Home  ›  Blogs  ›  BDUK delays aren't all bad news - whoever's at...

BDUK delays aren't all bad news - whoever's at fault

Friday, November 30th 2012 by Paul France
Delays to the BDUK super-fast broadband project aren't necessarily bad news
Smaller telecoms firms could benefit from delays in the BDUK project.

There's been plenty of buck-passing in the past few days regarding delays to the UK's super-fast broadband strategy.

In what sounds like a pretty childish spat, Culture Secretary Maria Miller laid the blame for the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project being held up firmly at the door of the EU, only for European competition chief Joaquin Almunia to tell the Financial Times that Brussels bureaucrats have worked faster than their counterparts in London.

According to Mr Almunia, the EU wasn't able to approve the BDUK framework because officials were left kicking their heels while the coalition government took an age over providing all the necessary information.

BDUK has been much maligned - we've had our fair share of digs at the government agency ourselves - but delays to the nationwide super-fast broadband rollout might not be the worst news imaginable.

Okay, so it's clear that the government's plans - supported by hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money - are going to prove crucial to bringing faster broadband within reach of rural residents and businesses across the length and breadth of the country.

But arguably the biggest problem with the framework is the decision to exclude smaller communications operators from becoming preferred providers, with only BT and Fujitsu allowed to bid for contracts (although Fujitsu is yet to win a single one).

So it follows, therefore, that any slipping of the BDUK timetable paves the way for these small telecoms firms to roll out their own networks without fear of being immediately undercut by a publicly-subsidised alternative.

One such company grabbing the bull by the horns is Gigaclear, which this month announced plans to speed up its rural fibre optic broadband deployment programme after securing further equity financing.

Having already installed networks in Hambleton in Rutland and Appleton and Eaton in Oxfordshire, the operator is looking to undertake further rollouts in four more communities in which "substantial" pre-orders have already been taken.

Comments (5)

wispa
3rd December 2012

If you live in N Wales (I live in Chester) you may have heard of a company called AB Internet.

I live in mid-Wales and know Neil (Sales Director) from AB Internet well

I was a contractor for them for 18 months and during that time, we had no problems with the BBSS and we even helped WAG streamline the entire process, which was initially, as you describe.

BBSS, now BSS or BBS (depending on who you speak to in Gov) is an utter administrative failure, and the only possible reason you could think that it has been streamlined is because you have never had to deal with it at a senior level.

There are:

* No contract terms between Gov and supplier - they pay when they feel like it * The Gov refuse to discuss the reasons for late payments with the supplier, as it is the 'subscriber's money' and 'data protection act prevents' (which is nonsense by the way) * More than one company has been hauled down to Cardiff to be presented to the fraud team, despite no action ever being taken and no tangible proof of wrong doing - it is used as a stick to beat suppliers into compliance with whatever ICT want them to do * Universally in Wales, customers are unable to get second quotes, and this has led to 'gentleman's agreements' where one company will do the second quote for another this time, and then vice versa the next time. * The scheme has 'approved' way more people than actually have received the service - this means allocations look good, but actual change and improvement for users is minimal. * The scheme pays £1000 (max) including VAT, and wouldn't you know it, a bunch of suppliers now have install costs of around £998.70... Although they all agree that it probably doesn't cost this much for the install, they need to cover the admin cost of dealing with the Gov BBS - and to manage the long payment cycle that ICT go through in order to pay the supplier

I could go on - but hopefully you see what I mean. None of this is seen by the guy hanging the Wireless AP - but it renders it next to impossible to manage for the exec team at any ISP/Supplier

One area where we agree is the fact that not many people have heard of the scheme, which I find remarkable. I just don't recognise the rest of your comments?

Hopefully the bullet points above will help you?

smoke'n'mirrors
3rd December 2012

If you live in N Wales (I live in Chester) you may have heard of a company called AB Internet. I was a contractor for them for 18 months and during that time, we had no problems with the BBSS and we even helped WAG streamline the entire process, which was initially, as you describe. One area where we agree is the fact that not many people have heard of the scheme, which I find remarkable. I just don't recognise the rest of your comments?

wispa
3rd December 2012

I live in Wales. The BBS (Broadband Support Scheme) is nowhere near as fantastic as you seem to think. Testing for 2Mbps+ is NOT a requirement for payment. Payment is made by Welsh Gov directly to suppliers without terms and conditions and is subject to endless (8wks+) delays, making it virtually unworkable. Applications are subject to the applicant running a purchase assessment that requires 2 written quotations for an individual or 3 for communities. Suppliers are now refusing to issue written quotations if they suspect they are to be the 2nd or third quotation (why should they bear the cost to help out a competitor?) Scheme has been running for 2yrs and is due to finish in Mar 2013 - started with £2m in the pot and is likely to end with an unspent (different to unallocated) surplus of around £900k (almost half). Loads of people that could be using the scheme in Wales do not even know it exists. I can only assume you live nowhere near Wales - if you did you would know the scheme is being utterly mismanaged.

smoke'n'mirrors
1st December 2012

The whole thing is a sham and a waste of tax payers money - again! The UK will not see the same step change benefit in superfast BB that it saw when DSL replaced dial-up. When DSL replaced dial-up, the UK saw an explosion of new style industries and a revolution in purchasing; the change from 4Mb to 20Mb will not bring about another similar revolution. Therefore it should be evolution, not revolution and that goes for rural BB as well. In rural BB, if you want to know what good looks like, then you need only go to Wales where a grant of up to £1000 is available to each household that currently gets less than 2Mb. You pick your supplier, they deliver the service, its tested at faster than 2Mb and badda-bing! Small niche suppliers are very much in vogue - much to the great annoyance of BT.

wispa
30th November 2012

Hmm...delays to BDUK deployment not necessarily a bad thing?

BDUK is supposed to be focussed on delivering to the most rural communities. Given this - which of the other companies (you cite gigaclear) are you anticipating scooping up those rural communities with aplomb?

Assuming that the premise of your piece is close to correct, then surely BDUK was unnecessary anyway?

Maybe it is because it is Friday - but I cannot drag the sense out of this one.

Leave your comment

We will never share your email address and it will not be displayed.

Your name
Notify me of replies by email

Why do we need your postcode?

Once you enter your postcode, Cable.co.uk will perform a live lookup and check all the available providers in your area.

This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.

Your information is safe with us. We won't share your postcode with anyone. Guaranteed.

Close