This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
This is the PIN (Prior Information Notice) for DCMS and BDUk for around £2Billion.
The primary purpose of this Prior information notice (PIN) is to inform the market of a prospective opportunity in connection with the UK Government's broadband policies and objectives.
The delivery of high speed connectivity to businesses and residential consumers and communities is required to address the UK’s economic growth and development agenda. The topography and/or demographic characteristics of certain geographies will require investment to deploy broadband infrastructure and this, together with the lack of competitive pressure, means that market-driven private investments alone will not achieve ubiquitous connectivity.
1. All topographies and demographics require investment to deploy broadband infrastructure. END.
2. Lack of competitive pressure....ah, are we now re-wording the term 'market failure'? If that is truly the case, then let's ask ourselves why and according to whom? Could it be that there is a certain incumbent who is ensuring that the pipes are so damned thin there is no pressure (scarcity vs abundance)? No access to the pipes - could that be inhibiting competitive pressure? No market - says whom? Perhaps we should revisit who is touting this so called "lack of competitive pressure"? And is it real when so many people seem ready to invest, dig, connect etc?
3. Could we please determine a time frame in which "market-driven private investments alone will not achieve ubiquitous connectivity?" Because given a few more months without public sector investment from the Treasury's coffers, communities large and small will pull their fingers out and connect each other. Bit like railways, electricity etc. Many of which were not publicly funded nor were there so-called incumbents preventing their every move. Communities still beat the private investments to delivery - in both the rural villages I have lived in during the past 37 years, electricity was delivered by individuals not market-driven investment from shareholder owned companies or incumbents. In fact, we had electricity before Manchester, and Lord Glenamara (who became Chairman of Cable and Wireless) wrote about it in his book. Market-driven? Hell no. Innovator, edge of the network, experiment-driven. Are you really going to skew the market by giving ALL THE MONEY to a behemoth, oil-tanker sloth that doesn't love each community it connects but only the profits it can reap for its shareholders?
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has been created within the Department of culture, media and sport (DCMS) to be the delivery vehicle for the government's policies relating to stimulating private sector investment using the available funding. Further details on BDUK, its objectives and activities can be found at: http://www.culture.gov.uk/publications/8124.aspx.
I'd love to query the lack of capital letters in a major tender for £2Bn....but it would be more interesting to query that publication and BDUK about their achievement of those objectives to date.
BDUK is seeking to establish a framework agreement of suitably qualified prime contractors capable of delivering local broadband projects as required by local bodies or groups of local bodies. "Local bodies" potentially includes local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, devolved administrations and other public sector bodies.
Wait just one minute. Haven't we been here before? With first gen broadband? Can I not recall OGC asking for 12 suppliers for broadband solutions? And the massive outcry there was at the time about the failure to permit new entrants etc in to the game? Didn't we end up with something that (sorry, Paul) was called OGC BS (Bullshit or Buying Solutions, take your pick), and which resulted in a total failure to deliver first gen and IT solutions through 'preferred suppliers'? Isn't that what we have here, again? Are we really, so soon, going to repeat a similar futile exercise? Cut out all the innovators, new entrants, solutions providers already on the ground and digging into the ground? Seriously?
And who is defining 'Suitably qualified prime contractors'? A bank? Are any of these prime contractors going to be assessed on :
Failure to deliver consumer and business broadband requirements to date
Over-priced access for any third party to infrastructure built using public money
Failure to keep Britain in the broadband game through innovation
Prime contractors will need to be capable of delivering a range of broadband and related requirements, including (but not limited to):
— The design, build, integration and operation of wholesale broadband networks at a county, multi-county or regional level. Such areas could be of potentially up to the order of 500 000 premises,
— Broadband solutions that meet outcomes-based specifications rather than being tied to specific technologies and platforms,
— Open access wholesale services including for retail service providers (e.g. Internet Service Providers) to include as part of retail broadband packages for business and residential customers.
It is currently anticipated that: the framework agreement will be for a duration of two years with the possibility of up to 2 one-year extensions; and the contract notice for this framework agreement will be issued by the end of June 2011.
Right, one at a time. If these prime contractors were capable of delivering such a range of requirements, why have they not already done so?
Hasn't the noise from grassroots level reached BDUK about the huge dissatisfaction over the four pilots? From choosing the wrong contractual body (eg county councils who are being hit from all sides by public sector cuts, who have little comprehension of broadband tech or usage, and who are busy trying to tie in PSN, council and education networks into an 'innovative pilot' (cough, splutter) that brings telehealth, education and e-gov into homes, businesses, schools, GPs etc) to demanding £100M in the bank to connect a tiny village to show how it can be done elsewhere - do you not get it yet???
Have you not assessed what wholesale broadband networks are in place eg CLEO in Cumbria and Lancashire, and thought, "Hey, maybe we don't need to re-invent the wheel?"
Have you not mapped the existing infrastructure and said, "We don't need to spend £2Bn putting in a framework agreement - that would be a pure and simple waste of public money. What we need to do is force the existing infrastructure owners, the consumers and communities (however large or small) and our so-called Big Society government to join the dots."
Have you not considered that "outcomes-based specifications" is a totally lunacy when no-one can possibly know what is round the corner? Are you going to specify that one of the outcomes is that everyone can watch iPlayer or BBC News on the move, or are you going to accept that probably less than a year down the line bog standard TV will become old hat when everyone can livestream from their jumper?
Have you actually thought out why an ISP is required? Connect me or my neighbours into a DVP and why do I need an ISP? To be regulated? Oh, get on. Read the Dumb Network and work it out. ISPs are so yesterday, as is DRM etc.
We need dumb fat pipes. We have been saying it for years. Some people may need services, such as VM and Sky TV, but give people access and they will find their own content, make their own content, bundle their own packages and services, develop their own apps, create innovative apps as we see in Chattanooga, and much, much more.
Whilst local bodies may elect to deliver broadband via other procurement routes,Except we, BDUK, may force them down a route where this is impossible, eg by issuing a Framework agreement that all local bodies must adhere to if they want any of the pots of money the Treasury has cajoled out of the likes of the BBC Licence Fee etc
BDUK expects that a majority of the available funding will be accessed via call-off contracts from this framework agreement. There is the potential for the framework agreement to cover projects with a total value of up to 2 000 000 000 GBP or more.
Further details on this opportunity will be provided at the industry day (see below). This further information may include information on: the scope of the framework agreement; the award procedure to be followed; anticipated timetable; funding; etc.estimated cost excluding VAT 2 000 000 000 GBP
Division into lots No
Division into Lots? No bloody chance. That would be opening the door to discussions with people who may be right, and prolong the agony for all concerned far beyond the next election.