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Standard User RuralWire
(newbie) Thu 26-Mar-15 13:38:53
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Government response to rural broadband report - March 2015


[link to this post]
 
The Government's response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's report on rural broadband and digital-only services has been published today. The response from the Government covers a number of rural broadband topics, including details on how (a subsidised satellite broadband scheme) and when (by the end of this year) the 2Mbps universal service commitment and superfast broadband will be delivered to premises on the lowest speeds in the hardest to reach areas.

See the following link for the Government's response, which includes looking at raising the Universal Service Obligation to 5Mbps and making funding for the phase two superfast broadband projects conditional upon local authorities providing the public with detailed information on their roll out plans.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committ...
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Thu 26-Mar-15 14:10:58
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: RuralWire] [link to this post]
 
Speed read shows nothing new, beyond explaining to a set of people what the current targets and future targets are.

The per premise based planning is interesting, but costly in both time and money hence the focus on postcode level (as in AA1 1AA)

We do publish in news and on twitter a good amount of tracking of the progress towards the targets, both from what DCMS publish and our own analysis. Alas because the two seem fairly close only the DCMS stuff tends to be picked up, i.e. its boring because numbers seem roughly right all the time.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User RuralWire
(newbie) Thu 26-Mar-15 14:54:37
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
MrSaffron - Point taken. The Government's response provides a useful summary of the current position regarding the final 1%, but I fully appreciate that such a document is likely to be of interest only to those, such as myself, who live and work in remote rural areas.


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Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Sat 28-Mar-15 10:10:37
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: RuralWire] [link to this post]
 
A speed read from me too.

A couple of things stood out, in both what was said and what was left unsaid.

First was the ongoing confirmation of the 2Mbps USC by the end of 2015. This was interesting, as this is really only a target, as far as central government is concerned - they've handed responsibility for it down to LA's, who all have different timescales.

Some LA's have been willing to re-arrange the USC position within the project as a way to bargain for more superfast coverage (eg North Yorks recently pushed it back to the end of 2016, as part of planning for their phase 2, which released £2m for fibre coverage).

The fact that central government provides an answer, without passing the buck down to LA's, is interesting. It suggests that current DCMS thinking about the "hardest-to-reach" areas has pulled responsibility back from LA's into central government - in principle, even if not yet in strict commercial/contract reality.

Second was the obvious mention of satellite. It is mentioned as part of the answer to the USC, to "help people currently with the lowest speeds" - and we get confirmation that the satellite subsidy scheme is to be co-funded locally & centrally "using funding already in place to deliver the USC".

However, the wording in the response suggests that this has been promoted to be a superfast solution (ie not just USC), and it specifically targets a new 1% of the final 5% (ie the 5% currently left out of the superfast plans).

Put together, it kinda confirms my reading from before - that the 'slightly' more joined up thinking from the DCMS has realised that, for the final 1%, the USC solution and the superfast solution is going to be the same thing - satellite. There is little point in funding that satellite for USC purposes in 2015, only to return to superfast capability in 2018 - and that it should just be done once. It also suggests a confirmation that the budget for USC is being pulled back out of the BT contracts.

The thing I noticed that was unsaid was in the answer to the first question: The DEFRA committee thought it "essential that the hardest to reach were given priority"; the government response kinda reassured that they were still within plans, but didn't give reassurance that they were a priority.

However, the shift in stance for the 1% who will be targetted for satellite does reflect something of a prioritisation; it might only be "on time" in the USC plans, but it does represent an improvement on the superfast side of things.
Standard User RuralWire
(newbie) Sun 29-Mar-15 13:14:32
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
WWWombat - The Government's response has the look and feel of a summary of current thinking rather than a statement of intent. Whilst I would concede that satellite broadband might offer a short-term or medium-term solution in the hardest to reach rural areas to deliver access to a 2Mbps USC or a 5Mbps USO, I would question whether satellite broadband has much to offer as a sustainable long-term superfast broadband solution.

All the feasibility reports relating to the options that are being looked at by the Government for extending superfast broadband coverage beyond 95% are in the public domain, which is certainly a refreshing and welcome change. The feasibility reports include those relating to the trials by Avanti and Satellite Internet that are looking at piloting superfast satellite broadband.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/superfast...

Hopefully, the feedback from and the outcome of the various trials will provide a genuinely informative insight into the viability of the current batch of alternative technologies.
Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Tue 31-Mar-15 16:22:28
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: RuralWire] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by RuralWire:
WWWombat - The Government's response has the look and feel of a summary of current thinking rather than a statement of intent.

I agree. But that current thinking has more intent than I've seen before! It is still pretty short-term, though.

Whilst I would concede that satellite broadband might offer a short-term or medium-term solution in the hardest to reach rural areas to deliver access to a 2Mbps USC or a 5Mbps USO, I would question whether satellite broadband has much to offer as a sustainable long-term superfast broadband solution.

I would certainly not be happy with satellite as anything but a short-term solution. With what I hear (like everyone else) I'm worried that the congestion makes it unusable as a superfast solution, but I'm prepared to wait to see if they can make it work well in the trials.

All the feasibility reports relating to the options that are being looked at by the Government for extending superfast broadband coverage beyond 95% are in the public domain, which is certainly a refreshing and welcome change.


Those documents are on my to-read list when I have time.

Hopefully, the feedback from and the outcome of the various trials will provide a genuinely informative insight into the viability of the current batch of alternative technologies.


I hope they will, and will apply some quality tests rather than just speed tests.

I already pointed one of the pilot villages in the direction of the Actual Experience BBFix program, as a place that attempts to measure the end-user's quality of experience of broadband.
Standard User RuralWire
(newbie) Tue 31-Mar-15 21:36:49
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
WWWombat - You're right, at least the Government is looking at the alternatives and refining its approach, which is a change in direction.

Regarding satellite broadband, it is certainly a hard sell from the technology point of view, but for fixed-line not-spots or virtual not-spots, the Ka-band satellite services do provide connectivity when there are no viable alternatives. My real concern was with the use of the "superfast" label in connection with satellite broadband, as this could give rise to unrealistic customer expectations about the nature of the service that can be delivered, but as you say, the whole purpose of the trials is to test the performance, qualities and suitability of the technology.

All the feasibility reports are well worth reading, but only when you have got plenty of time to spare.

Bye the way, thanks for the tip about the Actual Experience BbFix Project, as I was completely oblivious to its existence.
Standard User tdw42
(learned) Wed 01-Apr-15 00:01:19
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: RuralWire] [link to this post]
 
I agree that "superfast" for satellite is completely misleading - especially considering that fixed wireless access, which can provide better speeds and significantly lower latency are not considered NGA products (and therefore excluded from BDUK funding).
Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Wed 01-Apr-15 00:54:49
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: tdw42] [link to this post]
 
I don't think fixed wireless is going to be banned from funding for the final 5% - it is already included in the trials above, and I've been watching the progress of the local projects. Right now it looks to be very acceptable as a solution to the villagers, and looks technically plausible for speeds that meet the superfast definitions (both uncongested and congested).

Personally, I still think there are risks for a commercial FW provider to get involved - even subsidised by BDUK - because of the potential for G.fast and FTTdp to upset the fixed market in the not-too-distant future.
Standard User RuralWire
(newbie) Wed 01-Apr-15 10:36:53
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Re: Government response to rural broadband report - March 20


[re: tdw42] [link to this post]
 
tdw42 - Regarding fixed wireless, one of the purposes of the Superfast Broadband Innovation Fund (funded by BDUK) is to find out whether fixed wireless networks can "establish their NGA credentials". There are a number of trials taking place that include fixed wireless technology, AB Internet (Monmouthshire, Wales), Airwave (North Yorkshire), Callflow (Hampshire) and Quickline (Lincolnshire). The Cybermoor (Northumberland) trial is including a full exploration of the alternative financing/funding solutions for fixed line as well as fixed wireless networks. Don't get me wrong, satellite broadband still has a short-term to medium-term role to play in "the hardest to reach" rural areas, but only when there are no viable alternatives.

Thanks for posting about the release of the new Superfast North Yorkshire coverage maps. Needless to say, I happen to live in one of the many smaller communities where there is no current or planned (fixed line or fixed wireless) coverage, hence my interest in looking at all the alternatives that might become available under Phase 3.
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