Can rural communities rely on a BT roll-out?

Posted by Karen on Dec 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM
It was recently announced that BT have won further contracts by local councils to be responsible for additional rural broadband roll-outs, beginning with Oxfordshire and Dorset early next year.

Through BT being awarded this latest contract, it has reduced hope of niche operators delivering stronger and faster services in the area, such as FTTP rather than FTTC to businesses and households. Yet tax payers’ money has been used to fund, what might not be, the latest and fastest technology. While BT continues to monopolise the project and gain state-aid funds, smaller more focused companies are missing out on what could only provide more options for the consumers on an open platform.

The B4RN innovative, a community-led project to bring high-speed broadband Internet connectivity to rural Lancashire, is one of the niche ISPs waiting to hear if they will be accepted for the state-aid funds. Through B4RN addressing the lack of connectivity in the rural north, it is now supplying 1 Gb/s to business and consumer premises, customers have been able to experience faster services than if they were served with BT.

Having competition in the broadband market is important and that is where the Fluidata Service Exchange Platform has a unique advantage. A spokesperson from BT mentioned;

"It is up to the local council to decide who they work with on rural broadband. Having said that, a key consideration is that any network which benefits should be open to all ISPs to use. That way, local monopolies are avoided and customers have choice”.

What that quote fails to mention is that there is an alternative and that is Fluidata’s Service Exchange Platform (SEP). SEP allows any ISP access to not only the largest networks, including BTs, but also niche providers such as IFNL and Gigalclear but also alternative technologies such as Satellite or mobile. This ensures these networks become open access and that consumers have choice of which provider and ISP they use.

Key players involved in observing the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process is the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA). When learning of the contract signing they released a statement which included this comment on the process:

“The fact that the county councils are unwilling to support alternative, lower subsidy, more future-proofed solutions in difficult to reach areas speaks volumes about the process. In at least one case BT is part of the committee that made the recommendation not to support the local scheme. It is obvious why BT doesn't want projects like this to go ahead; they don't want lower subsidy schemes to be supported. It is less obvious why the local authorities are unwilling to get the maximum bang for the taxpayer's buck.”

Obviously BT and some local councils are not aware of such innovative and competitive solutions that already exist meaning smaller niche players can actually be considered. Hopefully the remaining councils and government money will find its way to these truly next generation network operators as they currently or plan to connect into Fluidata’s award winning Service Exchange Platform.
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