Following the broadband money

UK faces Comms Bill disaster because DCMS doesn’t get it

with 49 comments

The government has released a schedule of seminars designed to gather information that will inform the Green Paper that will lead to a new Communications Bill in 2015. The supporting rationale suggests it is bent on solving last century’s issues, not those of a fully digital, hypernetworked, globally competitive economy. In short the department of culture, media and sport (DCMS) just doesn’t get it.

Starting in July delegates will address

Fundamental to the debate is the broadband market in the UK, which underpins everything DCMS would like to happen. The government appears to think this job is done. It is wrong.

It says it “is already investing a total of £830 million by 2015 into improving broadband connectivity in poorly served, mainly rural areas, upgrading mobile infrastructure and establishing some of Europe’s best connected cities. Government must now also consider the other crucial building block of digital infrastructure: spectrum.”

In fact, there is not yet a single live line in the country that has come through the BDUK procurement framework process, which governs the £830m. The nine firms invited to pitch for the business resulted in two  suppliers – BT and Fujitsu – hardly a rampantly competitive scenario.

Furthermore, the European Commission has stalled the release of BDUK’s funds because none of the UK proposals put forward so far meet its target of a universal 30Mbps broadband service by 2020. There has been some movement on this; existing contracts such as Cornwall, which offer “up to” 24Mbps, will be allowed to go ahead, but new ones must meet the 30Mbps target.

Why now?

The timing of the seminars is curious. Not only is DCMS distracted by the Olympics, but the House of Lords communications committee is looking at the broadband issue. It has heard evidence that the fibre to the cabinet solution proposed by both BT and Virgin Media is a technological dead-end, unlikely to meet Europe’s secondary target of 50% of users receiving a 100Mbps service. The committee’s findings and recommendations are unlikely to inform the seminars, but may be out in time for the Green Paper DCMS hopes to publish early in 2013.

Similarly with Ofcom’s business connectivity review. This three-yearly review of the network services available to businesses, such as leased lines and backhaul, will not start before July, an Ofcom spokesman says. Its conclusions, which will assess issues such as competition levels and barriers to entry in this £2bn/y market, are unlikely to be available much before year-end. This leaves little time to absorb and debate them before they are incorporated, or not, in the Green Paper.

Fit for purpose?

It is true that DCMS has some important issues to put to bed. These include online copyright, content creation and protection, and access to content. However, these issues derive from rather than drive the physical networks.

The government appears to believe that the UK has a network infrastructure fit for purpose for the networked age. There is plenty of evidence that this not the case.

At the consumer level there are just two physical networks, BT’s and Virgin Media’s. They presently overlap, duplicating coverage for about 50% of the UK’s houses. It is unlikely that VM will go much further than this for fear of being forced to provide third parties like BT with physical access to its ducts or wholesale access to its fibres and cables.

This is likely to leave BT with an effective fixed network monopoly in the two-thirds of the country where the “Final Third” of the people live. Of course, there are other fixed networks, such as those of Geo, of Cable&Wireless Worldwide, of Vtesse Networks, that criss-cross the country. But they do not offer connections to residential customers. Some, such as Gigaclear, do. But they are very small and their business models fragile.

BT has a product, PIA or physical infrastructure access, that allows third parties access to its poles and ducts. So far only Andy Conibere’s CallFlow Solutions has taken it up. Matthew Hare, CEO of Gigaclear, says CallFlow can do it because it gets its money upfront from customers. Hare has looked at PIA and rejected it. He’s put off not so much by the price (which Fujitsu and Virgin Media say is way higher than cost) but by the terms and conditions.

“You can use PIA only for residential customers,” he says. “BT knows that any viable business plan to service rural areas relies on being able to go to all customers, including businesses,” he says.

That’s not all. Hare says, among other things, you have to disclose your entire roll-out plan, and pay BT to survey the ducts you want to use. “They should know what’s available and what condition it’s in,” he says.

Other firms, such as TalkTalk and Sky, simply rent BT’s local access networks to deliver TV, broadband and voice services to customers. The rent they pay BT, or rather Openreach, ensures that BT still profits from the transaction. This is common practice throughout Europe

Wireless worlds

Then there are the wireless network operators, led by the mobile phone companies (MNOs and MVNOs like Virgin Mobile who rent their entire network infrastructure from Vodafone, Orange, O2 or Three). They are increasingly interested in serving data products to consumers, but preferably only in towns. Besides, they have to rent space on fixed networks to hook up with the UK’s core networks and internet peering points.

This is why Vodafone’s mooted takeover of CWW is a possible game-changer; it gives the mobile operator instant access to a fixed network whose backbone is probably as extensive as BT’s and which could backhaul wireless local access links in competition to BT. It also responds to the £100m, eight year backhaul deal between Virgin Media Business and MBNL, the network company for Everything Everywhere (O2 and Orange) and Three, signed in September 2011.

The only wireless network operator with coverage comparable to BT is Arqiva, whose main job is distributing TV and radio broadcasts. BT and Arqiva are in a joint venture with Detica to compete for the network for the smart meter project that will connect the UK’s 28 million homes and offices.

Content competition

The UK has the world’s second largest independent television production sector, is the second biggest exporter of music, the largest video games industry in Europe, and the fourth largest film market. That suggests the UK’s content businesses are doing all right.

DCMS says the “creative industries” including publishing, contribute 2.5% of GVA (gross value added), about £36bn, and employ 1.5 million people. Ofcom’s Communications Market report for 2011 largely corroborates it. It says TV revenue was up 5.7% to £11.8bn, radio was up 2.8% to £1.1bn, recorded music was down 8.6% to £1.2bn (but legal downloads were up 5% to 24% of sales), advertising was £16bn, 24% of it online, about the same as TV.

But that hides some problems. Publishers and other rights holders worldwide have been stunned by the proliferation and fragmentation of media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Huffington Post, Google, Amazon etc have made mincemeat of business models that depend on high-priced access to exclusive content.

Even so, it is staggering to find DCMS wants to debate “whether convergence in the content market should require a degree of convergence in the telecoms/broadcast competition regimes”. It is hard to know what this actually means. It makes no sense unless it is a veiled threat to the ability of the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple and Sky to do deals that aggregate content and deliver it to customers for a price they are willing to pay.

These firms provide platforms for ordinary people to create and distribute their own content, without bothering cartel-like middlemen like record companies and book publishers.

There are things to be said about excessive market power and abuse of personal information, whose disclosure is often the price paid. But that is a different issue to one that should inform a Communications Bill.

By ignoring the issue of competition at the network infrastructure level, the government is in danger of condemning the UK to a sclerotic digital infrastructure that is not fit for purpose in the 21st century.

By missing or ignoring the fact that the future networks are as much about uploading and sharing as downloading and consuming, the government risks duplicating the content distribution cartels of the previous century.

Let the debate begin.


49 Responses

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  1. As you say Ian, not one live line delivered by BDUK and hardly surprising really when we consider what the acronym DCMS stands for… culture media and sport for heaven’s sake!

    What is lacking in the Digital Britain debate is any basic understanding of the science behind telecommunications which a reading of might help any interested person grasp.

    The Leveson Inquiry has lifted the lid a little on the neo-fascist convergence of big government and big business where control of media is concerned.

    Present-day Telecoms in the UK is a £multi-billion racket where artificial scarcity is deliberately engineered from actual abundance to the detriment of the many for the benefit of the few.

    And the few, led by BT, understandably seek to protect the status quo.

    Unique amongst the other public utilities, telecoms is a two-way relationship and for it to flourish government needs to recognise the old truism that three is a crowd and butt-out.

    Otherwise the UK will find itself in 2020 the digital dead-end of the EU, as Peter Cochrane pointed out the the House of Lords recently.

    Guy Jarvis

    2012/06/08 at 00:33

    • “There has been some movement on this; existing contracts such as Cornwall, which offer “up to” 24Mbps, will be allowed to go ahead, but new ones must meet the 30Mbps target.”

      I will have an opportunity to ask our BDUK rep later this am what this means, but does anyone know what qualifies as an ‘existing contract’? i.e Is it any LA plan that has not gone to tender or procurement/that has been ‘approved’ by BDUK/that has passed any of the BDUK ‘check points’? I really hope someone knows!

      Mike Phillips

      2012/06/08 at 07:20

  2. “You can use PIA only for residential customers,” Is that true, or does he mean only to provide broadband services?


    2012/06/08 at 09:03

    • It is true. Ofcom allows BT to hide behind regulation which prevents operators from using ducts/poles for multiple revenue streams, eg business and public sector. Thus the economics do not stack up and it’s not a level playing field.

      Ayres End Consulting

      2012/06/08 at 14:55

    • PIA can be used to supply SMEs on contended broadband services but not for leased lines. It’s available from exchanges out to customers, but not from exchanges to elsewhere. This is because PIA relies on BT’s SMP in the first/last mile access network. Backhaul from exchanges and leased lines are deemed to have a competitive market / product offering as i understand it.

      yarwell (@yarwell)

      2012/06/08 at 23:14

  3. The link from Guy ignores any of the technology available at the time. The Caller ID example is particularly daft. ‘If the phone network were like the Internet’. The internet didn’t exist as we know it today when Caller ID was introduced.


    2012/06/08 at 10:14

  4. […] Olympics. As I indicated in my previous blog , DCMS is focussed on the intra-UK issues of the past. Ian Grant says that DCMS does not get it . At one level he is correct. But they have different priorities after the public victory of those […]

  5. I think DCMS has had too much on its plate and the olympics were the final straw. I don’t think it has fully understood the physics of the job. DCMS has been given too much info from the main players and hasn’t seen any alternative solutions, so has taken the easy route. I think the regulator has let them down and isn’t fit for purpose. I think the ASA has let them down and isn’t fit for purpose.

    I think they should have listened to the people who pay their wages. I think they should have found out all the facts, and then made an informed decision instead of being bamboozled into what the monopoly wants them to do.

    I think that they should be honest, admit this country is broke, admit they can’t do the best broadband in Europe but will do the best they can, for the benefit of most of the population, using the infrastructure we already have. That is what is going to happen. All this funding is a strawman. All these ‘reviews’ are a waste of time if we don’t have the capacity we are going to need in the future.

    We need to break free from the incumbent and its scarcity model which although is cheap and cheerful now, and has been great for 1st generation access, will become exorbitantly expensive to run in the future, and people will turn off. If we want to get everyone online we need ubiquitous, affordable fat pipes, not a dribble from a copper tap.

    DCMS your failings will catch you out. Truth always comes out in the end. This was our chance to get some new altnets to provide competition, get some innovation going, get connections to the many rural areas where people are struggling on dial up or expensive satellites, and do the hardest places first. The new fibre altnets would have made the incumbent up their game in the cities, and everyone would have won.

    You have blown it by giving it to the incumbent to help those online go a ‘bit’ faster, and preserve the life of their phone network. Copper is not the future, but it looks like its the future for most of the UK for another decade. Thanks.

    Chris Conder

    2012/06/09 at 07:11

  6. Rather than soundbites like ‘ubiquitous, affordable fat pipes’ what is needed in detail and what typical costs should be involved for access to infrastructure?


    2012/06/09 at 07:32

    • Always with the rhetorical questions, eh, Somerset? As you know, the answer is that it all depends. You’ve read the B4RN business plan – you can work out the direct costs of doing a fibre roll-out in rural areas pretty accurately from that. BT’s cost base is higher because it rents wayleaves from landowners and has expensive management an shareholders that want dividends. B4RN has some of those costs too, but it has found innovative ways to minimise them. BT hasn’t, and has no incentive to do so, unless it’s faces competition.

      Ian Grant

      2012/06/09 at 10:00

  7. With thanks to Malcolm Corbett and others, I see the detail to which Ian refers is ‘Draft’, but I suspect will soon become ‘the law’. Malcolm gives us the link to the draft at

    Yesterday BDUK appeared not to have heard of this, so I suggested they asked some questions.

    A quick skim through the typical EU document suggests that the area of immediate interest is at part 3 page 15 on. The comments of ‘encumbent telcos infrastructure’ make interesting reading We here feel a real, crucial need now for Mr H to get up on his back legs and tell us how it looks.

    It would appear that, if this becomes the EU ‘law’ on state aid for NGA, BT do not have a hope in hell of a USC of 30mb on the cul-de-sac of FTTC. This would represent a dramatic shift in the tendering process. BT and Fujitsu are refusing to sign into the BDUK framework as chosen suppliers while the doubts exist. I do not know if the Fujitsu plan would produce a USC of 30mb, but if so, the whole scenery shifts dramatically. The biggest danger here is delay. This will probably take months to resolve, putting all the HMG ‘2015’ plans into a big black box, and moving UK ever closer to the EU 2020 ‘deadline’. It also throws the RCBF funding into disarray.

    There is a glimmer of hope, (assuming we had a government with initiative and commonsense…………..!) where the EU talk of producing a fibre backbone across the UK as being ‘acceptable’ for state aid and leaving the FTTP part to telcos whose costs would now be drastically reduced. Dare we mention ‘infrastructure investment’ to David?

    So, Jeremy – in a nutshell – more and more folk are talking about the grand plan – it is time you did. Admit that BT and FTTC is waste of time – why don’t you?

    Mike Phillips

    2012/06/09 at 07:45

    • Admirably put, Mike. Confirms what Peter Cochrane told the House of Lords communications committee too – FTTC as proposed by BT is a dead-end as far as future-proofing residential access to broadband goes, and will leave UK behind Europe and other more economically determined nations. It will also hamstring the SMEs that are the life-blood of the economy by raising their costs for access to speeds that will give them proper access to cloud computing services.
      But there are solutions. Ofcom did produce the Active Line Access standard interface. That would allow communities to dig their “middle mile” connections to a backbone fibre. Since this is where much of the cost of fibre-ing up the country arises, we need to debate it more fully.
      I’m also sure there’s a business to be made in digging trenches from homes to the fibres that pass the homes, which is the other big cost. And I’m pretty sure a lot of homeowners would be happy to spend an afternoon or so doing it themselves, if they knew what was needed.
      B4RN shows what can happen when a community pulls together in rural areas, and David Brunnen hints at what can be done in the suburbs.

      Ian Grant

      2012/06/09 at 09:47

      • Thanks, Ian. Yes, we wait for the HoL to adjudicate (I fear for ‘political’ reasons I should not hold my breath……………) but I do really think the country now needs a clear statement from HMG/DCMS as to how they now see the broadband landscape. After all, supposing we are pushed towards the 2020 line by the EU ‘debates/delays’ etc, it would be just a few short years in which we would have to literally dig up most of the existing (£830million) ‘infrastructure’, and effectively chuck most of it away to get FMP – and drag the lucky ‘2mb+’ folk up to 30mb+. Is this the legacy a proper, caring government wants to/should leave the next government? Is this what Mr and Mrs UKPLC want done with their money?

        Is it time to dust off the ‘village pump’ concept, encourage community/telco involvement in CiCs and the like?

        Mike Phillips

        2012/06/09 at 10:32

      • The village pump concept is a good one, but one the people in charge of policy choose to ignore because of the relentless propaganda from the monopoly incumbent, who has a marketing budget most companies would kill for. All I can say to the politicians and quangos currently in charge is remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and history will hold you accountable for the fiasco we know and love called ‘digital britain’.

        Chris Conder

        2012/06/09 at 10:59

  8. Chris – we sing from the same sheet.

    Having spent a happy few minutes ‘Googling’ I find myself now even more surprised that out two BDUK reps claimed not to be aware of the 30mb thing yesterday, especially since this (rather confusing) pdf was issued by BDUK on 20 March calling for 30mb – all we need now is to find out what qualifies as a ‘new project’ (Note 3 page 3). This would certainly clear some very muddy water.

    As another siource put it

    “Similarly there’s the question of how you define a “new project“, at the tender or deployment phase? For example, BT’s national rollout of 40-80Mbps capable superfast FTTC services will reach 66% of the UK in 2014 through private sector investment and could hit 90% with full public funding. This might potentially be described as “underway“, yet officially the majority of Local Broadband Plans (LBPs) have yet to award their contracts.”

    PS Do they mean ‘reach’ or ‘pass’……………………………….? There is a vast difference)

    Mike Phillips

    2012/06/09 at 11:10

  9. For my money DCMS/BDUK has been hamstrung by a lack of commercial awareness from the start. A lack of understanding about what else is possible, and how it can be delivered. Buying in external help in the form of consultants that simply dusted off previous work in the sector and other ‘utility’ type projects hasn’t helped either.

    The final nail in the coffin has been the involvement of the Treasury. The Treasury, like the professor in the Italian Job, likes things big. So they can’t conceive that a series of niche players could deliver competition and innovation in the market place, they want big bank balances and single entities to deal with.

    The analysis and costing has been based on reinforcing existing business models and upgrading existing network topologies, rather than new business models. This missed a golden opportunity to deregulate the market place, introduce more competition and foster innovation.

    Instead they have followed with dogged tenacity the programme of a ‘framework’ of approved suppliers barring anyone who doesn’t have very deep pockets and the ability to lobby at the highest levels.

    Still, on the bright side, what ever they build will work.

    Tim Sharwood

    2012/06/09 at 19:05

    • Hi Tim – thanks for that. I agree with everything except your last point. Yes, what they build will work, up to a point, which is the limit of copper and ADSL technology. It is completely unsuitable for doing things like backing-up to cloud storage, or as noted elsewhere in these comments, for dealing with the contention issue, which even GPON is prey to.

      Ian Grant

      2012/06/10 at 10:25

      • Hi Ian/Chris,

        I’m not in favour of it, but whatever they build will work, even if only for the (very low) target of 90% at 24Mbps that BDUK have been duped into setting. I think we all agree that the target is too low and the business model and funding allocation process flawed. Let’s hope that the new State Aid position puts the framework into question and we can all start again with some proper analysis and some genuine disruption to the market.

        Tim Sharwood

        2012/06/10 at 11:17

    • The last bit is wrong… whatever they build they will assure ministers is working, just like they have with adsl implemented in 2003, they have assured everyone in power that the masses have access to broadband, but its not true, many don’t. The limitations of copper phone lines will hold this country back for another generation, it just won’t work properly. A few urban areas maybe, but even they can’t get what they need. No symmetry. High data charges, ISPs struggling to afford bandwith/backhaul to keep prices down, throttling, capping. Scarcity model is hardly the way to move into the digital revolution.

      Chris Conder

      2012/06/10 at 10:42

      • As usual, far more explicit, succinct and useful than me. Thanks Chris 😉

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/10 at 10:46

      • Chris, you need to explain in detail these statements. How copper will hold back the country by explaining the speeds available, why only a ‘few urban areas’ when FTTC is available to many and fibre on demand and VM give more than 50% of the UK significant speeds.

        Should we worry about ISPs that can’t keep prices down, maybe they should not be in business. Or should we accept that to get the infrastructure we need that pricing has to be realistic.


        2012/06/10 at 13:07

      • Challenger network operators show that incumbents price copper so that they extract all the profit from LLU, leaving nothing for third party ISPs. This is a failure of national regulators. If fibre is so expensive why does BT price it at copper rates

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/10 at 15:33

      • Isn’t it the installation cost of fibre into existing premises that’s the issue here. Particularly where the take up may be low as many people find their current speed acceptable.

        Is the only solution government funding for all premises?


        2012/06/10 at 20:31

      • No. See B4RN.

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/10 at 20:37

      • B4RN works in its particular environment and relies on free community labour. Would they be able to dig the streets of a town to get fibre into homes and businesses at an acceptable cost to users?


        2012/06/10 at 20:52

      • So how does TalkTalk do broadband for £3.25/month if ISPs are struggling. Just asking. Maybe many ISPs are struggling because of Sky (bundles), BT Retail, TalkTalk and VM. Many people would struggle to name an ISP that wasn’t one of those.


        2012/06/10 at 21:36

      • Left out Be/O2. Together they make up the 90-odd per cent of retail ISPs, I’m told.

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/11 at 21:38

      • Yes. of course. Oops! How many ISPs make up to 10% and what to they offer that keeps them in business?

        Despite what Chris says, again, a link to evidence that copper as a delivery method will not actually provide a service for many for years to come now avoiding the expense of digging roads and pavements would help the discussion. Anyway in 10 years wireless will give us all 1G, maybe.


        2012/06/11 at 21:59

      • We could avoid the expense of digging roads and pavements if we had a sensible regime on Physical Infrastructure Access, don’t you agree? These are the questions you could be asking: Why should BT be allowed to put up arbitrary bans on certain types of customers? Why should BT be allowed to refuse to accommodate Active Line Access? Why should BT enjoy the protection offered by the business rates tax regime on fibre? Are some more equal than others?

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/11 at 22:14

      • Yes, what costs etc for access would work? Clearly free access for the villagers to run cables themselves over a weekend was never feasible!


        2012/06/11 at 22:32

      • Nothing stopping BT or Virgin from letting people dig and install ducts towards their cables. There are probably some in villages who would like the extra work if the home owner couldn’t or didn’t want to do it themselves. That’s zero cost to the network operator. Or, as you say, just go wireless from the digital village pump. Save all that digging.

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/11 at 22:45

  10. I will be following up my input to BDUK later in the week, although it may fall under an NDA, but I will see if it makes any sense.

    In the meantime, who has an MP brave enough to ask ‘wtfigo’ in the house?

    Mine is a government minister, so that’s dead duck. Another ‘interested party’s’ is JH himself……………………. Time is not on the side of all the BDUK framework participants dependent on ‘State Aid’ approval, nor of RCBF applicants and not for the UK in general, and things need to be clarified. That’s enough to frighten a minister :-)))


    Mike Phillips

    2012/06/10 at 10:31

    • Rory Stewart?

      Ian Grant

      2012/06/10 at 10:36

      • All local MPs will only accept inputs from constituents. Tried that route ages ago. Got nowhere.

        Mike Phillips

        2012/06/10 at 10:38

      • There are some Cumbrians, or people who know Rory, who read this blog. Please make yourselves known to Mike if you think you can help.

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/10 at 10:42

      • I think Rory is too busy with the Afghans, and our local MPs have been fed information from the councils assuring them that BT will deliver a solution. They believe them. I am not sure MPs can find the time to actually investigate enough to find the truth. They are very busy people. They trust the councils. The councils and the MPs have been brainwashed by the vital vision course which has been running for a decade. Brainwashing I think they call it.

        Chris Conder

        2012/06/10 at 11:14

  11. Chris – all we really need, in my opinion, right now is not the ‘big picture’ broadband stuff but more where the EU state aid draft is going to attack.. Would Rory ask that do you think?

    Mike Phillips

    2012/06/10 at 11:22

    • I think Rory is a good one to ask. He gets IT. He has done a lot of work in the past to help his constituency.

      Chris Conder

      2012/06/10 at 11:38

  12. Anyone here prepared to have a go?

    Mike Phillips

    2012/06/10 at 13:16

    • Lets lobby via the groups we have, and hope that those in Parliament wake up to their error, but having just read this article in the Telegraph about HS2 one has little hope, Civil Servants in Whitehall are so out of touch with the modern commercial and social world that it is difficult for them to grasp these concepts. Don’t forget back in the 60s HM Treasury stopped UK investment in satellites because it couldn’t see a purpose or a market for them…. Telegraph Article on HS2

      Tim Sharwood

      2012/06/10 at 15:43

      • We have been lobbying for a decade, but we don’t have the marketing budget of our opposition… remember the vital vision? All people in power or expected to be in power one day were treated to it. Presumably there is a similar one for HS2, windmills, solar panels etc.
        You begin to wonder if a revolution is needed, as every party falls for it, its not a political thing.

        Chris Conder

        2012/06/10 at 16:01

  13. All – the priority here is, as I have said, to get some clarity on the effect of any EU restriction on the BDUK ‘plans’ – not, as I think all of us except Somerset think, that FTTC is a waste of time and money.. IF this means the 24/2mb targets are non-viable in terms of state funding, that will take care of those concerns of ours. Let’s not waste time and effort preaching to the converted, but I seek a way to get the.truth out of HMG – yes, a difficult if not impossible task, I know. If it turns out that the BDUK 24/2 (wireless??) gets the ‘nod’ from Brussels THEN we can go back to.berating Thatcher and all the others complicit in this stitch-up.

    Does Rory represent anyone here?

    Mike Phillips

    2012/06/10 at 16:13

    • My MP is Eric Ollerenshaw, this is him speaking about it at the House of Commons
      perhaps we could get him to ferret the truth out? He admits he isn’t technical, but he does support rural people in his constituency in their fight for internet access.

      Chris Conder

      2012/06/10 at 16:41

    • I’m not dead set against FTTC but I do think there should be open market competition. I suspect Thatcherites would not have allowed such a cosy cartel to continue. Disruption and market innovation was their mantra, at least we got Virgin Media, O2 and Vodafone out of them.

      Tim Sharwood

      2012/06/10 at 17:15

    • Thatcher was before my time here, so I have nothing to say about that. But fighting the wars of the 1980s will not be productive 30 years on, I suspect. Nor will trying to get the government to tell you the truth. Civil servants know how to string this out so that you lose momentum and focus. As they say actions speak louder than words. Their action -> your reaction. But the initiative can be with you, as B4RN shows. What else will you do with it?

      Ian Grant

      2012/06/10 at 20:33

    • All I’m saying about FTTC is that it’s what many may have as the only faster option. What are the sums for rolling out FTTP to properties where pavements need digging and take up is initally low?

      With the HS2 case looking shaky maybe there is another use for the money… Would mean less travelling.

      Surely it’s time to drop all this stuff about ‘copper’ and focus on speeds, throughput etc. regardless of the method of delivery.


      2012/06/10 at 20:40

      • What exactly is your objection to competition based on infrastructure? What if the energy companies, that have to install a network for smart grid decide, as they have in Norway, to become communications providers too? Is that unacceptable to you? It’s certainly why BT and Arqiva and Detica have put their hat in the ring – to forestall such an event.

        Ian Grant

        2012/06/10 at 20:52

      • No issues at all, just trying to get a discussion based on detailed facts and statements.

        Smart metering, it’s becoming interesting… This has been given as an example for high speed broadband whereas the data rates are tiny. Credit card transactions work on dialup (but take a while), similar.


        2012/06/10 at 20:59

  14. “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    Chris Conder

    2012/06/10 at 16:44

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