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Standard User rgp
(regular) Tue 19-May-20 16:28:19
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Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


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I have a friend who lives in Northern Scotland (north of Inverness), who has poor ADSL broadband (about 1-2Mbit/s). He is connected to a fibre cabinet, but as the length of the line from the cabinet to his house is 3.3Km, FTTC is not available to him as he is too far away.

With the advent of the USO, I had expected that he would be able to get upgraded via the USO as he does not have 10Mbit broadband, nor do any of the other properties in the locality. However, having got in touch with BT to ask for a quote under the USO, they have just come back with a proposed cost of over £275K!!! This works out at over £80 per metre to the nearest FTTC cabinet (3.3km), almost all of which would be cable in soft verge, if new FTTP was provided. There are over 40 properties at the same post code that could benefit from upgraded connectivity.

The USO will be completely and utterly useless if everyone asking for a connection quote gets one as high and uncompetitive as this appear to be. Using Openreach's own excess construction costs, the standard cost is less than £20 / metre for directly buried fibre cable and no doubt if you are laying over 3Km, it would be possible to do it for much less than £20 / metre (e.g. mole ploughing). When asking for a breakdown of the cost / the reasons why the quote is so high, the BT person rather unhelpfully responds "we are unable to provide any details of the survey quotes provided as Openreach will not provide ourselves with this information".

I am left to conclude that the USO is apparently a bad joke. Anyone can quote a ridiculous, excessive cost and effectively decline to connect someone. What is the point of the USO if even people who are not excessively remote and where there are plenty of other properties cannot get a reasonable connection price via the USO?

Any thoughts as to what is going on here? Why would BT take on the USO and then not offer connections at a fair price?
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Tue 19-May-20 16:38:08
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: rgp] [link to this post]
 
£275k between 40 properties is still £6,875 each, so above the USO threshold even if they take all of them into account. Cost might also go up depending on what you mean by locality, e.g. 40 homes in tight 250m area little increase but will creep up quickly if spread over a kilometre of more.

What you have had back is the Fibre on Demand desktop quote, i.e. a rough and ready estimate using the records. People who order fibre on demand have a second stage of a £250 survey where someone turns up and measures, checks for soft verges etc, road crossing this can sometimes be lower or higher.

Have you looked at the R100 plans https://www.gov.scot/policies/digital/broadband-and-...

They are looking at spending this sort of money (£4k to £6k/property) to get superfast to close to all premises in Scotland, and for the majority that will mean FTTP.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User rgp
(regular) Tue 19-May-20 16:58:30
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Yes, I'm aware of the R100 project. My friend's house is in the Northern lot. It seems like connection via that project might still be some way off. As far as I am aware, the contract for that lot is not yet concluded due to legal wrangling?

Regardless of whether BT / Openreach are connecting properties via the R100 project or the USO, they won't get very far if they cost digging fibre cable into soft verge in the countryside at £80 / metre. In this particular location, the properties are spread out a bit, so that would add some cost on as you rightly point out. Nevertheless, the cost per property using more reasonable metreage rates for fibre in soft verge, assuming they connect them all, should be much less than £6K each.


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Standard User rowter
(learned) Tue 19-May-20 17:07:54
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: rgp] [link to this post]
 
Some one over on ISPReview got a quote back of £1.1m
Standard User brookheather
(member) Tue 19-May-20 17:12:25
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: rgp] [link to this post]
 
FTTP doesn't go to a FTTC cabinet so the actual distance required for the new cables could be much longer than you think.

Cerberus FTTP + pfSense + Asus RT-AC67U AiMesh

Edited by brookheather (Tue 19-May-20 17:12:55)

Standard User sheephouse
(member) Tue 19-May-20 17:13:45
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: rowter] [link to this post]
 
Has anybody anywhere got a reasonable USO quote back?
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Tue 19-May-20 17:52:20
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: rgp] [link to this post]
 
Even if a FoD order came inside budget and went ahead it would likely have a 1 year build time line, so won't be much faster than R100 if that does come to you.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User rgp
(regular) Tue 19-May-20 18:54:25
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: brookheather] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by brookheather:
FTTP doesn't go to a FTTC cabinet so the actual distance required for the new cables could be much longer than you think.

Yes, but there is only 1 cabinet in the local village and it is on the main road, so unlikely that the fibre connection node is very far away from that cabinet. In fact, looking on Google maps, there is a large chamber right in front of the cabinet which seems like a possible location for the nearest fibre connection node.
Standard User rgp
(regular) Tue 19-May-20 18:55:44
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by MrSaffron:
Even if a FoD order came inside budget and went ahead it would likely have a 1 year build time line, so won't be much faster than R100 if that does come to you.


Is there no difference between a USO quote and a FTTP on demand quote? If not, what's the point of the USO?
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Tue 19-May-20 19:03:02
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Re: Is the Universal Service Obligation a Bad Joke?


[re: rgp] [link to this post]
 
If you go the path of FoD then you pay everything yourself

If you go down USO path, if 4G is possible then offer that, they also check if in any of the existing roll-outs for the next year, then then use the FoD system to get a quote from Openreach on the same basis as firms such as Cerberus and Spectrum Internet the difference being they will pay the first £3,400 under the USO terms.

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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