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Tuesday 29 September 2009

Fibre optics in the first inch

Read more! Intel and others are pushing hard to bring fibre as close to the home as you could ever hope for....right to your PC through the ubiquitous USB dongle.

Got 'flu so someone else can fill in thoughts on this story please, but my 2p is that if we can have it that close to the edge of the network (my 'centre' but the operators' "edge"), we'd better start putting some to connect that first inch to the rest of the world, non?....

Oh, and please, make sure that every single one of these USB connectors is standard, guys. The multitude of non-standard adapters, cables and so on which now litter our homes, offices and landfills is obscene.
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Thursday 24 September 2009

What should the UK be in terms of data transport?

Read more! I am reproducing Erol Ziya's article from the ABC site because I hope it will stimulate next gen debate...

(First published approx 4-5 years ago)

Light that Fibre! – effecting change in the UK

by Erol Ziya
ABC’s core objective is to effect change. So far we have not effected as much change as I would have liked. From my past experience of effecting change, with the campaign for unmetered telecomms (CUT), to effect meaningful change, you need to find a single core issue that you can line up as much support behind as possible. With CUT we were able to combine the support of major corporations like AOL and Intel with a grassroots user voice, all focused clearly on a single issue. This is what I believe ABC now needs to do.

What’s the issue?

For me the simple clear cut issue, that almost everyone should be able to line up behind, is the cost of moving around data within the UK. It is now middle mile costs (moving data from a local aggregation point to say Telehouse or some other point) that are the core problem. Historically there has been much talk and focus on the issue of the first/last mile, and rightly so.

There are now new exciting ways to deal with local distribution, from community based wifi solutions to commercial LLU solutions. In both terms of technical advancements (wifi, low-cost mini DSLAMs and others) and in terms of regulation (LLU and others) there has been much improvement in first / last mile options. However all of these options, community and commercial, are now being hampered by the cost of getting data from a local aggregation point outwards and onwards. I believe that this does not need to be the case.

Look at the massive amounts of unused fibre in the ground within the UK (some estimates are as high as 98% of all the fibre in the ground in the UK is just unlit and unused) and if you look at the cost of ‘middle mile’ connectivity in other countries, then the only reasonable conclusion is it could be and should be cheaper in the UK. To the argument that it cost billions to put this fibre in, I would simply say it’s better to get something from this investment than the nothing that is currently being accrued from it.

What’s the target?

The UK government, via the Broadband Stakeholders Group, is currently in the process of defining the targets for Broadband Britain 2010. I think the single target that, if achieved, would place the UK in forefront of the digital revolution, is to aim to make the UK the cheapest place in the world within which to move data. If we could achieve this one single target (and given the amount of network resource already in the ground in the UK I believe we can) then we would see an explosion of usage and uses for modern digital networks that would lead the world.

We need to create a ‘wired commons’ throughout the UK. We need to take the benefit accrued by ISPs, through the non profit Linx Exchange organisation, of near zero cost interchange of data and extend this benefit down to every local aggregation point in the UK and ultimately every user in the UK. We need to aggregate every piece of data in the UK onto a single unified dumb IP transport system.

What’s the how?

How could we do this? This objective will not be easy to achieve and it will need much thought and discussion from people far cleverer than me. In the hope of starting this process of debate here are some thoughts of mine:

We need to create a dumb IP overlay network

This network should initially extend to every DSL enabled BT telephony exchange in the UK.
It should offer at least 10Mbps ethernet connections to anyone who wants to connect to them that should be able to route traffic to any other point in the UK.
It should be based on a single flat fee for end users. The revenue from these end users connections should then be divided out to those that carry the traffic.
This idea has serious benefits and can make money. As an infrastructure provider the more traffic you carry on this ‘UK IP overlay network’ the greater the proportion of end user fees you would accrue. Any ‘data transport’ company or entity should be able to interconnect into this network at any point. Whenever there is a choice of routes the data will always route to the carrier that has the most unused capacity at that time. Thus, the way to make more money, if you have infrastructure, would be to make it available.

The idea is to create a commercial incentive to deliver abundance (that already exists and is currently unused) as opposed to the existing drives to maintain a false scarcity.

What’s the who?

The government is the crucial ‘pump primer’ that could create the initial density to make an IP data commons in the UK a reality. If any and all government expenditure on Broadband networks in the UK was spent on generic dumb IP overlay network elements, that could be used by anyone and interconnected into by any carrier, instead of 1000’s and 1000’s of separate and ‘rationed out’ exclusive links, I believe the vision of a UK data commons could be achieved.

The benefits of aggregation belong as much to those that create the data being aggregated as those that carry the aggregated data. We must find ways to maximise these benefits of aggregation, by aggregating all data within the UK. We must find ways of delivering these benefits of aggregation to as many people as possible. Getting everyone behind this aim is the way to effect significant change.

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Saturday 19 September 2009


Read more! I am flattered.

No, really I am.

When such a well-known and well-funded organisation such as CBN (which of course I had no hand in setting up at all), produces a white paper seemingly based on a blog post from here about BET, one can only be suitably appreciative of the fact that others around the country are picking up on the important points that affect rural broadband.

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BET you don't know what broadband is

Read more! Went to see some folks yesterday on dial up....they had seen the BT piece on TV

Cumbria is quite big, but because Wigton was mentioned on the news, they thought, "This is it. Our broadband could be sorted now". 1Mbps, 2Mbps, DACs, lack of enough copper lines etc - whoosh, straight over their heads.

You try telling people that broadband is 100Mbps symmetrical, or it should be. Not a chance here.

I flogged them a satellite dish. Made me a fortune. Not.

By the time I had explained how ADSL works, why it will NEVER work at their house some 14km from the exchange etc, why BET makes no difference whatsoever, what broadband is about etc, I can only ever be out of pocket.

Why can't the telcos be made to tell the truth? Why is it my job (unpaid) to educate the masses?

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What is broadband?

Read more! It is the technology that allows you to....

Please respond, what is broadband to you???

It is the tech that lets you....

share your photos
communicate with your family
play the games you want to
access public services eg e-health, e-education, etc. (Health, wealth and learning)
run your business

Or, it is some impoverished communications network that doesn't allow you to watch iplayer without spending more time watching a spinning wheel than a film

won't let you upload your photos to share with your friends/family in NZ in less time than it would take you to fly there and show them the photos personally

gives you no choice about the infrastructure you have access to - BT W/S resold as a retail product via TalkTalk, Orange, O2 etc.

pretends that the dongle lets you access 'broadband'

How far will you let this go? Are you willing to be continually misled? Will you let BT sell BET or FTTC to the Class of 2010 as a manifesto issue or will you finally ask for a service that does what it says on the tin?

Ask yourself:
Are we going to be allowed to compete in the knowledge economy?
Are you going to let scarcity rule instead of abundance?
Are you going to permit organisations to be funded to suit their "suits" instead of you?
Is it all about creating career civil servants or consultancy bodies?
Should we permit a private company to set the 'glass ceiling' for broadband in this country?

Or is it about making it possible for you to actually enjoy broadband? Understand what broadband can do for you, your family, your business, your life?

Do you think broadband matters? TO YOU. I think you will find it does.

Once again, this post will undoubtedly be nicked, plagiairised etc and resold as a white paper but the facts are that unless YOU stand up for broadband as a RIGHT, you won't get it.

Broadband is not a number, it's a service that works. It has to be big, fat and owned by you.
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Tuesday 15 September 2009

Flight of fancy

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Anyone breed pigeons?

Please can we borrow one to replicate the experiment featuring Winston the pigeon?

Actually, if anyone would care to pay, I can do a more interesting experiment involving myself and a slightly different means of flight.

Were I to wish to upload the contents of my portable IcyBox hard drive (currently standing just shy of 100GB), over a typical UK ADSL connection, that would take me at least 37 days on my connection of 256k up.

However, in Japan, Bangkok, Hong Kong, many cybercafes offer 1Gbps symmetrical connectivity. So, my plan would be to start the upload on my connection here, get online and find a ticket, book it, set off with a duplicate copy of my hard drive, fly to Japan, find a cybercafe, upload the copy, do some sightseeing (Mount Fuji beckons!), buy some funky IT kit, and head home. I think I should beat the UK upload by at least 4 weeks and finally get a week's holiday.

If someone fancies trying it over a better ADSL connection, I still think I will be home 5 days or so before it has finished sending.

100GB is nothing in this day and age. If I was on a FTTH connection similar to those available in rural areas of Sweden, I wouldn't even have time to find the ticket before the job was done.

Need I point out what this limited connectivity does to everyday productivity, let alone (mis)use of our leisure time.......

(Upload Maths made easy!)

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BT and the Big Lie

Read more! Today's announcement about BET perpetuates more than one Big Lie, and sadly many will believe that this is "job done" for long lines.

Let's keep banging on about this until we get it, shall we?

In 1984, broadband was defined as a service that was capable of simultaneous transmission and receiving of voice, video and data. We have allowed commercial entities the opportunity (often through ignorance and a failure to listen to experts, grassroots and consumers) to lower that bar to the point where this country now lags behind in the information and knowledge economies.

Even in 2009, 1Mbps asymmetrical is NOT broadband and it is utterly useless for bringing 21st century communications to rural citizens and businesses of this country. It is certainly not what an experienced telco should be offering as a solution for the current notspot problem, when it has been so clearly illustrated where the eNdGAme is, and which other countries are now actively pursuing. Further, bonding lines in areas where there is already a shortage of phone lines is not an option.

The notspot problem needs solving. It does not need brushing under the carpet with offers by BT to tackle long lines with an obsolete solution. Should this type of announcement convince the powers that be that the "problem is solved", then many rural areas of this country are going to go downhill faster than we can begin to imagine.

This announcement could well affect current and future funding pots which have been and will be brought into existence to encourage innovation and to solve rural broadband issues with exciting and future-proof solutions. By allowing a corporate to dictate what happens by setting a glass ceiling that affects every rural business and citizen, we are potentially permitting a form of digital ethnic cleansing.

It seems very difficult to get this nation to understand what broadband really is, and what it gives access to. Once again, we seem apathetic towards seeking solutions that solve the problems that our digital exclusion from the broadband world are bringing to us all, day in and day out. If we allow a corporate to continually define what rural broadband is, the only people who suffer are "US". BT's profits will continue to rise whilst the country as a whole struggles to engage in the 21st century. Our citizens cannot access health and education services that others now take for granted. Our businesses are failing to deliver competitive services that will regenerate and re-invigorate our economy. Our public sector cannot do its job, either optimally or cost-effectively. Our environmental footprint is far higher than it need be because we cannot video conference, avoid excessive travel through use of technology, and we are using ADSL (and allowing its continued use) which has a far higher carbon impact than FTTH.

Enough is enough. Let BT offer BET and similar services, but it should be made clear to everyone that this is a solution purely for BT's ends. And it must NOT be at the cost of helping communities, councils, and other companies bypassing the olden days and ways of the incumbent to bring true broadband to this country.

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Check out the Czechs!

Read more! Interesting project in Czechoslovakia. ROWANet is a joint-funded regionally owned open network connecting public sector (local government, schools, hospitals etc) and non-profits, with the aim to bring connectivity to households in the future.

Once again though we see the problems when the state cannot directly provide connectivity to homes as this would be in direct competition to private companies. This project highlights an issue facing many publicly funded networks - State Aid rules.

Here in the UK, we have seen similar networks eg DurhamNet creating a great network with enormous capacity and potential unable to get into that first mile because of a lack of willing partners. Whilst schools, doctors, council offices and so on enjoy the benefits of faster access, the consumer (ie those who require the services offered by the public sector) is left with first generation connectivity, or worse, particularly in rural areas where distance from facilities and hence need for access is often far higher.

The main problem being that those who are in the final/first third are often seen to be 'unprofitable' or 'financially unviable' even where investment in the network connectivity has already been made eg in this instance by EU, local and national government. Hence, no partner comes forward willing to deal with that thorny and expensive problem - individual consumers!

What is required is some joined up thinking on this matter.

IF there is market failure ie there is no access to services by consumers of an equivalence to those being provided to our schools, doctors and so on over such a regional network, then it should be permissible and simple for the regional government to set up a local non-profit, community interest organisation to cater for that market failure. This would then
a) connect the people most requiring the services
b) create a non-commercial company able to return profits into the community using the network (eg for upgrades, maintenance, or as monies to be spent on diverse projects within that community)
c) make best use of the network funded with taxpayer's money
d)create long-term local employment
e) allow best practice models for community interest companies run on a regional level eg for billing, tech support and so on
f) bring ROI for the community


Read more!

Sunday 6 September 2009

Why UK broadband should be just like our electric utility

Read more! At the Colloquium last Thursday, there was an overwhelming vote to have broadband defined, managed and promoted as a utility... and there is an interesting parallel

Electricity is a utility. We all regard it as ubiquitous. It may not always be affordable but you can at least control how much you spend by how many devices you plug into it. However, it reminded me of a recent conversation with an ex-pat in Spain, who pointed out that at least here in the UK, we can pretty much plug as much as we want in, whereas in Spain you can't.

During the colloq, I made a quick call to Spain to get the figures. As far as my ex-pat friend could recall, in Spain each house gets 2.2KW. Here in the UK, each house gets 25KW thrown at it. Therefore, we can keep plugging things in all day long and the power supply can cope - unless we go totally mad and have untold devices all consuming wattage at the same time. However, were you to exceed the need for 25KW regularly, the electricity company would upgrade your system, because you would be paying for it. (Or so I was told on the steps of the Guildhall).

Just for once, in the UK, we seem to have got away from false scarcity. We need to do exactly the same with broadband as we do with electricity.

Throw as much as possible at every home in the UK.

If people don't use it, then that's fine. It doesn't cause any problems if each house is not using the full capacity. They pay for what they consume with electricity. If, however, we were in the same situation as properties in Spain where you can only have a certain number of devices plugged in at once, there would be uproar. Because, of course, we are used to having a fairly sophisticated electricity supply to our homes. OK, it may spike and surge, but it is still 10 times more wattage than a domestic property in Spain can hope for. The uproar about our impoverished broadband is now growing as we compare ourselves with other countries and find the UK seriously wanting.

If you look into the history of the first electricity supplies in the UK, many rural villages had electricity, generated within the community, long before the major towns and cities had moved beyond gas jets. Usually courtesy of a village group or individual who decided that generating electricity for the community from that ubiquitous natural resource (water) would be a great thing to do, so they got on and JFDI. Both the village I was brought up in (mentioned in the link above) and the one I now live in were ahead of Manchester and Teeside in providing their own electricity to local people.

The impact that this had on many communities was astounding, and although the village I now live in could only provide one lightbulb to each house in the village at first in the late 1910/early 1920s, you can imagine how that began to change rural life. The problems for these communities came when electricity was nationalised in the 50s, ditto with water supplies that were also nationalised. We should learn from that. Local is better than national.

If only we could make broadband from water....and weren't reliant on self-serving corporates to get the essential ingredient. Even so, those responsible for holding up the provision of broadband to communities need to change their thinking and look at the parallels from a mere century ago. Electricity enabled untold innovations, changes to people's lives, improvements in health (no more sewing by candlelight etc), and led to the huge assortment of devices we have today that rely on electricity and apparently make life simpler.

The innovation and benefits didn't come from the electricity companies, they came from the consumers of the utility and exactly the same happens with broadband. People need to have enough to do whatever they choose to, and the sooner we get that and start making it feasible, the faster this country will recover.

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Competitive marketplace for backhaul

Read more! It is becoming ever more apparent that the demand for decent backhaul for community networks is growing. Yet, even knowing this, where are the suppliers of such who should be falling over themselves to grab market share?

In order to make it easy for said suppliers, I have started a thread in the forum entitled, "We need backhaul". Whilst it may take some time to feed the community networks the info they require to get started, there is every reason for communities and suppliers to start filling this thread with WANTED: and OFFERED: (just like Freecycle!).

It is down to suppliers to get it right when selling to fledgling and established community networks. There is no point over-selling as spare capacity that eats into the budget is the last thing a community network needs in its early days, but whatever is sold must be easily upgradeable as the network scales up and users of that network get more hungry for applications and services.

Getting the price right is also important. We know that for many years there has been a non-competitive market for backhaul, and it has often been ludicrously expensive for rural customers to get fairly priced connectivity to the Net because of the ancient process of charging by distance. Whether the bits travel 1 mile or 100 is pretty much irrelevant and the practice needs changing. It is no longer the case that only a few operators can sell backhaul so competition is increasingly fierce and community networks are going to be looking for the best prices.

We have very efficient jungle drums in the community network space, that have been beating for nigh on 10 years now, so the supplier(s) who get it right will benefit from fora such as Fibrevolution where the suppliers will undoubtedly be rated and reviewed, just as ISPs are now by consumers.

So, what are you waiting for? We all know that more and more community networks are going to spring up now and all are looking for that fat pipe......start advertising your wares, and helping these community networks flourish and become sustainable and profitable. As more and more of their community users get online, so the more capacity they will want from you.

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Friday 4 September 2009

COTS & Colloq

Read more! Many thanks to all who were in Hull today contributing to the Colloq and the COTS meeting. Looking at the stats over 100 people were actively involved or lurking, in the venue or through remote participation. Wow!

My over-riding impression of the day was the energy which began in the morning, and has, I suspect, resulted in meetings being arranged for new partnerships to explore many different areas for next gen, and to JFDI. There seemed to be quite a few novel ideas circulating too.

Thanks to Hull City Council for an amazing venue, great lunch and use of the facilities, and thank you to the Lord Mayor for taking time to talk to us and listen in to the debate.

Thanks to Fibrestream/NextGenUs for pulling together such a quality event in a very short time.

Thanks to the BSG, Malcolm Taylor for chairing, the panelists, Lillian for all the back room work, Kizzy for filming, and of course, all the attendees.

A particular thanks to the exhibitors who between them put on an amazing display of 'FTTH' deployment which didn't seem to quite get the attention it deserved for the skill displayed. AFL for the fibre, Emtelle for fibre blowing and micro-ducting, Lucidos for training, safety and fusion / manual splicing, Virtually Transparent for cloud computing, virtualisation (and a fascinating conversation about virtual Asterisk PBX on a Nokia 95 etc!), Cable & Wireless for telecoms delivery (and Rob!), Allied Telesis for active equipment and HD TV demo, and the diamond drilling guys who luckily didn't demo going through the Guildhall floor!!

And thanks to all those who contributed videos, tweets, blog posts and so on at and since the event.

Please get involved in post-colloq discussion through the forum at

The COTS steering group meeting is open to all and is on 21st September. BSG will be sending out an email to announce further details.

Further events are already in the planning stages. If you would be interested in being informed about or sponsoring these events, please send an email to info[at]fibrevolution[dot]com

All feedback would be gratefully appreciated, either publicly or privately.

Thank you all. Some very thought-provoking discussion and opinions today to mull over and act upon! There will be a report in more depth shortly. In the meantime, there are tweets on the day #nextgenus and @nextgenus and the COTS webcast will be archived shortly.

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Wednesday 2 September 2009

When wireless is the right choice....

Read more! It was a bit hard to miss the meeting this week of the CEOs of the mobile industry with Lord Mandelson.

However, the discussions about spectrum allocation in order to deliver next gen seem to be misplaced. It is hard to see how the mobile wireless technology currently available or even on the cards can deliver what is required to get this country moving forwards to an equivalence of access already available in other countries with FTTH.

Wireless is the right technology to use to build a wireless cloud over the top of a fixed fibre network to give access when mobile ie on the move, in transit, not fixed etc. It is the right technology to use when technically it makes sense. eg why dig down that hill, through the river and up the other side to lay fibre when you can add in a single wireless link to do the job at a fraction of the price? There will be some (very few) pockets of this country where laying fibre makes no economical sense whatsoever, although over a 50 year lifetime one struggles to see how. But, even so, those places are few and far between when looking at the reality of what FTTH can do for everyone it connects and the social capital as well as the environmental savings. So, FiWi ie using Fibre to get as close to that isolated farmhouse as possible and then Wireless in the first mile where fibre cannot be done.

But those very few places who need that level of FiWi should not be accessing over a mobile dongle as we know now that many of the places who are most distant and remote do NOT get a mobile signal at present. We are not, surely, planning to intensify the mobile network coverage across the UK, with all the new masts, planning permissions, substations etc required to deliver mobile NGA to one or two of the most rural and remote areas? (There's enough hoohaa about wind turbines without putting yet more mobile masts up.)

How would that work financially? The truth is, it wouldn't. It is no more financially viable for a mobile operator to put in a mast to cover one area of remote peat moorland to connect an isolated farm than it is to dig fibre in or even to fibre up to the nearest street cab for FTTC.

Ergo, what is being planned is for a large percentage of that final third to be reliant on technology which cannot deliver what other nations term as next generation access. The bar is being deliberately lowered and we all know why, but are being treated as though we are too stupid to understand the issues.

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Should we worry where our money goes?

Read more! Each day, a conflicting range of reports about next gen, public spend, grants, feasibility studies etc are issued. For those on Twitter or other social media tools, commentary and opinions come in by the minute, flooding our senses with rationales for doing x.... no, y...errr, surely z would be better?

This country has to make decisions about how to proceed with next generation access. Those are never going to be easy choices. However, the waters are constantly being sullied as companies seek to satisfy their shareholders, politicians fight for their seat or non-exec place on well-paying Boards, civil servants endeavour to keep their jobs and pensions, and normal folk strive to see the right/logical/honourable choices that will benefit all in the long run.

It is time to somehow put aside all those conflicting interests and just for once do right by those poor unsuspecting people who actually live and work in the real world that is present day Britain. This is not about your share price, your fat cat wage, your career or any other selfish aspect or spin that you are currently working to. This is about Britain. Just for once, let's try and be patriotic. And realistic.

One of the great aspects about the human race is the ability to INNOVATE. Each day there are discoveries and developments which move the goal posts. The problem for next gen in the UK seems to be in absorbing all of these discoveries and developments to ensure we have a cohesive strategy for the future. It is blatantly obvious that by adopting one particular solution and then endeavouring to implement it, by the time such happens, it will be out of date.

So, what to do? Well, it seems that at the moment, in the media, government, public sector and so on, all of the new wave of next gen progress revolves around funding. Choosing the right project to let our public sector procurement, State Aid, fixed line levies etc loose on causes no end of grief. Fund one project and many will cry "Foul", though usually not until it fails. Which in this country, with IT projects, it tends to do spectacularly.

If finding money is the main issue, and then who to give it to, what we need to do is accept a known constant.


We are more likely to choose VHS than Betamax anyway so why fight it? Fund lots of different options, get people connected, then learn from the mistakes and connect the next bunch differently. It is just like painting the Forth Road Bridge anyway. By the time everyone has SOMETHING, it'll be out of date and we'll need yet more bandwidth!! But at least aim for the best we can now eg 100Mbps+++ symmetrical, instead of being satisfied with 2Mbps asymmetrical maybe, sort of, well, up to that speed anyway......

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Tuesday 1 September 2009

IT Direct

Read more! Perhaps we focus too much on infrastructure sometimes. The reality, in Digital Britain, may well be that over 30% of this nation do not have internet access, let alone broadband. But how many attempt to get a computer, get connected, have multiple problems and hence fall at the very first hurdle?

Some years ago, at a Plunkett Foundation event about getting people online, I proposed an NHS Direct equivalent - IT Direct. A freephone number that anyone with a computer related problem could ring to access advice and a choice of local suppliers/repair shops/consultants who could fix the computer problem. Preferably, not based in India.

If Digital Britain is to succeed, we need a computer and internet literate nation. At present, judging by the fact that the majority of internet users I meet still type the name of the website they want to visit into Google (or whichever search page is set in the Home settings by the vendor of their computer) even when they know the URL, we most definitely do not have that. Even the most basic IT problem can be met with blank stares and increasingly urgent requests for help before desperation sets in and the computer is abandoned. Not everyone is a geek!

Many people are incapable of keeping their computer working for any length of time, particularly on a shared computer in a family/domestic environment when it can be used by multiple people, none of whom really not what they are downloading, letting through the firewall etc. If you don't know how to use a search engine to find the answer to a question you can't really voice anyway, and you don't have a geek living next door, or know how to use Twitter etc to get help, you can end up with an untidy, non-functioning plastic box lying dormant in the corner of your room. And a disconnected family.

Once people get online, the problems of computer ownership increase exponentially. A virus in an email, malicious code or scripts on a website, security issues, etc etc etc abound.

What are the solutions???

IT Direct is one.

Then, where are the public service broadcasts at prime time that will help educate our users? Click is hardly a user-friendly program for newbies but that is about all that is on offer.

Let's see Martha Lane-Fox funding 3 min programs about how to:
* protect yourself from viruses
* ensure a website that you are entering credit card details into is secure
* reboot your computer in safe mode
* set up your firewall
* find a computer geek to help you out
* search the Net effectively for answers eg using Boolean operators etc
* seek help online
* set up your wireless network
* share your connection with your neighbours (stuff the T&Cs of the ISPs, this is about connecting Britain)

That would do for a first series!!

Tied into IT Direct, it would be the best, most cost-effective method for persuading people that once online or owning a computer, they won't just be stranded without the information they need to advance. Just before the news every night, a 3 minute family-friendly snippet to help you get the most out of your computer and the Net.

UK Online centres need to get to grips with what they are trying to do and become more accessible, with user friendly websites etc and show they know how to use the technology themselves before attempting to assist others. Libraries should have short DVDs or Youtube footage answering FAQs for those who find themselves disconnected or struggling to solve an IT problem. Schools should have drop-in sessions where the youngsters educate the adults, and vice versa (I know a lot of very canny silver surfers now!). BBC should have short films and a daily dose of IT for the nation. C4 should get involved too, they make excellent films.

Parish Councils should have access to a library of practical information to help out local people. Every single local tip should be gathering all the dumped computers, printers etc and recycling and re-using them, not leaving them out in open skips in pouring rain. (A major bug bear of mine!) Local councils should be encouraging PC recycling schemes and ensuring that every single person on housing benefit is given one. Every community hub (village hall, pub, etc) should be providing open access to broadband to everyone, young and old, and the equipment to do everything required to be a digital citizen. Post Offices should have a 'send an email' facility, as well as fax to email, email to fax, email to snail mail, scanning etc.

I could go on. For hours. If we don't see some joined up thinking in this country soon, we are inevitably going to #fail to be a world leader in this arena. The money is there, the will is there, but is the necessary clarity of thought by those holding the purse strings going to make it happen? We can only wait and see I guess, but there are plenty of us at grassroots, who have to solve these problems day in and day out for FREE, with ideas and the experience to make it work.

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Very last call for FTTH Colloquium and COTS on Thursday

Read more! JustNextGenUs registrations for Thursday's event are closing imminently. Register now!! Anyone attending, or interested in the ongoing debates around this issue, come and join in the lively debate at forums and introduce yourself to others in the arena. Read more!