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Monday, 23 February 2009

First Mile Fibre

Getting the first mile of fibre into the ground here in the UK seems to be a major issue that keeps getting derailed by talks of FTTC, astronomical sums that are unproven guestimates, and irrelevant side issues, such as creating competition.

The more I think about the FTTH conference, the more that "H" strikes me as being the most important part of the equation. Whilst telcos and government agencies get all tied up in knots over the hows and whys and how muches, the real issue is about getting homes (and hence real people) connected.

We keep hearing about connections to public sector, business parks and so on, but all of that is sort of missing the point. If public sector have fab connectivity, then great, but public sector is made up of civil servants who are there, serve the public. Businesses cannot operate without customers. No point having a whizz bang website that you host yourself from within your high speed business park for reduced cost if none of your potential customers can actually access it.

So, although these types of orgs may be able to communicate at speeds some of us can only dream about, the fact is that the poor old public tend to get forgotten. It is to be hoped that public sector will stop thinking of itself as some sort of top level in the hierarchy and remember its prime purpose - to serve the public. And considering that is usually done using our money (the taxpayers), I think it is time for many to re-consider the current approach. Ditto the perceived importance of businesses. We would have an awful lot more businesses in the UK if half of our kids could run the online businesses they seem to want to from their bedrooms. (I speak from experience as a mum!)

There may be issues about sharing the infrastructure that is already existent, whether to schools or unis, public sector agencies and organisations and so on, let alone getting on with the job required and getting the first and middle mile fibre in. But we hear ridiculous arguments about security (a red herring as any network admin will tell you), or costs (is it not time some of this public money and historical investment actually generated ROI?), or contracts (tear them up and start again and think community/consumer when writing them), complexity of the job, and untold other crap designed to kerfuffle us and make us believe it just can't be done. Other countries have solved the problems, as we heard in Denmark.

So, it can be done, and it is time to JFDI. On that note, many thanks to Draka for my first "mile" of fibre!

Now to start digging. Only another mile and a bit (2.4km for the non-UK readers!) to go to get to that mostly unused fibre in the railway line .....

1 comment:

markpurdom said...

I cannot disagree... of course not. God, I would pay to roll the fibre down my street. BUT... while we feel hard done by because our incumbent wants to roll our FTTC and not FTTH we should remember two things:

1. FTTC is a step towards FTTH, it is not as if that is a regressive step
2. It is our government who are really lagging behind here. After all they have offered little incentive to the existing operators to extend their NGA plans and offer little for new entrants to ease the financial burden. They also seem to have bought in to the 2Mbit/s by 2012 as an acceptable national average which is so far fetched to be beyond funny.

So... IMO, lobby your government, your local MP, your local councils - if Obama can offer up $7bn to support telecom development in the US then surely Brown can find something?