Following the broadband money

How the UK can save billions and get ubiquitous high speed broadband quickly

with 9 comments

Want ubiquitous high speed broadband access on the cheap and still meet the EU’s targets?

Scrap the upcoming spectrum auction, give the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum at stake to Arqiva and let the present and future operators rent it.



Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2012/01/09 at 22:19

9 Responses

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  1. Wouldn’t work, not enough masts to provide ubiquitous coverage. I don’t think anyone would invest in the rural areas, never have and never will. Might work in a few urban areas though.

    Key is to get fibre to the hillsides and more masts.
    Then the wifi cloud would possibly suffice for a year or two whilst the communities laid fibre to the home from the fibre feeds. Once we have fibre to rural homes the new rural networks will move into the urban fringes, then the telcos will up the game in the heart of urbandom and we will have a digitalbritain.

    Or, we can let the eejits at ofcom make a load of dosh auctioning the spectrum and government can waste it on expenses, and the telcos can continue to con everyone that they can deliver through the old phone lines.

    Is that a discussion or just a rant?


    2012/01/09 at 23:02

  2. Interesting idea. Why is Arqiva any more trustworthy? I doubt the telcos will want to pay even a fraction of what they paid for the WCDMA licences – that ship has well and truly sailed.


    2012/01/10 at 08:00

    • I don’t think Arqiva is necesarily any more to be trusted than for example BT, the mobile operators are likely to be better able to enforce good discipline than Ofcom or BT’s competitors appear to be.
      To take ChrisConder’s point, I also think the the operators could put the cash they would have spent on licences into getting Arquiva to expand the mast network to get 100% coverage. Arqiva says it had a successful test of LTE in the Welsh mountains. If wireless could work there it swhould work everywher.

      Ian Grant

      2012/01/10 at 09:12

  3. it’s a rant! Communities will not lay fibre, companies will in the majority of cases. Masts can be connected by wireless. And telcos will install connectivity to anywhere in the UK, standard products.

    What’s the copper problem you have Chris? if it provides a service that people want and buy what’s the issue, VM copper seems to work.


    2012/01/10 at 09:08

  4. Because Arqiva is still a company making profit for its shareholders. If we had a viable not-for-profit with enough cash to acquire and build enough transmitter sites it might work in the public interest.

    If there’s only one major 4G MNO then it has to be very careful to allow competitive access to lots of 4G VMNOs to make the market work. This will IMO be impossible if the MNO is a for-profit company.

    Viable cell size is substantially increased with 4G, hence penetration into the rural fringe. This (in gov speak) “quick win” can be achieved without much extra fibre and should provide far better mobile data in and around areas already covered by some 3G. But even this “quick win” can’t be achieved without using masts and infrastructure of existing operators, so in some ways there’s co-dependency. 3G MNOs need spectrum and government needs cell sites.

    It’s actually looking like a “patchwork” infrastructure with subleasing obligations might be the best way forward. That way public money can subsidise rural 4G and the money invested would stay with a not-for-profit public interest company. This would then be sublet to the Big Four who would resell the bandwidth, providing a cost-effective way of achieving high national coverage without asking each 4G bidder to put their own underused cells into unprofitable rural areas.

    One sickening aspect of this whole shenanigans is the way government is willing to throw public money at incumbents in the vague hope they’ll provide a better service. All public money should be invested, via a public interest company, in infrastructure the public retains ownership of.

    • Lots of points, thanks James. What if Ofcom found Arqiva to have SMP (significant market power) and insisted Arqiva provide MVNO access to its frequencies the way it is “letting” BT provide access to its physical infrastructure?

      Ian Grant

      2012/01/10 at 13:27

      • Does Arqiva have SMP as the sole operator of TV transmitter sites?

        Does anyone else other than Chris think the economics of connectivity regarding fibre, radio links etc. are significant in the provision or is it site rental, mast costs, base station costs that are the issue?


        2012/01/10 at 15:58

      • if Arqiva were made to provide access in the same way BT are providing access via PIA that would not benefit anyone. The small print is enough to put anyone off, the excess charges are hidden and when you come to actually try to achieve anything you can’t.


        2012/01/10 at 17:54

    • w00t. well said James. kudos.


      2012/01/10 at 17:52

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