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Rollout of Ultrafast Broadband Must Continue Despite COVID-19

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 (10:30 am) - Score 2,342
Bundle of optical fibers with lights in the ends. Blue background.

The Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) has today said that “delivery of ultrafast broadband to all parts of the UK must continue” despite the current COVID-19 lockdown conditions, which have put significant strain on complex supply chains and exasperated the shortage of skilled telecoms engineers.

At present the Government designates telecommunications under the “key worker” category (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), which means that such people can continue to maintain, repair and roll-out new full fibre (FTTP/H) and other broadband ISP networks.

In an ideal world the network builders would be able to take advantage of the current reduction in road congestion to make more rapid progress, although as we’ve already explored (here), the situation is rarely quite so simple. Many operators, particularly Openreach, have had to scale-back their level of work both to manage the risk of COVID-19 to their workers and also because of the pressure on supply chains.

For example, it’s all very well being able to continue the build but that doesn’t help if the tarmac supplier has run out or the people who hand out vital permits aren’t at their desks. The actual building work that people see in the streets is thus the end result of a very complicated chain of events and resources, which inevitably slows when one of those key elements hits a wall. Work to resolve these challenges is on-going.

Malcolm Corbett, INCA’s CEO, said:

“With lockdown conditions unlikely to be lifted completely for some time to come, people across the country are getting used to working from home and are relying more than ever on the internet for keeping in touch and to provide entertainment as they observe social distancing guidelines.

Network resilience has been good during the crisis but sharing best practise on the way networks are operated and managed has taken on even greater importance.”

In response INCA has announced that their upcoming programme of events, workshops and roadshows will be moving online. The first one of these – Serving the Gigabit Nation – is due to be held this afternoon (poorly timed as it clashes with the FTTH Council Europe’s own webinar event). The virtual workshop will bring together an expert panel of speakers in the industry to look at the underpinning issues of systems, operations, maintenance, service delivery and what applications can run over the top towards developing new gigabit networks.

Otherwise INCA’s 2020 events programme covers four main themes; predicting and maximising the impact of 5G, spreading superfast broadband to rural areas, removing barriers to delivering gigabit digital infrastructure, and helping independent network operators seize the opportunity of full fibre and gigabit digital network deployment. Prices for these events have been reduced to £15+ vat per person to reflect their online nature (using Zoom).

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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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23 Responses
  1. Ferrocene Cloud says:

    They can say what they want, at the end of the day engineering resources are allocated to fixing issues and ensuring service stability at this crucial time. Rolling out new services is not essential and not permitted work.

    If they want to talk about best practices, then they should at least understand the basic concept of a non-essential change freeze to ensure a critical service remains available and stable.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Rolling out new broadband networks is currently considered permitted work, as per the above article and many recent statements. You might not agree, but that is the reality.

    2. Ferrocene Cloud says:

      Sorry Mark, to clarify this is from my employer (a major provider) not any government advice – new services are non-essential work with some rare exceptions (e.g. blue light services). You can see Openreach have a similar attitude, which is why they’re shifting staff away from that work.

      Resources are tight enough keeping things running as it is, and the risk of disruption due to the changes needed to support new services is not acceptable.

    3. Occasionally Factual says:

      I watched 2 sub contractors for a major FTTP installer doing a site survey of a neighbour’s property of where the fibre would be ran from the pavement to the house. Unless the 2 gentlemen live in the same household they broke every rule of social distancing going between themselves. 1 vehicle, no masks, no 2m separation at anytime other than when they left the van by different doors.
      And no doubt those 2 gentlemen would be the ones turning up to enter said persons property should the install go ahead.
      No ideal.

    4. John says:

      The major network builders (OpenReach, Virgin, CityFibre and others) are continuing with their FTTP rollouts during the lockdown.

      Openreach FTTP went live in my street yesterday with 3 vans out doing final testing.

      The only exception to OpenReach’s FTTP rollout is they won’t enter premises to do the final connection but they are very much still building the FTTP network.

    5. CarlT says:

      Please define what your employer regards as a new service.

  2. Matt says:

    Can we identify whether social distancing is a guideline or a rule (law)

    1. dumdum says:

      Oh the corrupt ACT (not law)…
      “Made at 1.00 p.m. on 26th March 2020
      Laid before Parliament at 2.30 p.m. on 26th March 2020
      Coming into force at 1.00 p.m. on 26th March 2020”

      So according to that this “Act” came into force BEFORE it was presented to parliament.

      Perhaps they forgot you can not implement an ACT until each party has agreed to it first.

      Oh and the 26th march was the date the PM went into self isolation… Totally coincidence im sure.

    2. CarlT says:

      They didn’t forget anything. Acts of Parliament are how laws are created or changed.

      This was a Statutory Instrument that, perfectly legally, came into force before it was presented to Parliament. The start of the link to the Act makes its legal basis clear.

      Your opinion or mine on the legality of it are quite irrelevant: it was legal.


      ‘Affirmative resolution procedure

      Statutory instruments which are subject to affirmative resolution are less common, making up about 10% of the total.[13] This is the more stringent form of parliamentary control as it requires positive approval, rather than the absence of a decision to annul. Accordingly, it is used where the delegated legislation may be more controversial.

      The parent Act may require that the proposed statutory instrument be approved by both Houses of Parliament (or, in the case of an instrument which relates to financial matters, by the House of Commons only) either:

      before it is made (i.e. in draft form),

      after it is made, but before it can come into force, or

      after it is made and has come into force, but it cannot remain in force for longer than a specified period (usually 28 days, excluding periods when Parliament is dissolved, prorogued or adjourned for more than four days) unless approved within that period.[10]’

    3. CarlT says:

      To save your opening the link:

      ‘Regulations made by the Secretary of State, laid before Parliament under section 45R of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (c. 22), for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament within twenty-eight days beginning with the day on which the instrument is made, subject to extension for periods of dissolution, prorogation or adjournment for more than four days.’

      Indicates the parent Act of the SI and notes it coming into force pending affirmative approval within 28 days.

      The Act from 1984 provided the powers this SI was made under. That Act was accordingly passed by Parliament including, obviously, this provision.

      Nothing to see here.

    4. Jamiul says:

      An act of parliament is not LAW.

      If you read the full act you would realise this as with regards to all the ‘rules’ laid down within it, they are nothing of the sort but merely “guidance”

      Furthermore if you have done nothing wrong IE following the ‘rules’ and going for shopping or exercise then you would not have to as that act puts it…
      “Restrictions on movement
      6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living
      without reasonable excuse.”

      Having a “reasonable excuse” for ANYTHING in the world in a LEGAL sense is you admitting you have or may have done something wrong.

      Furthermore under that subsection of the act it states…
      “Paragraph (1) does not apply to any person who is homeless.”

      So if our new nazi regime stops you and tries to fine you just tell them you are homeless and save yourself the grief in trying to explain to something with the intellect of a rock why you are outside.

      “7. During the emergency period, no person may participate in a gathering in a public place of
      more than two people…”

      Explain as was posted elsewhere….


      under fixed penalty notices it states…
      “(2) A fixed penalty notice is a notice offering the person to whom it is issued the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction for the offence by payment of a fixed penalty to a local authority specified in the notice.”

      Koy word in that is “OFFERING” AGAIN just like the “reasonable excuse” thing above and having to explain why you are outside.

      You are basically entering an agreed contract, or in simpleton plod mind it equals… We can not prove right now if you are doing anything wrong, so please just admit your guilt right now see i can issue you with this fine and save me the trouble of actually dragging you through the courts and costing the country even more money rather than make some and get a brownie point from my bosees.

      ACTS are not laws…. You do not have to give your name or any details to a police officer or any other official ever unless you are being arrested, even then if your are read you rights correctly your should be informed “you do not have to say anything”. If you do not believe me…
      “Despite the belief of the police officers, it is not unlawful to refuse to speak to a police officer”

    5. dumdum says:

      Acts are not laws, never have been and never will be.

      Until 1976 when the act was abolished all Taxi drivers were supposed to carry hay in the boot of their taxi. I doubt you will find plod was happily handing out fines back then to those that did not though.

      Some sheeple will just do whatever that are told by anyone in a costume though.

      Policing today is about getting you to admit guilt rather than proving anything.

      Another example is if you are stopped in your car and accused of speeding the first sign that they do not and can not prove what speed you were going is when they ask “do you know what speed you were going”. Only traffic pursuit cars have cameras, calibrated speedos and other equipment to measure speed. So a cop in his non equipped local village idiot 3 cylinder fiesta poop mobile does not know what speed you were going. Most people though will just take the fine and or points like a good little sheep, rather than go to court and realise he has no evidence and was on another revenue collecting exercise for the government and local authority.

      Idiot society where because someone tells you that you are guilty you just accept you are even if you do not think you are.

    6. Jamiul says:

      It seriously annoys me when people just undermine peoples actual rights and laws by telling them they can not do something when they are entirely within their rights to do so.

      The funniest thing about the corona act is what i pointed out about the homeless. Must be the first time in this country where those that run it and the incredible more and more wannabe Third Reich it is becoming have given a homeless person more rights and freedoms than the rest of us.

      You shall all stay inside, unless you do not have an inside to stay in, then we dunno what to do with you. All hail the Parliament Gestapo Brainless Utopian.

      You shall stay 2 metres away from everyone to prevent zee transmission except when our Gestapo agents who will approach and fine you if you do not have an excuse for being outside. Our Gestapo agents are immune and shall not be passing zee virus you have onto the next individual they interact with and fine.

      ALL HAIL!!!!!!

      Utter stupidity.

    7. CarlT says:

      Acts of Parliament create or modify laws. It’s that simple.

      The rest of that tirade I’m not going to go into as I really don’t see the point given how badly the pretty clear fixed penalty stuff was misunderstood.

  3. Matt says:

    I think right now is a good time to be doing a lot of work on infrastructure in the UK….

    At least installing new where existing services can be left unaffected.

  4. NotThisAgain says:

    The whole social distancing is just a trail run for communism, and you’re lapping it up.

    1. CarlT says:

      If you seriously believe that you aren’t in a position to accuse anyone of lapping anything up.

      Katie Hopkins, Toby Young, etc, really aren’t reliable sources of information or informed opinion on anything. Ever.

    2. Dee.jay says:

      Go away. We didn’t vote Labour, remember?

    3. dumdum says:

      He has a partial point though… Why are the public being allowed in mass to line the streets on Thursday evenings NOT 2 metres apart to applaud the NHS…
      As just 1 example

    4. Jamiul says:

      Nobody has commented on that i see. I guess the stupids think its ok to gather and infect each other as long as its for a good cheer up clapping session. No dispersal orders given, no fines, just an orgy of virus spreading.

  5. Ogilvie Jackson says:

    What has happened to Scotland’s R100 project ???
    We were supposed to have a checker telling us who was going to what and when .
    All gone very quiet !!
    No excuse , contacts all signed last year.

  6. Jamiul says:

    “Acts of Parliament create or modify laws. It’s that simple.”

    No it is not Acts of Parliament can make amendments to laws they can not modify criminal law. There is a difference you could amend say the law on murder to say you can kill someone if they are trying to kill you, Murder itself would still be illegal. You could not modify the law on murder and just suddenly say it does not exists. That is the difference.

    It is also not even that simple. An ACT does not and can not create a new law. It can grant “special powers” to bodies such as local authorities. But they like anyone have to obey the law. Everyone is governed by the same laws of the land, you can not have an act that makes individuals exempt from the law. The corona virus legislation you seem so proud of and happy to obey attempts to do this but fails miserably and is a straight away arguably a violation of Human Rights. You can not treat one person different to another when it comes to the law. The corona virus attempts to do this by 1) allowing homeless to be in public with no reasonable excuse 2) It basically demands you identify yourself (which you do not have to do EVER as has already been confirmed in a case which actually went to court where the person remained silent the entire time) 3) It can not be a criminal law as the fine involved is collected by local authority (it is in effect no different to littering fines, something else where you do not have to tell the busy bodies your name).

    Police and authoritarian states love people like you, blindly just doing as you are told even if its made up on the spot.

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