Thursday, 10 March 2011
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
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