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Standard User mjl123
(newbie) Fri 06-Feb-15 13:17:35
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Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


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Fastershire, the BDUK for Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, seem to be excluding whole areas of the counties because they're considered too urban, regardless of whether there are postcodes in those areas who cannot get superfast broadband, or even 2Mbps:

The 100% 2Mbps plus by end 2015 is for our project area i.e. not including commercial and urban areas


My impression from reading the guidance documents here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-aid..., more specifically State aid - Guidance Mapping is that they should operate on a postcode basis rather than ignore vast areas based on how urban they may be, irrespective of their coverage.

We're definitely not going to be included in a commercial roll-out. Both Virgin Media and Openreach have told us it's not commercially viable for them to cover us. Both companies have provided us with rather large quotes if we want to privately fund it.

Are Fastershire breaking any rules by ignoring this guidance and not using postcode level mapping in all cases to determine the project area?

If not, how can the DCMS keep on about how everything is on track to have everyone on 2Mbps by 2016 and state on their website that they'll "provide basic broadband (2Mbps) for all by 2016" when Fastershire, and presumably others, don't have any plans that include everyone on less than 2Mbps?

Thanks,

Matt

Edited by mjl123 (Fri 06-Feb-15 13:18:34)

Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Fri 06-Feb-15 13:52:19
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: mjl123] [link to this post]
 
Because just like EU has they can offer a blanket 2 Mbps satellite option which often offer 20 Mbps, or 4G upgrades will cover you

Nothing to stop a programme revisiting the maps and fixing the mistakes from the first phase, e.g. it may have been down as commercial but the commercial has changed its mind.

What does Fastershire say when you contact them, and what large urban area is not able to get 2 Mbps?

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User mjl123
(newbie) Fri 06-Feb-15 14:54:09
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Regarding satellite as an option,

State aid SA.33671 (2012/N) United Kingdom National Broadband scheme for the UK - Broadband Delivery UK states that:
Target areas: The funding provided under the current scheme may be used to deliver local (or community) basic broadband projects in "basic broadband white areas" and NGA projects in "white NGA areas". For the purposes of this aid scheme, "basic broadband white areas" are areas where basic broadband services at a minimum download speed of 2Mbps are not available at affordable prices(18)

(18) Access to basic broadband infrastructure is not affordable if the installation cost is £100+ and/or the rental price is £25+.

From what i can tell I'm not sure satellite fits in with the above? There's also the issue of latency which means I'm not sure how it can be considered suitable for all use cases. Edited to add: The cheapest option i can see on uswitch is £129.90 total install costs + £24.95pm for "up to 2Mbps", which doesn't count as affordable using the above criteria.

As for the Fastershire area, they're not exactly transparent when it comes to this information. There are very low res maps on page 10 of their "Broadband Strategy for 2014-2018" and a higher res map of "Lot 1" here: http://www.fastershire.com/assets/file/Lot1WithMSA5B... Lots 2 and 3 cover different areas. So from the looks of the information available there are no plans to cover the areas around Cheltenham outside of the black lines. E.g. Hatherley.

When asked they say something like the quote in my first post "The project area excludes commercially viable and urban areas".

Regardless of whether 2Mbps is available via satellite, it still seems that they're going against the guidance documents by excluding certain areas from their considerations because they're "urban" rather than base it on postcode?

Thanks,

Matt

Edited by mjl123 (Fri 06-Feb-15 15:01:33)


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Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Fri 06-Feb-15 15:25:48
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: mjl123] [link to this post]
 
And the area in question is?

http://avonlinebroadband.com/choose-your-package/cho...
2 year contract to spread hardware costs. Yes not perfect but EU thinks it is sufficient for basic access.

Ok what specific address in Hatherley, there is a LOT of Virgin Media and FTTC.

It is entirely feasible that rather than spend time and money on a longer mapping phase that the project did some rough and ready stuff to ensure they kept pace with the deadlines. Have you made your case that an area needs to be included in Phase 2?

For example many of the projects just took being on a FTTC enabled cabinet as been enough in the first phase, but then with the G.INP and Vectoring changes to come, this might be OK.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User mjl123
(newbie) Fri 06-Feb-15 16:15:15
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the reply.

We're on Cabinet 151 on the Cheltenham exchange. I'll PM you my exact address, but postcode for the area is GL51 3HU.

There is a lot of VM coverage and FTTC enabled cabs around, but by no means is the entire area covered. We're not even that "Urban". It seems wrong to exclude an entire area because of an assumption that "close" to town (3.8k as the crow flies) means it will be covered by the commercial roll-out, even though the postcode data would indicate we're not.

Our MP has got involved, we've been on radio Gloucestershire twice and someone from the campaign has been on TV (Sunday Politics West). We've got links to the radio / TV stuff on our site Cheltenham151.com So we're doing all we can to get them to include us.

Their strategy for 2014-2018 doesn't include our area. It's split into those 3 "lots", none of which cover our area. So if they are planning on revisiting it, it won't be until 2019 and given what they've said so far I can't see them including us as we're "outside the project area".

We're running out of options, hence my hope / question about whether they are actually allowed to go against the "Use postcodes" guidance and ignore an area for no good reason. I'm hoping they shouldn't have done this?

If satellite does count as giving everyone at least 2Mbps, why aren't the DCMS excitedly telling everyone they've achieved their "2Mbps for all" target early?

Is there anything else we can do other than wait until 2019 and hope they'll include us then?
Standard User AndyHCZ
(member) Fri 06-Feb-15 16:28:40
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: mjl123] [link to this post]
 
Privately funded schemes - http://superfast-openreach.co.uk/rural-broadband/Fib...

Openreach pays the economically viable amount and the residents the rest (if you can get good support).
Standard User mjl123
(learned) Fri 06-Feb-15 16:40:42
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: AndyHCZ] [link to this post]
 
Cheers for the link. We've had quotes for this from both Openreach and Virgin, with Virgin's being 5x more than Openreach. It's a lot of money to try and raise from individuals, and to be honest I resent having to pay for something others are getting for free, courtesy of the tax payer.

Both Virgin and Openreach have confirmed they won't be covering us in their commercial roll-outs, so why should we be treated differently from those in the same position but a little further out from town.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Fri 06-Feb-15 16:57:59
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: mjl123] [link to this post]
 
Phase 1 target is 90% with access to fibre based solution across County.

So they could re-do the maps and simply say you are in the 10% that will see nothing for now. Same outcome, but technically follows the postcode rules you want to ensure are followed.

There is a 2018 target of 24 Mbps for all.

Interesting that the VM website when I try a couple of the addresses in the postcode don't say NOT available, but rather tell us more about where you live. Suggests network is VERY close and they may even have said you are covered as part of the OMR. Has the project published the Virgin Media data so that you can check this? I know VM have given you a silly high figure now, but when they did the OMR they may have just said yes for your postcodes.

If cabinet 151 has a mixture of Virgin Media coverage and no coverage then it becomes a little more complex and looking at premises covered by the cabinet it even if included in the FasterShire roll-out is of a size that would make it less value for money to enable than many of the more rural cabinets, i.e. number of lines running from cabinet is lower than most BDUK gap funded cabs and well under the usual commercial criteria.

On the satellite - not shouting about it yet because they hope projects will push FTTC/FTTP as far as possible first, i.e. something with lower latency and more of a path for expansion to not just meet 2 Mbps but superfast target, and also there is not enough satellite capacity to cope with a few million users yet.

All you can do is keep pestering and hope that as the project progresses that it starts to get down to cabinets in the 50 line zone. Now if this is a new build area that can be difficult for some of the projects to deal with, since they may not have accurate data, and while they may be sympathetic there is another 10% of Gloucestershire trying the same as you.

So yes it might be 2019, which sucks but that is the joy of infrastructure projects that have limited budgets and resources.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User mjl123
(learned) Fri 06-Feb-15 17:22:15
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for taking the time to look at this for me.

There are around 183 properties on the cabinet, out of which 52 can't get Virgin. I'd assume given the sub 2Mbps speeds the majority of people who can get Virgin will do so, but there may be a few who don't.

Fastershire haven't published much of anything.

Most of the 53 properties are new build, except those on 1 existing road (Manor Park) that Virgin didn't cable with the older houses as that road wasn't adopted.

It sounds like it will either be a long wait, or we'll have to find the cash to fund it ourselves if we want it earlier.

I'm guessing if we fund it then Fastershire won't come along and give us our money back at the point where they would have covered it?

Does anyone know how Openreach prioritise gap funded cabinets? Is there a chance we'll go to the back of the queue and it will be 2019 before it's live anyway?

Edited by mjl123 (Fri 06-Feb-15 17:22:42)

Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Fri 06-Feb-15 17:41:45
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Re: Are BDUK projects allowed to exclude whole areas?


[re: mjl123] [link to this post]
 
If you were to come up with the money yourselves part of the negotiation would involve discussion of a time frame for delivery. You could try talking in a clawback clause, i.e. get all 52 signed up and BT give back some money.

New builds probably means that when council worked on the original sums the numbers were different, and while gap funding to help 52 out of 183 is possible, there are many more easier to deal with and just as deserving cabinets.

If the developer has not already run away then could try tapping them for some, particularly if you can show that speeds are holding down house price and affecting their profit.

Moral for anyone not involved in this but reading, DO NOT buy a new property until deliver of decent broadband has been guaranteed and clauses exist in contracts if it is very important. Until people stop buying and moaning retrospectively the developers will keep building and running off with profits.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
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