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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Digital Peninsula gets um NGA?

Quelle surprise (not) - BT win the Cornwall bid
This blog post can be read at

OK, how are we going to define NGA if the BBC and the incumbent continue to define TODAY'S connectivity as 'next generation'? Up to 40Mbps and up to 100Mbps are NOT and never can be next generation. After all, there are far too many who have far more than this in 2010 - Chattanooga, Hong Kong, Korea - the list is endless.

The statement that this will give Cornwall a head start is IMHO misleading to EVERYONE. Head start on who exactly? Certainly not those already in the FTTH Council EU league table - Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic etc. Even the Shetland Islands are putting in fibre.

How long are we going to permit a continuance of this hype and what are tantamount to outright lies? The UK is light years behind (literally, when it comes to fibre to the home) and the sooner we accept that and up our gameplan, the better. Up to 40Mbps in 2014 is simply not going to solve the problem. We are back to the sweating the copper asset game again with this latest tender announcement.

And let's consider again the BBC report:

The aim is to give between 80% and 90% of businesses and homes access to fibre broadband by 2014, the project's partners say.

Followed two paragraphs later by:

The project, which includes the Isles of Scilly, would see direct fibre optic connections to half of the county's businesses and homes, allowing download speeds of up to 100Mbps (megabytes per second)(sic), managers said.

So, (breathe in) 80-90% (breathe out) 50%. Who is going to pay to upgrade the half who are not getting FTTH? Is BT going to sub-loop unbundle in all the cabinets and let the community dig their own fibre? How far are some of the street cabs from rural properties? Can we see some facts and figures about the likely connectivity the most rural and remote are likely to get? And when might that upgrade from copper to fibre be likely to occur? Because if I was sitting in Cornwall today in one of the likely 'uneconomically viable according to BT' locations, I think I'd start looking for a property in Latvia.

And don't get me started on why there is, as ever, no mention of that all important factor for true next gen - SYMMETRY.

Fibre broadband means that you have fibre to the consumer, not to some part of your network, be that a cabinet, exchange or anything else. Just because Virgin Media got past the ASA with this manipulation/mangling of the English language, doesn't mean it should be permitted to continue.

Yes, there is still a 10Mbps internet, but moves are afoot which will see an upgrade in that, (IPv6 etc) and all we are doing by spending our money on short-term gains is wasting what little cash there is available. And worse, giving it to a player whose motives, whilst understood, are NOT for the long-term benefit of UK Plc. Other areas take note.


chris said...

Its like Barry said at the Rural broadband conference, there will only be one bite at the cherry, and poor cornwall has got suckered.

chris said...

interesting that so many sites are still calling it megabyte instead of megabit. Well spotted! Send them one of your megabuckets? Interesting also that they must read your blogpost because they have changed it to megabits now. LOL.
wonder if WW has spotted it yet?

Anonymous said...

I am just writting a very long article about NGA definitions for Some of the feedback we've had from government organisations would probably make your eyes bleed but I'll drop a note when it's online :) .

chris said...

look forward to seeing it, post a link asap. Strange how few people in government know what broadband/internet access is all about. Strange how easy they can be conned by the telcos. Strange how they won't listen to the grassroots and still believe the hype. strange world.

Anonymous said...

Just to emphasise the points in the original article, observe the reaction of the incumbent in Erbistock - a tiny village of only 80 houses and therefore of no economic threat. They wait until a FTTC solution is about to go live and then offer to transfer phone lines to a nearer exchange, thus jeopardising the local investment and potentially leaving any unaware residents lumbered for evermore with a download sync speed of 1 to 4 Mbps.

Cybersavvy UK said...

@arthur - we saw all this type of behaviour the first time round too.

I recall the LS29 community network had their leased line on order (from BT, of course) which was about to cost them a staggering amount of money, because BT hadn't even set a trigger level for their area. Literally days before the line was delivered, BT announced a trigger level had been set, and it was then miraculously met almost the same day. The community network pulled out, after months and months of work, engaging the community, stimulating demand etc etc.

There was no way they could compete, particularly as the BT marketing machine went into overdrive and hit every house in the area with marketing bumph. I could tell at least 15 similar stories, and find it depressing that BT are repeating the process again.

The saddest part is that many of the first gen networks would have been on an upgrade path that was far in advance of BT's (then and now) and many communities would probably have had fibre in prior to this had they not been constantly undermined by the incumbent, hype, misinformation etc etc.