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Gigaclear Settles Broadband Lawsuit with Scottish Government UPDATE

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 (4:53 pm) - Score 3,864
scotland r100 broadband lots map uk

We’ve just been informed that UK ISP Gigaclear has today reached a settlement in their R100 (Reaching 100%) legal dispute with the Scottish Government. The case had been preventing the LOT 1 part of the deployment contract from being award to BT and thus delaying the roll-out of “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+).

At present Scotland has already awarded two out of its three contracts under their £579m R100 project – Central (LOT 2) and Southern (LOT 3) – to BT (Openreach). Meanwhile a legal challenge by UK ISP Gigaclear, which was brought against the proposed award of LOT 1 (North Scotland / Highlands) to BT, had been preventing that from moving forward (here).

NOTE: R100 focuses on the final 5-6% of premises without access to 30Mbps+ broadband or any future upgrade plans. The LOT 2 contract will upgrade at least 47,000 of these, while LOT 3 will do around 26,000.

The majority of Openreach’s build, excluding LOT 1, should be completed by the end of 2023 (LOT 3 by summer 2024) and almost all of this is expected to be delivered using gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology (see here and here).

However, the LOT 1 area is the largest one (valued c.£384m) and reflects about 100,000 premises around the Highlands and Islands, Angus, Aberdeen and Dundee. The contract also specified 9 mandated areas where 25% of premises must be able to get speeds of at least 100Mbps (on a Gigabit-capable connection). Gigaclear was one of several providers to bid on LOT 1.

Gigaclear’s lawyer, Mark Lindsay QC, previously argued (here) that Scottish Ministers made a “manifest error” in the procurement process (apparently this relates to the technical issue of bid scoring). The provider had reportedly sought for the court to set aside BT’s award, with the possibility of financial damages as a “secondary remedy“.

The good news is that we’ve this afternoon been informed that Gigaclear has reached a settlement in the R100 dispute (CA172/19 Gigaclear Ltd &c v The Scottish Ministers). At present this is breaking news and we have very little information to add, except that the ISP is under a confidentiality agreement and so can only confirm the fact that the case is settled.

We are currently attempting to confirm whether or not the LOT 1 award can now proceed with BT, although that would seem to be the implication. We hope to have more details shortly.

UPDATE 26th August 2020 – 11:48am

We’ve managed to get a response from the Scottish Government and BT, which sounds like good news.

A Scottish Government Spokesperson said:

“We can confirm that agreement has been reached on this matter and we will now focus on finalising the North Lot contract to enable us to, as quickly as possible, progress delivery of access to superfast broadband to people, businesses and communities in some of the most remote parts of Scotland.”

An Openreach spokesperson said:

“We’re very pleased the legal action has been resolved and we can now move toward signing contracts which will allow detailed survey work to start in the North of Scotland.”

We now have to wait a little bit before the details of the LOT 1 deployment are known.

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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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17 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT says:

    ‘However, the LOT 1 area is the largest one (valued c.£384m) and reflects about 100,000 premises around the Highlands and Islands, Angus, Aberdeen and Dundee. ‘

    £3,840 per premises + network builder’s contribution. Ouch.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      It would be interesting to see a graph of cost per premises vs distance as a scatter; outliers became clearer than averages.

      Some of the distances involved are big: so it could be the long tail and outliers distorting the median.

    2. Avatar NGA for all says:

      It is a budget to bill against. Nothing left for LEO.

  2. Avatar craski says:

    Great news. Lets hope we can get Lot 1 awarded and get the detailed plans for who can expect to see improvements over the next few years published.

  3. Avatar Peter says:

    Is it me or does anyone else feel its short sighted of the Scottish Government to be only look at on only 30Mbps+. I’m now having to work from home, have been for 5 months so far and no end in sight as my work is talking about next year before our site will be open again.

    After then they are talking about restricted access and its likely that no one will be working a full week from an office again due to space planning issues.

    Currently between my home and work use I can cap out my 50Mbps circuit even thought its a 80/20 package as my DP to house run on a poll for the last 50 meters.

    I’ve even been considering a second circuit as my Synology router can load balance two circuits, but that brings its own pile of problems and far more cost for a good ISP provider.

    What I really want to see the SG do is invest proper in a national fibre network that access could be sold out to any ISP that wants to sell on the service.

    /Sighhhh

    1. Avatar Lister says:

      Majority of r100 is fttp, so 30mbps isn’t so relevant.

    2. Avatar John says:

      They aren’t upgrading to lines to 30Mb.
      They are upgrading lines that receive less than 30Mb.

      Most of the upgrades (if not all of them) will be OpenReach FTTP which is capable of 1000Mb at present, with higher speeds possible in the future.

      If you’re complaining that they are only doing lines that receive under 30Mb/s and that you want your 50Mb/s upgraded then you need to be realistic.
      This is public money upgrading slow lines that aren’t commercially viable for operators to cover themselves.
      Your line might well be covered by private investment at a later date.
      You also receive a decent bit above what they currently class as SuperFast.

      I wouldn’t be a fan of my taxes being spent upgrading 50Mb/s FTTC lines to FTTP.

    3. Avatar Peter says:

      I’m aware they aren’t upgrading them to 30Mbps only and that they are targeting those on less that speed. But in my opinion if they took the longer term view they would fund a FTTP network but on the basis that its open to all ISP’s to access to sell services just like BTO does now.

      If they weren’t daft and had the powers for it they should have set a national network as a public not for profit agency or a part of Transport Scotland and charge the cost of access.

      As it is where I stay has now had VM back track on any deployments with how COVID has impacted the country and I cant see BTO bothering to do where I syay for many years to come now.

      Look I know what I took on 5 years ago when I moved here, but things have changed of late and its annoying that there is such short sighted views at these companies/government.

      Fibre has been talked about for over 30 years as the next minimum step that has scalability in the long term to replacing copper which BT is now trying to do completely. We should have went to full country fibre ages ago in my opinion.

      All I can say is at least its not as bad here as in the US, I will always be thankful for that at least.

    4. Avatar NE555 says:

      > its annoying that there is such short sighted views at these companies/government.

      If you are currently receiving FTTC 50Mbps, and it’s important to you that you get faster speeds, then you can order FTTPoD and pay for the upgrade yourself.

    5. Avatar John H says:

      Some Draytek routers do Load Balancing on 2 or 3 WAN’s, on a 2925 I use Voda on one Wan and Three on the second. Its not a fully bonded solution but spreads the sessions between the WAN’s based on speeds so you only have issues with a large single threaded download which is very rare. No need for the ISP’s to be involved, my 2 mobile internet providers are none the wiser to what I am doing.

  4. Avatar Ethics says:

    Democracy in action.

    Allegedly BT’s “hospitality” for Scottish Government ministers won the day.

    Most of the work behind the scenes was focused on protecting the reputation of Scottish politicians to prevent them from public scrutiny.

    The decision makers attended Scottish Rugby matches and dinners on BT and it went on for years.

    Gigaclear didn’t have as many friends but clearly had a significantly better solution.

    The NDA says it all. What is to hide?

    The people of Scotland should be up in arms.

    1. Avatar Oggy says:

      Let us see your proof of this.

    2. Avatar Fastman says:

      Gigaclear didn’t have as many friends but clearly had a significantly better solution.

      ethics – this is the same gigaclear that has BDUK contracts removed in Devon and somerset in September 2019 and has major well documenteted delivery issues on other bduk contracts as well documentented by ISP Review and others – this from ISP review february 2020

      e ISP suffered a major setback last year after the CDS project scrapped their state aid supported contract to deploy a Gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across remote parts of both counties (here). Gigaclear made some big mistakes in their management and planning of the programme, which delayed the local roll-out by up to 2 years and in the end CDS lost confidence in their ability to deliver.

    3. Avatar Ken says:

      “Gigaclear didn’t have as many friends but clearly had a significantly better solution.”

      Ha ha ha ha. Is it April Fools day already?

    4. Avatar Jonathan says:

      True the Gigaclear technological solution is better than the Openreach one. Its PtP symmetrical ethernet using BiDi optics, 160km single span 1Gbps BiDi SFP’s are readily available, and you can get 100km 10Gbps and 40km 25Gbps off the shelf too. Clearly this is attractive in the remote location of the highlands and islands.

      Do bear in mind that the GPON technology that Openreach is deploying does have the option of seamless upgrades to at least symmetrical 1Gbps, and the current asymmetrical nature is a commercial decision as the technology only 2:1 asymmetrical. For the people being impacted the

      However the ability of Gigaclear to deliver with no existing infrastructure in place is highly debatable. They would likely need to lay a significant amount of subsea cables to reach the islands for example; assuming the fibre Openreach layed under BDUK would be available is dodgy to say the least.

      Then there are the well publicised issues on BDUK and commercial deployments of Gigaclear which alone would be sufficient to rule them out the running. It is clear that Openreach are much better in this regard.

      In addition Gigaclear cannot and will not know what Openreach scored so even if their score in the procurement process is wrong the correct score is not necessarily sufficient to put them in first place.

      Finally if Openreach are sensible about how they go about the deployment they could very economically enable lots more properties on a commercial basis which would be very attractive to the Scottish government. That is if you are laying fibre to reach some properties from an aggregation point and you happen to be passing some other properties that currently get say 50Mbps FTTC, you would be stupid not to enable them as you go past. How easy it is for Gigaclear to do that is an open question.

    5. Avatar Alex says:

      These are serious allegations. It’s irresponsible and churlish to post them in the comments section of an industry website like this, particularly if you’re not prepared to identify yourself, and raise them publicly /prove them formally with the appropriate authorities.

    6. Avatar Matt says:

      I suspect poster ‘Ethics’ is an employee of Gigaclear..maybe the CEO?

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