Search This Blog

Thursday 25 February 2010


Read more! Yes, you read that right. Greater than 2 gigabits per second. Not 2Mbps. (Take note: UK USC/USO supporters)

There are too many people here in Lisbon who are not stymied by incumbent telco interests or vintage tech and network asset sweating. Conversations, panel sessions, presentations and documents are flying around this conference about "Think big, think a gig", bandwidth hungry apps etc to NOT have people putting slides up about ONGOING testbeds for applications and services which will use greater than 2 gig.

Portugal, which has a government supported FTTH network already reaching 1.8M people now, have a test bed/innovation space to discover TODAY what apps will be the killer apps in the 'much greater than current connectivity' space. And these guys have FTTH and fat pipes. UK, just to rub it in, has <3000 FTTH connections. Singapore, Korea and many other countries are moving to a level of connectivity, now, that the British are going to struggle to dream about for a generation yet at this rate.

One of the saddest things as a Brit that I saw today was a slide showing where the UK fit in competition vs technology. We are bottom of the bottom. We do not have competition when assessed against other countries and we are using prehistoric technology.

Whilst other countries already have applications which use bandwidth as though it was some soon to be non-existent fuel, the UK has......tell me? What?

We have nothing to show off at conferences like this. The UK is, unsurprisingly, absent from presentations and talks at this conference. As it was in Copenhagen, Amsterdam etc etc. Except, we (and I say 'we' very loosely because I can hide behind foreign languages to lose my nationality when I have to) continue to lie to our countrymen about the state of the nation.

If anyone else tries to tell me that the UK is some digitally advanced nation this year, I am probably going to cash in my remaining premium bond and send them to Romania, Estonia, northern Sweden, Korea, or some similarly difficult terrain for a Brit, to prove that we have NOTHING to boast about.

Actually, if broadband becomes an election issue, you could all join and help and we will send every single PPC to a foreign country to see the truth on this. It would quieten the hustings no end.

I have become increasingly embarrassed over the years at FTTH events. Is Britain so insular it can't see the reality and truth of the situation? I know it isn't just me who is taking time out to visit projects elsewhere and learn what we need to do. I was involved in wireless in Bolivia in 2004/5 that delivered more than much of the UK 'enjoys' today as far as broadband-enabled services. We are a developing nation, lagging monstruously behind many others who we have been disparaging about (and continue to be) on other issues, whilst remaining seemingly blind to our own shortfalls.

We have NOTHING in the UK as far as broadband goes. Not even yesterday's broadband. We certainly have nothing approaching tomorrow's broadband. We pride ourselves on our regulatory environment, yet the regulatory meeting today showed Ofcom to be the most backward thinking of all EU regulators. I do not think I am alone in thinking that by any means.

Britain's failure to even attempt to play catch up has been a subject of conversation all day. For many, the UK is a laughing stock in the broadband game. We aren't even in the FTTH endgame, whatever telcos, ministers and spinmeisters tell you. In fact, speaking several languages well enough to eavesdrop on conversations around you at events like this is just painful.

There is a genuine feeling of non-comprehension about the UK approach to FTTH and connectivity for today and the future. Whilst everyone pushes ahead, what the ROW sees is that Britain is talking (sorry Dad) crap.

We seem to be as blind as our closest ally, the Americans, about how the world views the isle we live on and those who live on it. Binge drinking, a failure to cope with even the most minor crisis (usually weather related), high crime rates and teen stabbings, lack of respect when abroad, poor education and 11 year olds who can't read or write, patients who would rather travel to a country where they have no chance of speaking the language than to be treated at home, appalling behaviour in our streets, homes, communities, at football matches, etc etc.

Many people in other countries think Britain and the British are truly dreadful. We do little to dispel that opinion....

>2Gbps is where we need to be looking NOW. Not 2Mbps. If we are so deluded we can't accept that this is what is now PROVEN to be required for applications and services that make all the difference to the people and businesses of a country, then what are we doing? Who are we letting guide the UK on the taming of the broadband beast? Do they have even half a clue about what is happening elsewhere? Are the advisors at this conference? Do they understand what the technology enables and why we need it? Are we just letting an incumbent stall all innovation to protect the corporate rather than national interest?

Or are we operating in such an unlit and dark hole, devoid of any interaction with the rest of the world, that we really are as utterly clueless as we appear to many people at this conference?

I hate to believe that this might be the reality of the situation but after 15 years, and watching UK fibre companies close and/or relocate to other countries, is the truth that we have actually lost the plot? Because my fear is that if I accept that the UK really is as bad as it looks from over here, then it's time to join the many thousands of skilled digital people who have already left.

Is it time to admit defeat and say, "So long and thanks for all the ghoti?"

Read more!

Lisbon FTTH Conference Thunks

Read more! Thunks= thoughts, opinion, freefall event considerations, thanks etc. Firstly, Lisbon is quite an amazing city - architecturally, historically, and also as a retail environment that has to be the first place I have been for a long time where there aren't boarded up windows and closed shops. Not that I 'do' shopping, but if you do, I strongly recommend a visit....

Many thanks to all those who have made this visit possible and very enjoyable. If only I didn't have to rush back for the FTTH colloquium in the UK on Friday - there are so many people still to talk to! Thanks to AFL Technologies, Emtelle, Cisco, FTTH Council Board (especially for the unexpected kudos), and to all the many others who have suffered being collared by me, often purely on account of their name badges, and who have accepted my interrogations and offered invaluable advice and support.

There are a couple of bad points I need to get out of the way.

Another conference venue with insufficient bandwidth to overused access points. 20Mbps divided up through 16 access points is simply NOT ENOUGH. There were 2,500+ delegates, many of whom were wifi-enabled and/or looking to use a decent network. For many, this should have been the opportunity to experience the reality of FTTH. So many trying to hammer such a slim network.... Hmmm, you can guess the results!

And what a sadly dark (and oddly blue) venue for a conference about light.

Also, I ventured into several sessions and failed to hear anything new from the panels and speakers. Our session was apparently cancelled because of the white papers received from vendors. What a shame. I think both the students and the bloggers had novel things to contribute....

I thought I was just feeling my age in the FTTH arena i.e. 10 years - "heard it all before". BUT, I realised it is not that. I think it is that the standard traditional conference format is now dead in the water. Out on the floor and in the booths, it was such a very different story - dynamic and lively. Especially for someone like me who is pushing the rural FTTH picture. This year I am no longer aiming at the moon alone it seems. It was telling that the exhibition space was so busy through every session - people want to interact with others, not hear speakers who often know less than the audience.

Colloquia and interactive-type events are the way forward, I'm sure....luckily, that's what we do so well!! The students and I spent a happy hour or two discussing what we would like to make happen at future FTTH Council events. Wolfgang et al, watch your inboxes! And Joeri, you are going to be fully interactive in this ;o)

Then, there was the slightly failed meet up which wasn't helped by the congestion on the network when we were all trying to meet. But, you live and learn! Sorry to the people who I know now were within feet of us....and none of us realised. (RFID tags in conference name badges anyone?!)

So, the pukka stuff....

* FTTH Council events give you the opportunity to mix with those in the space who know their stuff. The Council deserve a very serious pat on the back for such a high quality of delegate and exhibitor.

* The calibre of questions being asked at the student's booth by FTTH Council members was great, and telling - the vendors need the answers from their end users. There were only 4 of us amongst all those attendees but the students' demos and answers were awesome. Look them up - Kevin, Mihail and J.

* Every booth I went to seemed to have a major innovation for FTTH. Companies across the whole of Europe and beyond are making huge steps in solving the FTTH problems. New problems are constantly emerging - do you know how flat out the fibre companies are running to keep up with increased demand? Why isn't an HD TV with built-in webcam available today? 144 or 96?!

* The focus for many companies who have traditionally been B2B has shifted to B2C ie FTTH delivery, services etc. I've been watching this in the UK and it was clearly reflected here - new entrants (but experienced corporates) to not just the B2C market per se, but the FTTH delivery rather than supply market. If you count 'home' as premise, building, road, dyke etc - "anything which can be smart and fibred" as I heard in one session today, then this consumer facing approach can only be applauded.

* Each of us is a consumer. It's just maybe that some people forget that fact when they are "at work". Don't! You are just like me, my neighbour, my friends, my family. We all need this connectivity, whoever we are. Every conversation I had on that premise went into topics that were really, really FUNKY!

* Rural FTTH is no longer a "you'll never do it" subject. It is now a conversation opener that leads to some very exciting views, information, products, and more. The figures are compelling and more and more companies have solutions to consider. This in itself is desperately exciting for country bumpkins like me!! And many of the case studies now available should be compulsory reading for the nay sayers. I hope that ongoing talks with the FTTH Council Board will help to make many of these available during 2010 now to those who most need that info in the UK. The numbers stack, guys, JFDI!

* Slowly, but surely, as FTTH Council conferences become a very serious establishment ("we only do 2 events a year and this is one") on the FTTH landscape, then we are seeing much more co-operation and collaboration. Companies are no longer focussing on just their own products. I had far more recommendations this year along the lines of, "You should talk to so and so on Booth x" because people are working together to solve the problems.

* So, the jigsaw pieces are coming together to solve the FTTH problem, and that is heart-warming. Interestingly, the FTTH solution seems to tick many of the boxes that nations need to in order to not just recover from this recession, but also to progress for the next 20-50 years. Now, if only a few politicians, regulators, public sector workers etc would realise that FTTH would solve so many of their problems....! I think they are, but why aren't there more of them at these fantastic conferences?

* My notebook is overflowing with ideas, thoughts, innovation, contacts and details of projects to investigate. And that, I guess, is why the FTTH Council Conference events are *so* worth attending. In a year where some things have pushed so many of those in the broadband world to utter desperation, frustration and exhaustion, this event once again lights the fire (pun intended) to keep going.

My final thank you - Luis and Gonzalo - for a fascinating insight into Portugal and for putting up with my Spartuguese!

Read more!

Monday 22 February 2010

Pole Dancing Redux

Read more! A wee bit early for May-Poles, so what is happening here in a quiet rural part of North Yorkshire?

Down to Earth, practical Notspot elimination, that's what!
Read more!

Thursday 18 February 2010

Lisbon FTTH Council conf

Read more! OK, I now have an increasingly exciting list of people to meet up with in Lisbon. As last year in Copenhagen, and previously in Amsterdam, many of us didn't even know we were all there and hence never got a chance to meet(!), I propose a meet up of Fibrevolutionaries.

The Fibrevolutionary Meet up will happen at 1.30pm on Wednesday near the buffet bar between stands 10 and 40. That's behind the gold and silver stands to the right if you are facing reception. Look for the Emtelle and Cisco stands and you should be in the right place!

It will be a chance to introduce yourselves, exchange business cards, eat lunch and arrange further social gatherings/ meetings for those who may not be part of a group or company.

See you there!!

Read more!

Wednesday 17 February 2010

I have a dream....of rural connectivity

Read more! 15 years after I was first given a modem in a field at an eco-festival, and then discovered that dial up was a pile of poo, I am still without a connection that allows me to do my job, run my internet-based business, video conference with friends and family (down the road let alone abroad), watch iPlayer, enjoy health, wealth and learning opportunities that others in rural areas around the world take for granted, etc. And yet....

This time one month ago, I was connected into a very, very, very fat pipe. In America, courtesy of my now good friends at Utopia. I went there to see how you could make FTTH happen in rural Britain. I nearly didn't come back purely because of the experience of being on a fat pipe, except that I know it's possible here too.

I read about FTTH all the time and have been reading about FTTH for at least 10 of the last 15 years. I met people there, and elsewhere in USA, who gave me answers I have been seeking for far too long.

Today, I spoke to someone British who I last saw about 10 years ago. We still share the same dream - connecting rural communities in the UK to fibre and disproving the ridiculous hype about why it isn't possible. That dream really, really matters to me. And him. And many, many others who loiter in my inbox, on Twitter, at colloquia, at other events, in forums etc. There will be a group of us meeting in Lisbon next week. If you are going to be there, get in touch....

In the last few days, I have been quizzed (or rather, interrogated!) about what exactly it is that I have developed over the last 3 months (read: 15 years) to achieve that dream. I know that there are aspects of this ... this....hmm, let's call it a project....about which I am vague. It is not deliberate. It's generally because I am a bear of little brain and I seem to know "a man who does". You don't play in this sector for 15 years without meeting a few people who know their stuff.

I do not need to know every answer to every question about this project. Whether it is a technical or fiscal question - why bark when you have a dog? I do not mean that in any way condescendingly or patronisingly. I mean, if you know a man who can, then make use of that expertise instead of endeavouring to become an expert in something you don't need to be. This has to be about team building. Working together. Learning from each other. Co-operating.

I have my own skillset. It has been finely honed over the years so that I can contribute something of value to this type of project. (Or so I hope!) One of my skills is collecting people in my address book who have the answers, gained over YEARS in the business. Years that I don't have, nor do you, to make the dream of rural fibre happen by becoming that expert. My address book is a team of people now who can deliver, I believe, something quite extraordinary. Disruptive? I guess. World changing? Potentially, in the UK at least. Profitable? Definitely.

This post is about COLLABORATION and CO-OPERATION. I know that in my circle of fibre friends there are a multitude of people who if I could just get them in one room for a weekend would make some very serious things happen for FTTH. Who could make #digitalbritain happen before the telcos will, before regulation can be put in place to overcome untold difficulties created mainly by commercial pressures, before most of this country even understands what the world beyond bog standard broadband looks like.

FTTH could be here very soon. It is not about talking shops or yet more reviews, consultations, lobbying etc. It is about JFDI. I know I keep saying this, and have even written books on the subject (thanks to whoever it was who bought a substantial number of my books today!!), but it really is about getting together and making it happen.

My reward will not be fiscal on past evidence (!), although any money for what this 'battle' has cost to date would probably keep the accountant and bank manager happier. My reward will be to know that we, the team behind this project, have actually JFDI and broken the ground (literally) to show others it CAN BE DONE.

So, to finalise, I know it can be done. You know it can. None of us can do it alone, or it would have happened a decade ago.

Who is in your address book who you should be ringing to talk about actually doing it? If you are missing people with specific skills, come to the colloquia (next week, May/June and Oct). Tell us you need a colloquium on a specific topic, and we will endeavour to get those people in a room for a few hours to discuss coalface issues with you. Join the COTS group and make a difference there and meet the people you need to make this happen. Go to the CLA meeting on 2nd March and collaborate with others on the Final Third issues.

If we all focus on solving this problem once and for all, it can be done. There are communities across the UK with hard-working champions doing much of the leg work without support from those who can resolve their problems, easily. If you are a funder, make funding available for those who are JFDI across this country in rural communities galore. Make a strenuous effort to find out who is on your manor who you have missed and who could deliver your tickboxes far easier than Business Link ever will.

On a commercial basis, this is your market share, your end users, the consumers you want.

Connect with those people.

Come and meet them at the colloquia.

Talk to them.

Work with them.

Collaborate and co-operate.

Make it happen.

I honestly believe that there is a slice of the FiWi Pie for everyone if you do.

Read more!

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Robin Hood tax & FTTH

Read more! Remember this post here back in November about the bankers should pay for FTTH?

In light of the Robin Hood tax which was all over the news today, I thought I'd repost it. Whilst there are pressing issues globally such as child poverty etc, I stand by my long-held belief that access to communication tools would help out many of those in need.

Without decent infrastructure this cannot happen.

Let me give an example or two.

Close to home: Recently, an 8 year old put a bunch of adults, governments etc to shame by riding his bike around a local park to fund raise for Haiti. How did he raise his money? Through - that's a website. His selfless act ONLY featured on the TV after it had been plastered all over Twitter, Facebook etc for days. (They are websites, just in case you have been off-planet!).

Further from home: I watched a couple of old blokes in deepest darkest Bolivia some years ago work as a team to use a keyboard and screen to access market prices. One had learned to read at school, the other to type. Between them, they managed to navigate their local website to find info from the updated news from the local farming co-op, which they told me would allow them to judge what to plant, what fertilisers to buy, what prices to expect next year and so on.

I saw their farming co-op first hand, and many others. These people had had their local crop and much land decimated and contaminated with pesticides by the US government. That destruction included the landing strips that allowed access to college for youngsters, to the hospital for the sick, and for the incoming tourist trade which they had begun to rely on for eco-tourists. No matter that these people sold the huge majority of their coca to local people to combat altitude sickness.

What changed their lives, and I understand continues to do so, was the wireless and satellite communications systems that we recommended and negotiated and installed for them.

Whether it is jungle drums, mobile phones, or FTTH, without decent infrastructure that allows people to COMMUNICATE FREELY, this world is forever held hostage to government and industry agendas.

I support the Robin Hood tax. I don't mind if only 0.05% of it makes its way into a global fund for FTTH, but that would make one helluva difference nevertheless.

Read more!

Think big with a gig

Read more! It had to come and many of us have been awaiting today. Google are stepping into the FTTH space. Telcos and ISPS around the world should start quaking in their boots, if they didn't when Google ran a very fat pipe across the Pacific. Communities and consumers should cheer.

This may well be called an experiment, but in reality, it's pure and total disruption. Allow me to WOOP!

If Google were running in the up and coming election, I think they'd be hard-pushed not to take a massive number of votes!

Open access model - perfect.

Nominate your own community - that's where community champions come in, as we have all been saying all along, but many in the industry and government, including local government, have chosen to ignore.

Encouraging innovation - at last!! Without the right infrastructure none of the possible advances which will come from bedrooms and home offices around the country. And in the countryside.

Discovering what the actual problems are, instead of what the telcos claim them to be - great. And knowing Google, these will be shared with the world.

What does this mean for the UK?

I prophesy that BT will be putting out an announcement or two in the very near future that they are upping their battle plan for FTTH in the UK. We all know that Google has close ties with the UK and Ireland, and there is no way Google are unaware of the problems in the UK with 21st century comms, nor how to get around them.

Google getting a few networks in by the time of the London Olympics....that's also a possible.

Is Google taking over the world? Who cares if it gets FTTH to rural communities, finally.

I suspect this will definitely be one the agenda for the colloquium now - book your place today.

Read more!

Get your invite to Fiber Fete NOW!

Read more! David Isenberg and Geoff Daily have organised Fiber Fete in Lafayette, LA in April. It is invite only, and it is one event you really want to attend!

I visited Lafayette on my recent trip to the States, and the work done there to progress FTTH on a community (municipal) ownership model is inspirational, educational, and also offers the opportunity to learn many lessons to bring back to your own country/region/community.

However, this event is not so much about Lafayette as about bringing together global innovators, thinkers, entrepreneurs, policy experts, community activists and more in the FTTH and fibre sector.

Anyone who has been to one of Dave Isenberg's events e.g. WTF or FTC know that when Dave holds an event, it will be worth every moment of your time (just like the colloquia!)

Geoff Daily (who invited me on my recent trip) is renowned for his contacts within the US fibre sector and his blog, App-Rising is a must-follow for an informed US commentary on events within the sector as they unfold, particularly from a Washington perspective.

Go to the website today for Fiber Fete and request your invitation to this unique event now.

Read more!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

BOOK now! Making The Final Third Happen Colloquium

Read more! Bringing together the end to end players in this vital process of connecting rural areas, the colloquium on 26th Feb is filling up fast.

Whether you work for a council, are an MP with a rural constituency, you know what equipment is required to bring FTTH and FiWi to the disconnected ruralites, you sell said equipment, you offer backhaul to community projects, you are a consumer looking to get a decent connection for your home and business, or you are involved in community initiatives, this event is for you.

Register now and come and join a determined and expert group of people who have all the pieces of the jigsaw to make rural broadband happen.

This event follows the colloquium in Hull last September where the conversations were just beginning to get really interesting before we ran out of time prior to the COTS event!

Full details on the website. Thanks to Timico, Broadsoft and NextGenUs for sponsorship.
Read more!

Monday 8 February 2010

BT to open its ducts

Read more! is reporting that BT are to open its ducts to other operators.

About time too. We can only hope that this extends right the way through the first mile, and that the T&Cs are not excessively prohibitive, nor the costs.
Read more!

Thursday 4 February 2010

The Rural Broadband Colloquium, 26th Feb 2010

Read more! Rural broadband has moved up everyone's agenda - politicians, media, RDAs, rural organisations, telcos, businesses, and consumers. And about time too! The Final Third (as those who are deemed unviable to the telcos have been christened), are now front page media material. So.... as we have been doing for almost a decade now, we are holding three FTTH colloquium events during 2010 to Make The Final Third Happen.

For far too long, the rural voice has been unheard: great ideas, commitment, innovation, dedication, and actual JFDI networks have been ignored; many f*&^w$%*s politicians and policy makers, regulators, rural agencies, (sadly, even businesses, citizens and consumers too) have fallen for the hype that there is "no money in connecting those who choose to live outside the cities"....

After 15 years trying to prove this wrong, we now have the evidence that that last statement is simply untrue. We can show:

* That rural communities can be connected to FTTH in a profitable manner
* That affordable capital (<5%) is available for such networks
* That the figures stack up to do it on industry standard models, just as rural areas have done previously with utilities
* That communities can take control where the telcos have shown considerable apathy
* That fibre is not only financially sensible, short and long term, it is also enviromentally wise vs copper
* That the term 'broadband' is completely outdated and UK thinking needs to play catch up, fast, if we want to compete in the global knowledge economy, or any type of global economic marketplace
* That regulators can keep up if they wish to and separate themselves from the hindrance of 'loyalties' to the telcos (often their ex-employers and colleagues)
* And that it is high time that politicians understand the rules of engagement and join the battle for the rural and semi-urban constituencies to adopt 21st century communications. The election is nigh, and as I and others have been claiming for some time ago - broadband will become an election issue of import.

None of us have forked out our own, unclaimable-on-expenses, hard-earned money to go and visit rural FTTH networks elsewhere for no reason. Many of us have not been shouting into the wilderness (of Westminster) and/or acquiring incredible UK-based expertise for all these years without good reason. It CAN BE DONE. It is time for US to do it, not wait for shareholder, career, or vote-driven interests to catch up.

2010 is the year when YOU, whoever you are, can help contribute to connecting the Final Third to fully articulated, universal FTTH networks. Not some sop of "mobile broadband" which can't ever deliver the bandwidth required to achieve the reality of today's services, let alone tomorrow's. Nor extending the monopoly that has been copper for yet more years. Not lowering the bar to a naive USC (not even a USO) that most countries are giggling at the poverty of. Into their GDPs, I may add.

If you believe that you can contribute to Making the Final Third Happen, please come to the colloquium on 26th Feb in Newark, Notts.

This is not some gathering of well-meaning yokels. We are gathering together CEOs, Senior Execs, financiers, ISPs, movers and shakers, purse string holders, wireless and fibre experts, grassroots activists who can often see solutions where BT etc only see problems (usually with their shareholders), as well as very determined individuals who fully understand why UK PLC needs FTTH sooner rather than later and who will deliver on the vision.

We have been so close to making this happen in the last few months, but no-one has brought together all of those who see where the UK FTTH future lies. Until now.

Come to the Colloquium. Space is limited, so book your ticket today.

Make The Final Third Happen

Space is limited at this first event, but the format is designed to ensure everyone is heard, and that plenty of networking happens amongst like-minded people. The chance to meet others who are the missing piece of your jigsaw for a profitable FTTH rural network is higher at a colloquium than when you are lost in a crowd of 400+ delegates, listening to speakers telling you that which you already know, and whom you can't correct when they are wrong. ;o)

Register now

More news soon on this this space #

Read more!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Reply to Mandelson

Read more! There are times when Facebook campaigns in response to Westminster lunacy bring out the genius in the British .....There's no two ways about it, Mr Mandelson, this is for you. Read more!

Challenging the Single Bill Idyll

Read more! Am trying to work through all my notes from the States and thought I would run this issue by you and see what you think....I call it the "Single Bill Idyll".

I had the opportunity to ask some of the founders of some of the most successful FTTH networks (rural and mixed urban-rural) "What would you do differently if you were starting today?" Bear in mind, some of these projects have been going for 10 years (yup, we are a *long* way behind). The world has changed considerably in that time, so plenty of lessons have been learnt by these guys, which happily they shared with me, on many aspects of FTTH network operations.

Two of the answers included changes to the way they bill the end-user.

In general, the people I met are running open networks. That is, that any service provider can offer each consumer (be they business, public sector, households, etc) a variety of services the consumers wants over the pipe.

In an ideal world, from a consumer point of view, we would all prefer to have the least number of bills coming through our door - the Single Bill Idyll. From a converged telecoms point of view, we have seen most operators opting for bundles in order to try to achieve that. Not often that they try so hard to keep consumers happy ;o) but in this instance, it makes sense for minimising churn and maximising revenue, even where a proportion of the revenue is simply a commission on reselling someone else's white label product to fulfill the bundle.

Where a network (such as Onsnet in Nuenen, for instance) sets out to build a Wholesale Open Access network with suppliers providing the content, and then fails to attract providers, the choices are...well, nil! You have to provide the content, and you bill the user. You are all things to all men, as it were.

However, where a network is built knowing that the network is open access, then you bring in suppliers for all the content. (Don't think Hollywood type content eg films etc when we talk content as for many of the networks I spoke to this is a very minor part of the usage of the pipe - I'll have to come back to that as it changes some current thinking in certain depts!)

The quandary then is the move away from the single bill idyll. So, question for readers:

Do you

a) Protect the single bill idyll because the consumers like it, and take on all the billing for your suppliers. (Negative aspects of this are that you need to create a billing system to fit, that you are often seen to be the supplier of the services and any problems concerning it are associated with your company/brand etc. Plus, who do you think gets the support calls?!)

b) Protect the single bill idyll, but allow your suppliers to bill for everything, including your monthly subscriber fee/connection cost. (Negative aspect of this is that if the going gets rough, the last bill the supplier will pay is yours. Also, if the customer takes more than one service, it gets complex).

c) Stuff the single bill idyll. The customer has to take the good with the bad - they have a fat pipe, multiple services that didn't even exist in the days of good ol' broadband, so they can pay two (or more) bills.

Your thoughts on this issue would be most welcome. In the meantime, I have discovered that many people would actually be willing to PAY to get BT bills off their doormat forever. I may extend the survey more widely and challenge the spend of the levy on this basis!!
Read more!

Rural Broadband Coalition & Colloquium

Read more!
The emphasis for the need to 'up the pace' on delivering rural connectivity increases by the day....

It seems that the message is slowly sinking in - it is time to stop talking and start doing. However, there is still a need to educate across all levels so that the right (political) decisions are made to deliver the required EndGame.

Dr Charles Trotman, CLA has just emailed regarding the need for a broadband coalition in order to get co-operation and collaboration in solving the problem. (see below for the text of the email)

The first meeting to establish how such an organisation will be run is arranged for 2nd March in London. If you wish to attend, please email Charles.Trotman at the CLA domain.

Charles will also be informing the first of three planned Digital Dales colloquia for 2010, specifically on rural broadband issues, which will be held on 26th February. "Making the Final Third Happen" has kindly been sponsored by Timico, and will be held at their HQ in Newark from 10am. That's 26th February - stick it in your diary, this is an event not to miss as we plan to share some secrets!

Watch this space for more info on the colloq....and contact Lindsey if you want to sponsor the post-event networking session, or exhibit.

CLA Invite:

Dear all,

As you are all no doubt aware, there is increasing activity on the issue of rural broadband. However, a lot of this activity is based at either a local or regional level with little if any access to Whitehall.

In addition, many people I have discussed the broadband issue with accept the need that there needs to be a significant element of co-ordination for there to be any major success, both in terms of the Government’s 2012 objective (commitment) and beyond to 2017.

Therefore, it is our view that now is the right time to seek to pull together a national coalition of groups and individuals that can set and focus on a series of lobbying objectives.

To this end, I am pleased to invite you to a meeting that will be held at 16 Belgrave Square, London to discuss the creation of such a coalition and how such a body would operate on

Tuesday 2 March 2010 at 11.00am.

The meeting is likely to last 2 hours

If you are able to attend, please reply by e-mail (

Many thanks

Dr Charles Trotman
Head of Rural Business Development
Country Land and Business Association
16 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PQ
Tel: 0207 460 7939

Read more!