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Standard User cisco_kid75
(learned) Thu 22-May-14 12:07:14
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Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


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A bunch of councillors in Manchester City Centre are claiming:

"Businesses in the city centre have access to ultra fast high speed broadband but BT have not committed the same level of investment to provide this service to residents. As a result residents suffer from a poor service and deserve better. We ask BT to reconsider the business case to upgrade the service available to residential properties in the city centre."

and so have launched this petition: www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/bt-give-manchester-residents-access-to-ultra-fast-high-speed-broadband

Will the strength of public opinion be enough to force BT OpenReach to re-consider those cabs that they deem are not financially viable to upgrade?

Thoughts please

Edited by cisco_kid75 (Thu 22-May-14 12:08:32)

Standard User kebabselector
(newbie) Thu 22-May-14 13:35:13
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: cisco_kid75] [link to this post]
 
I doubt any petition will work, BT no doubt knows the percentage of broadband users per street cab and the figures don't warrant an upgrade. My street cab is one that's uneconomical to upgrade so my only option (I guess I'm fortunate to have another option) is Virgin. For the moment I'll stick to ADSL via Zen.

Current on Zen, getting around 5mb.
Exchange is Fibre enabled, street cab not economically viable to upgrade.
Could get V*rgin, but I'd rather not.
Standard User ian72
(knowledge is power) Thu 22-May-14 13:38:26
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: cisco_kid75] [link to this post]
 
My guess, unless someone wants to inject lots of cash it won't make a blind bit of difference.


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Standard User cisco_kid75
(learned) Thu 22-May-14 13:41:08
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: ian72] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by ian72:
My guess, unless someone wants to inject lots of cash it won't make a blind bit of difference.


This is exactly what I have said to them too! smile
Standard User WWWombat
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 22-May-14 13:53:05
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: cisco_kid75] [link to this post]
 
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.
Standard User cisco_kid75
(learned) Thu 22-May-14 14:22:22
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for that.

I note that The Manchester Evening News ran a story just before the petition was launched, stating that The EU blocked government funding?:

"Last summer the council was granted cash to roll out fibre optic broadband to nearly 30,000 homes without it.

But at the last minute Brussels blocked the move - arguing subsidies should not be used for services that could be provided by private industry."
source: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchester-city-centre-dwellers-launch-6919980
Standard User WWWombat
(fountain of knowledge) Thu 22-May-14 14:32:00
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: cisco_kid75] [link to this post]
 
That would sound like the time UBF plans had to be ditched, stopping subsidised ultra-fast (with a considered use of ultra, rather than MEN's non-obvious usage). It was probably right, because there hasn't really been a failure in the market of ultra-fast broadband yet.

But killing those plans also killed the infill of urban superfast services (ie slower than ultrafast) that some cities wanted to include. I know Bristol was one, but from the MEN article, it looks like Manchester tried too.

In the end, central government stopped the usage of UBF to directly subsidise any infrastructure, which is why it became a voucher scheme.
Standard User cisco_kid75
(learned) Thu 22-May-14 14:59:26
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
Does it seem like Manchester City Council (MCC) have exhausted all other realistic opportunities in order to secure any public funding for this?

I personally do not believe that this petition holds water and I think it has "manipulated" (indeed stretched) the expectations of local residents by "leading" potential voters to side with the council/councillors to blame BT for the lack of investment and so the locals aware of the petition now believe BT should be funding FTTC. (albeit for the vociferous few!) therefore making the council/councillors looks like the goodies and BT - the badies! smile

The timing of both the M.E.N article and the petition is conveniently at a time in the short run up to today's local council elections too! = dangling the carrot for more votes perhaps? smile Forgive me, but I think politics is largely at work here rather than for the sole intention of the greater good!

Like you say "If Manchester councillors want to improve something for their residents, why didn't they take the same steps that other councils have done?"

I think locals should be focussing their attention on the performance of the council putting direct questions to them rather than now (being lead into) expecting a private company (OpenReach) run by it's shareholders to put up the money for cabinet upgrades that they do not view as financially viable!

Edited by cisco_kid75 (Thu 22-May-14 15:06:22)

Standard User Fastman2
(regular) Thu 22-May-14 19:56:41
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
my understanding is the voucherss cannot be used to fund cabinets as these are infrastructure and subject to state aid) the vouchers can only fund connecitons
Standard User Undisputed
(newbie) Thu 22-May-14 20:12:40
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Re: Manchester City Centre Broadband Petition


[re: cisco_kid75] [link to this post]
 
I thought BDUK would provide additional funding if the local authority coughed up the money? The local council here decided not to be park of Superfast West Yorkshire because they "couldn't see the business value". Bunch of muppets IMO
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