back to article £150m, three years... TWO base stations. You guessed it

A government project funded with £150m of taxpayers money to improve rural broadband with mobile coverage has managed to erect just two base stations in three years. The project needed EU approval to ensure that it wasn’t the UK government unfairly subsidising the mobile networks. The plan was to provide basic voice and data …

  1. mdava

    When I read these articles . . .

    . . . I almost wish that I worked for the government, rather than just paying them to work "for" me.

  2. frank ly

    To improve the health of the nation ....

    ... I propose that government departments be put in sole charge of production, distribution and sales of alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and sugary foods.

    1. Buzzword

      Re: To improve the health of the nation ....

      The government already is in sole charge of alcohol sales in some places, including much of Scandinavia and Canada. It's not nearly as bad as you'd expect.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. John H Woods Silver badge

    Quite surprised ...

    ... that Google didn't collect 2G/3G dB ratings for networks when they were doing their big w̶i̶f̶i̶ ̶s̶l̶u̶r̶p̶ mapping exercise.

  4. HollyHopDrive

    Is it me or are there soooo many things wrong with this project.

    A. Surely if there is only 1 operator this is still a not spot and the project should encourage a bit of sharing. I.e. share it, well subsidise you with money from the others OR we will fine a disporportially big fine. Your choice.

    B. 2g is ridiculous and 3g is the *minimum*. Data is equally important as voice these days

    C. The operators should have been forced to each stump up 1/5 of the cost not the gov. (EE getting the honours of 2/5 for their merger and 4g head start) - can't be accused of gov subsidy.

    I'm starting to get right hacked off with private business that essentially has a protected market (I.e. barriers to new entrants so high that new competitors unlikely) not covering areas of 'uneconomic value'. If you provide public service (gas/electric/phone/internet/water etc) then you should have to cover the poor pickings as well as the rich ones. While I accept that there may be marginally higher charge for the service it would probably be in reality marginal.

    Don't even get me started on the electricity companies, first we build the power stations and this morning we are about to spend 11 billion on smart meters. You'll be telling me my next smart phone will come from the gov from taxes but I'll pay the operators for the service and they get to keep all the profit.

    ....I need a lie down.....

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      B. 2g is ridiculous and 3g is the *minimum*. Data is equally important as voice these days

      I disagree: 3G is not essential. Do you really need to use Twatter or Plebbook out in the countryside? For those of us who regularly experience not-spots, better 2G for voice & text would be fantastic. Sure, email would be nice, but some of us were running email over GSM before 3G came on the scene.

      1. lpcollier

        You disagree? Do you know how to go about getting road tax for your car? Or register the birth of a child? Apply for a job or a college course? Hint: 2G won't get you very far.

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          @ lpcollier

          Fair point. I've just re-read the article, and it clearly says the aim was to improve rural broadband. I thought t was just about improving mobile signal. Have an upvote.

          Mea Culpa.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Do you know how to go about getting road tax for your car? Or register the birth of a child? Apply for a job or a college course? Hint: 2G won't get you very far."

          *Why* won't 2G get me very far? None of those *needs* to be high bandwidth, content rich, data heavy, applications. Very little routine stuff does, in principle.

          If some sh*thead presentation layer person has designed them badly (e.g. like the "improved" MetOffice website a year or two back) so they look Flash in the office and look carp on a low-performance link, maybe someone should redesign them for the real world.

          Or better still maybe the relevant managers should be forced to live with just 2G for a few weeks.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward



            When I was a lad we were lucky to get 0G, we never even dreamt of 2G, if we had, our dad would have clipped us over the ear with the coal shovel and that was if we was lucky.

            Aye, we had to make do with what we had, none of this fancy 2G stuff, most days we didn't even have a G, we had to string two tin cans together and tap out html pages using morse code. Some days we were so poor, we only had the dah' and not the dashes for the morse code. Some web pages were really tricky, tapping out those adult movies just using our fingers on the string was right hard work. We'd try and work out what the pictures looked like from the twang on the string, but all we ever got was rope burn on the end 'o' fingers.

            Some of the team had these fancy tins from Meekysoft or some ert like that, we had no end of trouble getting their tin cans and strings joined up, they thought they were better than us and used different twine which didn't quite work with ours. We had a standards meeting to try and resolve it, but that didn't work, so we took them round back of bike shed and kicked their teeth in. That seemed to work far better, our head, Mr Berners-Lee, didn't approve of that.

            It was a tough life with 0G, kids today don't know they were born.

      2. Marcus Aurelius

        No but I do need Google Maps to periodically tell me which lane I'm lost in this time and where the nearest pub is, and whether its a good pub or has closed down due to being a rathole.

        1. phil dude

          about google...

          I'm not sure google maps is always's the anecdote.

          A buddy of mine and I were in San Fran to visits some other grads, and we were looking for a steak restaurant near Berkley.

          My buddy has an iMobile and found 4 within 0.5 miles. 3 of them were non-existent.

          As this place is only a few miles from Google Inc., I would say this is disturbing, and not useful. How many business get NO referrals?

          But without 3G , we would have been out of options...


      3. The Wegie

        Ever tried seeing if the bus or train is running on time in a not-spot? The National Rail app for android resolutely refuses to provide real time train data on anything less than 3G, which is a bit of a bummer out here in the middle Marches. Am I going to get home in time to make the bus? Do I need to call a taxi? Buggered if I know, because all I'm getting is "sorry we couldn't retrieve the data" all the way from Pntypool to Ludlow!

      4. Big-G

        It is. Mainly due to the fact that many basic civic services are now online, just think taxes etc.and the intention is to have all government and public services online only. 3G is now an 'old' standard, and it's surely more economical than having a phone land line, just for broadband at your home . Try living in a rural not spot and you'll soon see for yourself, and I'm not talking weekends and holidays.

        1. Matt 21


          I'm a little confused. On the one hand some people are saying it's not possible to live without 3G (in lieu of any other Internet connection) while others are saying that there are lots of places no connection is available.

          So surly it must be possible to survive without or are all these places with no internet access ghost towns full of the dead an dying?

    2. Big-G
      Thumb Up glad and relieved to learn I'm not screaming alone.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Operators - Pah.

    The operators supplied Ofcom with details of where they did not have coverage.

    Translation: They went to their public website and consulted their public coverage maps (Which are created by marketing droids) rather than speak to their RF engineers (who actually know a thing or two about signal propagation)

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Operators - Pah.

      I suspect that part of the problem is that the operators (particularly those who haven't supplied any data since 2005) would be wary of supplying any data to Ofcom, because Ofcom has had a public obligation to publish such data since 2007. I note that Sitefinder only carries data up to May 2012 and that is only from those operators who provide updates.

      Perhaps the real problem is that Arqiva in their bid relied too much on Ofcom rather than include sufficient budget to build their own private database that incorporated not only data supplied directly from the operators but also data from OpenSignal etc.

      1. DaLo

        Re: Operators - Pah.

        Yes, and would it have been that difficult to go to the site with a sim from each of th eoperators and just had a look whether there was a signal or not - *before* negotiating leases etc.

        Probably about 3 days work if that, I would have done it over a week for £100k to save them some cash.

  6. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    Sounds like a normal project to me.

    Manager: Right, this is the kickoff meeting for our notspot project. Our target is all these sites by the end of 2013 which means we need to start installation at the end of the month.

    Engineer: Not a chance, we've craploads of engineering to do before we can start planning sites. Once the sites are validated then we need permission, access rights and a hill of other paperwork. Only then can we start thinking about installation.

    Manager: The project plan shows that we will deliver this many sites by the end of 2013.

    Engineer: The project plan was drawn by a salesman therefore by definition it is bollocks. The information we have received from the customer is riddled with errors and inconsistencies. With the number of engineers assigned it'll take a year of back and forth to the customer just to get our starting info usable.

    Manager: You'll just have to manage with the resources we've got in the time shown on the plan.

    Engineer: Why have we got so few resources? The budget for this is huge.

    Manager: I've no idea (thinks: oh yes I have - kerching). I'll ask for more at the next management meeting (in a fly's eye I will).

    Engineer: There isn't even any time on the project plan to allow for planning application delays.

    Manager: Good point. I'll instruct the planning team to start making our applications now.

    Engineer: Look you moron, put down that yacht catalog and try to listen. There is no point getting permission until we validate what sites we need. We can't do that until we can select our sites in a sane fashion and we can't do that until our customers give us good quality data.

    Manager: I will not have such negativity on my project. We'll change the project plan to show design, engineering, planning application, regulatory requirements and construction as parallel tasks then do the documentation at the end (thinks: Money will have run out but I'll quit before that happens & I'll be cruising in the new yacht this project will pay for).

    Engineer: I give up.

  7. Andrew Jones 2

    Sorry what -


    Rural broadband?

    EDGE is slower than even 256k broadband. I thought there was supposed to a minimum of 2mbps?

  8. casaloco

    How much of the £150m have they actually SPENT though?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably most of it after all one has to have a swanky office and salary to go with it.

  9. NeilPost Silver badge

    LOL - And people with axes to grind or agenda's to pursue give BT shit for delivery of fibre to the sticks.

    You could not make this shit up. Sound like £150m down the toilet.

  10. AndrewDu

    "This apparently took months".

    So OpenReach were involved.

    Who expected anything else?

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