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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Broadband for all hint

Oh God, here we go again. Ameliorating the masses with mistruths. Carter hints at 'broadband for all' , but spot the caveat - some of it (read: much) over mobile.

Let's face it folks, if this announcement is as the article says, this is no symmetrical service on the horizon. It won't be close to 100Mbps, let alone heading for 1Gbps, and it won't be future proofed, nor true broadband.

If money is thrown into this, whether under the guise of creating employment or deploying a transformational utility, it should not all be given to the telcos and mobile operators, and where it is there should be an absolute insistence that the money is spent where there is little or no low hanging fruit ie the rural areas and the best possible solution should be installed. That is FIBRE, as well as FiWi where the dig and civils costs make no sense at present, but the fibre needs to come as close to every home as is reasonably possible.

Once that job is done, the telcos can go and fight over the urban areas where they all stand to make money anyway, and whose residents already have, on the whole, good enough services and choices to tide them over for a few years whilst the rest of the country is not just brought up to speed, but is leapfrogged into true broadband eg 100Mbps+ symmetrical. As other countries have done. (Townies, feel free to shout!)

Going back to this issue about giving the money to the telcos. There has been little to no evidence that the telcos understand about putting the customer first, over many years of their existence, and there seems to be a definite failure to comprehend the importance of doing things for UK Plc and long-term economic stability before lining shareholders' pockets.

There is a very strong case now for a proportion of any potential intervention or investment or public money to be put in a 'safe account' to be used to install community networks using co-operative and mutual models, where ownership lies with those who use the network. I know that there has been plenty of work, funded by private individuals and companies, going on behind the scenes on these models, and now is the time to bring them into the light. Government needs to be made aware that there are better ways of doing this than some big flashy advertising campaigns are talking about.

There is no requirement for consultants to advise on how this should be done, nor feasibility studies galore as we normally see. These folk line up claiming that nothing can happen without their studies, graphs and reports, and thereby help themselves to some, or much, of the pot. Rather, there needs to be a bringing together of experience and communities, and JFDI. There have been many, including large well-known companies, waiting in the wings for this day to arrive when finally FTTH is on the 6 o'clock news etc.

The pilot projects in communities will help learn lessons that the telcos are going to need to find out anyway, and may well exhibit best practice and help to reduce costs, as well as teaching the telcos a thing or two about how to JFDI!

So, to repeat:
1) Money for rural areas first
2) Not all money to go to the telcos
3) JFDI (without consultants thank you - there are plenty of companies who need economic boosts who have all the experience necessary, who combined with the communities and consumers themselves, can admirably JFDI, without a bunch of talking heads jumping in on the act).
4) Co-operative and mutual models of ownership
5) Future proofed broadband, not another sop/filler in tech, as ADSL has been
6) JFDI (oh did I already say that?! Well, it needs saying again.)

1 comment:

GuyJ said...

Great Post!

The deployment of Fibre to Every Home is a once-in-a-century opportunity for UK.Community to ensure the telecommunications terms of trade are rebalanced in favour of people over profit.