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back to article BT bags MASSIVE £425m broadband rollout deal in Wales

BT has unsurprisingly won hefty government funds to roll out a faster broadband network to Wales. Sole rival Fujitsu withdrew from the race for securing BDUK investment in the country earlier this year, leaving BT as the only bidder. The national telco confirmed on Thursday that the Welsh fibre broadband project was worth …

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Meh

Fujitsu was probably not a true rival. It wanted the entire BDUK pot and an exclusive national contract. When it didn't get that it played along but I don't think it ever wanted to win just a couple of regional contracts. It also made a lot of noise about being an FTTP solution but it wasn't actually. Not entirely. They still said they'd use FTTC or even wireless in some areas.

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I'm happy with that...

Love them or hate them, BT have run most of the telecoms network in this country since forever. They are the experts and I feel it's best having one company instead of a complex multi-company network. Competition is good for pricing but not for quality and consistency.

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Re: I'm happy with that...

I guess we're all happy with that until the term "too big to fail" rears it's head. I am happy for an infrastructure monopoly, just not one that hoses down shareholders with money whilst claiming that they need state aid to do their business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm happy with that...

This infrastructure should be installed and owned by someone other than BT though.

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Re: I'm happy with that...

indeed. Infrastructure should be nationalised and leased to private companies. Holding infrastructure to ransom is a bad idea. Look at the state of the trains to see that.

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Big Brother

Re: I'm happy with that...

I'm not sure I entirely agree. Do we really want 'the government' in charge of our telecommunications infrastructure. Bearing mind their attitude to personal privacy and copyright protection?

Just sayin'

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Re: I'm happy with that...

> Look at the state of the trains to see that.

I think you've forgotten how bad the trains were before they were privatised.

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Re: I'm happy with that...

"I feel it's best having one company instead of a complex multi-company network"

Sometimes it is. In these cases, the correct implementation is public ownership. Private firms are best kept in check by competition. If there's no competition, then private ownership is a bad idea because the pubic has no limiters on abuse. Public ownership at least grants some of that via elections. Yes, governments can implement guidelines and impose fines on a monopoly, but it's too easy for the private interests to give them the run around.

So something should either be nationaly owned where it is a natural monopoly (e.g. the roads network, power network) or have competition. And there's no reason you can't have a bit of both. E.g. roads network is a national property but highway maintenance companies compete for contracts. But a pure, private monopoly - sooner or later it will run away from you.

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Re: I'm happy with that...

They were cheaper and quicker, and timetables were set to make sure that things like "connecting trains" weren't merely a hypothetical concept.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm happy with that...

Except that the shareholders being "hosed down with cash" are largely made up of pension funds. No-one is enjoying night after night of babycham and dancing girls thanks to the dividends they receive from owning BT shares.

BT seems to exist largely to provide income to pensioners - both the members of its own scheme and members of the schemes run by its shareholders.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm happy with that...

> They were cheaper and quicker,

You HAVE forgotten.

They were old, slow, unreliable, late, and not cheaper in real terms. When they weren't on strike.

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Re: I'm happy with that...

Really? lets hope the service is better than in the southwest where BT have had HTTPS issues for over a year but still refuse to acknowledge it, read their own forums its woeful.

Superior??? think they have off shored and cut a lot of costs since then. The helpdesk think Broadband is a new york american woman pop group

Dont do it welsh brothers and sisters you are better off where you are

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I think there's a good argument for the core infrastructure being run by a not-for-profit on a cost recovery model.

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Anonymous Coward

Like BT before privatisation?

The problem you run into is that the returns are too low for anyone to want to invest in you, and demand goes unmet. Or put another way, customers queue for service. Like they did for phone service in the 70's.

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Any national network(s), be it the Royal mail, landline internet or the fractured mess of mobile networks should be brought together under the umbrella of a not-for-profit organisation that sells access wholesale to the relevant companies and has UNIVERSAL coverage as a stated goal, instead of this return on investment bias.

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Anonymous Coward

But...

Who would invest? Where does this organisation get money to build kit from?

BT's rollout of fibre is slow because their investment case is weak - a grand to install something that customer pays you £20 a month for in a market where price is declining. If you set out to do it on a not for profit basis, how would the people who lend you money to build your network make any return on their investment? If your aim is universal coverage, you're going to need a ton of money. Assuming your aim then is to break even, the extra costs associated with serving everyone mean that the cost to end users is more expensive than today, not less.

Today you pay £20 because BT and Virgin go for the customers they know they'll make a return on. If you start providing to customers who cost you £10,000 to provide service to, and assuming you'll charge everyone the same, that £20 becomes £30 or £40.

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Re: But...

The taxpayer does of course, a bit like the situation we have now but without leaking dividends for shareholders.

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Facepalm

Re: But...

..and of course as with everything that is tax payer funded it will be operated with the utmost efficiency and investment will be prompt, effective and under budget.

What's life like on your planet?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But...

"as with everything that is tax payer funded it will be operated with the utmost efficiency and investment will be prompt, effective and under budget."

Someone might once upon a time have had some plausibility when making a claim like that.

Unfortunately for that kind of claim, recent events (and not so recent) have made it perfectly clear that the private sector has no claim to universal competence and honesty. ATOS, Barclays, G4S, RBS - maybe it's companies that end in S that are untrustworthy and incompetent?

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Re: But...

Maybe you should learn to read. I only claimed that the public sector was bad. I made no comment about the private sector.

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Yippee

Personally I don't care who delivers it, so long as it's delivered. I hope the 'Competition' idiots don't decide that it's more important to have ten companies competing to not actually deliver anything but without any subsidy rather than one actually getting on and providing a service with a subsidy.

Slightly worried about the 4% who'll still have to rely on morse code sent down a strand of barbed wire to get any internet connection - couldn't they cough up a few quid extra to provide wireless to cover the remaining gaps and get 100%?

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Re: Yippee

"I hope the 'Competition' idiots don't decide that it's more important to have ten companies competing to not actually deliver anything but without any subsidy rather than one actually getting on and providing a service with a subsidy."

How about the rest of us don't have to pay extra to subsidise rural hillbillies? I don't get a discount because my utility services are cheaper to deliver in town, so why should I then have to pay extra for those who choose to live the wrong side of Offa's Dyke.

As it, Wales is one big public sector theme park, and years of subsidies on (physical) communications and business support have produced precisely nothing in the way of a sustainable economy.

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Re: Yippee

Us rural hillbillies could demand the same for things you require, such as water, food, that sort of stuff. You see, we grow it here and collect it here, but pay the same as you in the supermarket despite it being cheaper for us just to get it from the field/out of the sky/local reservoir. No, we share all that with you and pay more as a consequence.

That's the point of price equalisation, you win on some, you lose on some.

...and I don't even live in Wales.

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Re: Yippee

For the food, buy it from your local farmer if you think that's cheaper, I think you'll find it isn't.

As for the water, our Welsh mates do get paid for that. The Elan Valley reservoirs (the main case in point) are now owned and operated by Welsh Water (despite being paid for by Birmingham City Council on land they also paid for). So the people of Birmingham now have to pay Welsh Water a return on assets that they have already paid for in cash over a century ago.

I don't live in Wales either - because my ancestors had the sense to leave (but I'm still afflicted by the surname). But that doesn't stop me supporting Plaid Cymru.

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So that Viz article was right after all ...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/samsmith/3619752897/

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If you think BT is bad you should ask Telefónica for a line and see nothing happens. Most of Spain is at 3mb and will be that way for years if not decades to come.

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BT is bad. I've been asking them for a line for 10 years and nothing has happened. I'm stuck at 1mbps and expect it to be that way pretty much forever. So your point was?

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Up To ???

So, what they're really saying is that Cardiff, and one or two Labour marginals, will be offered FTTP whilst most of the rest of the country might get FTTC. But no mention of the alluminised string used to connect the cabinet to the premesis over the final mile.

By the time they finish the roll-out (and with no competition from Fujitsu I doubt they'll worry about the 2015 deadline) I'm sure that FTTC will be as up-to-date as a bakelite telephone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Up To ???

I had FTTC installed recently. The engineer who did my installation also covers Milton Keynes where most of the telephone lines are aluminium. He claimed they only saw a degradation of a couple of Mbps compared to normal copper.

Read into that what you will.

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Anonymous Coward

Competition?

"it's more important to have ten companies competing to not actually deliver anything but without any subsidy rather than one actually getting on and providing a service with a subsidy."

How's your memory?

If you have a long enough memory, you may remember the UK competitive auctions in 2004 for fixed wireless-access broadband. A dozen or so regional contracts were won by a variety of different companies. Post-auction, one company went around and did backroom deals to get themselves all but a couple of the licences.

That company was called PCCW at the time but it may have changed its name since.

Their "service" has been invisible ever since too, although when it did attempt to promote a service, it too never kept the same name for more than a few months (Netvigator, NOW, maybe others).

They've been in the news again in the last few months, attempting to get their spectrum allocation "re purposed". Can't remember what name they're using at the moment, don't care, don't want them anywhere near my money or near Ofcon (who if there was any justice should have withdrawn the licences years ago on grounds of failure to deliver a corresponding service).

It would be a joke, except its not.

Meanwhile, we're expected to believe that Fujitsu, a major supplier to BT of both equipment and services, was seriously competing with BT for BDUK projects? Yeah, right, I believe you. I believe you've got a bridge for sale as well...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Competition?

You've heard of the competition act? The foreign corrupt practices act?

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Short Memories

BT has, in the past, repeatedly tried to get permission to do this off its own bat (pre-election deal with Labour in '96, previously at the start of that decade) but got knocked back by the then Tory gov't because of competition concerns. So, instead of BT mainly using its existing infrastructure - ducting and so on - to do this, we were forced to endure years of mainly US companies coming over here and ripping up our streets in the interests of "competition". When they'd made their money - and their mess - they then buggered off back to the US, leaving, eventually, just one competitor for BT, Virgin Media. Which many of us have no access to.

We'd have been far better off just letting BT carry on as it wanted to in the first place.

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FAIL

Wow when will my broadband exceed 1.5mbps

I live just 10 miles out of the Port Talbot/ Neath Town are and on a good day I am lucky to get 1.5mbps, some days I cant even watch itv player or iplayer. All this money will be sunk into the city centres of Cardiff Newport and Swansea leaving us in the valleys with a piss poor service.

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Can't quote

I've spoken to many a BT fibre engineer in my time. From hearsay, BT themselves don't know accurately where half the main ducts are. Yes, they're employing large teams abroad to map it all out on GIS systems, but it is sketchy and incomplete. No third party is going to reasonably quote when the unknowns are so huge. Especially when the incumbent is well known for not being helpful.

Luckily I live in a chavvy area so have Virgin cable.

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What about the Roath Exchange?

My BT account manager tells me there are no plans to fibre up the Roath exchange, where ourselves, and alot of other business are stuck with 3.5mb max ropey ADSL, or 7 grands worth and over of 10 meg BTnet connectivity.

Sort it out BT!

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