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UK Broadband Plan Set To Clear EU Approval

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the faster-bits-for-all dept.

EU 37

judgecorp writes "The British government's plan to subsidize rural broadband in the UK is about to get approval from the European Union, even though every contract so far has been awarded to BT, according to sources. The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project has been examined under EU state aid rules, but apparently has passed despite all the money going to one dominant telecom operator"

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37 comments

Happy Tuesday from The Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41593333)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

As long as it isn't News International (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41593357)

The seem to be all fine and dandy with it ... as if there's nobody else out there who would dream of having extremely poor business practices.

Actually, BT is probably in bed with the current government

Re:As long as it isn't News International (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41593623)

Someone feel free to correct me, but from memory the only other company bidding on the rural broadband contracts was Siemens, and they've hit the government's blacklist due to repeated failures to deliver.

Re:As long as it isn't News International (3, Informative)

Shimbo (100005) | about 2 years ago | (#41594017)

Someone feel free to correct me, but from memory the only other company bidding on the rural broadband contracts was Siemens, and they've hit the government's blacklist due to repeated failures to deliver.

Fujitsu. http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/fujitsu-blacklisted-government-92249 [techweekeurope.co.uk]

Re:As long as it isn't News International (4, Informative)

Jaruzel (804522) | about 2 years ago | (#41594125)

Same company. They just dropped the Siemens suffix in 2009 when they finalised the takeover.

Re:As long as it isn't News International (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41605533)

Different bit of Fujitsu - that was Fujitsu-Siemens, the computer manufacturer/joint venture.

The bit of Fujitsu that is relevant is Fujitsu Telecommunications, which has nothing to do with F-S. http://www.ftel.co.uk/

Re:As long as it isn't News International (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41594065)

they've hit the government's blacklist due to repeated failures to deliver.

When did they change the procurement practices? Traditionally, repeated failure to deliver means lots of experience with government contracts, move to the top of the list.

Re:As long as it isn't News International (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#41604455)

That would be in the US. Here in Europe we have a long tradition of punishing poor performing companies or workers.

Re:As long as it isn't News International (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41605135)

No, that would be the UK. See: EDS.

Re:As long as it isn't News International (2)

philipmather (864521) | about 2 years ago | (#41594603)

"Actually, BT is probably in bed with the people who actually run the country"

TFTFY.

On an only sightly less cynical note, you have to wonder if "the current government" are (as a conceptual entity rather than the specific case we have at the moment) any better at administering such a large/long project than a benign coperate monopoly (if such a thing exists)?

Re:As long as it isn't News International (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595981)

The Conservatives are always happy when taxes go to the big private companies. They get to pocket the profits.

If you're a crack dealer (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 2 years ago | (#41593395)

Let's say you live on a block. You have crack. You would like to sell this crack to people who really want to buy crack. If nobody is selling crack, and you have crack willing to sell, why would this be a problem?

Re:If you're a crack dealer (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | about 2 years ago | (#41593529)

It would be a problem because it is morally wrong and if you ignored your morals telling you not to sell crack please know it is illegal and if I knew you had crack I would rat on you so you would be punished.
What is happening here is wrong these people have no morals and they should be punished.
You sir have no point to make other than a silly one for fools such as yourself. But its probably not your fault 'cause all the crack you smoked made you do it.

Re:If you're a crack dealer (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#41593555)

Let's say you live on a block and you are a crack distributor. You've got a bunch of dealers working for you around town. You make sure to not supply too much crack to your 'customers' in order to keep prices up.

Now, you know that you've got the major cities covered by your network of dealers, but how to get all the customers in the boondocks, say hamlets of only 10 or 20 thousand people. It's too much trouble for a dealer to keep commuting back and forth, so the obvious solution is:

1) all the dealers get together and decide who will be the sole supplier to the boondocks. Please, no knives. This will be a gun-only event.
2) raise prices for everybody in the big city, necessary to subsidize the boondocks. gas ain't free.
3) cut your product by half for the boondocks, as then you don't transport as much. Oh, wait, no, that's wrong. You make twice as much money
4) charge more in the boondocks, "because it's so far away". Oops, you make more than twice as much money.

Important (5, Insightful)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#41593405)

I think it's very important to spread the dosh around, because everywhere else that this has been done, governments have relied on robust competition between scrappy telecoms companies to provide rural broadband service...

Well except in Korea, where it was all done by Korea Telecom, but then again, they finished their 100 Mbps rollout 5 years ago and are now providing 1000 Mbps service to rural areas, so what do they know about this stuff?

Terrible summary (5, Informative)

byornski (1022169) | about 2 years ago | (#41593485)

The real story here is that the UK govt isnt giving money to communal rural broadband programs. That is what this story is about. BT(wholesale) owns the vast majority of the UK's phone lines and internet access(with the exception of cable where you can get it). The systems in place only seem to acknowledge broadband extension programmes from big companies so as apparently to avoid communities setting up their own broadband networks etc. This is pretty disgraceful (but old) news from the British govt. It was on radio 4 about a month ago...

Re:Terrible summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41593927)

You could argue that BT are a known quantity - everyone knows what they can provide and that they probably will provide it, plus BT wholesale means hundreds of ISPs become available whereas with a communal programme you would be limited to one ISP. How do you make sure that money given to a community actually results in a decent, capable network?

Look at Digital Region in Yorkshire. That's a programme backed by three councils, and even it is looking shaky. Only a few no-name ISPs provide service over the network, it's not in a great financial position, and it doesn't actually provide a service that is really any better than BT FTTC.

(no I am not a BT shill, I have no connection with them except for benefiting from a joint BT/EU/council funded rollout of BT FTT*, I just don't see what is necessarily the problem here)

An Modest Proposal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41593591)

Access to the Internet should be available at CAD/USD/GBP25.00 per month for 250 GB of traffic apart from any traffic used by pay-for-service content providers which would be priced between the provider and subscriber. Individuals should be able to host their own servers subject only to their monthly allotted data provision and legal content. I run my own servers for better control over the services; virtualisation has made it inexpensive. As the Word Wide Web increasingly serves an important role in communication, education, and the well-being of society access to this resource must be available to all and affordable to everyone.

Re:An Modest Proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41593677)

25 quid for 250GB? I'll have a pound of whatever you're smoking.

If you want me to pay "per GB", 10p/GB doesn't float my boat. Try 2p/GB and I'll think about it.

Re:An Modest Proposal (1)

Shemmie (909181) | about 2 years ago | (#41593775)

I already pay £23 for 300 gig peak rate, completely unlimited off peak. As tempting as your offer is - no. As for pay-for services traffic, do you mean you'd charge extra for that traffic?

Re:An Modest Proposal (1)

pointyhat (2649443) | about 2 years ago | (#41594405)

I pay £9.50 a month for my O2 unlimited connection. I can pull 250Gb over that fine and I run mail and web services off it as well.

The real problem is the lack of choise (4, Informative)

luvirini (753157) | about 2 years ago | (#41593777)

As I understand the situation, the councils that want to get part of the rural broadband money have to use "approved suppliers" and there are only two of them.

There is really not that much competition with only two companies available, though I am sure other companies could also do some of the projects.

The problem is thus that because it is a national program with only central authorization of suppliers with pretty high barrier of entry given the types of documentation and other things required to "prove" that you are capable to doing such on national level, this leads to companies that have only a regional presence not really being able to be suppliers...

Re:The real problem is the lack of choise (1)

Inda (580031) | about 2 years ago | (#41594807)

The real problem is the rural community thinking the British population owes them a broadband connection.

I have a big fat pipe. 30mbit, soon to be 60mbit.

I grew up in a lovely rural farmland village.

After leaving school, there was no work in the area, and the house prices were inflated by high-earning commuters, so I moved to the concrete jungle with its vast infrastructure. I sacrificed the green fields, smell of cow shit and huge gardens for the chance to work and live in a house. I also gained a big fat pipe.

Cake and eat it.

If people in the villages want broadband, they should move. Or they should buy me a field full of cows and cow shit.

Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all.

Re:The real problem is the lack of choise (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | about 2 years ago | (#41594833)

Replace "broadband" with "telephony", move the year back around 50 units, does your view still seem reasonable? This is progress, and progress should be possible by all.

1Mbit/s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41594105)

Just give the money to municipal or communal efforts for local fibre-to-the-whatever, or use the money to improve BT after having nationalised it. Otherwise we're doomed to see BT drag their heels and pocket subsidies while our infrastructure lags 20 years behind that of more advanced countries.

Sovereignty? (1, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41594109)

If I were British, I would be annoyed that my country doesn't have the sovereignty to handle its own internal affairs, but that's just me.

Re:Sovereignty? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41594169)

The EU are providing funding for this. It's only fair they get a say.

Re:Sovereignty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41594433)

The EU are providing funding for this. It's only fair they get a say.

And who provides the funds to the EU? Let me guess... they get a load of money from your taxes, then 'provide' a portion of it back?

Re:Sovereignty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41594393)

We do. We just don't want the EU peeing in our cornflakes if we annoy them, since it IS their funds remember.

Why they decided to fund rural expansion is beyond me, seems like an excess-profit-from-the-supplier(s) job, but hey, seems the EU are feeling really generous recently, given the crisis of finance as it is already.

Re:Sovereignty? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41601369)

Where did they get those funds from?

Quid Pro Quo (1)

andersh (229403) | about 2 years ago | (#41594487)

This isn't a case of gaining the EU's permission simply for show, it's all about keeping the European Union's inner market open and competitive. This is the core mission of the EU(!) Free and unhindered trade amongst the members. It's a two-way street.

If the British government(s) want to spend their money on rural broadband, that's just great, but they can't simply hand the money to their own preferred partners (BT). That would be illegal state subsidies. There has to be free and open competition for the contracts!

That's all there is to this case. All the other EU member states have the exact same scrutiny from Brussels, where equally eager British representatives are watching out for their own interests.

The real issue however is the fact that such subsidies would be illegal even without the EU. I'm pretty sure it would run afoul of the World Trade Organization (WTO). I will just mention the Boeing and Airbus cases.

Re:Sovereignty? (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 2 years ago | (#41594663)

If I were American there's a lot of things I'd be annoyed about; if the UN offered to help fund decent rural broadband, but on the condition that the provider needed to be selected fairly and openly, and the government said yes it certainly wouldn't be added to the list.

Re:Sovereignty? (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | about 2 years ago | (#41594883)

You know that we get to vote for our European MPs, right?

Re:Sovereignty? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 2 years ago | (#41595121)

You know that we get to vote for our European MPs, right?

But we don't get to vote in or out Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso or Martin Schulz - Who happen to be the European presidents.

Re:Sovereignty? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 2 years ago | (#41595651)

Technically people in the US don't get to vote for Obama or Romney either. They vote for people who meet to decide who the next president should be. It works the same way in the EU, except that they really do meet to consider who the best candidate is.

Some other facts about BT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595791)

> They've been forced for years to share access to their exchanges, lease the last mile, providing access for LLU.
> They probably have by far the best established network in the UK (for residential customers at least). Its actually pretty damned good overall if you negate the fact its *DSL and you'll only get speeds based on line quality / length.
> Despite being a fully owned private company, they were split into two. The network provider (OpenReach) and the ISP (BT).
> Unfortunately both OpenReach and BT are owned by the same people.
> Their customer support is appalling.
> They stick their hands out for Government money whenever possible.

Re:Some other facts about BT (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about 2 years ago | (#41596891)

AND :-

> They charge an "Admin fee" to pay your own bill.
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