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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Has broadband improved?

PING!This is the 5ttH space back online. I had this rather optimistic hope that the broadband issues would be over by now and Fiver To The Home (5ttH) would be happily in hibernation except as an historic archive. I guess I am just (mainly) deluded!
This blog post can be read at

So. Oh dear. Really? Is this where we are at in autumn 2015? How very embarrassing. For UK at least.

One would have hoped - especially reading back to 2008, 2009 and 2010 (which is when BDUK hit the media) -that by now we might be on the path to recovery. After all, even I had done 10 years campaigning for broadband by 2008 and our illustrious gurus (whose names I will bring up in future posts) had already got a further 20 years under their belts by then since the pre-1984 debacle.

We should be: Fibre in the ground, way past the "It is not fibre if it is copper" argument and seeing some seriously funky delights coming out of gigabit homes/bedrooms and inspired minds once we got past the scarcity model and made bandwidth abundant.

Um. No?

Oh look. For those of you were not about the first time UK PLC bailed BT out to fund "broadband"

2 points here:

1) Back then (1998 onwards) we wanted broadband defined by the 1984 definition: 2 Mbps symmetrical, capable of transmitting and receiving synchronously (at the same time) voice, video and data
- you got ADSL (which clearly still in 2015 does none of the above)

2) We all wanted to see a chance for alt techs to flourish, then as now. Do not even get me started on the alt community wireless networks that were deliberately taken out in the last pass. And not just by the industry. The wireless cloud over your head should, BY NOW, be in place. Technically, it is a doddle. Even in the London Underground. And it should be fibre fed...

So, now it seems that in autumn 2015, bandwidth is still scarce, broadband is still not fit for purpose, and laughably, the political parties have just learnt the term "4th Utility" during their conferences last month. (First used here in early 2010 after I think we bandied it about as a common term at the Newark Colloquium which was held autumn 2009 I think? Tref might remember the exact date....)

Anyhoo, 6+ years after we all took on board the absolute that was "broadband" (yes, I do know precisely what I have just written!) and named it "4th utility", our delightfully well-educated (expensive but shallow?) top dogs have finally heard of the term that is used to jam down even the thickest necks that this utility is REQUIRED. Understanding of delivery of said term? Still approaching zero from all appearances!

Really, I wish I could laugh more than I feel inclined to. Clearly, our telcos are still kicking the ball around in the dirt and our Honourable and wotsit fellows are a wee bit behind the times. (Like 40 generations or more of their ermine once they get promoted). And freedom of speech in the UK is now so restricted that what I would like to say would undoubtedly end me up in jail.

[My translator - I am learning new languages whilst typing - just read "in Wales" into my ear for ´in jail´ in the sentence above! I like Wales.] However, last week, when talking to someone from Washington and explaining that a new case of Mad Cow Disease had just been found in Wales, I suddenly found myself up against, "It can be caught by whales now too?" Sometimes, only the written word is sufficient but it clearly is NOT when explaining broadband or we might have reached more folk in 20 years.

For at least 15 of those, I have iterated (and re-iterated) that, "Broadband cannot be explained in words".

Thousands of politicians, PR, marketing, journalists etc folk need to TRY broadband before they write about it. Not some half-assed asymmetrical rubbish that a telco claims on behalf of their shareholders is "broadband "* (as long as no-one else is using it, you are 19m from the exchange, rubbish, rubbish, excuses etc) , but B4RN or Chattanooga: gigs up and down.

How on earth am I ever going to explain in words the moment when, after a decade or more of watching NO film EVER download, no chance of ever photoshopping a pic and uploading it, no bandwidth to upload even an animated gif to be honest, how do I say what it is like when a 3D HD version of Avatar downloaded in the back of a camper in Utah, dropped onto the screen before you had even found the kettle to make the tea? And not just a trailer - although I was in one at the time in my parlance - but a NOC on wheels and the entire film downloaded there and then. That was the first time I experienced a gigabit - they were lucky to keep the camper van after that! And then we uploaded. Oh B....a....b....y!

Really, you need to JFDI. It seems the vast majority of journos, Ofcom, MPs etc have never ever seen a symmetrical gig in use, ever. But will spout unbelievable rubbish about ´world class´connectivity at you, even when you have just used something better in Outer Mongolia in a gert surrounded by yaks than BT can muster in Hertfordshire within clear line of sight of London.

Quite happy to blow £1-8Bn of public money (that is yours, you know) but don´t know what a substandard version of it CANNOT do as they haven´t ever actually taken it out for a drive. Sigh.

I love uninformed folk who tell me a Lada Niva is identical to a Ferrari. Whilst I still think the BBC should put on a prime time tech show, I actually wish Chris Evans the best of luck with Top Gear. As has been proven - somewhat graphically recently - the easy to understand emissions statements you spout from the supplier are not always truthful are they? Well, neither are the broadband figures. And the sooner you grasp that, the better for your viewers, readers, customers etc.

So, with that short intro, I´m back. Bored of listening to the dross coming from media, government, Murphy and others. If anyone else wants to contribute to the blog, let me know. Otherwise, you have me to listen to. And, as you already know, when I choose to, I rant about broadband! You can choose to tune out. It is one of the rather wonderful things about the world. It is out there. You do not need to be by your screen or reading what I CHOOSE to write!

It is MY samizdat after all ;)

1 comment:

chris said...

Welcome back. Found a nice graphic for Bill. Pinned it.