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Friday, 16 January 2009

Open letter to Stephen Carter - One Fibre Nation

Dear Stephen Carter,

I hope you are well and your Digital Britain report is progressing nicely. Perhaps you might like to consider the points raised here when writing it and advising government?

Knowing, as we all do, that the EndGame is Fibre To Every Home, the new Universal Service Obligation (USO) is inadequate.

It simply doesn't up the broadband bar sufficiently (considering it may last as long as the previous - 28 years), nor does the inclusion of mobile broadband begin to solve the problems in rural areas; perversely, it is more likely to perpetuate the digital division and entrench a new digital class system.

The issue then is social cohesion and there is a very simple solution:

Acknowledge that there is market failure today and mandate that ALL rural areas be given primary focus with Gordon Brown's proposed infrastructure funding (let's just assume he is going to do that), and so your report needs to emphasise rural areas first with FIBRE from START to FINISH, from home to world - I have been saying this since my speech at BSG1 conference in Oct 2001.

The money should not go to the telcos directly - see the arguments on this elsewhere.

Certainly telcos, existing and emerging alike, should be able to bid to design, build, and operate eNdGAme Fibre. That is not an issue.

The point is who owns the resultant infrastructure assets.

If this is to be public (our/my) money being spent, then there will be an IOU to be paid for by future taxation, hence it is with the best interests of future generations in mind that we as a society must act now.

Wireless/mobile should ONLY be used as a core broadband solution (rather than as an add-on to create the wireless cloud for mobility, access from any device, anywhere etc) if there is no way it can EVER be financially viable to reach a specific hamlet/remote village even if the civils were done by the locals eg capex of fibre, etc.

And even then, the economics to prove non-viability MUST include the benefits to the local economy were that hamlet/village/market town to be fibred up and potentially every resident able to create a business, benefit from reduced cost telemedicine, or increased access to education, and thereby contribute into the national economy.

*The social capital must be weighed up with the capex and opex when assessing the financial viability of fibre. *

If remote and rural citizens cost LESS to the economy of UK Plc, once fibred
up, for the basics - health and education - than they do currently, that is
part of the economic equation which proves fibre viability. (Analysys Mason
was doing some work on this previously 2005/6 ish, I don't know if it was ever published.)

Whilst costing less, they can potentially become worth more through wealth creation once they have fibre in their daily diet. The assumption that the economics of fibre are all about the telcos' profits is deeply flawed, and there is plenty of data showing what happens when you use fibre to regenerate rural areas from right across the world now.

Deploying fibre in rural areas first is a no-brainer. I and others have now been proven right that demand in rural areas is highest, with Ofcom's own statistics showing this for starters. As I have always said, the low hanging fruit is not in cities at all - that is a total fallacy.

What we should be looking at is:

Mutual Community Interest Asset Ownership – CIAO

Let us as a Fibre Nation say CIAO to outdated exploitative business models and JFDI the right way.

Yours etc

1 comment:

Cyberdoyle said...

Rock on!
I hope he reads your letter...