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July 30, 2013

Culture Secretary calls for councils to share superfast broadband rollout plans

Local councils have been sent a letter from the Culture Secretary Maria Miller asking them to reveal their plans for next generation broadband rollout in a bid to help smaller community schemes make plans if they are to make upgrades themselves if their area is not to be covered with superfast broadband from BT, the letter has been seen by The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Much of the confusion for local community schemes comes because although BT is set to cover 90% of the UK with fibre optic broadband it is not made clear which of the remaining 10% exactly are not going to be covered and so other local projects are unable to make proper plans as they do not know if they will be covered by BT or not.

During a Public Accounts Committee hearing that discussed this issue a couple of weeks ago, a BT director of strategy, Sean Williams said that local authorities had this information and they were able to pass it on to the smaller projects.

In the letter from the Culture Secretary, it said:
concerns have been raised about whether information on the areas which will, or will not, be covered by the current projects can be made available. This information will help other broadband providers and community groups determine whether it is worth their while to develop local broadband projects to fill in gaps in coverage. It will also help clarify the position of those community broadband projects whose schemes are already planned in some detail. I am keen to see this information made available.

Hopefully if the councils do get on board and share the information then projects that are looking for some of the £20 million in funding that can be provided by the “Rural Community Broadband Fund” (RCBF) will hopefully be able to be finalised and start moving forward.


July 25, 2013

BT Broadband numbers increase on back of free Premier League games

BT Sport has half a million subscribers already, and that is before the TV Channel has even launched according to BT’s latest quarterly figures.

BT has put a huge push on the BT Sport channel, first they secured themselves 38 Premier League games per season at a cost of around £1 billion and second they then announced that the BT Sport channel with the Premier League football games would be free to BT Broadband customers.

Free BT Sport with BT BroadbandBT’s paid TV subscriber base grew by just 23,000 though, this was down on the previous 3 months when they added 40,000 new paying customers. However, with the summer being here and the new BT Sport channel not live yet and the Premier League season not due to start until mid August they are still relatively pleased with their results and will be expecting many more paid TV subscribers to join them when these become available.

BT are in fierce competition with Sky and this is why they took the decision to offer the free BT Sports channels to BT Broadband customers.

BT’s chief executive, Ian Livingston, said:
It is early days but we are very pleased with the strong start in BT Sport. More than half a million households have now ordered BT Sport and that’s before the channels have even launched.

Fibre remains at the heart of our plans and take-up is strong. Our fibre network now passes more than 16 million premises with more than 1.7 million connected.

The offer of the free BT Sport channel to BT Broadband customers could well be proving very enticing, as during the last quarter there were 189,000 new broadband lines on the BT Openreach network, of these BT Broadband accounted for around half which is a huge leap from the previous year where they only accounted for around 20%.


July 12, 2013

BT to launch Ultrafast 300Mb fibre broadband

BT is to up the fibre broadband speed stakes once again for those who are connected to their full FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) connections by later this year by launching an Infinity 300Mb broadband service.

The Infinity 300Mb package will offer 300Mb download speeds and 20Mb upload speeds and will have no usage limits or any traffic management. Existing FTTP customers will be able to upgrade from their existing packages if they wish. It will cost £50 per month which is £15 more than BT’s current fastest 160Mb package.
It is no real surprise that this new package is to be laucnhed as BT have been testing 300Mb broadband since last year and now feel that towards the end of this year as the right time to launch it.

Along with the news of the new Ultrafast broadband package BT has also announced their new Home Hub 5 which offers superfast ac Wi-Fi, 4 GigE ports and an integrated VDSL modem and will mean that BT Infinity customers will no longer need to have 2 boxes. The Home Hub 4 will still be uised by customers who are connected to BT’s copper network.

David McDonald, from BT, said:
The new BT Home Hub 5 and the introduction of 300Mbps FTTP show how we are obsessed with providing an amazing broadband experience. BT has always had the edge here, but we are now leaping ahead of the competition. Only BT offers a service that combines dual band, Wi-Fi, no traffic management, market leading network performance and Superfast BT Infinity. BT’s unlimited products really are “Totally Unlimited”, and BT will never do anything to slow these customers down. If customers want a great browsing, streaming, gaming and uploading experience there is only one choice.


July 11, 2013

Ofcom looking to get broadband prices even lower

Broadband and telephone bills could reduce even more if proposals from Ofcom go ahead that will see further reductions in the wholesale rental prices that BT Openreach charge to rival suppliers who use their network.

Currently rival providers pay up to £93.27 per year to rent the copper wires that are used to bring telephone and broadband services to around three quarters of UK homes but Ofcom is hoping for consumers to see real price reductions with their proposals which could see line rental charges reduced for customers.

The actual proposed price changes would be set to run for 3 years and be linked to inflation. Ofcom ar elooking for them to start next year on the 1st April 2014 and run until 31st March 2017.
The price changes take in fully unbundles lines, shared unbundled lines and wholesale line rental. The suggested pricing changes are as follows:

  • Fully unbundled lines: the regulated wholesale price for this service today is £84.26 per year. Under Ofcom’s proposals this will fall in real terms by between CPI ? 0% and CPI ? 6% every year;
  • Shared unbundled lines: the regulated wholesale price today is £9.75 per year. Under Ofcom’s proposals this will fall in real terms by between CPI ? 8% and
    CPI ? 12% every year;
  • Wholesale line rental: the regulated wholesale price today is £93.27 per year. Under Ofcom’s proposals this will fall in real terms by between CPI ? 2% and CPI ? 8% every year.

It should be noted that these reductions are only set to be for BT’s copper network and not their new superfast fibre optic broadband network that is currently undergoing a nationwide deployment.

Line rental charges are what bump up many monthly costs with broadband and phone packages. For example currently people can take out broadband and phone half price off for £2.99 per month for 12 months but on top of this there is then a £14.50 monhtly line rental charge.


July 9, 2013

£264m investment in fibre broadband for Scotland

High speed fibre optic broadband is to come to more rural parts of Scotland after a contract between the Scottish Government and BT was signed that will see an investment of £264m.

The project will help bring fibre optic broadband to 85% of Scottish properties by the end of 2015 and up to 95% by the end of 2017 with the initial priority being given to small and medium sized businesses in rural areas.

The huge £264m investment has been made up from various difference sources. BT £106.7m, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) £50m, local authorities £50.7m (27 of the 32 local authorities in Scotland have contributed), Scottish government £36.4m and the European regional development fund £20.5m.
Already earlier this year a similar partnership was announced that is to bring fibre optic broadband to the remote Highlands and Islands areas of Scotland that in itself was for £146m.

BT are already investing heavily to bring fibre optic broadband to Scotland, on their own commercial roll out they are covering around 1.5 million premises in Scotland, with this extra investment a further 600,000 will now also be set to benefit. It is predicted that with just 85% coverage that over the course of 15 years there would be £2 billion in economic benefits to Scotland.

BT’s managing director of Next Generation Access, Bill Murphy, said:
We believe that access to a reliable, high-speed broadband service can shape lives for the better, and so this is an important moment in the evolution of Scotland’s communications story. We’ll create a platform to support Scotland’s economic and social prosperity well into the future. It will stimulate growth in its thriving small business and social enterprise culture, helping the country compete in an increasingly digital world.

The Rest of Scotland project area includes the following local authority areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, parts of Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, City of Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire (apart from the Islands), North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.

The Highlands and Islands Broadband project includes the following local authority areas: Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Eilean Siar (Western Isles), parts of Argyll and Bute and part of North Ayrshire (Islands).


July 5, 2013

Superfast rural broadband delivery to be 2 years late

The governments rural superfast broadband plans are expected to not be completed until 2017, 2 years later than had originally been planned and at an extra cost to the tax payer.

Originally the rural broadband deployment that should have originally cost around £1.2 billion with the government funding a large part of it (£530 million) with the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds was due to be completed by 2015, however due to delays it is now expected that the projects won’t be completed until 2017, part of the delays were caused by EU state aid process taking 6 months longer than was originally thought. However, the extra delays mean that the taxpayer are going to have to foot a further £207 million of the bill to get it all finished.

There are 44 local projects up and down the country and only 9 are expected to be completed on time for the original 2015 date. Also, further concerns come up with the lack of competition from companies trying to get all the local contracts, as BT are now the only company bidding for the contracts it means that they can potentially not offer as competitive pricing as they would have had to do if there was more companies after the contracts, it is expected that BT will eventually get all 44 contracts available.

The report from the National Audit Office also said:
The project funding contributed by BT has so far been lower than originally modelled – the Department now expects the company to provide just 23 per cent of the overall projected funding of £1.5 billion, some £207 million less than it modelled in 2011.  At the same time, by the end of the programme, BT is likely to have benefited from £1.2 billion of public money.


July 4, 2013

Ofcom want BT to reduce wholesale fibre broadband costs

Ofcom wants BT Openreach to reduce the wholesale charge they charge for switching a fibre optic broadband customer to another by up to 80% and also reduce the minimum contracts for new suppliers down to 1 month from a year.

The proposals from Ofcom are designed to promote competition at the wholesale level for superfast broadband. Currently BT charge £50 to rival suppliers if they want to switch a customer on to their service and also impose a 1 year contract with it, Ofcom are proposing that this is reduced down to £10-£15 for switching.

Hopefully if these reductions come into play then the savings can be passed onto custoemrs and give greater freedom for customers to switch between different superfast broadband providers.

Ofcom introduced “Virtual Unbundled Local Access” (VULA) in 2010 which allows rival providers to retail superfast broadband to customers over BT’s network, back in 2010 when it was started there was less than 100,000 superfast broadband connections on BTs network, by last year this figure had risen to 1.4 million with this number continuing to increase each year for the  foreseeable future.

- Filed under: Fibre broadband

Author: Mark @ 10:58 am

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