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UK Won't Have "Best Superfast Broadband Network by 2015"

Industry Says UK Will Not Have “Best Superfast Broadband Network in Europe by 2015” #ISPAUK #digitalbritain

Ask an audience question regarding UK superfast broadband, get a response. And an unhoped for response at that.

126 people registered for the ISPA conference at 1 New Change, St Paul’s today. A broad representation of the ISP industry. Most of them were there for my session entitled “Making the UK the best place in Europe for broadband by 2015”.

The discussion was wide ranging including statements such as:
It will be 2025 before the UK has a competitive fibre network
The government shouldn’t be spending any money on subsidising rural broadband
The government should spend more money on subsidising rural broadband
The uk should do its best by 2015 (?!)

Most interestingly in a vote to finish off the session I asked the audience “who thinks the uk will have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015?” aka the government objective.

Only one person, from BT, put their hands up (and there were at least 5 BT employees in the audience). Turning the question around as a check I asked who thought that the UK would not have the best superfast broadband network by 2015. Most hands went up.

I think the debate and the political rhetoric needs to change to reflect this.

PS the conference was held at the offices of K&LGates. They have wonderful views over St Paul’s cathedral. I have some photos but these will have to wait until I get back to my laptop. The iPad isn’t a good tool for putting photos into blogs.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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  1. Trefor Davies

12 Comments

  1. when you tweeted that only one hand went up I tweeted that it would be from a bt member. ha.
    I agree, the political rhetoric needs to change, but I doubt it can until they listen to the people. At the moment they still are brainwashed by BTs Vital Vision. We will never have a network fit for purpose until they realise that to get a connection to rural people and mobile coverage for the whole country they need to get fibre out into the rural areas. This will provide competition to upgrade the city networks. Then the whole thing will work, and Britannia will again rule the waves. The cyberwaves. If they carry on as we are we will remain in the slow lane and a third world country in the digital world. No harm in that. Someone has to be. But I hope its not us.

  2. Knowing BT engineers (of all roles) – unless they have blank check, 2015 is a dream. When they say the UK – most of the time they just mean London or 5 miles outside a major city. As pointed about above, a large percentage is still the dark ages when it come to internet. Sure they can buy the best PC from their local PC store, have N wireless – but when your internet speed is dial up performance what is the point of the super hardware? What the last government proposal “UK online” they wanted everyone on at least 2MB – that never came to fruition – hence my very negative take. As always we are told what they wish us to hear.

    There are homeless people living in China, under a bridge with boxes for walls that have a better internet service that the UK residents.

    BE.

  3. Tref didn’t know about this meeting – would loved to have come and illustrate the challenges and the stark economic realities.

    As for China once you go out of a major city you struggle to even get mobile connectivity let alone narrowband!!!

    1. I think everyone in the audience was aware of the stark economic realities. It was not a criticism of BT. More a message to Jeremy Hunt not to use political language that was unachievable. Actually I have been very impressed with BTs roadmap for “superfast” broadband. This is something borne out of competitive pressures as opposed to altruism about the competitiveness of UK plc in global markets.

  4. You may be impressed with BT, they certainly know how to get the most out of their old assets, and they will deliver ‘superfast’ to many. The main, well the only gripe I have is that they hype everything up and cover up the fact that so many won’t get it. The broad 90% is going to be like the 99.6% who were supposed to have broadband (prior to funding being announced). Its all a big con. The digital divide is growing wider all the time, and its all being covered up by spin. We all know fibre is the future, and we all know cabinets are still delivering over copper phone lines to the home. They should not be allowed to call it ‘fibre broadband’. They should not be allowed to say 90% will get superfast. They should always give the average speed not the possible one. Jeremy’s dream would have been achieved but for the bureaucracy, hype and spin that has hindered innovative projects from happening and providing competition to drive investment.
    I don’t think giving faster broadband to those who already have it is going to solve the problems of digital britain. Homes passed is the key. Passed. If those connections passed rural properties they would have taken service like a shot. But we all know copper won’t work in rural areas. That is why the funding should be spent getting fibre out there, to the masts, to the digital parish pumps, and to the people who can’t get online.

  5. cd – please describe in detail what you think should happen, and how it will be funded and implemented. ‘Copper’ works in rural areas with exchanges and cabinets.

  6. Can you highlight your sources for the info published above?

    Fibre does offer more than copper but the stark reality is rolling fibre is very costly and logistically difficult. Copper still has alot to offer (VFast will bring more) and FTTC brings speeds up to and over 100M with vectoring for many at a reasonable cost it’s certainly worth rolling out. Yes there is more to do and there are alot of comitted people looking at solutions- we have pioneered LTE and TV whitespace trials. No stone is being left unturned to deliver broadband to all across the country. Delivering fast broadband is about _alot_ more than just getting fibre to masts! beware of the hype!

  7. Thanks for an excellent blog post Tref 🙂

    What is really holding the UK back from delivering Jeremy Hunt’s aspiration is LEGACY

    The GPO was too good by half in the last century at deploying a truly world class copper infrastructure and that legacy, full amortised for the last quarter century, now represents the biggest barrier – all 20 Million KMs of it – for BT to deliver.

    Not I hasten to add that this is the wish of the fantastic engineers at BT Openreach who privately are tearing their hair out at management ineptitude, rather the bean counters at BT who actually run the show and see copper as an asset to sweat.

    Structural separation of wholesale monopoly infrastructure away from OTT retail services offers an effective way forwards for BT from a UK PLC perspective.

    Also what has been happening in Australia vis-a-vis Telstra assets is most instructive – http://bit.ly/uhY9N1

  8. Rolling fibre may be ‘costly’ and ‘logistically difficult’ but that hasn’t prevented a lot of European countries doing a noticeably better job of getting a decent network deployed. See Akamai’s latest SotI report for numbers.

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