back to article After all that! Ofcom proposes BT as only broadband universal services provider for whole of UK (except Hull)

BT will likely remain the sole broadband universal service provider for most of the UK because smaller ISPs didn't meet Ofcom's qualification criteria and Hyperoptic pulled out of the running. bt_tower Universal Service Oh... forget the Obligation. BT offers to stump up £600m for 10Mbps READ MORE The British government …

  1. djstardust Silver badge

    So ....

    The point of privatisation in the telecoms sector was to avoid a monopoly situation, however all these years later Bangalore Telecom are in that position again.

    The point of creating an independent regulator was to ensure everyone played fair but all I can see is that OFFCOM are just another extension of BT.

    The fact they have been raising prices pretty much every 9 months for the last 3 years shows that the "regulator" either has no teeth or just isn't interested.

    My oh my .......

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: So ....

      Thing is, BT got all the infrastructure and what is being proposed is that someone else comes in and sorts what is left. BT dont want to duct and fibre into the hills for a hamlet and neither can a newcomer do it cheaply. Hardly surprising really.

      Now BT will do the equivalent of lobbying to avoid ducting and laying fibre to the hamlets....

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: So ....

        @Danny - you're right, but the most annoying thing is that nothing's joined up. About 5 years ago they replaced the gas main on my estate - every road/pavement dug up, old pipes pulled out and new ones put in. Conduit could have been run alongside, and some pits added, for bugger all additional cost compared to the cost of doing it from scratch. Excuses about liability and responsibility are just that - excuses and ultimately it's the Gov and the local councils who don't appear to have the incentive or imagination to make stuff like this happen.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So ....

          I think this is getting better. Our rd was recently closed for 3 weeks whilst open reach laid new fibre to some cab's, at the same time Western Power turned up to do some electrical work

          1. The Pi Man

            Re: So ....

            This has been happening since forever. Massive housing estates that could have had cable installed when built had cheap copper only making BT / Open Reach the monopoly supplier.

      2. Oh Homer Silver badge

        Re: fibre to the hamlets

        You were lucky. I was evicted from my hamlet. Now I have to live in a desolate wasteland surrounded by sheep.

        BT is scheduled to duct and fibre this muddy backwater approximately some time after Hell freezes over, not only because it lies at the far corner of the abyss, but also because apparently I have no street cabinet, I'm on an "Exchange Only" line, meaning BT would need to spend the equivalent of three seconds worth of its net profits to duct and fibre my wattle and daub hut.

        A few weeks ago I celebrated a new personal record download speed of 3.5 bits per hour. All the sheep were invited and we partied like it was 1899. Sadly this is still not fast enough to support Netflix Ultra HD 4K, or even ASCII mode video, so I thought I'd have to cancel my trial subscription.

        But then one day I decided to upgrade my old potato phone to a P20 Pro, and discovered that I'm actually living right at the base of a 4G mast that gives me 100Mb/s download speeds, even in extra muddy conditions when the sheep are off colour.

        In a bizarre fit of joy and rage I did an Office Space and smashed the BT telegraph pole cum sheep scratcher with an old tree stump, and waved a cheery goodbye to my landline forever, as the sheep and I watched it sail down the river and into the sunset.

        It was a glorious moment. You had to be there.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: fibre to the hamlets

          And can I thank you for providing me with my free 4G internet connection!

          1. Oh Homer Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: free 4G internet connection

            You're welcome, although be aware if you go over the monthly cap I've arbitrarily imposed then you will receive a visit from some very irate sheep. They mean business.

          2. hoola

            Re: fibre to the hamlets

            To a certain extent this is the reverse of the problems Royal Mail have. They also have a USO to deliver anywhere in the UK at the same cost. Private companies have come into take all the fat out of the business because no one wants to do the last few miles because it is expensive. The irony with Royal Mail is that they are forced to deliver (albeit for a small costs) all the private companies mail that they have collected cheaply in urban areas.

            Whoever picks up the USO is going to expect subsidies and be of a sufficient size to be able to implement them. I am not sure the arguments that you will not get the service are correct, the point of USO is that you have to deliver.

            BT come in for a lot of bad press but they are probably no worse than any of the others and they appear have to operate under far more restrictive practices than the likes of Virgin. They just have the cheapest possible contract dig everywhere up, put a duct 6" down, loosely reinstate the hole and walk away. Cabinets put in where ever it is convenient for them, even if the location is insanely stupid with almost no recourse to getting them moved.

            Near where I live:

            BT - Had to put a green cabinet more or less out of sight

            Virgin - Gey cabinets in front of municipal flowerbed, benches gardens, blocking pavements.

            BT - Trenches correctly filled and sealed so that they are still flat several years later

            Virgin - Trenches sinking from day one, contractors not even going back to fix errors identified by their own inspectors.

            The Council then has to pick up the bill for all the remediation work in 12 months time that is ultimately paid for by your taxes.

            All these start up broadband providers all appear to want access to all the infrastructure without having to contribute to its maintenance or development but are only prepared to do stuff where the population density means they can make a profit.

  2. Prosthetic Conscience

    Independent how?

    How can you have a nation wide presence when you have to constantly lean on the same openreach and BT infrastructure wherever you go, no easy access to ducts, no investment in wireless and a lenghty licensing with ofcom for the latter in addition to them yet allowing/licensing bands that will allow for quick deployment for point to multipoint wireless that would make life easy for everyone and skirt copper completely in some cases. (TBF the wireless stuff have moved up very quickly the last five years maybe ofcom will get clued up)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Independent how?

      How can you have a nation wide presence

      You do not get it do you? Data USO is as "sweet justice" as sweet justice can get.

      I was one of the people sentenced to serve at Her Majesty Correctional Facility Adastral Park after doing an analysis and design which concluded that the only way for BT to compete for one particular piece of the future infrastructure pie was to have both a Broadband Data USO and Low Data Rate (IoT) USO as well as disband a few bits which will get in the way of doing it.

      It took only a week after this floated at Group level for the whole inter-BU expert group working on the project to be disbanded and all people participating to receive penal sentences in BT Research, BT Fleet or be made to quit outright.

      BT loves its "effective monopoly" and all the things it can do with that while not having the obligations. The USO is an obligation which forces it to both have key bits forever under regulation and offer it in places where it is not economically viable. It will become even more interesting as this will be overlayed with inevitable additional obligations like infrastructure security, etc in the years to come.

      Long overdue. Now let's get some popcorn and watch how BT will fight to get rid of this obligation in years to come. I for one, will love watching the chickins come to roost while having diarrhoea.

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: Independent how?

        I understand the first bit but why would you want diarrhoea?

  3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Failure is the new success...

    "You do not get it do you?"

    Ok... so we'll forgive the arrogance considering the audience this website gets, but yes, I do get it thanks.

    This is nothing to do with the actual provision of anything. It is all about money and funding. BT have had major civil "obligations" for decades, and have subsequently hoovered up billions in taxpayer funding; but still have not delivered anything other than the lowest common denominator of modern national communications infrastructure. This merry go round continues year in, year out, with Ofcom being the prime enabler. It works like this...

    (A) BT get called out and hauled over the coals for delivering bugger all despite billions of civil funding. (B) Ofcoms response once again is to fail to produce any sort of viable, reasonable or long term national communications infrastructure procurement or delivery strategy. (C) Due to point B, and because they have no real talent, Ofcom "in consultation" with BT come up with a scheme that promotes "fairness and transparency" but that in reality, no-one other that BT really has a chance of winning. (D) BT win and the political snouts at the trough get fed. (E) Goto A...

    So... BT are repeatedly being paid billions for their failures. Ofcom are complicit in this. This status quo suits the pigs at the trough. The public get shortchanged once again.

  4. MJI Silver badge

    I have friends in Hull

    Would would have loved to be able to move to BT.

    The Hull monopoly is not loved for internet usage.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: I have friends in Hull

      I used to live in Hull.

      Now I live south of the Humber and cross the bridge every workday.

      Partly the mortgage is cheaper, partly I can be with Zen internet.

      Well worth the bridge toll.

  5. Ochib

    The phone call to BT will go like this

    Customer: Can I have 10Mbps internet

    Bt: No

    Customer: I have a legal right to demand a minimum broadband download speed of 10Mbps

    Bt: Yes you have a legal right to demand a minimum broadband download speed of 10Mbps

    Customer: Can I have 10Mbps internet

    BT: No

    Customer: But you said that I have a legal right to demand a minimum broadband download speed of 10Mbps

    Bt: That's correct, you have legal a right to demand a minimum broadband download speed of 10Mbps, but we don't have an legal obligation to supply a minimum broadband download speed of 10Mbps

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: The phone call to BT will go like this

      But, if we did have that legal obligation to supply 10 mb/s we'd happily charge you £60 a month, on top of our exhorbitant landline charges.

    2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: The phone call to BT will go like this

      not quite they are required to provide it, but the cost is not restricted

      Yeah you can have 10Mbps, but it will cost you £10k installation and £100/mo

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    What you need to keep in mind is that all of this is the result of nearly a century of very careful selection and placement of the 'right' people in the right places. Sadly I see no likelihood of this changing in the foreseeable future.

    Incidentally, does anyone know of any of our so-called regulators that is not a mistress of the group it is supposed to be regulation.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    So let me see if I have this correct. So BT are obliged to provide a minimum of 10Mbps as they are a universal service provider by 2020. So in 2 years time could I move from my current ISP to BT then demanded they provide me with a minimum of 10Mbps? Even though it is only a ADSL line and I live quite a distance from the exchange and at current only get around 5-7Mbps?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

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