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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

France vs UK (via Surrey and Lancashire)

France has approximately twice the landmass of UK (551,500 sq km vs 244,101 sq km), but approximately the same population. Ergo, the UK FTTH figure of £28Bn -the veracity of which was challenged on the first day it was published - aka the Big Lie, can now be laid to rest on the basis of a simple calculation. But there's more.....

This blog post can be read at

The French have calculated that ubiquitous FTTH for France would be 30Bn euros, (according to the Tactis report which Benoit has kindly translated for us). FTTH costs reduce in more dense populations, according to the telcos themselves, and the evidence from new entrants and community deployments is bringing install figures ever further down too.

However, even ensuring that the figure for UK ubiquitous FTTH is a more rational, logical and realistic number (not one that has been pulled out of the air to justify the telcos' reluctance to let us see any light), it would seem that many countries, not just in EU but also including the USA, are facing a telco/incumbent fight for life. After all, there are plenty of new entrants who are showing that the trad olde worlde telco model is on the brink of collapse.

The USA is seeing more and more anti-muni FTTH bills being pushed forwards by telco syndicates, whilst those countries within the EU who are suffering from telco apathy (see the league tables from FTTH Council to pick those out) are facing what are beginning to look remarkably like 'dirty tricks' campaigns.

Yes, we know the telcos need to make a living, but no company should be able to hold a country, its citizens and all other businesses to ransom. Be they banks, oil companies, or telcos holding the hostages. There needs to be a level of regulation and protection in place to prevent such occurrences. In the UK, we appear to be seeing a massive failure of the elected ones in OurSociety in exercising rational thought and joined up thinking to prevent corporate greed leading us very severely astray.

In Lancashire, it seems likely that the County Council will follow Cornwall blindly into the 'non-light' of FTTC with a few handouts of FTTH/FTTP where it suits the bid winner's books. (And yes, we are dying to be proven wrong, but it didn't happen with ADSL and is even less likely to this time around). A live webstream from a recent Lancashire County Council meeting (1hr35) should give sufficient cause for concern that any bids for the procurement process will be treated with impartial scrutiny and that the correct decision for the present and future generations of inhabitants and business people of that county will be made. In Surrey, since my visit last week, the goings on during the death throes of the public body that used to be the lead broadband agency almost beggar belief.

Both these counties have awarded RDPE funding to far-sighted and innovative community projects, only to withdraw it, even after an official grant offer has been made in SEEDA's case. The reason? Well, it is hard to judge on much more than hearsay and supposition as it would seem that our public civil servants, whose wages we as taxpayers pay, are being bound to silence under NDA.

The future of broadband in this country is NOT a matter of commercial sensitivity, but of NATIONAL INTEREST. NDAs have no place in this quandary of appalling broadband that the telcos have lumbered us with.

We appear to have the axe of State Aid, which other EU nations seem considerably less afeared of than us, being brandished in the direction of career civil servants, councils and public bodies. Not by the EU - ho no, but by those who would be most threatened were said public bodies to apply State Aid as other countries have in the case of broadband. Following that are what look remarkably like empty promises, filling the gap behind the swoosh of that weapon.

Is this how we plan to become the greatest broadband nation? Are we going to cower in fear as yet another bunch of corporates take this country to the cleaners, aided and abetted by often well-meaning people who are undoubtedly concerned about their own futures, but seemingly less so about those they are employed to serve?

There are many people in this country who have been here before, not just in the broadband world, but in a multitude of other sectors. It is time for a radical, perhaps even maverick, approach to this society's problems. Getting IT right with the broadband deployment this country needs would not only rejuvenate the economy, but might perhaps help out the many other sectors where similar tales of woe and corporate manipulation of our public purse are all too apparent.

Let us hope that no other counties or regions follow the lead of the 'pioneers'. If very recent history has anything to teach us, it is likely that time will show that they have been misled. Luckily, or sadly, depending on your viewpoint, those responsible are likely to have left the building.


chris said...

agree totally, and if anyone wants to see the relevant excerpt of the Lancashire CC meeting where it is plainly obvious who is taking the funding just check the short utube exerpt here:
Will the last innovator leaving the country please turn out the lights?

PhilT said...

The key statistic is how much area the people live in, which I don't have to hand but I do recall that France has a fairly concentrated population (ie most of them in urban areas) so the addition of lots of empty space to the overall population density calculation isn't that helpful either way.

The Benoit link doesn't work, does but isn't the same thing.

PhilT said... works - missing L off the end of yr link.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

It appears we (& Government agencies) are probably being held to ransom by the incumbent with no clear intention or timescale and a rigid monopolistic approach, rather than running a defined and properly project-managed solution including some pilot FTTP, all to be completed at the latest by November 2011.

Never mind, we can all be comfortable that we've just spent 11 long months of very challenging work getting nowhere !