Openreach not reaching far enough

Understaffed and overstretched is how BT Openreach appear to be, and there are a number of reports online of them only just meeting BDUK targets despite having an opportunity to significantly exceed them. Disappointing, especially for councils who think their schemes could have delivered more, and for residents left without. Perhaps that is why it appears Openreach are 100% focussed on BDUK work and have all but stopped commercial deployment.

Hampshire’s BDUK team have all but confirmed this to us with a post on Twitter, stating “BT will be focusing on BDUK project”, and that Wave 2 of the BDUK scheme (which runs until 2019) will continue without any gap from Wave 1. This is disappointing for the few locations like us who have been promised a commercially-provided service, and where we have a relatively large grouping of properties (if it were a BDUK cabinet enabled to date it would be in the top 10% by number of enabled properties, and that figure is only going to get worse), easy connection as there are so many other enabled cabinets around, and we keep being moved to the back of the queue. It appears to be a classic government case of spend it or lose it, and so the scheme’s objective of getting the most properties connected to Superfast broadband in as quick a time as possible appears to have gone out the window, with schemes struggling to spend their allocated money on reaching fewer and more expensive to target properties before the clock runs out.

The good news on several fronts, is that several local authorities have ditched or relegated Openreach in their Wave 2 schemes; whilst not Hampshire, nearby Berkshire have instead partnered with Gigaclear and Call Flow, and they’re not the first. What this may hopefully do is start to free up Openreach resource, but whether it is retained and redeployed remains to be seen. It is interesting to note that other schemes like Berkshire have also taken to publishing more detailed information, with spreadsheets on their website listing by cabinet number where works are due to take place, or have been delayed or postponed. At least they are open about it, whereas Hampshire County Council tow the BT party line (so to speak!) and are keeping far more schtum.

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