On July 13th the House of Commons had another Broadband Debate, this time introduced by Dan Poulter, on how BT was meeting the numbers in the BDUK targets for Suffolk, but leaving a wave of complaints, particularly across his constituency, because of how it was doing so. I recommend you read the full account in Hansard. It again illustrates the shortcomings of using government money to simply fund the extension of BT’s 21CN network (designed over 20 years ago when X25, not IP, was expected to be the “future”) to meet the needs of those being excluded from the Internet Age. The way in which engineers were moved to other counties as soon as the targets were being met was probably because BT was resource limited. If so, that opens up the question of whether others could have filled the gap then, or now. If BT is still resource strapped (finance as well as people), that adds another dimension to the Ofcom review and also the CMA review into the BT-EE and O2-3 mergers (submissions due by 25th July).
The report in Thinkbroadband on the Suffolk debate illustrates how Waveney benefited from the initiative led by Peter Aldous but his intervention in Hansard on July 13th showed how annoyed he is that some of those who attended the meeting in Beccles at which he launched his broadband campaign, back in April 2011, have still not benefited – even though the nominal targets have been met.
One of the issues has been the treatment of business customers. The response of the Minister, which I have paraphrased in the heading to this blog was:
“Business parks and industrial estates are also an issue that we negotiate regularly with BT. Again, the issue is somewhat balanced. It surprises me sometimes that business parks do not take it into their own hands to provide superfast broadband for tenants. The market is replete with numerous business suppliers of broadband. As we found from our business voucher scheme, which has connected 25,000 businesses, we have more than 600 registered suppliers all over the country that are more than willing to provide superfast broadband. Business broadband is a different beast from residential broadband.”
Those who disagree with his analysis should contact the many would-be suppliers to help them with evidence to the Ofcom review.
P.S. I have been told that the Corporation of London has just issued an invitation to tender for a wifi concession two months ahead of schedule but now expects to take nine months over the process. Meanwhile other London councils, whose processes took less than three, will have their services operational. I am awaiting details, including why the City is so different.
P.P.S. The majority of stockbrokers still show BT as a “buy” and I am not selling mine yet. I estimate the break up value to be well above the current share price – even though I am not sure it would be in the national interest!