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August 18, 2014

Wales 96% fibre coverage by Spring 2016

190,000 homes in Wales can now access superfast fibre optic broadband due to the Superfast Cymru programme which has helped to fund fibre broadband to areas not commercially covered.

The Welsh Government have targeted there to be 96% of Wales to be covered with 80Mb broadband speeds by Spring 2016.

Ken Skates, the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, said:

Superfast Cymru is one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind, bringing fast fibre broadband to areas which otherwise would not receive it.  I am pleased today to be able to announce the next phase of this programme, which shows how more and more communities are set to benefit.

By the time Superfast Cymru is completed in 2016 Wales will be one of the most connected countries in the world.  It is a huge undertaking with 3,000 green roadside cabinets to be installed and around 17,500kms of optical fibre cable to be laid.
The Superfast Cymru programme has been funded by the Welsh Government, the UK Government and the European Union to the tune of £205 million. On top of this BT is investing a further £220 million into helping rollout fibre optic broadband to areas in Wales that were not covered by its own commercial rollout.

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- Filed under: Fibre broadband
- Tags: Superfast Cymru Project
Author: Mark @ 10:42 am

May 23, 2014

EE told they can’t make “most reliable broadband” claims

Mobile provider EE (Everything Everywhere) has been told by the ASA that they can’t claim they are “Britain’s most reliable broadband” in advertisements and that they must change their adverts that make this claim in them.

BT had complained to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) over a mail sent out by EE that headlined “Introducing Britain’s most reliable broadband for staying connected”.
In the writing it then claimed that it was the most reliable because it had less “jitter” (Jitter is the rate of chance in the latency speed) and “latency” (Latency is the time it takes for data packets to travel to a server and back) that its rivals. EE took their reason for claiming this from an Ofcom report from May 2013 that looked into fixed line broadband performance.

BT’s complaint was that EE did not get better Jigger or Latency figured than themselves “to any statistically significant degree”. Also, BT were not happy that this only took into account fixed line broadband which was not clearly made in the advertisement and that broadband delivered by wireless routers which are extremely common were not included.

EE did get one back on BT who had also complained that EE saying they had the first plug-and-play fibre broadband router was not true. However the ASA ruled in favour that EE’s Brightbox 2 did beat BT’s Home Hub 5 when it came to self-installation routers, as although the Home Hub 5 did have self-install technology it had not been enabled unlike the Brightbox 2 where it had been.

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May 7, 2014

Virgin Media launch Quad-Play bundles

Virgin Media have launched a “Quad-Play” bundle that combines broadband, TV, landline and SIM-only mobile deal that Virgin claim can save families over £300 a year versus the nearest comparable service from Sky ad the next best value SIM from any mobile operator.

Virgin MediaThe “Big Bang” bundle will offer 100Mb broadband together with TiVo and home phone talk plan for just £30 per month, adding the mobile sim is just a further £5 on top.

The “Big Kahuna” bundle is available for £45 per month and offers Virgin Media’s fastest broadband of up to 152Mb broadband speeds, TiVo which has over 230 TV channels and every BT Sport channel and a home phone service. Again, the mobile SIM can be added for just £5 per month more and offers 250Mb of data, unlimited texts and minutes.

Both of these deals are on 18 month contracts and do have line rental charges too that need to be added on which is £15.99 per month which takes the “Big Bang” quad play service come in at £50.99 per month and the “Big Kahuna” deal come in at £65.99.

The chief operating officer at Virgin Media, Dana Strong, said:

Our fantastic new bundles deliver unprecedented value as standard. For the first time, households will be able to get the best broadband together with the UK’s best value mobile SIM, as part of a bundle perfectly tailored to the customer’s needs. And I’m delighted our current customers have the chance to enjoy this fantastic new flexibility and unparalleled value first.

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- Filed under: Broadband Bundles
- Tags: Quad play, Virgin Media
Author: Mark @ 9:54 am

April 16, 2014

Sky & TalkTalk to create 1000Mb fibre network in York

Sky & TalkTalk are to join up to create a fibre optic network in York that will be bring internet speeds 3 up to times faster than will be delivered by BT’s fibre optic network.

The deal also involves a third company, CityFibre, who are a specialist with fibre optic projects. The deal consists of BSkyB & TalkTalk both investing £5 million each and CityFibre claiming it’s third of the new company with a central ring of fibre optics that they have already got installed in York.
The joint venture network will install full Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) which will bring the fastest speeds to customers and will mean that the new network will aim to be able to offer broadband speeds of 1Gb (or 1,000Mb) which is currently over 3 times faster than is on offer from BT’s top package which offers speeds of 300Mb.
BT’s top speeds of 300Mb are available where BT have installed FTTP, however across most of the country BT have only installed Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) and for the remaining way from the streetside cabinet they use the existing copper wire to connect to houses, this way means that users are not getting a full fibre optic connection.

CityFibre agreed a deal a few years ago with Fujitsu to create a 64 mile fibre ring around the City of York and it is this that they will be building on to base this first joint venture network on.

It is expected that the first customers will be able to be connected to the Sky/TalkTalk/CityFibre network during 2015.

It is not only York who are to benefit from the trio investing in a new fibre network, there is set to be a further 2 cities also chosen where they will roll out to as well in due course.

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- Filed under: Fibre broadband
- Tags: CityFibre, Fibre optic broadband York, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, York
Author: Mark @ 8:40 am

Ofcom to look into BT fibre wholesale prices

Ofcom are to look into if BT need to reduce the price of their wholesale superfast fibre optic broadband prices after claims that they were charging rivals too much for use of their network.

In May last year TalkTalk complained to Ofcom that BT were abusing their dominant position when setting prices for wholesale fibre optic broadband and now a report in the Financial Times claims that the communications regulator will launch a consultation into the price’s of BT’s wholesale fibre optic pricing which is to be done before the end of May.

Redburn Partners, who are an equities partner told the Financial Times that:
We think Ofcom’s margin squeeze test could reduce BT wholesale fibre prices by at least £2 per month initially, with ongoing monitoring potentially leading to further cuts.

BT are naturally not going to be pleased with Ofcom doing their investigation, especially if it does result in Ofcom agreeing with TalkTalk’s complaints and making BT Openreach reduce the wholesale prices if charges competitors for access to its fibre network.

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- Filed under: News
- Tags: BT Openreach, Fibre optic wholesale prices, Ofcom
Author: Mark @ 8:17 am

April 2, 2014

BT in monopoly position over rural broadband contracts

BT have been left in a monopoly position over the rollout of rural broadband across the country that has been part funded by £1.2 billion of public funds according to  a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme was set up by the government to help fund the rollout of fibre optic broadband to rural areas where it was not financially viable for BT, Virgin Media or other providers to roll out to with just their own money. The £1.2 billion BDUK pot of money to help with the roll out to these rural areas has in effect just been sent in the direction of BT as they are the only provider to have won any contracts.

The report by PAC initially raised concerns over the way the contracts were being awarded back in 2013, at this point 26 contracts for BDUK schemes had been awarded to BT, since then the other 18 contracts that have been put out to tender have also gone in the direction of BT too. Initially there were nine suppliers who were looking to bid for the BDUK funds but most of these dropped out and left the only real remaining one as Fujitsu, however they themselves had pretty much given up too which left BT to clear up all the contracts.

Another issue is the secrecy surrounding the contracts, BT stipulated that there was non-discloser agreements in place so councils could not talk to each other to see if they were receiving a good deal or not, this then makes it likely that more tax payers money will have gone to BT than perhaps needed to if there had been more openness surrounding existing contracts in place.

The other issue raised by PAC was that the broadband maps lacked detail which made it hard for other organisations to see where exactly BT would be rolling their fibre network out to and this hindered other schemes coming in to potentially fill in the gaps or offer faster speeds. They have said that the government needs to work with local organisations to make these broadband maps able to be searched down to post codes to help make it clearer where exactly will and won’t be covered.

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- Filed under: Fibre broadband,News
- Tags: BDUK, Broadband Delivery UK, BT Broadband, BT monopoly
Author: Mark @ 10:14 am

March 27, 2014

BT Broadband receive most complaints

BT has for the first time topped the complaints chart for broadband services in a report compiled by Ofcom, and it will have been a double blow for them as their big rivals Virgin Media received the fewest complaints.

Ofcom are the communications regulator and they report down all the complaints that they receive for broadband, telephone, mobile phones and pay TV. It was the first time that BT has been the most complained about broadband provider as a proportion of their customer base and it was the twelfth quarterly report produced by Ofcom.
BT received an average of 0.32 complaints per 1,000 (or 32 complaints per 100,000 customers) during Q4 2013 followed by EE with 0.29 and then TalkTalk with 0.21. The industry average was 0.17 and there was only Sky (0.08) and Virgin Media (0.07) who were below the industry average.

BT’s complains in general related to service faults and the way that complaints were handled.

Ofcom broadband complaints Q4 2013

The positive side to this is that this figure is down from Q3 2013 when they received 0.41 complaints per 1000.
Previous to Q4 2013 it was EE who had topped the charts for the previous 5 quarters with 0.45 per 1,000 in Q3 2013 and so again the positive side to this is that this meant that they had improved by reducing their complaints down to 0.29 per 1,000 in the 3 months that followed.

What should be noted is that only the big broadband providers who have a market share of 4% or above and receive more than 30 complaints a month are included so just because some of the smaller ISPs are not included in the report does not necessarily mean they don’t get complained about very much.

Virgin Media will have been pleased to continue their  usual good record of very few complaints, even more so they will be enjoying the fact that BT Broadband, their big rival in the fibre broadband sector were the most complained about, how long before we see this as another marketing stick being used by Virgin to beat BT with.

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March 24, 2014

Which? say Broadband speeds should be guaranteed

Broadband providers are being called to give consumers the broadband speeds and service that they are paying for as a new report from the consumer group “Which?” finds that 3 in 5 people are experiencing problems with their broadband.

In the survey, which was done online between the 8th and 9th January 2014 and interviewed 2012 British adults and found that 45% of people suffered from slow download speeds with 58% of those saying that this is a frequent problem or happening all the time for them.

It is not just broadband speeds which are a bone of contention to consumers, 27% of those who report loss of broadband had to wait two days for this to be resolved and 11% had no internet connections for a week or more.

Which? are wanting the broadband providers to “Give us Broadband Speed Guarantee” which is asking for broadband providers to give customers the broadband speed that they are paying for. Already broadband providers do give estimated broadband speeds and allow customers to leave if the speed they receive is significantly slower than the estimate they were given when they signed up, this is a voluntary code of practice that was set up by communications regulator Ofcom.

What Which? have a problem with is that the code of practice is voluntary rather than compulsory, they also believe that broadband providers should give more specific estimated broadband speeds for specific properties rather than just an estimate for the area.

The Executive Director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said:

The internet is an essential part of modern life, yet millions of us are getting frustratingly slow speeds and having to wait days to get reconnected when things go wrong.

It’s less superfast broadband, more super slow service from companies who are expecting people to pay for speeds they may never get. Broadband providers need to give customers the right information and take responsibility for resolving problems.

Which? have set up a petition at which.co.uk/bbspeed for people to sign if they agree with their campaign.

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March 18, 2014

BT launch 6 months free broadband offer with Daily Express & Daily Star

BT has agreed a 2 week advertising deal with the company that owns the Daily Star, Daily Express & Channel 5 and will see their readers be offered 6 months free BT Broadband.

Richard Desmond’s “Northern & Shell” company own the Daily Express, Daily Star and Channel 5 and it is in these that BT will be featuring with their offers for the next 2 weeks.
We are likely to see ads, pull-outs and sponsored content in both the papers and on Channel 5. Yesterday saw the launch of the campaign on Channel 5 and a 4 page advertising feature of the free broadband offer in the Daily Express along with a front page advert on the front of the Daily Express & Daily Star.

The special BT Broadband offer will entitle readers to “BT Totally Unlimited” free for 6 months and then £16 per month thereafter on an 18 month contract. Readers of the papers will have an 0800 number to call to register for the offer or they can do so via the BT.com website where they are able to enter an exclusive reader offer code to claim the special 6 months free BT broadband deal.

As for all BT Broadband customers, they will also be able to receive BT Sport for free, this means that they can then watch plenty of live Premier League football along with many other sporting events exclusive on BT Sport.

With Channel 5 due to be sold in May, this deal from BT could have a couple of alternative motives for Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell company. It may be that BT could be looking at maybe purchasing the TV channel and that BT are the preferred bidder or it could be a clever ploy to help put up a bidding war for the TV channel between BT & BSkyB as these are the 2 most likely suitors who are reportedly after it.

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March 13, 2014

UK broadband best of the “EU Top 5″ countries

The UK has now passed 4 of the major EU competitors when it comes to broadband according to Ofcom.

Ofcom claim that the UK is now ahead of Germany, France, Italy and Spain to make it the best of the “Big 5″ EU nations and in ninth overall in Europe. The study from Ofcom looks at a range of things for its “European Broadband Scorecard”, such as coverage, take-up, usage and choice for both mobile and fixed broadband and pricing. Broadband speeds are not overly featured in these results because Ofcom say that there are no comparable figures to compare against across Europe.

In Ofcoms report it claims that the UK leads to “Big 5″ (“EU5″) in coverage, take-up, usage and choice for both mobile and fixed broadband and performs well on price.

Superfast broadband availability in the UK has also shown a good improvement with around 60% having access at the end of 2011 with it now up at 73%. Take up of superfast broadband which is classed as broadband speeds of 30Mb or above in the UK is 9% while the second closest EU5 country was Spain with 6%.

Among the EU5, using the most recent comparable data, the UK has:

  • highest broadband take-up (all types, by household), at 83%
  • highest proportion of people to have bought goods online over a year (77%)
  • highest weekly usage of the internet (87%)
  • lowest proportion of people who have never used the internet (8%)

With regards to broadband speeds, Ofcom recorded the UK’s average speed during November 2013 as 17.8Mb, although this is around double what Akamai (who measure global broadband speeds) have for the UK at 9.1Mb.

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- Filed under: Home Broadband
- Tags: broadband take up, EU Broadband, EU5
Author: Mark @ 3:17 pm
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