Council are probably looking at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, that are getting FTTP, with envy as they consolidate their budgets and challenge priorities.

    3. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      “They should be concentrating on the 10Mbps to 24Mbps space left and possibly leave it to BT to do the sub 10Mbps under USO”
      Isn’t that likely to simply move the sub 10Mbps group into the 10-24Mbps group? The USO solution is likely to be 4G, which for many won’t be >24Mbps.

    4. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      If OR can get USO subsidy in numbers along side their contracted rollouts then investment in FTTP has to become more feasible for more premises to be covered. It is in OR’s interest even if big BT can to sell some mobile short term. Currently many of the postcodes may be blighted by the USO definition anyway if the SFD plans are not detailed enough.

      BT may propose to use 4G for USO pockets but it is also in their interest to provide a solution that encourages the consumer to take a higher product. FTTP is the best long term for this but if not strategic upgrades to 4G antennas.

  3. Avatar Trevor Bevins says:

    If you are going to copy an article written by someone else at least copy it correctly – Peter Wharf is deputy leader of Dorset Council….not the leader of Dorset County Council ( which no longer exists)

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Fair point. I shall go out back and give myself 20 lashes accordingly.

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @MJ – Enjoy.

    3. Avatar Steve says:

      I like that a reporter from the Dorset Echo is lecturing anyone on accuracy!

  4. Avatar annoyed says:

    Might as well look into the remaining premises that Hampshire and openreach have promised to fttp enable.

  5. Avatar Pezza says:

    Well being in North Dorset and believing I would never get FTTC, till Dorset Councils scheme came to the rescue, I admire their stance on this. Open Reach won’t do anything they don’t want to unless forced. They have a complete mani poly if all the networks and mobile operators too, because they maintain all the fibre links between the cells..
    About time someone in a capacity stood up to them. I’d love FTTH but don’t expect to ever get it.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Going to be news to Virgin Media, Vodafone and others that Openreach maintain all the fibre links between the cells.

      Openreach made a business agreement with Dorset Council. Nothing to do with Openreach being ‘forced’ to do anything. They were paid to deliver services and did so.

    2. Avatar Fttp coming to you says:

      Gillingham and shaftesbury are all getting FTTP thanks to Openreach.

  6. Avatar Angry villages united says:

    I live in a Village Toller Porcorum and the COUNCIL make openreach wait 3 months for permits to access their plant because it’s a national speed limit road! It’s ridiculous and health and safety gone mad. The council are more to blame. If they let openreach do their jobs rather than try and fine them for doing it we’d all have SFB by now.

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