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Thursday, 25 February 2010


Yes, you read that right. Greater than 2 gigabits per second. Not 2Mbps. (Take note: UK USC/USO supporters)

There are too many people here in Lisbon who are not stymied by incumbent telco interests or vintage tech and network asset sweating. Conversations, panel sessions, presentations and documents are flying around this conference about "Think big, think a gig", bandwidth hungry apps etc to NOT have people putting slides up about ONGOING testbeds for applications and services which will use greater than 2 gig.

Portugal, which has a government supported FTTH network already reaching 1.8M people now, have a test bed/innovation space to discover TODAY what apps will be the killer apps in the 'much greater than current connectivity' space. And these guys have FTTH and fat pipes. UK, just to rub it in, has <3000 FTTH connections. Singapore, Korea and many other countries are moving to a level of connectivity, now, that the British are going to struggle to dream about for a generation yet at this rate.

One of the saddest things as a Brit that I saw today was a slide showing where the UK fit in competition vs technology. We are bottom of the bottom. We do not have competition when assessed against other countries and we are using prehistoric technology.

Whilst other countries already have applications which use bandwidth as though it was some soon to be non-existent fuel, the UK has......tell me? What?

We have nothing to show off at conferences like this. The UK is, unsurprisingly, absent from presentations and talks at this conference. As it was in Copenhagen, Amsterdam etc etc. Except, we (and I say 'we' very loosely because I can hide behind foreign languages to lose my nationality when I have to) continue to lie to our countrymen about the state of the nation.

If anyone else tries to tell me that the UK is some digitally advanced nation this year, I am probably going to cash in my remaining premium bond and send them to Romania, Estonia, northern Sweden, Korea, or some similarly difficult terrain for a Brit, to prove that we have NOTHING to boast about.

Actually, if broadband becomes an election issue, you could all join and help and we will send every single PPC to a foreign country to see the truth on this. It would quieten the hustings no end.

I have become increasingly embarrassed over the years at FTTH events. Is Britain so insular it can't see the reality and truth of the situation? I know it isn't just me who is taking time out to visit projects elsewhere and learn what we need to do. I was involved in wireless in Bolivia in 2004/5 that delivered more than much of the UK 'enjoys' today as far as broadband-enabled services. We are a developing nation, lagging monstruously behind many others who we have been disparaging about (and continue to be) on other issues, whilst remaining seemingly blind to our own shortfalls.

We have NOTHING in the UK as far as broadband goes. Not even yesterday's broadband. We certainly have nothing approaching tomorrow's broadband. We pride ourselves on our regulatory environment, yet the regulatory meeting today showed Ofcom to be the most backward thinking of all EU regulators. I do not think I am alone in thinking that by any means.

Britain's failure to even attempt to play catch up has been a subject of conversation all day. For many, the UK is a laughing stock in the broadband game. We aren't even in the FTTH endgame, whatever telcos, ministers and spinmeisters tell you. In fact, speaking several languages well enough to eavesdrop on conversations around you at events like this is just painful.

There is a genuine feeling of non-comprehension about the UK approach to FTTH and connectivity for today and the future. Whilst everyone pushes ahead, what the ROW sees is that Britain is talking (sorry Dad) crap.

We seem to be as blind as our closest ally, the Americans, about how the world views the isle we live on and those who live on it. Binge drinking, a failure to cope with even the most minor crisis (usually weather related), high crime rates and teen stabbings, lack of respect when abroad, poor education and 11 year olds who can't read or write, patients who would rather travel to a country where they have no chance of speaking the language than to be treated at home, appalling behaviour in our streets, homes, communities, at football matches, etc etc.

Many people in other countries think Britain and the British are truly dreadful. We do little to dispel that opinion....

>2Gbps is where we need to be looking NOW. Not 2Mbps. If we are so deluded we can't accept that this is what is now PROVEN to be required for applications and services that make all the difference to the people and businesses of a country, then what are we doing? Who are we letting guide the UK on the taming of the broadband beast? Do they have even half a clue about what is happening elsewhere? Are the advisors at this conference? Do they understand what the technology enables and why we need it? Are we just letting an incumbent stall all innovation to protect the corporate rather than national interest?

Or are we operating in such an unlit and dark hole, devoid of any interaction with the rest of the world, that we really are as utterly clueless as we appear to many people at this conference?

I hate to believe that this might be the reality of the situation but after 15 years, and watching UK fibre companies close and/or relocate to other countries, is the truth that we have actually lost the plot? Because my fear is that if I accept that the UK really is as bad as it looks from over here, then it's time to join the many thousands of skilled digital people who have already left.

Is it time to admit defeat and say, "So long and thanks for all the ghoti?"


Cyberdoyle said...

Don't lose heart. The JFDI crew are alive and kicking, we will make them get IT eventually. See you at the colloquium...

halo said...

wonder if i can get a copy of the presentation you saw - where was it and do you know who did it - i would like the stats to show at the Digital Inclusion Conference