UK ISPs oppose Birmingham broadband plan

UK ISPs oppose Birmingham broadband plan
BT and Virgin Media objection enrages Birmingham council.

The city council plans to build a 100Mbps+ broadband network to serve areas of the city. It says that in some places, such as Digbeth, Eastside and the city's Jewellery Quarter, businesses do not have access to affordable high speed broadband.

The council applied for funding from the European Commission State Aid to improve its broadband infrastructure throughout the city, and was successful in its application. However, Virgin Media and BT are opposed to the plan.

Virgin Media claims that Birmingham already has significant overbuild with its current network, contrary to the council's belief that providers have underserved local areas.

"The city has worked in a very positive and collaborative way with them over the last few years to help inform and develop our business case and we are surprised that they have now chosen to appeal at such a late stage," Councillor James McKay said.

"We are liaising with government and the European Commission and we are advocating that this matter be treated with some urgency as a 'test case' for Europe and that everything that can be done to expedite it through the legal process is done."

Virgin claims the scheme put forward by the council is not in the interests of local people, and that the European Commission made a decision based on inaccurate and misleading information that could waste money. "Virgin and BT have had plenty of time to modernise, and they haven't," said Chris Conder, a campaigner for rural broadband. "It's time to stand up for the Davids against these Goliaths."

Written by: James Delahunty @ 22 Oct 2012 19:30
Virgin Media BT Birmingham
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  • 1 comment
  • phobet

    This is not surprising. Any time you have an incumbent telecommunications provider, they always try to keep competition away from their product territories. I think it's interesting to note that they couch their objections in terms that suggest that they're looking out for the interests of the local people. Both companies are "for profit" companies, so their primary interests are to obtain that profit. If both companies interest in profits aligned with the local people's interest in obtaining affordable high speed broadband access, then this wouldn't be an issue, as they would have taken steps to improve the infrastructure they have deployed, while also cheapening the cost. But if the people that are affected can only go to one or two companies for broadband, then there is no incentive to improve. You're stuck with what you get, and tough cookies if it's not enough. I think this should serve as a wake up call for all providers that if they continue under serve their customers, then someone will come along, remove their monopoly, and provide the level of service that *should* be provided. They won't make dime, and they will become as irrelevant as they deserve to be.

    26.10.2012 22:20 #1

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