back to article finally admits it will MISS superfast broadband target

The UK's coalition government now plans to invest an extra £250m to bring "superfast broadband" to 95 per cent of Brits by 2017. It also finally confessed today that its original 2015 target will not be met. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander made the pre-election pledge in the House of Commons this morning as …


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  1. Thomas 4
    IT Angle

    Just out of curiosity...

    ...Remember the vast wads of cash that were earmarked for 95% broadband in 2011 and 2013? Anyone happen to know which trough that lot disappeared into?

    Sorry, did I say trough? I meant carefully planned and well thought out Government Spending Plan.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Just out of curiosity...

      Since we have difficulty in watching them, they have nothing to fear.

    2. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Just out of curiosity...

      I think it went on additional bandwidth and storage for some place in Cheltenham.

    3. Colin Millar

      Re: Just out of curiosity...

      Yeah - isn't it politicians that are always saying "You can't solve a problem by throwing money at it" whenever sick or old or poor people ask for a bit of a hand.

      My mates in GiantCorp need personal jets -quick throw money at them

      I need a directorship with BastardBigInternational cos I've been stopped taking the money straight out of the till - quick throw money at them

      My mates have stolen all the money in their banks - quick suck the whole economy dry and let them mainline the stuff.

      I know how to get the private infrastructure owners to maintain and improve infrastructure - tell em they are going to do it or they are going to lose it.

      Where's the firing squad icon.

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  3. John Geddes

    Really bad news for most rural users?

    The "new" money and the extended deadline seems set to delay the point when BT voluntarily bring FTTC to rural areas.

    There I was hoping that once BT had hoovered up the local share of the £530m (in this part of the world, it looks as if most of this will go on 2Mbps to those currently without it), they might conclude that there was no more subsidy to come, and would then "discover" that they could actually make a commercial return from taking fibre to cabinets in the centre of wealthier villages. On the old timetable, that might have happened in 2014.

    Now, it looks as if BT would do better to try and hold the "any rural fibre will need subsidy" line until they've exhausted all the new funds in 2017. Brilliant !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really bad news for most rural users?

      If there was a market - and BT were lying about needing the subsidy - someone else would have provided fibre broadband to those communities, wouldn't they?

      BT isn't a monopoly and other companies are free to compete - I think in all areas, not sure what happens in Hull. I think the 'problem' with broadband must be a market one - market price too low to support investment - or we'd be seeing different behaviours.

      If BT are pricing too high, a competitor enters the market. If BT are choosing not to deploy fibre in areas where the demand exists and it can be sold profitably, a competitor enters the market. The UK is a pretty competitive market for telecoms and when I buy services I have a lot of choice - especially in the larger cities. If no-one wants to compete with BT for rural broadband - no-one at all - it suggests that the only way money can be made is on a utility basis with a very slow payback period. That usually needs government money of one sort or another because most banks aren't keen on lending out investment money that they won't see a return on for a decade.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hereby declare...

    ...that all homes are to have dial-up by 2020!

    1. Lee D

      Re: I hereby declare...

      Are you going to forcibly reinstall copper telephones lines for those of us who moved onto a 21st century technology?

      The problem with "superfast" (anyone else get annoyed by the dumbing down of using such phrases in official government literature?) broadband is that you have to have a market of people who want it. In those places where it's not present, it might be wanted - or not - but there's no ongoing market.

      We're deliberately spending money on something that's not profitable - which isn't a bad thing if it's for the benefit of enough people - but I don't see the benefit here for those people as opposed to just, say, put out a subsidised satellite broadband service to the UK. If one company can deliver satellite TV on its own, surely we can do better than paying BT to install fibre to a box in the middle of the Hebrides or whatever, and then charging people a fortune to actually get it to their house and use the damn thing?

      I think the money would all have been better spent on just pushing 3G cell masts into every corner of the country, even five years ago. Be a country with 100% cellphone coverage, "broadband" wherever you like for a reasonable price (not claiming it's cheap), proper competition for the delivery services, and upgradeability for the future. The knock-on effects for industry (having ubiquitous cell coverage is very handy), small business, large business, consumers, etc. is marred only by the occasional camouflaged cell mast.

      And you don't need to run cables to people's doors, don't need buckets of fibre (some, obviously), don't need to worry about line-of-sight or inclement weather, can upgrade quite easily, and EVERYONE benefits - even visitors to the country.

      All this faffing about while such technology is available, even if it's "part" of the superfast broadband rollout, is just wasting money. Build an official cell-tower on a "government" network until you've blanketed the country, sell service on them to the mobile companies, who can sell service to anyone within range. At least you're getting something for the £100,000 that you had to throw on it to get the one-man-village John-out-in-the-sticks onto broadband. And also kill two problems with one stone - broadband, and emergency phone call coverage.

      1. JulianB
        Thumb Up

        Re: I hereby declare...

        "anyone else get annoyed by the dumbing down..."

        Yup. Don't tell me it's superfast (and no doubt ultrafast, hyperfast and various other meaningless terms in future): tell me how fast it is. And preferably without using the phrase "up to".

        1. Terry Barnes

          Re: I hereby declare...

          Actually, the idea of 'speed' is inappropriate when measuring data throughput, be that through an electrical or optical medium. The data travels at the same speed, regardless of the volume of the payload - a 14.4K faxmodem sends its bits at exactly the same speed as a VDSL2 modem, it's just that the latter device can send rather more in a given time frame.

          Hence the use of the terms throughput or bandwidth. Speed is an incorrect term.

  5. Tim 11

    who needs it?

    I can't see that the vast majority of people need 30Mbit broadband. The money would be far better spent ensuring that 100% of people have access to some kind of broadband (say 4Mbit)

  6. TheOtherHobbes

    So we have...

    HST2 - more than £40bn now

    Roads - £30bn for critical projects, including essential work - like improving the nationally important A14 Huntington/Cambridge dual carriageway

    Railways - £30bn for electrification

    Broadband - £1.2bn, including an !!!extra!!! £250m.

    Ah well - forward to the 19th century, as usual.

    1. Tom 260

      Re: So we have...

      Don't forget the £15bn going on Crossrail... (just use the Tube!)

  7. g dot assasin


    So the plan to invest a mountain of taxpayer cash on a national broadband infrastructure has somehow turned into giving out vouchers so small companies can get a shitty BT connection.

    Seems like £90m well spent*

    *if you are a BT shareholder

  8. Mike Brown


    Free Market Economies. Thank god for privitisation otherwise this whole debacle would be costing the tax payer, rather than the privatly owned BT..........oh hang on....

  9. xyz Silver badge

    Continuing my Countryfile* rant of yesterday...

    I now see we're getting the "world class" against Johnny Foreigner waffle. I can't speak for other countries but in Spain everyone I know uses microwave broadband which goes like the clappers or satellite uplinks. Hell, I can be standing in the middle of sodding nowhere in Spain and still get a full signal on my mobile which is something I can't even get in SE London. So all this superfast, ultrafast, we're better than everyone else bollox can go straight in the bin as far as I'm concerned.

    * See Counytfile about rural broadband on iPlayer.

    1. Alister

      Re: Continuing my Countryfile* rant of yesterday...

      * See Countryfile about rural broadband on iPlayer.

      Yes, I'd love to, but my rural broadband won't go fast enough to stream iPlayer...

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Continuing my Countryfile* rant of yesterday...

      Yup, and Spain's economy is doing so well isn't it, with that infrastructure? 50% of young people unemployed...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does the UK really need superfast broadband?

    I mean, once all the porn and torrent sites are blocked, what are you going to do with it?

    Do you really need to read your e-mail at 100 Mbps?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does the UK really need superfast broadband?

      That's the thing, really, I'd love a superfast connection, but if all illegal downloads sources were blocked, I'd be happy with a reliable ~5Mbit..

    2. John Geddes

      Re: Does the UK really need superfast broadband?

      One obvious example of why we need better-than-ADSL: Videoconferencing (at any reasonable quality) needs better than the 1Mbps upstream offered by the best ADSL.

      But the big cost if we don't roll out fibre to rural areas is to the demographic makeup of our rural communities. Communities work when there is a good cross-age mix, supporting rural schools, shops and other services. But how long until the younger potential movers-in to rural communities decide that having experienced the joys of Infinity or Cable, they don't want to go back to the frustrations of ADSL - and choose to live in leafy FTTC-served suburbs instead? And then our rural communities become less self-supporting (too many older people needing lifts to hospital, too few younger people to offer the lifts) and those who remain become more and more expensive to support.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No shit.

    We live in an are that hosted Olympic events. They put in underground superfast fibre broadband for the TV coverage, THEN TOOK IT ALL OUT AGAIN AFTERWARDS...

    Insane... I wonder who jobsworth was responsible for that....

    1. Tom 260

      Re: No shit.

      I suppose compared to that at least Weymouth got to keep their Olympic Broadband, even if it did turn up 8 months after the Olympics ended...

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: No shit.

      Oh come on. Those fibers feel pretty lonely all by themselves.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No shit.

      TV broadcasters do not use consumer broadband. I don't doubt fibre was installed, but it wouldn't have been any use to people at home wanting better broadband.

      1. TheDysk

        Re: No shit.

        "TV broadcasters do not use consumer broadband. I don't doubt fibre was installed, but it wouldn't have been any use to people at home wanting better broadband."

        Doesn't matter. Fibre is Fibre. Just put the right hardware on each end to make it consumer broadband. Make good use of what has already been put into the ground. Complete waste of money to lay the cable then rip it up again.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No shit.

          "Doesn't matter. Fibre is Fibre."

          It kind of does matter if the fibre doesn't go to the right place. And there are plenty of different types of fibre - wavelengths, transmission mode, active or passive splitting, regeneration strategies. I don't know, but strongly suspect, that the FTTC cabinets are sharing backhaul bandwidth across a PON back to the local exchange. Fibre installed for point-to-point private bandwidth will be useless to try and add to that kind of network

          My understanding is that telcos rarely remove cabling after use unless there's good reason - normally needing the duct space for something else. Why would they? The resale value of fibre cable is pretty much zero as it can be damaged by the bending and stretching that results when it's pulled out.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No business case!!!

    So HS2 will cost £40 billion (and probably a lot more), has major issues for all concerned along the route, has questionable benefits, will be used by a relatively small number of people, and is mainly for the benefit of London. But try to upgrade the broadband for millions of people and suddenly there is no business case and no money to help out these ‘rural’ people.

    Maybe as a way of compensating the 'rural' people for the destruction of the countryside for HS2 (and their financial contribution to it), the broadband network everywhere should be upgraded.

  13. gbru2606

    Probably harder to snoop on

    Slower broadband is easier to snoop on I imagine. Hasn't it turned out the UK payments to telcos for faster broadband were after all just a bung to shut them up about blanket hacking of every single communication?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Actually the Superfast broadband is in place.....

    It's just that GCHQ is hogging all the bandwidth, what with downloading the contents of 60 million people's hard drives, Instagram accounts and Kindles!

  15. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    I like the smell of politically-remeaninged "austerity" in the morning

    It’s absolutely crucial, if we want to rebalance our economy .... that we are providing a further £250m to ensure that...

    Right. And here I was thinking that savings, tax reductions and spending reduction as well to STOP PRINTING MONEY so that all the financial clowns DIE THE FUCK OFF would be the way to rebalance the economy. Silly me.

    We need a "Statler and Waldorf" icon because the Reg readership is not getting younger... cough!!

  16. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    I am surprised you are surprised!

    So there!

    Why, for example, can any of my credit card companies stream my expenditure into nice and pleasant monthly bundles and present that information to me on a monthly basis with deeper explanation and stuff if needed. And it offers me sooper-dooper payment options.

    Should an unfortunate incident occur then with reasonable dialogue with my credit card company we can expect resolution within 30 days or maybe 60 if it includes international dealings (well, that was the case last time I needed to use those additional services. Apologies to all if circumstances have changed.)

    Now take HMRC (cousins: Her Majesties Revenues and Customs. In true UK form it has nothing to do with Her Majesty it is merely a lot of middlemen (oops - middlepersons?) doing stuff in a way that diminishes their own responsibilities and places all of those on to Her Majesty. Incredible isn't it? The duplicity I mean. Civil servants do it in HM's name under instructions given by Government in HM's name and HM probably wishes they would all go away quietly.

    Well, HMRC can't do anything like the credit card companies do.

    Resolution may take months but are probably more accurately measured in years.

    So, upshot is, no. We in the UK are accustomed to state sponsored (oops - sorry! Tax paid (usually wage slaved via PAYE) services being quite atrocious.

    It seems to mean nothing, not a thing to us as we are so accustomed to it :-) (a smile for empathy or is it apathy?)

  17. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    oops - a ps

    ps: it probably is not Government that misses the target.

    It probably is civil servants in Whitehall who miss the target.

    Government is (usually) a policy making body.

    It sets a policy and in discussion with interested parties sets a budget to fund the policy.

    To make "it" happen whatever "it" happens to be.

    However Government does not micromanage or provide day-to day management services on the delivery of policy.

    That is the job of Whitehall (no, not Sh*te-all, Whitehall it has very pleasant facilities :-) ) and that is staffed by civil servants (I'll leave out the (un)civil serventia comments like)

    So, point of order El Reg

    Please take steps to differentiate in your reporting matters that belong to Government (usually policy) with those that should be attributed to Whitehall (usually policy delivery)

    Okay yah?

  18. Ineedbroadband

    Why Oh Why does BT get all the funding

    Why Oh why do BT get all the money, the Government have made the bidding system so unfair, The process is matched funding from the Government, the bidder and the local auth.

    We are a small company that provides superfast broadband across Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire with over 12,000 sq miles of super fast fixed fibre to wireless service. We have no chance to bid for the BDUK funding as the projects are into 1millions in most areas and we could never match this.

    It time that the local authorities was give the money to use local business to provide the service. It takes around 4 weeks to get area online with superfast service. If we had the funds we could meet the UK target.

    On a last note, if BT can not meet the target then they should not get the funds!


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who else...

    Who else clicked through hoping to see a picture of the gorgeous Miss Superfast Broadband? Just me then?

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