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Friday 13 November 2015

How to overbuild your infrastructure.

Read more! I have to admit that it was the trip down the sewers near the London Olympics that made me investigate Bazelgette. If you are in any way involved in infrastructure, you need to research this.
This blog post can be read at

If you cannot use DuckDuckGo and do not know how to visit the British Library (in real life or remotely), give yourself a shake. If you are involved in any way with the build of Digital Britain, you should not even be allowed to do so without citing some of Bazelgette´s theories about infrastructure.

This is the man who has so far stopped the City of London flooding with sewage. Go and look at the architecture that protects Londoners from having dirty feet. Take 2 mins to comprehend how this chap´s maths has kept London safe from cholera, typhoid etc for far more than 100 years.


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What is "average usage"?

Read more! If we are going to plan a network that is fit for purpose, then one would hope we know at least the capacity required to do so. On a Bazelgette Basis.
This blog post can be read at

Today (yesterday) I read that an average user consumes 15TB a year, 600GB a year, 150GB a year and umpteen other figures. Most, if not all, came from "trusted sources".

Gigaclear, BT, Virgin etc.

Now I don´t know what to believe. And I´m sure if we are going to plan a network that is not only fit for purpose but also fit for the future, we need to grasp some of the usage figures over said network. There is one helluva big difference between 15TB a year and 600GB for 25 Million premises. We cannot plan for capacity if we have no solid hold on what is being done on the network.

I have no idea who is right, wrong or indifferent and producing numbers simply to keep the marketing department happy. But I do know that unless you lot sort yourselves out and start telling the truth, we are going to end up with ever more confused Ministers (not hard), a network that is worth two bobbins of broken string, and an economy which cannot grow at its natural rate.

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Sunday 8 November 2015

Lest We Forget

Read more! The initial "cable rush" far more than a century ago was led by Britain, followed quite some time later by France and Germany.

This blog post can be read at

Queen Vic and US Pres Buchanan exchanged cable messages waaaaay back in 1859, but the cable packed in after a mere 732 messages had been sent. It was finally fixed once the Civil War was out of the way in 1866. (At least there was a pretty good reason for the delay).

In 1892 Britain had 66.3% control of all the cable on earth with a staggering 163,619km. By 1923, this had risen to 297,802km and we still maintained control of over half the cable on the planet. This meant that as we wandered into the 20th century (and a set of international crises the world is in some ways still recovering from), everyone had to send all international and diplomatic comms through us. No wonder we developed such a world-renowned spy network - the info was handed to us on a plate!

Great photos of Porthcurno in Cornwall where the first Transatlantic cables came ashore

In 1870, a cable was laid from Porthcurno to Portugal with a second going in just three years later in 1873. In 1887 and then again in 1897, the Brits managed to lay cables from Cornwall to Gibraltar. In 1901, we threw one in down to Madeira to complete a link to Cape Town and the undersea and under ocean cable laying just went on and on.

Considering the fuss made now about laying fibre down a street in UK, maybe we should be giving more history lessons to our MPs, councillors, citizens and civil engineers!! It clearly isn´t rocket science if we were laying thousands of miles every year over a hundred years ago.
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Tuesday 27 October 2015

The ideal solution for final 5%

Read more! We knew this was coming.....It doesn´t make it right, or good, or logical, or sensible or long-term but.....
This blog post can be read at

It does allow BDUK to tick thousands of boxes in one go, sit back on their laurels and announce job done, and the rest of us to subtlely and firmly apply our heads to our desks.

Broadband Groundhog Day will recommence in oooooh let´s see....2016? At least we can all have Christmas off (Is Christmas even still allowed in UK or will that simple pagan/Christian festival offend someone like bacon and sausages appear to have this week? Just askin´....)
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Wednesday 21 October 2015

Has broadband improved?

Read more! PING!This is the 5ttH space back online. I had this rather optimistic hope that the broadband issues would be over by now and Fiver To The Home (5ttH) would be happily in hibernation except as an historic archive. I guess I am just (mainly) deluded!
This blog post can be read at

So. Oh dear. Really? Is this where we are at in autumn 2015? How very embarrassing. For UK at least.

One would have hoped - especially reading back to 2008, 2009 and 2010 (which is when BDUK hit the media) -that by now we might be on the path to recovery. After all, even I had done 10 years campaigning for broadband by 2008 and our illustrious gurus (whose names I will bring up in future posts) had already got a further 20 years under their belts by then since the pre-1984 debacle.

We should be: Fibre in the ground, way past the "It is not fibre if it is copper" argument and seeing some seriously funky delights coming out of gigabit homes/bedrooms and inspired minds once we got past the scarcity model and made bandwidth abundant.

Um. No?

Oh look. For those of you were not about the first time UK PLC bailed BT out to fund "broadband"

2 points here:

1) Back then (1998 onwards) we wanted broadband defined by the 1984 definition: 2 Mbps symmetrical, capable of transmitting and receiving synchronously (at the same time) voice, video and data
- you got ADSL (which clearly still in 2015 does none of the above)

2) We all wanted to see a chance for alt techs to flourish, then as now. Do not even get me started on the alt community wireless networks that were deliberately taken out in the last pass. And not just by the industry. The wireless cloud over your head should, BY NOW, be in place. Technically, it is a doddle. Even in the London Underground. And it should be fibre fed...

So, now it seems that in autumn 2015, bandwidth is still scarce, broadband is still not fit for purpose, and laughably, the political parties have just learnt the term "4th Utility" during their conferences last month. (First used here in early 2010 after I think we bandied it about as a common term at the Newark Colloquium which was held autumn 2009 I think? Tref might remember the exact date....)

Anyhoo, 6+ years after we all took on board the absolute that was "broadband" (yes, I do know precisely what I have just written!) and named it "4th utility", our delightfully well-educated (expensive but shallow?) top dogs have finally heard of the term that is used to jam down even the thickest necks that this utility is REQUIRED. Understanding of delivery of said term? Still approaching zero from all appearances!

Really, I wish I could laugh more than I feel inclined to. Clearly, our telcos are still kicking the ball around in the dirt and our Honourable and wotsit fellows are a wee bit behind the times. (Like 40 generations or more of their ermine once they get promoted). And freedom of speech in the UK is now so restricted that what I would like to say would undoubtedly end me up in jail.

[My translator - I am learning new languages whilst typing - just read "in Wales" into my ear for ´in jail´ in the sentence above! I like Wales.] However, last week, when talking to someone from Washington and explaining that a new case of Mad Cow Disease had just been found in Wales, I suddenly found myself up against, "It can be caught by whales now too?" Sometimes, only the written word is sufficient but it clearly is NOT when explaining broadband or we might have reached more folk in 20 years.

For at least 15 of those, I have iterated (and re-iterated) that, "Broadband cannot be explained in words".

Thousands of politicians, PR, marketing, journalists etc folk need to TRY broadband before they write about it. Not some half-assed asymmetrical rubbish that a telco claims on behalf of their shareholders is "broadband "* (as long as no-one else is using it, you are 19m from the exchange, rubbish, rubbish, excuses etc) , but B4RN or Chattanooga: gigs up and down.

How on earth am I ever going to explain in words the moment when, after a decade or more of watching NO film EVER download, no chance of ever photoshopping a pic and uploading it, no bandwidth to upload even an animated gif to be honest, how do I say what it is like when a 3D HD version of Avatar downloaded in the back of a camper in Utah, dropped onto the screen before you had even found the kettle to make the tea? And not just a trailer - although I was in one at the time in my parlance - but a NOC on wheels and the entire film downloaded there and then. That was the first time I experienced a gigabit - they were lucky to keep the camper van after that! And then we uploaded. Oh B....a....b....y!

Really, you need to JFDI. It seems the vast majority of journos, Ofcom, MPs etc have never ever seen a symmetrical gig in use, ever. But will spout unbelievable rubbish about ´world class´connectivity at you, even when you have just used something better in Outer Mongolia in a gert surrounded by yaks than BT can muster in Hertfordshire within clear line of sight of London.

Quite happy to blow £1-8Bn of public money (that is yours, you know) but don´t know what a substandard version of it CANNOT do as they haven´t ever actually taken it out for a drive. Sigh.

I love uninformed folk who tell me a Lada Niva is identical to a Ferrari. Whilst I still think the BBC should put on a prime time tech show, I actually wish Chris Evans the best of luck with Top Gear. As has been proven - somewhat graphically recently - the easy to understand emissions statements you spout from the supplier are not always truthful are they? Well, neither are the broadband figures. And the sooner you grasp that, the better for your viewers, readers, customers etc.

So, with that short intro, I´m back. Bored of listening to the dross coming from media, government, Murphy and others. If anyone else wants to contribute to the blog, let me know. Otherwise, you have me to listen to. And, as you already know, when I choose to, I rant about broadband! You can choose to tune out. It is one of the rather wonderful things about the world. It is out there. You do not need to be by your screen or reading what I CHOOSE to write!

It is MY samizdat after all ;)

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