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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Business & Enterprise Committee to inquire into Broadband Speed

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Hmmm... another committee, another report. Just what we need.

I can understand the sentiment and the thought that perhaps the DB report was not aggressive enough in its aspirations but the way to fix it is not to form another committee (which BTW does not look very representative to me) and deliver another report which will also fall short of our aspirations. Time to ignore the politicians?

Here's a thought... DB set a 2Mbit/s USC. That means 2M to every house in the UK. Let's take some of the most rural. How do we do that? Copper doesn't work, wireless has too many issues, satellite is too expensive. Is fibre the only option?

Can we deliver on the USC to all areas without implementing an infrastructure that is capable of drastically exceeding it? Read more!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Broadband Poll Tax

Read more! The injustice of the £6 per line annual broadband tax as proposed in Lord Carter’s Digital Britain Report is that it is applied to copper fixed line rental, a.k.a. dial tone, rather than to broadband itself.

As well as being regressive and a most unwelcome extra burden in the currently depressed UK Economy, this taxation is also wrong headed - put simply, why should people who don’t want broadband subsidise those who do?

By analogy, Carter’s Broadband Tax is like taxing Jews, Moslems and Veggies to subsidise the price of pork (…barrels?)

- a proposition that would certainly draw howls of protest, so why should the matter of broadband be treated any differently?

Whilst universal broadband choice is laudable and something that FibreStream exists to enable, setting out to achieve this outcome by applying taxation to those who do not necessarily want broadband is simply inequitable discrimination

- nothing less than the tyranny of the majority against the minority, often the Elderly and the least well-off members of Society, hardly an exemplar of caring Socialism in action.

If Carter’s Broadband Tax is instead targeted fairly at existing broadband subscribers, both fixed line and mobile, then those who do not wish to take broadband service would not be penalised for having a conventional phone line, in order to subsidise those who do.

An inevitable, perhaps unintended, outcome of this regressive tax will be a marked increase in mobile broadband uptake at the expense of fixed line services which will result in the total revenues from fixed line services dwindling rapidly away.

Say No! to the Broadband Poll Tax

Also posted at FibreStream Blog

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Time to start the Push

Read more! So, we now know where we stand... Digital Britain has come and other than taking £6 per year from us has made little difference.

When can I have my ultra high-speed broadband line? Well, to summarise what I believe Lord Carter would tell me if I ever do have the opportunity to ask him that question, don't expect it any time soon from the 'usual' providers and if you really want it that badly then do it yourself.

It's time to get things moving, to spread the word, to get others involved and to drag ourselves into the 21st Century.

As a starting point I have created a new group on LinkedIn called 21st Century Communications for Britain. If you have a LinkedIn account please sign up (here's the link: ). It's just a starting point but the more people we can get involved the quicker we can start to make changes for all of us. Read more!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Announcement of Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA)

Read more! At the CBN Next Generation Roadshow in Manchester today we got some further information about INCA, as (briefly) mentioned in the recent Digital Britain report. Here is what they shared with us:

INCA: A National Framework for Local Action

The Digital Britain report backed the proposal by CBN to create a body to represent and coordinate local next generation broadband networks and initiatives. The Independent Networks Co-operative Association – INCA – is being launched at this event.

INCA will:
• Act as a unified voice for local projects to government and industry
• Promote common technical & business standards
• Create a body of expertise supporting next gen projects
• Underpin the development of the ‘patchwork quilt’ of local projects by developing a ‘Joint Operating Network’ (JON) providing technical and operational support
• Create a development service to promote local project opportunities
• Encourage public sector investment in innovative local schemes
• Focus rural investment on Next Generation, not simply catching up with First Generation broadband

More information at

INCA will receive £150,000 in funding from the government but will establish itself as a co-operative model whereby future funds will come from the members.

They will model their approach on the National Co-operative Telecommunications Association from the US.

Clearly this is a necessary model if the ‘patchwork quilt’ of fibre networks is how Britain is going to build its digital economy, however I have to ask if the business model is viable. The ‘members’ will be a very diverse group of organisations from co-op FTTH projects such as Alston Cybermoor (or Fibremoor as I believe they prefer now) to service providers wishing to offer their services over these networks (some new local and regional SPs and the usual suspects of large players including BT and Virgin Media) to other content providers wishing to deliver their content (for example the BBC). Do we expect all these groups to act together under the umbrella of an organisation into which they have all invested? Is it reasonable to expect that they will all invest? Beyond that as these JON “demand aggregation” centres are established can we expect these organisations to reach consensus on the common architectures and standards?

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

50p/month is simply not enough

Read more! The Digital Britain report has enforced a 50p per month per landline levy on us all in the UK for the next gen fund to connect the disconnected. Well, maybe. (See below) We did some maths....

Potentially, according to the report, this will raise around £150-175m a year. The Fund will not even begin to gather funds until post-election in 2010, which potentially means it will not actually see the light of day if Labour lose the general election. (So... don't get too caught up on this red herring.)

Let's do some maths. In countries where FTTH and other next gen solutions have already been deployed /are already in place and there is ample experience with the costings, the figures for rural and remote seem to average out at around £750-£1k per household when done commercially. (Hold those last three words in your head, as there are other routes to fibre lay, including dig where you live, #JFDI and CIC owned community solutions, which are FAR cheaper).

Therefore, £150m per year would allow the connection of approx 150k households/businesses per year, without the quango expenses to admin all this. (So, that'll be the other 25m accounted for.)

The report states that this fund would be for the FINAL THIRD ie 33% of the population who the telcos won't touch. We know from our previous Fiver To The Home 5tth work that there are approx 25million homes and businesses requiring connectivity, so the final third would be 8million homes and businesses.

8,000,000 /150,000 = 53 YEARS to deliver the eNdGAme FTTH using the tax applied through this fund on every copper landline. And that is a generous estimate as we all know these Govt IT schemes go over budget and over time....

Even if this Fund were to subsidise, encourage external investment etc, where exactly is it going to be spent and how? Are we allowed a say in making sure this farce doesn't degenerate into a total cock up?

Stephen Carter stated on Radio 4s PM program (45m:40s) this evening that UK is the first country to "find a solution to building fibre networks to the entire country" and the first country in the world to fund it.

Wrong on both counts. And certainly not out of that pot, Mr Carter. Not in your lifetime or mine, anyway.

I would like to refer you, again, Rt Hon Stephen Carter MP, to my 12 point broadband manifesto and also my open letter to you in January 2009.

It gets worse... what has been proposed is to hammer UK enterprises, rural citizens and businesses by making those who have NO CHOICE about having a landline because mobile coverage is so dire, or who have multiple phone lines/ISDN etc, pay to connect.....themselves.

Do you know what? I have a piggy bank. In it, each month I will save my 50p and using my impoverished business profits as my digital company is unable to generate what it is capable of because of the paucity of the UK broadband network, I will pay for my own fibre to the home connection, thanks. Just as many communities are now doing.

We do not need Govt (and resigning ministers) making suggestions, policy, regulation etc to deliver next generation broadband anywhere between 2012 and 2017 (with a following wind). We need true, symmetrical broadband that fits the 1984 definition of the technology NOW.

Can what you propose transmit and receive voice, video and data simultaneously? No? Not even 1984 broadband then, let alone next gen.....? Then I'll keep my 50p, thanks. And bin my copper phone line and use satellite until I join all the IR35 software talents abroad.

Watch this space for a mass exodus of the digital skills that 21st century Britain needs to replace the manufacturing industry it has so cunningly destroyed...

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Digital Britain Report - today's the day

Read more! The Digital Britain report is to be presented to Cabinet today and published soon (possibly at 3.30pm). Follow it on these sites.....

Twitter (obviously!) #digitalbritain
Guardian site, live from the launch
Live Blogging from @beamadelica
Number 10 site (I can't get this link to work but maybe others on better connectivity can)
Parliament TV (This won't work over my connection either!!)

It is interesting to note there are no mobiles nor laptops allowed into the launch of this report, nor is there any internet connectivity it seems. On top of this, the CRC Report on broadband in rural communities is being launched in central London on 23rd June. Deeply rural is the Palace of Westminster, so a well chosen venue to highlight the real issues.

Very inclusive all this, showing the world how good the UK is at using the technology it is planning to be a champion/expert with. Not.

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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Another Need for Speed Report

Read more! For those muppets who still think anywhere up to 2Mbps non-symmetrical is absolutely fine now, in 2012 and beyond, take note of the UPLOADS speeds on page 5 of this report......

The Need for Speed Report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, whilst being US-centric, offers some hard facts and evidence for anyone still in doubt about why the USO of 2Mbps is a joke.

Additionally, comments such as Vint Cerf's about the shift in innovation being away from those nations which have traditionally held it (and who have bog all left in any other sectors eg industry and manufacturing and therefore need to be heftily engaged in the knowledge and IT economy) should be viewed as timely calls to action/arms, not pontifications.

Dave Isenberg and others have long talked about the importance of activity and creation at the edge of the network, and the arrogance of telcos and others in restricting this through false scarcity models etc has to come to an end now. The benefits and importance of the edge of the network 'innovations' are well-known, and have historically led to the development of much that we take for granted today, eg from light bulbs to Word processing applications.

It is what will come out of well-connected bedrooms, garden sheds, and rural one-man ventures that will change the world and the way we live, work and play, not some over-funded corporate or government R&D department with a fat pipe to it.

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Digital Britain Unconference Reports

Read more! It is unsurprising that Unconferences were held to debate the DB report, and the reports are now out, and embedded below. Please make comments before 16th June 2009.

There are still ongoing discussions on Twitter under #dbuc09 #digitalbritain and #ruralbroadband although today many of those in rural areas are far more concerned about DFB (Dairy Farmers of Britain) going tits up and what this means to the farmers, 10% of the UK milk supply and the rural economy - potential bankruptcies UK wide, land sales etc etc. #DFB.

Digital Britain Unconferences Summary

Digital Britain Unconferences Report

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Monday, 1 June 2009

Digital Hubs

Read more! Speechless. Over 3 million homes and businesses can't even get 2Mbps, let alone have true broadband on the horizon, and we have digital jewellery on the agenda.

Digital inclusion funding, and which hub is based in a rural area? None of them. Like I said, speechless.
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