BT pockets more gov broadband millions. This time: Lincolnshire
Another fibre job that won't be completed until 2016
BT has inked a deal to roll out fibre broadband in Lincolnshire, scooping up yet more cash from the British government.
The telecoms giant will deploy mainly fibre-to-the-cabinet technology for the rural county's council, and the work won't be completed until 2016. This follows on from other council jobs BT has won in what has become a bit of a one-horse race for Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds - the £530m pot of taxpayers' cash set aside to pay for wider broadband installations across Blighty.
The UK Ministry of Fun had set an ambitious and now increasingly unlikely target of bringing super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of Blighty homes and businesses by 2015. BT - with every contract win - keeps saying that such infrastructure projects need three years to complete.
In recent months, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has eased off from declaring 2015 as the end date for such a big rollout.
Broadband minister Ed Vaizey simply used words such as "fantastic" and "great" in BT's press release about the Lincolnshire deal.
Vaizey has long trumpeted his department's desire for the UK to have the "best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015" - but achieving such a goal is based only on the British government's own definition of what the word "best" actually means.
As for Lincolnshire, this contract is worth £48m. Central government will cough up £14.3m from the BDUK coffers, £11.2m will come from the county council, £4m from district authorities and £18.8m courtesy of BT. ®
Re: Danger of Spoilt Child Syndrome
"Could subsidies in Place A mean that Place B has to wait that much longer because it didn't get taxpayer money?"
Wait much longer than what alternative scenario? If we make a rather ungovernmental assumption that taxpayers are a finite resource, and the FTTC budget is limited, then if you choose area A to get a sub'd roll out, then all other areas do have to wait. But as (mostly speaking) the rural dwellers won't pay the full commercial cost of high speed broadband, they won't get it at all unless it is subsidised, and there is no alternative scenario.
All infrastructure services in rural areas are subsidised by townies, simply because you've got fewer users per metre of road/power line/water pipe/sewer/telephone line, and these services have essentially universal tariffs. I don't think BT are becoming any more subsidy addicted than they already are, but there's a related danger that they will do the contractual minimum of delivering fibre to the cabinet, but then leaving properties connected to the cabinets by wet string, considerably reducing the potential benefits.
Note as well the bits the Reg didn't get round to reporting - that this isn't universal FTTC, just coverage of 88% of the local populace, and that the plan covers 150,000 premises, so that's an implied subsidy of £320 per premise. That's an interesting figure, because you'd have thought that the yokels could afford to pay that themselves if they really wanted it - over ten years that would be about five quid a month, allowing for bad debt. Of course, that doesn't include any cabinet to premises upgrade costs, but you get the flavour.
Danger of Spoilt Child Syndrome
I'm not opposed to these deals exactly, I do understand that sometimes subsidies are necesary and can be a huge boon to commerce and industry, but....
Are we in danger of training BT management to expect taxpayer money before they expand FTTC into new areas now? If they don't get that taxpayer money, are they going to sulk and see if they get it by being stubborn? Could subsidies in Place A mean that Place B has to wait that much longer because it didn't get taxpayer money?
Re: How do I get my connection?
I am not in Lincolnshire, but next door. There's stuff going on, but I've net heard of any contract yet.
I know where the local cabinet is. It's not nearby and the "wet string" takes a roundabout route.
The existing wet string between cabinet and exchange is longer, and since the cabinet is next to the local school, I suppose we will get some benefit. I'm sure the council would want the fibre to that particular cabinet.
I get the feeling that if the routing were designed from scratch, most of us would get a better service, The local layout goes via the older part of the village, and then doubles back to what was built in the 1960s. Current ADSL also seems to suffer weekends and evenings: all this fibre is going to be pretty useless if the back-end links aren't upgraded to match.