A few random thoughts:
1. BT added the extra £50m project for infill in 30 cities; we haven't seen any indication of where & when this will be spent. Have the councillors found that this won't be spent in Manchester?
2. Greater Manchester was allocated some BDUK SEP funding. Do the councillors know that none of this will be spent in Manchester itself?
3. Counties that received phase 1 BDUK funding had to put their hands into their own pockets too. Even though Manchester didn't get a BDUK allocation, I'm not convinced that this would stop Manchester council from having their own project, using their own funds, if they wanted to. The EU generic approval ought to work in Manchester (like the rest of Greater Manchester), even if it just uses its own money.
Surrey, for example, chose to add a lot more money themselves, and aimed at 99% coverage instead.
If Manchester councillors want to improve something for their residents, why didn't they take the same steps that other councils have done?
Leeds is certainly included in the West Yorkshire BDUK project.
4. Perhaps Manchester should have worked harder to use some of their UBF subsidy to help fund residents, rather than (in the end) putting it into business-based vouchers and wifi.
In the original plans for ultra-fast, some plans got kyboshed because of overlay of commercial ultra-fast networks. However, Bristol certainly intended to use a portion for mere superfast to the city-dwellers left out of the rural BDUK funding.
In reworking the plans, Manchester and Salford did try to add a "residential connection voucher" scheme (£0.5m each), but this was rejected by central government. What did they try to do to further these ideas?
If they could have got that money re-allocated from UBF into BDUK, and put into the whole GM scheme, they might have been able to use it for residential purposes.
5. Concentrated targeting of the UBF vouchers to businesses in certain areas might have the effect of improving services to residents too. Has anyone put together a programme to do this?
6. Manchester has an aim to be a top-20 global digital city by 2020 - and that isn't going to happen without considered intervention: doing the bare minimum when BDUK and UBF come around is not going to get the city there. (Frankly, just appealing to BT for FTTC coverage isn't going to do it either, even if they say yes)
Getting a top-20 spot will need Manchester to think like Stockholm, or Amsterdam. It will need to take active steps to put together partnerships, like the CityFibre/Sky/TalkTalk thing going on in York.
7. Why concentrate on BT? If these areas have failed to get superfast speeds, then all other companies have failed too, including Virgin Media. Even B4RN.
8. Back when BDUK was a gleam in government's eyes, you saw BT suddenly start to act very strictly. An area either met their conditions for viability and was included, or it didn't - so was ripe for BDUK inclusion. They stopped responding to communities wanting to pay for their own cabinets.
It was obvious to me that BT *had* to start acting strictly, everywhere in the country. It had rules of viability, and had to enforce them across the entire country - if it made any exceptions, then the whole of the tendering in the 45+ regions could go up in smoke.
The projects are still going on, and BT still have to apply the criteria strictly. The boat still can't be rocked... and PAC is madly trying to push. Unfortunately, that means the Manchester councillors are unlikely to get any special allowances.
9. BT have become more open to community funding for cabinets again. If the strength of public opinion is backed by some community dosh, things might get somewhere. The councillors are definitely in a position to help these discussions along.
10. Some technologies and techniques are now becoming more standard in the BDUK projects, which won't have been readily considered in the commercial rollout (I'm thinking of things such as FTTRN, adding cabinets at the exchange for EO lines, and copper re-arrangement for longer EO lines). As BT get better (ie cheaper) at doing these, it could be that they could re-consider some of the urban areas too... in which case, the councillors might see a result.
11. The petition is badly titled. The overall aim seems to be about getting plain old "superfast" services (ie 30Mbps+), while the title refers to "ultrafast", which is usually taken to mean 100Mbps+.
12. Following the link, it is good to see that it has had a good response, and references VM, York, and helps push the UBF vouchers for people working at home.
I'd forgotten the aspect that working from home can qualify for a UBF voucher; perhaps someone can get together a number of such businesses, pool the vouchers, and use that to "community fund" a cabinet, or better. That way surrounding residents benefit from the new infrastructure as much as the subsidised businesses.
As I said... random thoughts. Some more useful than others.