What is the current cost of bringing broadband to all?

Estimates for the cost of bringing “next generation access” (now as nebulous a term as broadband or cloud computing) range from £5 – £29 billion. The Broadband Stakeholders has just asked for inputs of the actual costs for recent networks, by 17th March, so that it can re-run its model for input to the NGA consultation by 1st April. This should present a great opportunity to bring sanity to the debate over business rates.

The BSG call for “evidence”, see below, went to members but I have agreed to relay it to as wide an audience as possible, hence this blog entry.

The “actuals”, usually with-held by suppliers for reasons of “commercial confidentiality”, are also one of the bases (alongside the actual rentals paid, similarly hard to come by) on which business rates are based. On Monday I was told that some of the valuations used for the 2005 list for the incumbent operators have just come down by around 50% – because some of them have submitted some “actuals” to replace previous “tone list” assumptions.  


Hence the importance of this exercise.

Please, therefore, give this call the widest possible circulation among those who may have “actuals” (construction costs and/or rentals paid/received) for community or municipal networks or for their own private links (owned or rented): because most of the major players would still be arguing about commercial confidentiality even if the deadline for response was March 17th 2020.
And the result is costing very much more in cancelled or postponed infrastructure investment than is being rased by business rates.
Meanwhile a third of the country cannot get access to broadband at all: not just rural areas but also inner city locations nominally served by both BT and Virgin. The consequences for ambitions for putting government services on-line are beginning to becoming apparent, with  parliamentary candidates asking awkward questions as they discover this is another area where the perceptions of the electorate are very different to those of the lobbyists, let alone of government or regulator.  


Given that this may be “difficult” for the BSG, I’d also be most interested to hear of any plans to collate actuals for submission to the Telecoms Team in the Valuation Office to help bring reality to the ficitonal values on which business rates are currently based.



Subject: BSG: Revising the fibre cost model – call for evidence


Dear BSG member,

BSG is calling for evidence and data from the industry that would assist it in revising the fibre cost model (attached), published in September 2008 as an input to the Caio Review. BSG wishes to test whether the underlying assumptions and conclusions regarding costs set out in this report are still valid, or whether they should be revised in light of industry developments. This will inform its response to the government’s Next Generation Fund consultation.

We are particularly interested to get cost data from actual deployments by local and community projects and other new entrants that may have utilised new methods of deployment, to understand how the costs of deploying fibre may have changed since the report was first published. With the evidence we receive we will re-run the model, in order to understand the impact that any new evidence could have on the costs of fibre deployment across the UK.

The deadline for evidence is close of play Wednesday 17 March. To submit evidence please email us. If you wish to discuss the report and its findings, please let us know.

Kind regards,


Peter Shearman
Policy Manager, Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG)


c/o Intellect

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BSG Update: The BSG continues to facilitate the COTS Project, which seeks to ensure consumers have access to a range of service providers on all independent local open access networks in the UK. More information on the project can be found at www.broadbanduk.org/cots, while the project’s progress can be tracked at www.broadbanduk.org/cotsprogress