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Friday 30 January 2009

Non-metallic networks

Read more! Whilst I can't agree with the seeming reliance on mobile operators to deliver the up to 2Mbps USO that was in Carter's Report recently, I think I may have finally found a way to explain FiWi to people, which I do believe is the future next gen solution.

It's all about non-metallic networks.

No metal. Dead easy.

The future has to be about a simple, redundant means to connect people that doesn't involve anything to do with copper, aluminium, coax or any other metallic medium.

You build a decent network with FTTH that has no bottlenecks etc and then over the top of it, you put a wireless (mesh) that solves the mobility, smart meter connections, ubiquity and all the rest of it issues.

The more I have thought about this the last few days and weeks, the more it seems to me that once we get rid of the metal, we will be closer to the right solution. "Next generation access or network" is a term which should only be used if it excludes entirely any metallic bits. Not in the CPE etc obviously but in the cable/wires etc which make up the network.

So, next time anyone says next gen to you, query the metallic content of the solution. If there is any, it isn't next generation.

Read more!

Monday 26 January 2009

Socio-economic impact of FTTH

Read more! There is an awful lot to look forward to at the FTTH Council Conference in Copenhagen in a few weeks time, but one of the highlights for me has to be the evidence promised in the new report from the Council and Ovum.

As I wrote in my open letter to Stephen Carter,

*The social capital must be weighed up with the capex and opex when assessing the financial viability of fibre. *

It looks as though this report may well provide enough data to finally do that, at which point surely FTTH becomes even more of a no-brainer?

This is what the "teaser" email says for anyone who has not received it:

The results and full report of a groundbreaking study into the socio-economic impact of European FTTH deployments, undertaken in conjunction with analyst firm Ovum, will be unveiled by the FTTH Council Europe at its annual conference in Copenhagen next month. The study has been carried out using a wide range of metrics that determine relative ‘prosperity’ and its correlation to FTTH deployments at the local/regional level.

In summary, the study will deliver definitive results to the following questions:

- Which socio-economic benefits does FTTH engender, and to what extent?

- How does FTTH change the way in which subscribers use telecommunications services?

- Does adopting FTTH increase customer satisfaction in broadband services?

“Advocates for FTTH frequently use the hypothesis that it enhances social inclusion and positively impacts the social and economic welfare of its consumers, and this study is designed to substantiate that claim once and for all,” explained Joeri Van Bogaert, President of the FTTH Council Europe. “This is one of the exciting new developments most keenly anticipated by our delegates who are looking forward to learning the results at next month’s conference.”

The study will test the presence of quality of life improvements among FTTH subscribers by using a large range of metrics (from levels of computer literacy to distributions of income/wealth), and validating these further via consumer interviews and surveys in order to provide accurate social commentary. The study will further apply detailed comparative analysis with areas not currently served by next-generation fibre broadband services. Full details of the study’s methodology and findings will be disclosed at next month’s annual conference.

Read more!

Carter Report delayed

Read more! When no sign of a press release by 1pm, I phoned DCMS.

"Good afternoon. Department of Culture, Media and Sport."

"Hi. Please can you put me through to Stephen Carter's office?"

"Can you spell the surname please?"

"C-A-R-T-E-R. Lord, Stephen, CBE."

"I can't seem to find him."

"You only have 4 Ministers, he is one of them. The Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting."

"Errrr, no. There is no record of him on the system."

"You don't know who he is? Haven't you heard of him?"


"He is in charge of the Digital Britain report."

"No, I can't say I have heard of that either. He doesn't show up on our system. I'll put you through to another switchboard and see if they know him...."

"Hello, DCMS."

"Hi, please can you put me through to Lord Stephen Carter's office?"

"Oh, I don't think they are in today. I think they are in BERR"

[I heard, "I think they are in bed" and nearly choked!].

"You will need to phone BERR." [Penny drops]

Phone BERR (pronounced 'Bear' now it seems. Maybe the jokes about the DTI being a thorn in our side have hit a raw nerve?) and get through to a spokesman at his office, finally.

The report will be produced by the end of the month. They won't go any further with nailing down an exact date. Not even to confirm "By the end of the week then?" "No, by the end of the month. That is all we will say publicly."

If we were to speculate on why this report isn't out today, the reasons would undoubtedly be manyfold.

So, it's back to the day job for me till the 'end of the month'. A job which of course I can't do as efficiently or innovatively as I would like because I don't have a good enough broadband connection to compete with others in the internet marketing industry who have. I am interested in this report, as are many other small business owners, parents, and rural inhabitants for personal reasons as much as anything.

But still no uploading promo videos to Youtube etc for my clients, today or any other in the near future. Shame, but it brightened up Monday morning pressing F5 and ringing departments whose PBX systems and staff don't know who their own Ministers are!

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The consistent lack of consumer and community input

Read more! Just before this Carter Report comes out, (any time now, am fed up with hitting f5 on the DCMS site!!) I was just looking again at the steering board. Although it is no doubt indeed made up of experts in their own fields, where are we being consulted, and our views represented? It seems rather telling once again that those driving the Digital Britain agenda fail to include consumer and community representatives.

I know it is an old beef of mine, but considering what a huge proportion of the nation we make up (ie 100%!!!), it occurs across the board.

ISTM that across policy making in general there is a failure to seek out and then listen to the voices of the people for whom the decisions will have the most impact, or be of the most concern. Where it does happen, many times it appears that it is just lip service being paid to our inclusion as stakeholders.

This doesn't just seem to be a Westminster Village lack of hearing aids, but across many councils and public sector bodies who seem to be too busy attending internal meetings to hear the views and opinions and concerns of those whom they are tasked to "serve" - I presume that is where the term 'civil servant' comes from.....

My inbox and phone over the last few days (as it has been now for a decade) have once again been flooded with people for whom broadband in this country is currently poor, and many of these people feel that they cannot be heard in resolving the issues and shaping the future.

These are not just people complaining. These are people with some pretty exciting ideas about how to solve the problems and move a broadband-enabled UK Plc forwards at the rate required. And you can find great consumer and community suggestions on every forum and website where broadband is mentioned, from The Register to the BBC, Samknows and ThinkBroadband, to consumer sites such as MoneySavingExpert and beyond.

Are they being heard?? Today may well give us that answer...

I've personally this week received suggestions about extending the gas pipelines whilst laying fibre; a levy instead of a USO to create a pot for the disconnected areas; auctioning off the content provision once the network has been built as a mutually owned utility; femto and pico cell suggestions for FiWi, etc. There have been queries about quotes for rural digs that have brought together farmers, landowners and digging experts to discuss the best route forward for JFDI dig where you live broadband. I have had a very interesting conversation at a Burn's Night do with a rural female (aged 60+) who puts most of us to shame in understanding the technicalities of her broadband problem and what she has done to try to solve it.

There are people in rural areas using the internet in ways that I suspect many in London (or even the local councils) are totally unaware of, because of rural isolation, poor employment prospects, lack of and/or a diminishing number of facilities townies take for granted, and so on. But it's not just in the countryside, necessity is breeding innovation in towns and cities too.

We need to find out what people are using the Net for, why those who don't use it don't, those who can't use it can't, and how to educate those people so they are included in our digital society.

This report is due imminently. I await it with a growing interest to see how and whether it has addressed many of the issues that face the citizens and businesses of this nation. Not just the media, broadcasters etc.

The UK, IMHO, is not made up of people just willing to sit back and consume ignorantly, but ever more apparently, it is becoming a nation where people want engagement, innovation and interactivity to bring the best for the population.

Action is and will be taken by those who know what is required and will find the way to do it from what I am hearing, if they have to. If it comes down to a repeat of "Dig for Victory", I think we may see that if this report misses the targets.

Back to hitting F5..........
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Thursday 22 January 2009

Property rating on fibre

Read more! Unlike some other countries, the UK has continued and will continue to charge property rates on fibre, which has caused no small problems in encouraging investment etc. Where the fibre is unlit, it is considered to be unrateable, but where it is being tested or is lit, it has rates charged on it, exactly as any other business premises.

The Valuations Office has issued a clarification of how property rating will be applied to NGA networks.

Read more!

Friday 16 January 2009

Open letter to Stephen Carter - One Fibre Nation

Read more! Dear Stephen Carter,

I hope you are well and your Digital Britain report is progressing nicely. Perhaps you might like to consider the points raised here when writing it and advising government?

Knowing, as we all do, that the EndGame is Fibre To Every Home, the new Universal Service Obligation (USO) is inadequate.

It simply doesn't up the broadband bar sufficiently (considering it may last as long as the previous - 28 years), nor does the inclusion of mobile broadband begin to solve the problems in rural areas; perversely, it is more likely to perpetuate the digital division and entrench a new digital class system.

The issue then is social cohesion and there is a very simple solution:

Acknowledge that there is market failure today and mandate that ALL rural areas be given primary focus with Gordon Brown's proposed infrastructure funding (let's just assume he is going to do that), and so your report needs to emphasise rural areas first with FIBRE from START to FINISH, from home to world - I have been saying this since my speech at BSG1 conference in Oct 2001.

The money should not go to the telcos directly - see the arguments on this elsewhere.

Certainly telcos, existing and emerging alike, should be able to bid to design, build, and operate eNdGAme Fibre. That is not an issue.

The point is who owns the resultant infrastructure assets.

If this is to be public (our/my) money being spent, then there will be an IOU to be paid for by future taxation, hence it is with the best interests of future generations in mind that we as a society must act now.

Wireless/mobile should ONLY be used as a core broadband solution (rather than as an add-on to create the wireless cloud for mobility, access from any device, anywhere etc) if there is no way it can EVER be financially viable to reach a specific hamlet/remote village even if the civils were done by the locals eg capex of fibre, etc.

And even then, the economics to prove non-viability MUST include the benefits to the local economy were that hamlet/village/market town to be fibred up and potentially every resident able to create a business, benefit from reduced cost telemedicine, or increased access to education, and thereby contribute into the national economy.

*The social capital must be weighed up with the capex and opex when assessing the financial viability of fibre. *

If remote and rural citizens cost LESS to the economy of UK Plc, once fibred
up, for the basics - health and education - than they do currently, that is
part of the economic equation which proves fibre viability. (Analysys Mason
was doing some work on this previously 2005/6 ish, I don't know if it was ever published.)

Whilst costing less, they can potentially become worth more through wealth creation once they have fibre in their daily diet. The assumption that the economics of fibre are all about the telcos' profits is deeply flawed, and there is plenty of data showing what happens when you use fibre to regenerate rural areas from right across the world now.

Deploying fibre in rural areas first is a no-brainer. I and others have now been proven right that demand in rural areas is highest, with Ofcom's own statistics showing this for starters. As I have always said, the low hanging fruit is not in cities at all - that is a total fallacy.

What we should be looking at is:

Mutual Community Interest Asset Ownership – CIAO

Let us as a Fibre Nation say CIAO to outdated exploitative business models and JFDI the right way.

Yours etc

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Thursday 15 January 2009

Public dosh for fibre?

Read more! More hints from Carter that there may be public money made available for investment in fibre. And how do those people who have been thinking about this for years get to input into the process and try to help prevent the government making a right royal cock up of this project too, out of interest?

Because if the money is handed out to the telcos, mobile operators etc, that is what we will inevitably see. Anyone know?
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Rural broadband horror stories wanted

Read more! The Country Land and Business Association is asking for all those who have rural broadband horror stories to get in touch with them, so that evidence can be presented to get the policy makers to accept the problems and deal with them.

Please, if you are in a rural area, firstly tell all your neighbours about this campaign, and secondly, get in touch with the CLA. Send a copy of the above article to your local press and get the word out to all rural residents and businesses so this issue can be properly brought out into the daylight and resolved.

Read more!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Broadband for all hint

Read more! Oh God, here we go again. Ameliorating the masses with mistruths. Carter hints at 'broadband for all' , but spot the caveat - some of it (read: much) over mobile.

Let's face it folks, if this announcement is as the article says, this is no symmetrical service on the horizon. It won't be close to 100Mbps, let alone heading for 1Gbps, and it won't be future proofed, nor true broadband.

If money is thrown into this, whether under the guise of creating employment or deploying a transformational utility, it should not all be given to the telcos and mobile operators, and where it is there should be an absolute insistence that the money is spent where there is little or no low hanging fruit ie the rural areas and the best possible solution should be installed. That is FIBRE, as well as FiWi where the dig and civils costs make no sense at present, but the fibre needs to come as close to every home as is reasonably possible.

Once that job is done, the telcos can go and fight over the urban areas where they all stand to make money anyway, and whose residents already have, on the whole, good enough services and choices to tide them over for a few years whilst the rest of the country is not just brought up to speed, but is leapfrogged into true broadband eg 100Mbps+ symmetrical. As other countries have done. (Townies, feel free to shout!)

Going back to this issue about giving the money to the telcos. There has been little to no evidence that the telcos understand about putting the customer first, over many years of their existence, and there seems to be a definite failure to comprehend the importance of doing things for UK Plc and long-term economic stability before lining shareholders' pockets.

There is a very strong case now for a proportion of any potential intervention or investment or public money to be put in a 'safe account' to be used to install community networks using co-operative and mutual models, where ownership lies with those who use the network. I know that there has been plenty of work, funded by private individuals and companies, going on behind the scenes on these models, and now is the time to bring them into the light. Government needs to be made aware that there are better ways of doing this than some big flashy advertising campaigns are talking about.

There is no requirement for consultants to advise on how this should be done, nor feasibility studies galore as we normally see. These folk line up claiming that nothing can happen without their studies, graphs and reports, and thereby help themselves to some, or much, of the pot. Rather, there needs to be a bringing together of experience and communities, and JFDI. There have been many, including large well-known companies, waiting in the wings for this day to arrive when finally FTTH is on the 6 o'clock news etc.

The pilot projects in communities will help learn lessons that the telcos are going to need to find out anyway, and may well exhibit best practice and help to reduce costs, as well as teaching the telcos a thing or two about how to JFDI!

So, to repeat:
1) Money for rural areas first
2) Not all money to go to the telcos
3) JFDI (without consultants thank you - there are plenty of companies who need economic boosts who have all the experience necessary, who combined with the communities and consumers themselves, can admirably JFDI, without a bunch of talking heads jumping in on the act).
4) Co-operative and mutual models of ownership
5) Future proofed broadband, not another sop/filler in tech, as ADSL has been
6) JFDI (oh did I already say that?! Well, it needs saying again.)

Read more!

Sunday 11 January 2009

Friday 9 January 2009

Ofcom report on UK broadband speeds

Read more! Thanks to a partnership with Samknows, the report on the recent survey of UK broadband speeds by Ofcom is now available.

It makes for disheartening reading. Sadly, for me, there is a big white blank spot across the north of England rural areas (Cumbria, the Yorkshire Dales, Teesdale, Weardale, Lancashire etc). Ditto in Scotland. We know from first hand experience that the broadband in these areas is, in many cases, truly appalling, yet there are no survey respondents in those areas. This means that the overall results are going to be skewed upwards from acuality - a shame. However, perhaps, even weighted as the results will inevitably be now and in 6 months time, the information is out there. Perhaps it will bring 'up to speed' those who have believed that UK internet consumers are happy with their lot, and accelerate the drive towards FTTH.

27% of the country gets 2Mbps or less. And 20% of those on an 'up to 8Mbps service actually receive less than 2Mbps (we have been saying this for a very long time - it is nice to have hard data to support our claim).

77% and 60% respectively are dissatisfied with their internet usage for audio and video. (One suspects that the 60% is lower because most of us can't even consider trying to download a film!)

Rural consumers receive, on average, speeds 13% slower than their urban counterparts. (And this without that large swathe of rural northern England).

There is much more info of valuable reading. take time out today to ingest this material and promote FTTH on the back of it. The link again is here.

Read more!

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Broadband USO on the horizon?

Read more! I questioned yesterday the wisdom of removing the USO and pondered on whether we would see telcos failing to repair broken lines etc in areas where they no longer had an obligation to supply a service. It seems that this assumption, that it was a removal rather than a replacement, may have been a tad uninformed/negative as ThinkBroadband and El Reg are reporting that Lord Carter is expected to introduce a broadband USO of up to 2Mbps.

There are going to be mixed reactions on this.

Firstly, "up to 2Mbps" connectivity (I struggle to call it broadband) has been on offer for almost a decade. As is being proven amongst consumers, for many this "maximum requirement" of 2Mbps is already insufficient for today's surfing habits, let alone more exciting activities online.

The existing USO was put in place in 1984. Should this replacement be in place for a similar length of time, one can see that "up to 2Mbps" may prove more than just frustrating for those who have to rely on the USO to get broadband access in 2009, let alone 2030 and beyond. There is a huge difference between what is required to be able to make a phone call and having "functional internet access" which is what the current USO states - one can assume the new USO will have similar wording.

The present USO states that this functional internet access should be " least 28.8kbps" but in my experience of dealing with those in notspots and areas with poor lines etc, that would be a dream connection speed, which implies that for a percentage of the population the current USO has failed. However, even if you can get 28.8kbps, it is totally useless for internet banking, Youtube, submitting DEFRA forms etc.

And we have seen the ISPs approach to "up to 2Mbps". If true data were available on the actual connection speed of those where there is no 8Mbps+ broadband, (which inevitably skews the results on a national average) I suspect we would find that many people in the UK are suffering dire connection speeds of well under 512kbps download. If this were to continue under the new USO, we will find that many people would remain in a disadvantaged position and unable to do anything about it because the ISPS are interpreting the USO to the letter rather than within the spirit.

Really, that USO should insist on the 1984 definition of broadband, "2Mbps+ symmetrical capable of carrying voice, video and date simultaneously". Put the bar back where it was 20+ years ago, rather than continually lowering it. Cater for the consumers rather than the providers. And think long-term...what legacy does 'up to 2Mbps' leave to our kids??

Were this 2Mbps+ approach to be taken, it would assist in achieving the recently cited aim (see this week's posts) to make next gen access available to all, because it is obviously more sensible and cost-effective to put in a solution which will be in place for 20+ years eg fibre, rather than wireless or bonding aged copper. It would mean that communities where there were known connectivity issues (for instance, see the Notspot report and map ABC produced 4 years ago and which urgently needs updating for the benefits of UK Plc) could work with the providers in putting in FTTH on a mutual basis, thereby reducing costs, creating local jobs, and giving everyone a share of the FiWi Pie (more on this concept another day).

Secondly, although there has been plenty of noise about false and misleading claims in advertising by the ISPs about what they can actually deliver to any particular customer, (didn't you read the small print on the bottom of the TV screen from the other side of the room?) little has been done to prevent mis-selling by the ISPs to consumers. Yes, Ofcom have made attempts to prevent it with a voluntary code of conduct last year, but it hasn't prevented many customers feeling 'cheated' when the all-singing, all-dancing broadband service they have purchased on a 12, 18 or even 24 month contract actually hums tunelessly and only permits them to limp rather than tango around the Net.

Meanwhile, should you suffer from a poor service, the complaints procedure at Ofcom is stifled under a website equivalent of "Press 1 for...., Press 2 for.....please hold....." and then recommends only that you make an official complaint to the company concerned. Rather than Ofcom, who after all have a statutory requirement to "further the interests of citizens", having procedures in place which assist the citizen to make and resolve their complaint swiftly.

After all, under the current system, if a consumer gets lost within a corporate complaints system and finally gives up, there is no record of this with the regulator. Therefore, should there be a constant stream of complaints about a particular company or acquiring connectivity in a particular area, the regulator is a) unaware of the scale of the problem and hence b) not in a position to do anything about it, c) to apply pressure to the ISP to mend its ways, or d) to generate a map of known notspots around the UK. This knowing where the notspots are is absolutely vital if any successful intervention is to take place now and in the future.

Most consumers, unsurprisingly, have better things to do with their time than to spend hours on hold to a customer's complaints department at their own expense, when they could just cut their losses, and spend those hours and their hard-earned cash trying to find a new, better provider.

One can see how making it feasible for operators to provide a minimum service even by today's standards under a new USO could well lead to a proportion of those needing broadband connectivity feeling more than just under-served. And hence the digital divide could (or may, inevitably) widen.

On the other side, it is possible that forcing ISPs (whether mobile/wireless or wired) to have to connect users could see a growth in rural connectivity. But, it needs to be said, that unless there is a HIE (as referred to yesterday) approach to the problem, with the regulator and ISPs sharing info on where the problem sites and notspots occur, and then sharing infrastructure costs to solve the issues and offer consumers CHOICE, it could boil down to consumers' being quoted ridiculous prices for connectivity because that ISP doesn't want the hassle or expense of trying to connect someone in the far reaches of Outer Cumbria. (A job sadly not done with the £20million Project Access was given for the task).

At this point, would someone care to step in and point out the pros of the proposed broadband USO as I seem to have lost sight of what they might be?!

Read more!

Tuesday 6 January 2009

FTTH hits UK politics

Read more! Following on from previous posts, tis now Cameron's turn.

Been waiting for over a decade for politicians to understand that ADSL is not it and that FTTH is, so should be glad that finally it is mainstream news, but they all need to think about this much more clearly. How is it going to happen without direct intervention? Not that I believe there should be national intervention, but if they encourage the wrong investors, it could all go oh so miserably wrong for us consumers. Or maybe I will be proven utterly wrong, and the fibre will also transport pigs with wings.
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The digital divide may widen and deepen yet

Read more! This blog post puts it as succinctly as anyone can and contains the relevant links to expand further on the post from two days ago.

The worrying part in all this is several steps back from next gen FTTH. If the USO were to be removed, rather than a USO for minimum level broadband introduced as per EU regulator thinking, then all those who I and others know who still do not have a landline under that USO are going to be joined by many, many others who have little to no choice of mobile coverage, let alone a chance of decent broadband this decade or possibly the next. Who is this going to affect most? Yep, you've guessed it - the rural and the poor.

How long would it be before non-functioning landlines in rural areas, which will no longer fall under a USO, are not repaired? Our telephone box in the village has now been broken for several weeks. Many of the people here, where the average wage is £16000 (half the national average) rely on that phone box. Only 2 days ago, my door was hammered on by a neighbour up the village who does not have and cannot afford a mobile phone as she needed to phone the fire brigade. However, even if she had a mobile phone, her choice of providers is restricted to two or three max - and you end up choosing around here by where you are likely to need to make a call from as coverage is patchy to say the least.

There are no 3G dongles in this village. What is the point? They won't work here. When I was in Scotland last September I was stunned by how often there was no mobile signal, not even to text, let alone to try to surf on my smart phone. But it really isn't much different in much of the north of England.

This latest thinking shows how we are heading backwards. Brown can make glib comments about Tennessee Valley type thinking, but someone had better start advising him and others fast on the reality of what is required. And the implications of what some of their thinking is most likely to lead to. Instead of a mutually owned FTTH network that is future-proofed well into the middle of this century, we stand to waste phenomenal amounts of tax payers' money creating a patchwork quilt of un-coordinated solutions belonging to a multiplicity of providers who are there purely to serve their own commercial interests, not UK plc and its citizens.

By removing the USO, rather than future-proofing it to a broadband level USO, we stand to turn the digital divide into a chasm, with huge insurmountable cliffs at each side of it. The assumption that by throwing money at providers they will attack the problem in a co-ordinated and sensible manner that will help this country out is ludicrous.

We should adopt the approach the Scottish Highlands and Islands did over mobile coverage, which was to sit the mobile operators down and say, "You need to provide coverage to here, here and here. If you want to join in the game, you must share masts, and this is where the masts will be sited. If you don't want to play, then count yourself out of the running now and leave the discussions." (Or words to that effect). This brought choice of provider for the consumers, a minimum amount of infrastructure with shared costs thereby meaning it cost each provider less in the long run to reach a new market, and less environmental impact and planning problems from masts dotted willy nilly across the horizon.

Do our politicos in London have any idea how widespread zero or very poor mobile coverage is in this country? Do they have any idea how many people still do not have a fully functional landline under the USO? Do we really want yet more masts littering our countryside to provide fill-in? Have any of the mobile operators or telcos actually been made to prove their broadband speeds with actual users? Or prove that the mobile and 3G coverage is where they claim it to be?

Does this government and its advisors (who seem to have an in-depth comprehension of telecoms, not) know how to reduce the costs of the civils to ensure that any money thrown at the solution of the next generation FTTH problem creates jobs now and into the future, rather than being wasted on bureaucracy etc? Have they considered where the advice is coming from about the costs and methods to do this FTTH job - the industry body and its members for crying out loud, hardly independent is it?? Have they considered different forms of ownership eg owned by the users on a mutual basis, rather than constantly pursuing the myth/fallacy that by encouraging the competitive marketplace to deliver, this country's citizens are being best served? It must be easy to see from the growing outcry on public forums, the BBC website, current affairs programs, research, consumer bodies and so on that IT IS NOT WORKING.

When is someone seriously going to query £51/month and similar prices for a connection over an infrastructure with reduced opex costs and reduced environmental impact at a time when data transfer costs are also now actually approaching zero?

The telco tail is wagging the UK dog and it is time it stopped before we waste our money on a solution that isn't, and which many, many informed people could resolve if they were only asked, and then listened to.

Ah, it's nice to be back! < / rant> Your turn!!
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Sunday 4 January 2009

Brown to invest in next gen broadband?

Read more! Both BBC and ITV news have just mentioned the possibility of investment in some form of next gen network (no details given, of course) in an attempt by Brown to create jobs during this recession.
Sky mentions it briefly on their website. Very Tennessee Valley. How it could be implemented in a co-ordinated manner remains to be seen....your thoughts at this juncture? I'm liking the recession if it accelerates the dev of FTTH across the nation, but am not convinced that it will start in those places that most need it first ie where there is likely to be substantial FTTH market failure with Virgin, BT et al.
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Friday 2 January 2009

BT seeks to put FTTH investment on hold unless Ofcom play ball

Read more! Yet another reason why the FTTH infrastructure in the UK needs new entrants. BT have threatened to delay investment in FTTC/H unless Ofcom permits it to further raise access prices for the existing copper infrastructure. These prices have already been raised recently between 4 and 11% but BT wants more.

There seems to be an outright failure in this country to understand the importance of FTTH, despite the likes of FTTH Council's Joeri van Bogaert trying to show exactly why FTTH is required across the whole of Europe. No incumbent should be allowed to "hold a gun to the head" of the regulator over the required next gen networks development, particularly with the history of how that copper infrastructure was originally funded, and what its future purpose should actually be. The first mile copper should be ripped out and flogged, not figure in anyone's plans for NGN, particularly as FTTC, which will continue to deliver less than we need broadband far into the future, it would seem, if BT has its way.

And we also have further lunacy from the UK Govt as well to look forward to in 2009. Proposals to spend £12bn (if typical of all other IT projects this Govt has undertaken, read at least 2 or more times that figure)on monitoring individual user's Internet access. This story seems to have been somewhat glossed over by the media pundits who normally comment on such invasions of privacy and wastage of money so far, although the Grauniad has commented now the figure has been announced. The blogosphere has plenty of indignation on the cost and implications eg Mike Butcher here, and a No 10 petition, although there will undoubtedly be more commentary once journos etc return to work next week.

The reality of that £12billion spend of public money on such a pointless system is that it is probably enough to do FTTH to the majority/all of the UK. (Forget the £26-9bn figure from the BSG which is a worst case scenario figure and focus on the more likely £12-16bn cost if FTTH is done sensibly using models of mutual ownership, reduced civils etc.) Which would you rather see our taxpayer's money spent on? Monitoring a few possibly dangerous individuals, (how have we got so hung up on terrorism at the expense of all else???), or giving everyone in the country the potential to innovate, compete in the global knowledge economy, and kickstart new businesses?

So, 2009 may once again be the year where FTTH fails to reach those who most need it because of idiotic decisions made by a Government who don't understand technology, and an incumbent fighting falling share value and rising competition. Oh yippee, hasn't 2009 started well?!
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