Following the broadband money

Why high speed rural broadband is really, really important

with 12 comments

Amid the Roman circus atmosphere of the Public Accounts Committee meeting to question various stakeholders over the National Audit Office’s report on the value, if any, for money that taxpayers will get for giving BT £1.2bn to roll out next generation broadband in the Final Third of the UK, it was easy to forget what fast broadband means to people.
This past week B4RN co-founder Chris Conder was teaching her 14 year old nephew how to fuse fibre. They were working on a council home in rural Lancashire, chatting with the homeowner who was partially deaf but helped by a large hearing aid, and his wife, who didn’t say a word but smiled indulgently as the work went on.
At some point the wife disappeared and their son, in his mid-20s,  joined the three in the front room. In the course of the conversation the son and Conder’s nephew discovered they were both avid gamers. Further chat revealed that the son had a new job that meant he would be away from home most of the week. He was anxious to get the high speed connection in because their BT connection couldn’t support Skype, and BT had no plans to improve their service.
Why was Skype so important?
Because the mother had been deaf since birth and could only type and sign. Her husband could speak but couldn’t type. Skype video was the only way for them both to stay in touch with their son while he was away.
“When we went back the next day to check, he was installing a great big monitor,” Conder said.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2013/07/21 at 00:18

12 Responses

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  1. This does not just apply to rural areas and the key word that needs adding is ‘affordable’.

    Recommended download/upload speed for Skype video calling is 500k. Or 1.5M for HD.


    2013/07/21 at 07:43

    • “Affordable”… yes, well, these folk chose B4RN because BT refused to serve them. How many communities and businesses are in that position, but without a B4RN?

      I take your point about location. I live in Croydon; the Post Office is my ISP. I average 6.5 meg down and sometimes under 300k up. Skype video crashes as soon as I switch on the camera.


      2013/07/21 at 11:04

  2. Nice human story.


    2013/07/21 at 08:42

  3. General FUDder-dudder is up to his dis-informational tricks again.

    Here is a quotation from a real expert, Dr Peter Cochrane – formerly BT’s CTO, from his evidence to the House of Lords’ Select Committee Inquiry on Superfast Broadband. Note also that symmetric services are not available on VDSL services but are vital for effective video conferencing, amongst many others.

    I would like to position my afternoon with you along the following lines. Starting from the
    point of an ambition to give people 2 Mbps is like giving our population a Morse key. You
    might as well not bother. In Columbia recently, I was getting 100 Mbps both ways from my
    hotel. In America, I regularly get between 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps. If I go to Korea, China or
    Japan, I get above that level. For me, the starting point for this nation is 100 Mbps. Providing
    20 to 50 Mbps will not give us the entry on which rests the next phase of industry,
    commerce and the generation of GDP.

    Merrow Drover

    2013/07/21 at 08:44

    • Just quoting a fact. Can we all agree a method of the UK funding a rollout of 100% FTTP, possibly involving a railway…


      2013/07/23 at 20:25

      • What wrong with the the energy distribution companies? They go more places than railways.


        2013/07/23 at 21:07

      • Keep up, it’s about cancelling HS2.

        Nearest the energy distribution companies got to broadband was the idea of a scheme similar to power line adaptors which got nowhere.


        2013/07/23 at 21:18

      • Can’t see HS2 flying and the government getting re-elected. Energy companies now keen on networking because of smart meter/smart grid project.


        2013/07/23 at 21:38

      • Smart metering / smart grid will not justify funding for 100% FTTC. Smart metering will be OK over ADSL and mobile as tiny amounts of data.


        2013/07/23 at 22:00

      • Who said that was the only app?


        2013/07/23 at 23:34

      • It was the 2 you identified as the reason the energy companies are interested in networking, whatever that means. I’m just pointing out that those 2 won’t be the reason to justify broadband rollout beyond what is happening. Maybe you know of others that will.


        2013/07/24 at 08:24

  4. Thanks Ian. One more Nano-dot – one more Giga-blot – the dot joining continues and the connections are being made.

    David Brunnen

    2013/07/21 at 11:34

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