BT Ireland’s Managing Director Shay Walsh reportedly raised questions over the competitiveness of the tender for the country’s National Broadband Plan (NBP), after the recent withdrawal of incumbent eir from the Irish government’s procurement process left the consortium led by telecoms provider Enet as the sole bidder in the tender.

The National Broadband Plan is intended to help bring 30Mbps broadband speeds to all premises in Ireland by 2022 through a combination of commercial investment by the telecoms sector and subsidised rollout, but has been experiencing legal complications relating to European state aid rules, as well as difficulties in securing operator backing.

In September 2017, SIRO, Vodafone Ireland’s wholesale fibre joint venture with the country’s Electricity Supply Board, pulled out of the bidding for the NBP, after flagging concern over the lack of a “competitive business case to justify continued participation” in the bid process (Vodafonewatch, #159).

This was followed by the end-January 2018 withdrawal of incumbent eir, which cited “significant commercial issues and complexity within the tender process” and “growing uncertainty on a range of regulatory and pricing issues that reside outside of the NBP process” as its reasons for pulling out of the tender.

Walsh was said to have expressed doubt on whether Enet was “best equipped” to deliver the plan, and maintained that BT’s involvement in a similar process in the UK had led it to believe that the most suitable provider, economically, is one that “cost[s] least in terms of subvention”. “I’m not sure Enet is that; the natural company for that here is eir”, asserted Walsh. He also suggested that the Irish incumbent is “effectively riding two horses because [it] will get a very high percentage of whatever gets spent [from the Plan] on the network into their pockets anyway”.

To reach the premises earmarked under the plan, Enet will need to traverse eir’s network, which Walsh said “had a deficit of investment”, adding that “taxpayer money is going not just to deliver connectivity to homes, but also to repair eir’s network”.

The Irish government played down the concerns and said the project will still be delivered on time and at no extra cost to the taxpayer, insisting it was not being held “over a barrel” on pricing.

It is also said to be considering the prospect of a “plan B”, such as an alternative tender process possibly involving other fixed-line and wireless operators, should it fail to agree a price with Enet.

The Enet consortium, which includes energy group and emerging UK fibre player SSE (BTwatch, #287 and passim), said it was strongly committed to the government’s plan and in the process of finalising its bid for the contract.

BT has long been critical of the NBP process, dating back to July 2013 (BTwatch, #246), and previously attributed delays in its progress (which pushed the 30Mbps 100% coverage target from 2020 to 2022) to eir’s involvement in the scheme, at which time BT Ireland also confirmed it was supporting two bidders in the process (BTwatch, #276).

Image: Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

  • BT gender pay gap report finds women paid 7% less on average

Management update

Agile new strategy and transformation head at BT [p6]

  • ‘I’m in charge!’ Patterson reasserting his authority?
  • Investor audience also being targeted
  • Agility evangelist may try to convert a new congregation…
  • Hancock knocks heads together
  • Patterson may be put to work on transformation
  • Vendors beware

5G

BT trumpets 5G advances at MWC [p9]

  • BT signs new agreement with Huawei; focus on 5G…
  • … ADVA and BT after a slice of the 5G pie
  • Nokia also gets a virtual look-in…
  • BT thinking deeply on 5G research
  • …while Ericsson concentrates on other operators at MWC

Watson open-minded on 5G vendor profile [p15]

  • Hybrid standards progress getting the ball rolling
  • An open relationship with RAN technology
  • Not the end for end-to-end vendors

BT to trial Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 in 5G NR trials [p17]

Suppliers

BT trials new supplier contract clause to reduce emissions [p18]

  • Huawei concern turned to evangelistic zeal

Telecom Infra Project

BT flags new TIP lab and vRAN trials [p19]

  • Cheaper solutions and innovative thinking promised – with an eye on G.fast?
  • Cavium the TIP of the iceberg

People

Table 1: People movement highlights

CONSUMER/EE

  • CityFibre challenges ASA ruling on ‘fake fibre’
  • BT boasts of HDR broadcast for mobile

ESN

New blows for ESN [p23]

  • Airwave to be kept up and running
  • EE’s defences may be slipping a little
  • Vodafone remains a thorn in EE side

Spectrum

Ofcom sets out 5G spectrum auction process [p28]

  • Preparations underway for a 2019 700MHz auction
  • Two stages, several rounds
  • New kids on the block

BT TV

BT aims to be TV “super-aggregator” but Sky keeping up [p30]

  • Rivals also score aggregate deals
  • BT takes control of YouView updates as platform base passes three million

GLOBAL SERVICES

BT Security

BT Italia gets on right side of the law [p34]

BT flags UK security role [p35]

Ireland

  • BT questions competitiveness of country’s National Broadband Plan

BT secures Irish 999 deal [p35]

WHOLESALE & VENTURES

Partners

Wholesale to resell Semafone secure payments [p38]

OPENREACH

Operations

Openreach in recruitment drive for Fibre First [p41]

Competitors

VXFIBER to target councils with FTTP proposition [p42]

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

Symbols

6WIND 12, 20
21st Century Fox
– Sky
– – Sky Mobile 26

A

Accelleran 12, 20
ADVA Optical Networking 9, 11, 12, 19, 20
Advertising Standards Authority 24
Airspan Spectrum 28, 29
Algomi 21
Amazon 30, 32
– Alexa 32
AMC 30
Apple 17
Athonet 12, 20
AT&T 12, 16, 17
Avaya, Inc. 38

B

Boston Consulting Group 6
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 13
British Gas 21
BSI Speedway 31
BT Group 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 17, 18, 21, 38, 42
– Asia
– – Tech Mahindra 9
– BT Business & Public Sector 21
– – BT Ireland 34, 36
– BT Consumer 21, 30
– – BT Fusion 20
– – BT Home Hub 21
– – BT Mobile 21
– – BT TV 30
– – Plusnet 10, 32
– BT Global Services 6, 21, 33
– – BT Federal 21
– – BT Italia 7, 34
– – BT Security 34, 35
– BT Technology, Service and Operations 9, 10, 12
– – Adastral Park 13, 19
– BT Wholesale & Ventures 21, 38, 39
– Directors
– – du Plessis, Jan 7
– EE 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 28, 39
– – Emergency Services Network 23
– Executives
– – Allera, Marc 6, 26
– – Andrews, Steve 21
– – Atmore, Sharon 21
– – Brunkard, Phil 21
– – Burger, Bas 6
– – Cuevas, Maria 11
– – Edelstein, Howard 21
Ginér, Gabrielle 19
– – Hanif, Mansoor 20
– – Haston, Simon 21
– – Honrubia, Javier 21
– – Howey, Angela 21
– – Lowth, Simon 6
– – MacKenzie, Richard 19
– – McRae, Neil 8
– – Messore, Ben 21
– – Patterson, Gavin 6, 30
– – Shaw, Tim 21
– – Sherman, Michael 6
– – Vague, Jamie 21
– – Varley, Wray 21
– – Waldren, Paul 21
– – Wallace, David 21
– – Walsh, Shay 36
– – Watson, Howard 9, 10, 12, 15
– – White, Georgina 21
– Ex-executives
– – Petter, John 6
– Openreach 10, 11, 21, 38, 40, 41, 42
– Wholesale & Ventures
– – BT Cables 38

C

Cavium 19, 20
Centrica 21
Channel 4 31
China Mobile 16
China Unicom 20
Cisco Systems, Inc. 29
CityFibre 8, 24, 42
CK Hutchison 28
– Three Group
– – Three UK 28
Communications Workers Union 34
Connexin 29

D

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS, UK)
– Hancock, Matt 8
Deutsche Telekom 12, 16, 17, 20
Digital Britain 8
Dolby Laboratories, Inc. 25
Dorna Sports 30

E

eir 36
Electricity Supply Board (Ireland) 36
Ericsson 9, 13

F

Facebook 12, 16, 19, 20, 34
– OpenCellular 20
Football Association
– Football League 32
Fujitsu 17

G

Gigaclear 8, 42
Google 8

H

Home Office (UK) 23, 24, 25, 26
House of Commons
– Public Accounts Committee 23, 25, 26
HTC 17
Huawei Technologies 9, 10, 13, 17, 18, 19
Hyperoptic 42

I

IBM 23
Infinera 21
Infosys 9
Intel 12, 13
Intracom Telecom 13
Investor Forum 7

K

Kingston Communications (KCOM) 42

L

LG 17
Liberty Global 32
– Virgin Media 8, 11, 31, 32, 42
Lumina Networks 12, 20

M

Maintel
– Azzurri 21
MotoGP 30, 31
Motorola 23, 24, 25
Motorola Solutions
– Airwave 23, 24

N

National Audit Office 23
Navigil 39
Netflix 30, 31
Nokia 9, 12, 13, 17, 20
NTT 16, 17

O

Ofcom 8, 28, 29, 42
– White, Sharon 8
Orange 12, 16, 17

P

Parallel Wireless 12
PHAZR 12

Q

Qualcomm 15, 17
Qwest 21

R

Rohde & Schwarz 13
Royal Mail 21

S

Samsung 13, 17, 25
Semafone 38, 39
Sigfox 13
SK Telecom 20
Sony 17
Speed-5G 13
Spirent 12, 20
Sprint 17, 20, 29
SSE plc 36

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 8, 11, 32, 42
Tata Group
– Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) 9
Tech Mahindra 9
Technology
– 3G 13
– 4K (Ultra HD TV) 25, 30
– 5G 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 28, 29
– Bluetooth 13
– Broadband 11, 15, 17, 20, 24, 26, 36, 42
– CCTV 35
– Convergence 21
– DSL 17
– Ethernet 11, 19
– Fibre 8, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 36, 38, 41, 42
– Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 41, 42
– G.fast 20, 42
– HD 25
– HDR 25
– ICT 34
– Internet of Things 35
– IP 24
– LTE 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 25, 29
– LTE-Advanced 10
– M2M 39
– Microwave 19
– mmWave 12, 17
– OTT 31
– R&D 10
– SMS 25, 36
– TDM 24
– Ultra High Definition 25, 30
– VoD 32
– Wi-Fi 13, 21
Telecom Infra Project 12, 16, 19
– OpenCellular 20
– TEAC 19
Telecom Italia SpA 12, 13
Telefónica 8, 12, 21, 28
Telenor 20
Telstra 17
Toshiba 11
Transport for London 25
– London Underground 25
Twitter 26

U

UEFA 12, 25
– Champions League 12, 25

V

Verizon Communications 12, 17, 21
– Bell Atlantic 21
Virtusa 9
Vodafone 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 36
– SIRO 36
– UK 21, 24, 26, 28
VXFIBER 42

W

Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) 21

Y

YouView 31, 32
– Halton, Richard 32

Z

ZTE 17

About

About BTwatch

Report: #294
Published: March 2018
Next report: April 2018
For more information visit: BTwatch