Broadband UK moves to exclude Big Society community consortia

I am told that Broadband UK has issued a pre-qualification questionnaire for its procurement framework for rural access networks that contains all  the “usual” clauses that prevent organisations without a relevant trading record from bidding for public sector business in the UK. Meanwhile the framework is designed to exclude local authorities and businesses from participating in the co-ownership of networks that they can themselves use, including to provide PSN compliant access to public services. 

Am I wrong in believing the Framework, and perhaps even Broadband UK itself,  are unfit for purpose – if the purpose is, as Ministers have clearly stated, to use the funding available to help deliver that which market forces will not?

P.S. Still have not found the PQQ text on-line but Ian Grant’s blog now carries a critique 

 

 

Am I also wrong in believing they are incompatible with overall Government policy -if that is, as claimed by Minister, to be to pass authority from Quangoes to “Big Society” initiatives that reflect the ways local communities wish to organise themselves – not the way that Whitehall think they should..

I would particularly welcome comment from readers who have compared the PQQ (due to be published today but I cannot find a reference) and OJEU entry with policy as stated by Ministers and DCMS officials.

I fear that rural broadband will become another battleground in the rearguard action of Whitehall against Town Hall and we, as taxpayers and customers, will be the losers.

P.S. But perhaps the framework will be overtaken by events as:

1)  the civil engineering contractors, who account for 80% of the cost of new networks, start to bring their customers together under the aegis of Infrastructure UK in order to copy the savings being made across the rest of the world.

2) we also copy the rest of the world in going mobile, using the technologies that are now rolling out across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, courtesy of Huawei, Samsung, China Mobile, China Pay etc.

How long before we see also regulatory convergence to match that happening to Utility regulation in other parts of the EU?

I was helping the late Geoffrey Dodsworth MP with a policy study on Gas and Electricity privatisation in the late 1970s when I was invited to look at the liberalisation of communications and the privatisation of the relevant activities of the Post Office and of Cable & Wireless. The current regulatory structures and processes are very close to what we wanted to avoid  – and are having the consequences we feared – regulators trying to compensate for market failures that they had themselves created. 

Will a rationalisation of regulators, with charges cut and capped and objectives focussed on customer (including business customer) protection, help improve the situation – including enabling us to once again become globally competitive – or will it make it worse.        

 

 

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Philip,

A good piece of new broken.

One of the many elements of BDUK's PQQ which seems to have drawn the ire of commentators and network operators alike is the apparent reducing of "superfast" from "more than 24 mbps" to an entry qualification of "15 to 50 mbps".

Why could this be? A cynical person might suggest its because 15 mbps is BT's cut-off for FttC, and for BDUK to limit their funds to BT connections which deliver the required 25 mbps would be too complicated for BDUK to manage.

So a reasonable question might be: Is BDUK working to BT's targets rather than the EU's, who require 30 mbps to all citizens by 2020, and 100 mbps to a majority?

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Hi, I agree with Adrian's comment, this is a very helpful post from Philip. Adrian's analysis of the strange speed categories also seems highly plausible.

I have commented on the BDUK PQQ the INCA website www.inca.coop and have started at linked in group, Next Generation Broadband UK.

Regards,

Malcolm

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