This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
There are multiple previous posts on the fibre tax on this blog, all bewailing the fact that the Government (previous ones) had failed to comprehend:
- the distortion caused by the current system towards the incumbent and against new entrants
- the cost to the UK economy of failing to address the problem by severely limiting fibre deployment
- the lunacy of not adopting a system which favours the brave with the UK well-being at heart rather than the "corporate canny" with their own shareholder interests
Aidan Paul, Vtesse Networks, at our colloquium in Newark showed in simple graphs what the current fibre rating system means for BT.
In came the coalition and, with it, hopes that the rhetoric preceding the election wasn't just hot air, and that some common sense would exhibit itself in the decisions made by the new bunch at Westminster. BUT, Ed Vaizey has decided, after constructive talks with VOA (constructive for WHOM, one has to ask?), to not review the rating lists.
There is plenty of evidence from other countries who have taken specific routes to deal with the fibre rating issue that once this barrier to deployment is removed, the revenue which is (would have been) forthcoming to the coffers from fibre tax is a DROP IN THE OCEAN compared to that generated directly and indirectly from the use of fibre, to the GDP, GNP and NNI. So, we see increased value in and from the commercial sector (eg businesses), considerable savings to the health service and within education delivery, benefits for citizens (both in personal savings and opportunities generated), plus a huge reduction in costs for delivering government services.
As if all those factors should not be sufficient to convince any government to deal with the problem so fibre deployment happens sooner rather than later, the environmental impact of FTTH alone is such that it becomes a no-brainer vs any type of copper or alt telecoms solution.
What seems to be becoming increasingly clear is that it is over 20 years since *any* government in this country really got the importance of fibre to this country's citizens and economy. This realisation (or lack of) is now causing the UK to lag behind many other nations, not just meaning that the technical deployment is hindered by factors such as outdated and unnecessary regulation, but our overall IT awareness is similarly hampered by the lack of access to a communications infrastructure which is capable of doing a 21st century job.
You cannot even begin to understand the impact, for example, telemedicine has on (let's start small and expand the ripples) a single patient --> a regional Health Department --> the NHS in general and hence this country's well-being if it cannot and does not reach any patients at all.
We have thousands of digitally reluctant in this country - "Oooh no, I wouldn't know where to start with a computer" and really, who can blame them when the day to day benefits to each of those people cannot even be demonstrated because we don't have a single FTTH demo project in this country showing how the applications can and do work.
The only relief in all of this sorry tale is that there are communities who are JFDI anyway, and who are going to begin to increase the awareness in this country of what FTTH really means, despite the government's failure to support such projects and insistence on taking a short rather than long-term view.
The reality is that during your term in office, Mr Ed Vaizey and friends, we COULD deploy FTTH to the vast majority of this nation if the barriers to doing so were removed today. If we solved the USC issue with fibre and started in the most difficult areas rather than permitting corporate cherry picking, the marketplace would pick up, the economy could be assisted towards recovery, our businesses would not be at the severe disadvantage (as they are today), our school kids would receive a cybereducation similar to that of their peers in other countries, we could help to decrease our carbon footprint, etc etc etc etc.
The savings brought across the board by FTTH could then be spent on the services the citizens of this country require, and which are currently under threat.