Gigabit broadband makes for memorable day

What with all the kerfuffle over poor broadband in the UK (read: BDUK, BT’s superfarce rollout…and possibly superfalse advertising, too?), it was quite nice to wake up yesterday to good news from the fibre broadband world. There have been far too few of these days over the years, as in actuality the believed-to-be good news is normally followed by reneging, backward shuffling, failure to deliver, etc. I am more than just cautiously hopeful this time, though.

Interestingly, towards the end of a week of TechQT shows on the broadband subject last week (which culminated on Friday eve with Prof Peter Cochrane), after the Thursday show (the one with our international colleagues) I raised a question on Twitter regarding investment:

Investment in UK telecoms

 

 

Despite the missing hyphen, I am sure you get the drift. Not that I am by nature an impatient person (I am!), but after 18 years of battling for decent, affordable, ubiquitous (preferably full-fat fibre and FiWi) broadband for all across Britain, sometimes I find it all very frustrating. Investors as a whole seem to believe the hype that Broadband Britain actually exists, or at least that it will one day soon(ish), hence job done. Clearly, though, the job is not done and — much to Britain’s detriment — nothing close to what is required on a national basis yet exists.

Obviously, communities have been trying to resolve the gigabit broadband issue for quite some time, and there are start-ups that are rolling their sleeves up too (e.g.,  Gigaclear, Hyperoptic). It seems, though, that large corporations have also become bored of waiting for gigabit Britain to occur. Go York. (The last time I spoke to CityFibre it was with regard to using their York Core to reach outside York to offer community project backhaul in the rural areas, so perhaps someone who lives in North Yorkshire should now pick that discussion back up?)  Also, there are rumours that Virgin is on the verge of announcing a rural expansion of its network as well. All of this should, of course, please the bods in Westminster and Whitehall no end, as they are always ranting on about how vital competition in Telecoms is, although in reality their support for such an end has been difficult to clarify.

Whether PAC and NAO will see the spend (read: waste) of nigh on £1.9bn of public funds in the same light remains to be seen come 2017 or so, when those connected via the BDUK pot start whinging that their connections don’t cut the mustard. Should that occur, though, hopefully everyone who has been involved with BDUK decision-making in any capacity will be publicly put in the stocks so we can all pelt them with rotten tomatoes. We know their names anyway, of course, so the idea of setting up virtual stocks and doing the pelting with or without their IRL involvement is not outside of reason!

It all seems to me that finally, finally, FINALLY gigabit Britain is on the move, and in sufficient enough numbers to make a serious difference. So now it’s a tossup…as Cumbria probably won’t get gigabit in my lifetime (unless a certain Mr Brass gets a wriggle on!), if I ever sell my house and buy a new one I wonder whether the next one should be in white or red rose country?!

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Published by Lindsey Annison

JFDI Internet marketer, author, Fibre To The Home and rural broadband campaigner, idea merchant

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  1. Lindsey Annison

6 Comments

  1. Potential investors may have been waiting for someone to present a business case that stood up in their terms ? I’ve never seen such a thing, not that I have any money to invest, but I don’t understand why a large notspot can remain devoid of broadband for 10 years with no action given our limited regulatory constraints.

  2. The reality on the ground – away from the ‘excited’ on broadband forums is that people really do not care about broadband….it is simply not a priority in their busy lives.
    Once they have got a few Mbps that is fine for them…they really do not see the need now for 50Mbps or whatever.

    Firms like Gigaclear really do have to word hard to persuade even 30% to sign up to their service even when the village gets only 2Mbps from BT. You would have though they’d be submerged in the rush of orders: Far from it.

    For those true genuine notspots with 0.5Mbps yes they do care and they are outraged – but these difficult cases are isolated and disparate- a village here and here of maybe 100 or so houses in the middle or nowhere. A BT cabinet miles from its subscriber base. a place nowhere near a internet backhaul access point.
    All totally non viable for any commercial entity.

  3. CM7U the point is that the future demands will soon use up your current feed, and you will want more, and you won’t be able to get it through an old phone line. That is why firms like gigaclear concentrate on the villages that know this, and they end up with a futureproof solution. There are millions of notspots, all over the place. Most are unknown because folk tried it, failed and remained analogue.
    That is why the ‘rural broadband fund’ was invented. But the trouble is BT has stopped it in its tracks, to stop competition.
    Yes notspots may be non viable in a true business sense, but probably roads and railways would have been non viable in the olden times without cheap labour, chain gangs, slave labour? Should we have stayed with dirt tracks and horses and carts because they did what was needed at the time?
    I know we can’t use chain gangs these days, but we can use community effort.
    Add to the mix in return for community effort a bit of cooperation between utilities, support from environment, highways, bridges and railways and councils, (which costs the country nowt) and chuck in some public seed corn loans to get altnets started.
    I think the name for this is ‘big society’ but I haven’t seen any evidence it exists.

  4. Non-viable? The facts of that lie are now proven to be untrue though, especially when conducting deployment at any scale, which had BDUK not been such a cock-up, could also have been proven by now with a little competition. What we are seeing instead is no maps to allow competition to actually get on with the notspots, aggressive and destructive tactics used on those trying to get on with it anyway with insufficient info, and a laxity and apathy about broadband amongst the purse string holders that is far greater than amongst consumers.

    It is a great shame that Ed Brown of the ADIT did not publish the facts from North Yorkshire when there were 23 (I think that is correct) exchanges left not enabled after the ADSL roll-out for precisely that reason – a claim of “not viable”. IIRC, the ADIT paid for those exchanges to be enabled on two conditions. 1) that every exchange was connected by a specific high-capacity fibre to the core for the future growth and 2) that if the exchange did prove viable then BT would repay a percentage of the subsidy. Over £1M had to be repaid by BT to Ed.

    Someone with more time on their hands may care to contact the appropriate department in Whitehall (or Newcastle) to get the actual ADIT data which presumably has not yet been thrown out in one of those regular paperwork clearances the governments appear to have with accidental fires in their storage warehouses…….

  5. Lindsey:
    Here is Oxfordshire’s detailed full level Post code map for you
    http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/OxonCoverage/Viewcoverageinyourarea?:showVizHome=no#1
    (The main site is http://www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk/when-and-where and choose postcode map tab)

    Here are Gigaclear commercial criterion for viability
    http://www.gigaclear.com/can-i-get-it/

    Is Oxfordshire deluged with multiple altnets all backed up by endless amounts of cash from venture capitalists all competing with each other to install stuff in the notspots because they can see such a huge return can be made from the consumers desperate to pay anything for better broadband?
    errrrr…no.

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