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Thursday, 3 July 2008

Consumers WANT fibre

Point Topic's latest report shows that consumers are taking up fibre broadband as a first choice where available over other technologies.

Point Topic's report

It is hard to know how loudly us consumers need to shout to show demand for fibre optic broadband connectivity, but we are often drowned out by those who would prefer us not to have it - for a variety of reasons.

The telcos are not keen as it means digging deep for capex investment, and then being forced to dispel the 'false scarcity' myth about bandwidth that they have propagated for oh so long. Policy makers are not keen on us consumers having such freedoms - imagine unlimited uploads, speedy communications between citizens - oh, what chaos we could cause (in their minds). Regulators are generally behind the times rather than ahead of the game, and their jobs would be so much harder if forced to catch up and keep up. And sort out some of the self-inflicted, restrictive regulations they have short-sightedly implemented.

However, when hard evidence is produced that consumers are taking up fibre optic broadband, where the choice is available, over other technologies, it is time for the above mentioned parties to get their acts together and get with it.

This is not about shareholders of private companies NOT getting their money back - the business case is surely so strong in other nations who have JFDI with FTTH/x that that argument has been well and truly gazumped is not about whether our Department of Trade and Industry (thoughtfully renamed as DataBase ERRor recently) understands how businesses need to operate and why we need FTTH/B/x/village (call it what you will)....this is not about whether those in Ofcon can justify their jobs any longer...or whether those in government and policy makers etc can grasp how the real world operates....

this is about every stakeholder in the UK, the citizens and consumers and communities and businesses who make up UK PLC being able to compete and communicate in the global economy and society.

How much evidence is required to make people in this country make common sense decisions and make FTTH happen?

The Point Topic research clearly shows that as far as VFM goes, FTTH wins hands down, both for the telcos and the consumers. Low take-up clearly relates to low availability eg in the UK where we have less FTTH available than anywhere else outside of Mongolia or the Sahara as far as I can see. (tongue firmly in cheek but you know what I mean!)

16 million people in the UK are, according to Point Topic, currently broadband subscribers. How many of those are saddled (as I am) with far less than 2Mbps down and a poxy 256kbps up, or just a connection that doesn't do what it needs to, and are frustrated in the extreme by what we are being sold as broadband? And paying up to 15 times more for an asymmetric joke than we would be for fibre optic connectivity?

A simple sum shows that 16million subscribers into the supposed £16bn for FTTH to EVERYONE is £1000 each.

OK, so here's an offer. As one of the 16 million with something I have been sold as broadband which isn't, I pledge my £1000 right now to pay for my bit of FTTH and help subsidise the other 9million or so homes and businesses who have suffered from the appalling IT education in this country and therefore don't understand just what FTTH or true broadband will mean to us all. Or who can't get anything approaching broadband and are stuck on dial up - like all my neighbours 1 mile away, everyone in the Notspot survey, on the BBC website broadband comments section, on the many broadband discussion forums, in MPs inboxes etc etc.

Part 2 of the offer is that I will go and find at least 5 people who don't have broadband and talk them into adding into the pot to make up for some of the 16 million people who may not have £1000 to donate into a central co-op to make FTTH happen in this country.

On the condition that this network is owned by us, the users. Not by a monopoly as seems to be being touted by WIK and Vivien Reding this week, or in BTs dreams, nor Government owned cos sorry, guys, but you are making such a hash of things that no-one trusts you to run a private piss-up in a subsidised Westminster bar right now.

Owned and run by the users.

Britain is the home of co-ops (think Rochdale Pioneers), they run successfully throughout the world, and it is the only way UK Plc is going to get what is required.

Everyone can have a piece of the pie - the telcos can play on an Open Public Local Access Network, those who want to deliver services can do so to every customer they find, the Treasury can take its cut from taxes etc from the regenerated economy, we will all benefit from the environmental benefits (FTTH is cheaper in electrickery than DSL for starters), and everyone is a winner.

Where fibre is not immediately simple or as vital, we will build a wireless network to reach those who have other choices to start with eg urban areas. It's called

FiWi Pie

and everyone can have a slice of this fibre-wireless mix.

Cherry pick those of us who are desperate for FTTH, in rural areas, where services of any description are being cut by the day (last week our Post Offices closures were announced, this week it is our public phone boxes here in Cumbria), small businesses, teleworkers, those of us who really, really need this to exist.

Leave the cities for now, they have plenty of better access to real and virtual services, and can't even exhibit the demand us ruralites already have.

Is it really so difficult?

Here's Emtelle's moleplough - they are a British company who have done FTTH elsewhere in the world, whilst kicking their heels waiting for the UK to catch up. I'll dig my own trench... vamos!

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