Adrian Wooster’s Blog

Adrian Wooster is a widely respected consultant working with INCA on the development of technical and business process standards to support the emerging patchwork quilt. We have syndicated the content of his influential and widely read blog for the convenience of INCA members and site visitors. You can view Adrian's site at http://wooster.org.uk

Unintended consequences

Even the best planned actions can fall foul of unintended consequences but its probably fair to say that the more rigorous the thinking the less likely they are.

In this vein I’m beginning to hear of a growing number of communities that are finding that, far from supporting them as they try to become part of the solution to their problems, their local authorities are becoming hostile. Of course this is far from common but it is being reported and does appear to be growing in some districts.

The root behind it seems to be the mechanism which is supposed to protect them. BDUK is only allowed to spend its funds in what the EU calls “White areas” – areas where the market has failed to deliver a viable broadband solution.

The logic chain says that if a provider delivers a viable solution then the area must be designated as either “Grey” or “Black” depending on the level of new competition.

Reliable data

Recently we have seen BDUK announce the funding allocations to local authorities and the devolved assemblies, and the companies aiming hoping to get on the national framework have been short-listed. The sums awarded to councils were modelled by BDUK according to their understanding of need, and at the moment the framework companies are trying to develop a consistent understanding of what will be required of them and their shareholders should they be successful.

At stake is the investment of billions of pounds and public and private money, and the future competitiveness of the UK economy. Yet questions have been raise in several quarters for quite some time now about the accuracy of BDUKs data on which all this investment sits. So for the record I decided to correlate a source of data I have grown to trust – from who in turn get their DSL data from BT – against a set of BDUK data for the same area. The sample included a little over 19,000 postcodes.

Suffolk issues two important tenders

I’ve recently been working with Suffolk ACRE on shaping up two key tenders for the county – one a small but very important project in the village of Parham, the other a model for wireless to ensure everyone in East Suffolk has access to good, reliable  wherever they may live.

Clearing up a little confusion. . .

I just wanted to clear up a little confusion that I’ve had fed back to me.

BroadwayPartners is a new venture which has brought together the financial acumen of Michael Armitage and Alexander Sleigh with the experience of David Brunnen and myself, with hopefully two or three surprising additions coming on board very soon to complete the team.

While we are very supportive of what INCA is doing in the industry, BroadwayPartners isn’t an INCA venture or subsidiary – although we do aim to become members very soon (all part of the bootstrap phase) and will work to support their aims.

I suspect the confusion came about because this blog is very kindly syndicated by INCA on their website (and long may it remain so!), and my involvement was announced here.

Speech to INCA workshop – Community Broadband is Dead

What follows is the transcript of a speech I gave to INCA’s workshop help on the 19th July at the Frontline Club. This was a difficult speech to give, but one I felt I had to give.

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The speech was given as part of the events opening “provocations” to seed debate, so it was just 5 minutes long. To help clarify some points, I’ve added footnotes to the text – hover over the numbers to see some of my clarifications.

It saddens me – that I feel it necessary to say what I’m about to say but it does come from the heart.

There is no such thing as “ ” – its dead, gone.

Or rather “community broadband” as its often described – a neatly delineated, easily identifiable scheme run by ardent enthusiasts on the fringes – is dead.

Announcement: Getting us back on track

It’s become fairly obvious that recent posts have started to diverge from the ’s plan – not the policy but the actions taken to implement the policy. Its something I’m disappointed about, but its also something that has clearly become more widespread.

For a long time now I’ve been trying to get my head around how to combine the necessary stakeholders so the most creative solutions can start to benefit people, the economy and the telecoms industry.

So today I’m announcing that I’ve joined forces with some of the most experienced hands in the industry to form BroadwayPartners

Together with David Brunnen, Michael Armitage and Alexander Sleigh, BroadwayPartners will provide the capability to link communities with industry partners to deliver sustainable and ambitious broadband solutions.

Broadband Poll

First of all, thank you for all the people who completed the poll.

And now the results.

Is the proposed BDUK framework good for the industry and customers?

  • 63% disagree
  • 21% are unsure
  • 14% agree
  • 2% were unaware of the framework

I suppose the upside is that the BDUK have done a good job of promoting the framework, but with only 1 in 7  supporting the framework it suggests more work is needed to engage with people.

Is the ’s 2015 broadband target still realistic?

Everything should be made as simple as possible. . .

The debate about what’s going wrong with the policy is becoming quite complex, messy and somewhat emotional.

For me, the key policy of making the UK the best “superfast” (meaning > 24 Mbps) broadband market in Europe is the right one. Delivering that in tandem with the bill and while supporting SMEs couldn’t be better. These are all things that get my total support – and I hear very few detractors (quite the opposite).

BDUK Framework update

Since I wrote about the impending BDUK procurement framework, there seems to have been a little movement which I think it right to acknowledge.

I wrote that a source told me that the framework would require revenues of at least £40m in each of the last two years – in the “final draft” I understand is due for publication tomorrow (Thursday 30th June) this has been reduced to £20m, and it includes the following paragraph:

“In line with the Coalition ’s policy on supplier diversity, DCMS is designing the framework agreement to maximise opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to form part of framework suppliers’ supply chains for projects where appropriate”

NGA closer to home

Over the past six months or so I’ve been sitting on Oxfordshire’s Working Group considering how we might make the best of our  landscape. Oxfordshire is the most rural county in the South East, making it challenging for , yet it also generates many more high-technology start-ups than most – not an easy balance to achieve, especially when you realise that, unlike Cambridge with its science parks, many of these small business that will lead the UK out of our economic woes are as likely to appear in converted barns in Cotswold villages as they are in the  dreaming spires.