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Thursday, 10 March 2011

The FTTH Pledge Pot

I believe (Blimey, sound like someone else!) that there is an appetite to invest in order to resolve the broadband issue. And, oh dearest Coalition, I think you may be making it harder than it need be.

This blog post can be read at

My belief in how to ensure that the UK has ubiquitous, accessible and affordable true broadband has never faltered. The Access to Broadband Campaign was built on the most solid of foundations, and I believe that all we pushed for in 2000-2004 stands solid today. AFAIK, the website and all the incredible content that we created, and which has fed into so much of today's thinking, is still there as reference material.

However, it is time to overcome an issue that is so simple to solve, so obvious a barrier, and so vitally important to resolve, if we are to succeed with Next generation broadband.


Someone, somewhere, decided that Local Authorities, in the midst of massive and comprehensive budget cuts, and with no experience of telecoms or even knowledge of the last decade of broadband revelations, would be the most appropriate to "bring up to speed" and pilot solutions for an issue of such huge import as "Final Third First".

Knowing what effect next generation broadband has both socially and economically, someone, somewhere, chose to dump this firework into the laps of people who cannot possibly be expected to understand 25 years of FTTH, let alone 120 years of telecoms, in a few months, whilst also operating in what can only be called a "public sector war zone".

From the outside, it looks like the majority of people are trying to stick to the "Keep Calm and Carry On" ethos, whilst keeping their heads low so they are not caught in the crossfire of budget cuts and lay offs.That is entirely understandable - you too have mouths to feed, and mortgages/rent to pay.

The 4 BDUK pilots have not yet, in six whole months, actually been introduced to each other AFAIK. Online or offline. There has been no meeting that would permit these public sector bods, who are also citizens and consumers once out of their suits, a chance to talk to one another about common problems, issues faced with the procurement etc. Let alone bringing together the "Big Society" who have clearly established their wont to be involved in making the right decision with this money from the public purse.

There is no use of the premium channel we are endeavouring to build access to - t'interweb- so these 4 pilot communities can meet each other, talk, discuss, find solutions etc.

And there is certainly no-one out there saying "How do we get best value from this BBC License Fee money?"

Where are the business planners, showing all of us how the pilots will benefit us? Where are the economists, serial entrepreneurs, experienced commercial operators?

Where is the one single person asking ME, as a resident of this pilot area, how much I am willing to invest in a solution?

Why ask BT? Why not ask me first?

I run a business. Every single farm in Eden/Cumbria, Hereford, Scotland and North Yorkshire is a business. There are thousands of businesses in these 4 counties. We can invest against tax. We can make informed business choices. We run businesses, day in and day out.

Has a single one of us been asked how much WE are willing to put into the pot to ensure that we build a next generation infrastructure that will not force our children away from this area? Into education, work, houses etc away from their homes?

We care. We know how to make profits, even when times are really rough. We know what certain solutions are worth to us, to our families, to businesses, to our communities. And therefore what we are able to put into the Pot.

Are you really going to ignore all of us, sideline us, gag us, so that contracts can be given to companies who have zero interest in our children, our schools, our Parishes, our neighbours, our livelihoods and our communities?


I pledge here and now, from my Eden-based internet marketing business, £5,000 towards building a next generation broadband network within Eden that meets all of the State Aid Guidelines, and is community-owned. (Whether as a Trust, co-op etc).

I hope that it will be on a long-term investment basis, because I am proud to live here, and I know that FTTH is a viable, sound, economic investment for anyone. However, if it has to be a legacy from which I, in my lifetime, see no return, then I will GIFT this money because I appreciate all that the generations before me have done to leave legacies of land, buildings, funds, Reading Rooms, co-ops, Aid funds etc. In both Eden and Wensleydale, the evidence of previous generation's generosity is impossible to ignore.

It is surely our task to continue the work that the previous generations started in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Herefordshire and Scotland to ensure the well-being of our children?

I know I will not be alone, any more than my mother was with her railways - SCR and WCR.

So, I pledge £5000 for an Eden True Broadband Solution.

(And vultures, stay away. You have all been circling far too close recently.)

We can JFDI Pledge Pot Proposal


PhilT said...

BDUK needs a Community Manager and some digital engagement tools, for sure.

Their website is at least low cost (from its appearance), but well behind the times and selective in its information.

Anonymous said...


Yes indeed.

BDUK can really help to make future-proof Digital Services reach further and happen faster by stimulating what really matters:


Alan Srbljanin at EMDA developed a very useful toolkit several years ago that is just as valid a starting point today.

Available here

Anonymous said...

As a telecommunications business currently operating in Eden then NextGenUs is happy to pledge its support to work together with local businesses and residents to provide a future-proof service owned and operated in the community interest.

Cybersavvy UK said...

@PhilT - I have the greatest respect for the endeavours of the on-the-ground BDUK team, especially Mike Kiely.

However, I have this feeling that BIS have been forced to rush this all through to be 'seen to be doing things' by ukgovt and grab a few headlines. Whilst knowing full well that a procurement process can take at least a year to complete under OJEU.

Preparation, communication and transparency would (have) all improve(d) the situation instead of rushing in headlong....rectification of the problem could occur at any time. (Until Friday at least in Cumbria).

Cybersavvy UK said...

@fibreguy - "...owned and operated in the community interest".

Who will be owning and operating our network in our interest, out of interest?

Cybersavvy UK said...

Thanks to Ian Grant on Digital Dividend for pointing out the basic I had omitted to spell out.

If private sector are to invest in FTTH, you need to talk to us - local businesses.

Whoever you are - govt funds, telcos, councils, public sector projectsetc.

Businesses in the Final Third *are* farms, home-run, e-commerce, teleworkers, SMEs and micro-businesses.

Ignore us at your peril. Potentially we can make this work. Or fail, if you choose the wrong solution. A 7% take up for FTTC surely, surely, tells you something about (investor) confidence in the solution.

Cybersavvy UK said...

I'd like to ensure that Mason get their justified mention for developing the toolkit too. An FOI request would show how much it cost to produce. It was due to be launched and promoted at the End Game conference in 2005, and only a very few, lucky people even know it exists.

PhilT said...

I can't get the toolkit from that link, have emailed emda to ask if I'm missing something obvious.

The FTTC takeup is interesting, there appears to be a reluctance to pay for extra speed but more importantly many of the cabinets are going into residential LLU served areas where large proportions of consumers are on Sky or Talk Talk who aren't yet offering FTTC services. When they and other ISPs come online takeup will follow.

PhilT said... is a dropbox link to the pdf file with the EMDA / Analysys Mason toolkit.

Somerset said...

The low FTTC take up is in a VM area where not all LLU operators are part of FTTC.


50% of the UK have VM, 66% FTTC could include most of the VM areas so that leaves 16% where FTTC is a new concept.

Like it or not but many people would not pay more for faster broadband, which makes it all very complicated...

Love the question to NGU! So they are not a business that does not want to work with its customers.

Pledging support is not the same as £5000!

Anonymous said...


"Who will be owning and operating our network in our interest, out of interest?"

Depends who builds it, pays for it and how the repayment is structured.

If NextGenUs builds then how much that costs depends on whether there is ongoing revenue in which case the capital cost reduces otherwise the build costs proportionately more.