As BT fends off accusations of over-charging customers and under-funding rural areas, Welsh ministers face the reality that low quality broadband does not help an already lacking business stimulation:
A Welsh affairs committee has stated that the economy of Wales is being harmed by poor broadband and this could be leading to less investment. The committee has suggested that the Welsh and UK governments should join forces to ensure that there is better broadband access in Wales. David Davies, the MP for the Monmouth area has pointed out that there are still some parts of Wales where there is no Internet connection at all and he says that businesses in those areas cannot develop. The committee report stated that the UK government needs to work with the Welsh government to bring the country in line with the rest of the UK. It also says that there is little time left to meet government targets for broadband and that Wales has been consistently under-served.
A document which has been leaked from a Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) discussion has claimed that BT is attempting to increase the amount of money they receive from the public purse for delivering broadband to under-served parts of the country. In addition the company wants to avoid having to match public funds from its own pockets. The assertions were made on a blog run by a broadband journalist this weekend and regarded a document seen by the journalist which stated that BT was adding overheads and new jobs to its costs to increase revenue. In addition the document suggested getting bonuses for delivering broadband to new customers and state funded availability payments. It is suggested that bumping up the prices was designed to offset the funding match required by the contract. It is also being alleged that BT are failing to reduce costs in areas which already have access to fast broadband. It is thought that councils could end up paying twice as much and BT would not need to put up any of their own money. BT have commented that the allegations are ludicrous and point out that they have made a £2.5bn investment into supplying broadband for two thirds of the UK. It was also pointed out that BT is winning the bids for BDUK contracts because it is offering extra funds. However in mosts cases just two contractors have placed bids on these contracts and in some case BT is the only bidder.
BT has announced that it will be offering wi-fi in GAME stores in time for the Christmas shopping period. GAME has 341 stores across the UK and the service will be offered in all of them. It is hoped that GAME will be able to take advantage of new ways of shopping including showcasing its online content in-store and allowing shopping across multiple platforms. Customers will be able to download a free app which will give them access to reviews of in-store products, special offers and news before they make their purchase. Andy Baker from BT has said that smartphones are a crucial part of the shopping experience and this is especially true for gamers. Meanwhile GAME say that offering wi-fi in-store is part of their delivery of excellence for the gaming community.
ISP are being warned that they should not take advantage of the relaxation on planning rules regarding the installation of broadband networks and the associated street furniture. Industry expert Steve Nimmons has pointed out that those providers who forge ahead without considering the public are likely to harm their brand by doing so. He says that the needs of communities should always be taken into account. New rules brought in this month have mean that councils do not need to give permission for street cabinets installed by network providers. However Nimmons who is an MP points out that broadband firms should still cooperate with councils to avoid campaigning from local communities. The aim should be to avoid alienating prospective customers. † [last update: 19.09.12]
Related External Sources:
ISPs urged not to take liberties over broadband - www.cable.co.uk
BT accused of inflating super-fast broadband costs - www.zdnet.com
BT rolling out public wi-fi to 341 GAME stores - www.cable.co.uk
Poor broadband harms economy - www.bbc.co.uk
BT dismisses claims of overcharging for public - www.cable.co.uk