Feeds

Welsh Assembly to be investigated over RIBS contract

EC to probe 'unlawful behaviour' claims

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The Welsh Assembly Government is to be investigated by the European Commission following claims of unlawful behaviour under state aid rules in its awarding of a contract to BT to upgrade 35 exchanges in Wales that had previously been excluded from the telco's national ADSL implementation on economic grounds.

The contract forms part of the £13.4m Regional Innovative Broadband Support (RIBS) initiative, which is the final stage of the Broadband Wales strategy to ensure 100 per cent broadband coverage in Wales by 2007.

The complaint has been brought by WBNet Ltd, a family-run company in Monmouthshire which in 2004 began offering a 2Mbps SDSL wireless broadband service to businesses and communities across that county.

Most commercial broadband services offered at present, including those offered by BT, are based on ADSL, which offers slower upload speed than it does download speeds. Using SDSL, broadband providers can offer a service where the upload speeds and download speeds are the same.

WBNet invested more than £300,000 of private funds, which the directors raised in part through mortgaging their homes, into setting up the infrastructure required for the service, including the installation of seven masts around Monmouthshire.

The company also had its own internet backbone connection into the Telehouse co-location facility, giving it network capacity for a 10Mbps service, which according to the definitions used by Broadband Wales in its January 2005 strategy document, means that the company was capable of providing second generation broadband services to a rural user base.

The project was supported by Monmouthshire County Council, and WBNet received a grant through the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) offsetting seven per cent of its total project costs.

WBNet chairman Joss Goodall told Ping Wales: "Our grievance stems from the fact that in May 2005, we received clear and written assurance from the RIBS team that their project would not in any way interfere with our business."

In this letter, which has been seen by Ping Wales, a representative of the Broadband Wales unit states: "The RIBS project does not intend to fund broadband services in areas of Wales where there is already first generation (512kb-2mb) [sic] broadband provision, namely where telecommunications companies, such as yourselves, have decided to address the problem independently."

Up until 15 March 2006, one day after BT had been announced as the Assembly's preferred supplier to the RIBS project, the Broadband Wales website stated: "The project will focus on filling gaps where no form of broadband service is currently available and there are no plans to make broadband available to these areas by existing providers."

Although this webpage is still accessible, reference to this statement cannot be found on the new RIBS website, which was set up after the WDA was absorbed into WAG, and the new department for enterprise, innovation and networks (DEIN) created to take its place.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.