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Friday, 2 January 2009

BT seeks to put FTTH investment on hold unless Ofcom play ball

Yet another reason why the FTTH infrastructure in the UK needs new entrants. BT have threatened to delay investment in FTTC/H unless Ofcom permits it to further raise access prices for the existing copper infrastructure. These prices have already been raised recently between 4 and 11% but BT wants more.

There seems to be an outright failure in this country to understand the importance of FTTH, despite the likes of FTTH Council's Joeri van Bogaert trying to show exactly why FTTH is required across the whole of Europe. No incumbent should be allowed to "hold a gun to the head" of the regulator over the required next gen networks development, particularly with the history of how that copper infrastructure was originally funded, and what its future purpose should actually be. The first mile copper should be ripped out and flogged, not figure in anyone's plans for NGN, particularly as FTTC, which will continue to deliver less than we need broadband far into the future, it would seem, if BT has its way.

And we also have further lunacy from the UK Govt as well to look forward to in 2009. Proposals to spend £12bn (if typical of all other IT projects this Govt has undertaken, read at least 2 or more times that figure)on monitoring individual user's Internet access. This story seems to have been somewhat glossed over by the media pundits who normally comment on such invasions of privacy and wastage of money so far, although the Grauniad has commented now the figure has been announced. The blogosphere has plenty of indignation on the cost and implications eg Mike Butcher here, and a No 10 petition, although there will undoubtedly be more commentary once journos etc return to work next week.

The reality of that £12billion spend of public money on such a pointless system is that it is probably enough to do FTTH to the majority/all of the UK. (Forget the £26-9bn figure from the BSG which is a worst case scenario figure and focus on the more likely £12-16bn cost if FTTH is done sensibly using models of mutual ownership, reduced civils etc.) Which would you rather see our taxpayer's money spent on? Monitoring a few possibly dangerous individuals, (how have we got so hung up on terrorism at the expense of all else???), or giving everyone in the country the potential to innovate, compete in the global knowledge economy, and kickstart new businesses?

So, 2009 may once again be the year where FTTH fails to reach those who most need it because of idiotic decisions made by a Government who don't understand technology, and an incumbent fighting falling share value and rising competition. Oh yippee, hasn't 2009 started well?!

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