internet ofcom voip

VoIP and Emergency Services – Location, Location, Location… welcomes VoIP Week guest contributor Ray Bellis, Senior Researcher at Nominet UK and Director at NICC Standards Ltd.

UK Proposed Architecture

I’ve blogged previously on the UK Specification being produced by the EmLoc Task Group of NICC Standards regarding the thorny problem of Emergency Services determining the location of a VoIP caller who may be unable to disclose their location, for whatever reason (e.g., the caller is under duress and is unable to talk, or they simply doesn’t know their location, etc.). This work was driven by General Condition 4 (GC4) of the “General Conditions of Entitlement“, which apply to all Communications Providers:

The Communications Provider shall, to the extent technically feasible, make accurate and reliable Caller Location Information available for all calls to the emergency call numbers “112” and “999”, at no charge to the Emergency Organisations handling those calls, at the time the call is answered by those organisations.

At the time of publication these were draft specifications — they’ve since been made publicly available as NICC Document ND1638.   For more details of the architecture please see the aforementioned blog posting and the NICC Document.

A key component of the proposed architecture is that it would require every Internet Service Provider and Access Network Provider (ANP) to operate a service known as a “Location Information Server” (or “LIS”).  The protocol provided by the LIS is described in RFC 5985 and is known as “HELD”, short for “HTTP-Enabled Location Delivery”.
Nominet NICC

Whilst Ofcom has not (yet) carried out any enforcement activity on ISPs or ANPs relating to GC4, they have commissioned a report on the NICC Document that concluded that the architecture described therein is “technically feasible”.  It is therefore to be expected that at some point Ofcom will start enforcing this requirement.

Work to update ND1638 to reflect recent changes to IETF standards is ongoing, and also to allow device-provided location (e.g., GPS readings) to be sent to the Emergency Services during call setup.   However, even if device-provided readings were available, ultimately the Emergency Handling Authorities (EHAs) would trust the network-provided location as the primary source of location, with device-provided location acting only as a means to enhance  the former and be used when consistent with it.

ETSI M/493 Architecture

The European Commission published Standardisation Mandate M/493 in May 2011, requiring European Standards Organisations to develop standards in support of a “Location Enhanced Emergency Call Service”.  This work is being carried out under the “End-to-End Network Architectures” (E2NA) ETSI Project.

The draft architecture being devised by the ETSI working group builds upon previous work by the National Emergency Number Association, the European Emergency Number Association, the Internet Engineering Task Force and others, and many of the functional components are very similar to those used in the UK architecture.

The draft ETSI architecture has one very significant difference from the UK architecture that reflects the more complicated emergency call routing required in some countries.  In the UK all emergency service calls are now handled by BT, so the VoIP operator therefore has no need to make any call routing decisions other than recognising that the called number is an emergency number and passing the call to BT via the appropriate interconnect. In some European countries, however, that initial call routing also depends on the caller’s location, and therefore the architecture requires that the IP Access Network must provide the caller’s location to the VoIP operator before the call can be passed to the emergency services!  This makes the LIS an essential component of the architecture, and therefore safety-critical, with all that this entails.

With EC and ETSI backing for this architecture it seems more likely than ever that ISPs and Access Network Providers will have to implement additional services within their networks to support emergency service calls, even though they are just “mere conduits” for those calls.

VoIP Week Posts:

Business Regs

Scottish Independence

The debate on the subject Scottish independence rolls on, and I don’t really have a personal view other than that the peoples’ right to self determination should be upheld and respected, however I am thinking  about the ramifications right now as I train back from Glasgow.

We presently live with different rates regimes and other devolved affairs running networks between England and Scotland, but the consequences for independence are high. Will Scotland join the European Union, or will they have a special relationship like Jersey? This is important as the former protects travelers and those living on the border from roaming charges whereas the other does not (Jersey isn’t subject to the EU caps, for example). And what about VAT? What about a hosted PBX installation to an office in Scotland and one in England? How do you account for that under one contract, especially if there’s a different currency? Will there be a different Country Code and numbering plan? Jersey, Guernsey, and Isle of Man all use the UK code despite having substantial telecommunications sovereignty. Could BT and Vodafone’s nexus of Nortel DMS 100s and System Xs handle such a situation?

If there are call centres in Scotland but no EU membership, data protection legislation becomes interesting in terms of passing EU citizens data outside the EU for processing.

BT’s regulated assets are averaged out across the country, and they are less concentrated in Scotland. Thus, if an independent Scottish regulator applied the same charge control logic in Scotland we could see increases in Scottish consumers prices for broadband and WLR, and a commensurate reduction in English (and Welsh and Northern Irish) consumers.

The mind boggles once you really get in amongst the practical issues, and if there’s a “Yes” vote later this year I shall write substantially more on the subject as that would no doubt ring in a exhilarating and very interesting time for all in the sector.


Bad Stuff End User fun stuff Mobile ofcom Regs scams

An Open Letter to Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE

Hi Olaf.

I hope you don’t mind the informal start to my letter as, after all, your company’s recent one to me regarding an increase in the price for my package from EE was as equally informal (I’ve popped a copy of it in the gallery below, though I’m sure you already know all about it).

Before I start, I will admit that you have a contractual basis from which to make the change detailed in the letter, and can mount a robust (albeit one open to challenge) argument about regulatory compliance. That isn’t quite the point, though.

First, I’d like to draw your particular attention to the line that says “RPI (Retail Price Index) is a measure of inflation, which directly affects the cost to run our service.

Interesting. And I’d like to point out a few things to you which would suggest that you are mistaken.

  • RPI, as a measure of inflation, is now largely discredited. Anyone in the know, including your sector’s regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), is migrating to the use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Have a look at Ofcom’s discussion in paragraph 3.155 onwards of the Wholesale Local Access Review.
  • Some debate exists on whether wages over the last 12 months have tracked CPI (which is lower than RPI, by the way); it somewhat depends on which decile you find yourself in. Considering this data from the BBC, I suspect you and your executive are OK but a substantial number of EE staff may not be. Unless, of course, you gave them all a CPI-busting wage increase of the RPI figure. Did you?
  • A substantial part of your business is your mobile phone customers calling landlines: 01 and 02 numbers. As a result of a European Union Recommendation some time ago, Ofcom lowered the termination rates on 1st January 2014 for these calls by around RPI (this review was started before the Office of National Statistics drove the final nail into the RPI coffin) minus 87% — a net 84% reduction in that cost to your business. Funny, but I don’t recall getting a reduction in my line rental or other charges, so I assume you’ve kept this windfall, yes? See Table 1.1 of the Final Statement in the 2013 Wholesale Narrowband Market Review for information.
  • The Treasury estimated that the 4G spectrum auction would raise around £3.5bn. In reality, it raised £2.34bn, so there’s a £1.1bn saving there for the mobile industry against a reasonable market expectation; thus, rationally-speaking, EE must have forward-priced its 4G services expecting to outlay a market value for spectrum, resulting in further savings on your part. Is this true?

I am sure you can see at this point why I have a problem believing you when you say that RPI (or CPI) has had a direct affect on your entire business; unless in spite of what I have cited above there is a cost that has risen so disproportionately high that it means the average cost increase is the same as the RPI? What could that cost be…perhaps Kevin Bacon’s fees?

broadband End User ofcom

Fit Broadband Policy

Is broadband fit for purpose, writes Lindsey Annison

Some years ago a few of us touted the notion that broadband could become an election issue on the next hustings. And it sort of did, although not to the extent that many of us at grassroots without a connection would have liked. It triggered some hastily written speeches for Party Conferences, though, and some grandiose promises which of course have never been implemented.

As we run up to the next election (<groan> Have the last lot even achieved anything yet?!), perhaps it is time to bite the bullet and consider some of the aspects of broadband that seriously need to be taken on board by those campaigning on the hustings, and also by those who have desks in Whitehall and Westminster, etc. (Could it be they all work from home these days? Doubtful, but it’d be nice to think that at least a few know the difficulties of teleworking in modern day Britain.)

Philip Virgo’s rather canny A Confucian view of UK broadband, spectrum and cybersecurity can be found on his Computer Weekly blog this week, and as we can but hope that the powers-that-be can actually find a free moment to read I would like to expound a little on the piece’s first section, to start educating our potential candidates for those doorstep meetings they shall soon be starting. Last week at TechQT the three considerations Virgo mentions were covered — transmission, capacity and protection — and Martin Geddes finally nailed it (in his inimitable style) to being a simple question that any person can ask and answer:  Is my broadband fit for purpose?

rosetteEven the most non-techie person can assess whether or not the connection that they are paying for (or are using for free in a hotspot) is FIT FOR PURPOSE. It either works to do what you are endeavoring to, or it doesn’t. Simples.

Waiving wayleaves may seem like a simple solution to one problem, and the arguments given by Philip Virgo’s Confucius contributor covers some of the reasons why this is so. However, it goes beyond wayleaves to my old bugbear, fibre tax. We have made it nearly impossible for new entrants to enter a level playing field should they wish to play the fibre game.  Aidan Pauls’ slide show on the UK VOA fibre tax illustrates just how problematic the issue is, and though it may be from 2010, sadly nothing notable has changed since 2000.

As a regulator, Ofcom is over-populated with ex-Telco employees and is toothless. Well, not so much toothless, but it is as if they are putting their dentures back in after a night’s sleep whenever circumstances require they react to current events of the day/week/month or year in a timely fashion. And that needs to change, and fast, if Britain is to catch up with other nations. Plenty of information is out there regarding developments, lessons learnt, what has been tried and tested, etc., so maybe the Ofcom guys and gals just need to get out more?!

Listen to the voters!  Too often our candidates fail to do enough of this simple and essential task, and thus many of those who will be walking the pavements with their pretty rosettes are not sufficiently well-informed. And because they are not well-informed they assume that the constituents are in a similar boat, which is simply not the case. At the very least, the average householder can answer the Is my broadband fit for purpose? question. Enough “No.” responses, offered hand-in-hand with the odd constituent who pipes up to tell a prospective parliamentary candidate exactly how and why this is causing problems with life/work/play, and the message just might make its way back to the Houses in #thatlondon.

Can but hope.  Toodlepip till next time.

Related posts:

Regs surveillance & privacy

European Court Rules European Data Retention Directive Unlawful


Judgment was handed down today in a long running campaign brought by Digital Rights Ireland against the European Data Retention Directive* (transposed into domestic law in The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009). In short, the European Court of Justice has overturned the Directive, saying “[it] entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data“.

Broadly, the Directive required telcos to store certain data for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 24 months. The UK transposition mandated 12 months which is consistent with other legislation). The natural consequence of this is that our own transposition will need to be repealed, which has obvious consequences — directly, and indirectly as a result of the court’s decision — for law enforcement and the security services, as well as telcos (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, or RIPA, predates this, as does the Data Protection Act).

Watch this space!

* Strictly known as Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC.


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internet mobile connectivity net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality update

Regular readers will remember my piece for Trefor.Net last September, where I defined what the average VoIP telco wants from an open internet. I know this article had a readership of at least one, because I saw someone brandishing a print out in Ofcom. Yay me!

Anyway, things have moved on. We had Ed Richards, Ofcom’s CEO, saying they weren’t “waiting for Europe” when Philip Davies MP pressed him on the issue at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee last year (for which Philip earned a nomination as ITSPA’s Members’ Pick at the 2014 Awards) – but Europe aren’t waiting for them earlier.

Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of the so-called “telecoms package” which includes, amongst proposals regarding a Single Market I have previously slated here and the abolition of roaming fees (which I shall slate below), proposals on Net Neutrality. Before we get too excited, this was only the first reading. The College of Commissioners is about to be disolved, along with the European Parliament for elections and who knows what political landscape will be returned to Brussels in May. It’s not likely to receive much more Parliamentary time until the end of the year now at the earliest, which makes their December 2015 implementation date seem optimistic.

The European Union’s proposals mirror, largely, what ITSPA and the VoIP community would accept (in my view) as a legislative intervention. ISPs cans till offer specialised services to protect business critical applications, or prioritise video on demand, but would not be able to do so to “the detriment of the availability or quality of internet access services” offered to other companies or service suppliers, except for traffic management measures which are “transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate” and “not maintained longer than needed” to protect the integrity of a network.

This is a good step, but I for one, along with ITSPA colleagues and others aren’t waiting for Europe like Ofcom – watch this space for a progress report soon!

Abolition of Roaming Charges

The European logic is rather federalist; it says you should be able to use your phone for the same rates anywhere in Europe for the same price as at home. Aside from the age old rule (which also applies in next generation telecoms – distance is still a factor in signal regeneration, rateable value of fibre etc) that the further a call is conveyed the more it costs, it is wholly illogical to be able to call next door with your mobile for the same rate as calling it from Lithuania, you cannot ignore the basket effect. 26% of socioeconomic group D and E households are mobile only. The reduction of roaming profits to mobile operators leads, in part or in whole, to a waterbedding…. (I almost wrote waterboarding, as that’s what it feels like to deal with a mobile operator’s customer services sometimes)… other products and services will increase in price to compensate for the foregone margin.

So, in short, one consequence of the EU’s proposal is that those that cannot afford to go on holiday in Europe, or those businesses that don’t trade in person in Europe, shall subsidise those that do. That just doesn’t seem right to me.


Business surveillance & privacy

Telegraph totty – politics and page impressions

Websites that carry adverts are typically paid based in terms of £/$/E1 per 1k page impressions. The more visitors the more page impressions and the longer you can keep them on site browsing through different articles the better. It’s all about dosh.

If you look at any particular post you see many inducements to stay in the site. “Related articles” or “More from the Telegraph”. You will see that recently we have started to add such links on and are in the process of getting to grips with whether this can be automated when the new site goes live.

It’s quite amusing therefore when reading a serious article on calls for DCMS Minster Maria Miller to resign to see that the Telegraph’s presumably automated system of determining which links to include come up with what appear to be “female” related posts. They don’t appear particularly relevant unless the Telegraph knows something we don’t2.

telegraph totty mariamiller_300















I make no comment here on whether Mrs Miller should be sacked or not.

Related posts:
Weekend gardening tips
Next time you eat a kebab
Tractors tractors tractors

1Pounds $hillings and pEnce
2The screenshots are from the mobile version of the site which seems to have different links to the desktop site but hey…

broadband End User internet net neutrality

My Bandwidth is Precious (GET OFF IT!) — or — Autoplay Angst

Bandwidth usage of streaming video from in page ads uses up data bundle for those people with low data caps on their service – such as satellite based broadband

Oh joy. I keep falling over sites that autoplay videos, and some — I’m looking at you, Facebook — do not appear to have a simple option to switch off this, er..uh, ‘option’. Ignoring some of the real basics are the spurious claims that our bandwidth is being protected with such tricks as  video ceasing to play when the screen is scrolled down, or “it only works when you are connected to wifi”.

First, the video by playing has already consumed some of my precious bandwidth. You can’t just mine these bits at home, you know; data bits are a commodity that have to be bought and paid for. I will press the Play button if I want a video to play, otherwise autoplay is actually forcing me to (a) view something I probably don’t want to view, and (b) causing me to pay for the privilege of viewing that something I don’t want to view, which is on the whole, utter dross. And it is usually advertising dross at that, funded by “someone” to reach an unwilling and hence unresponsive audience. You, oh advertiser, may have money to chuck down the proverbial drain, but many of us out here who are paying to receive your video message do not!

Click Here, Lindsey

Second, what on earth has a wifi connection got to do with it all? Apart from moving the video dross onto a marginally cheaper option than mobile (i.e., by using my fibre, cable or landline-based broadband tariff instead), someone still needs to pay for the bits received. And for those on satellite dishes it makes no difference how video is configured to play, the consumer is going to be extremely cross to find their monthly data allowance munched through regardless of the pain this can cause to the unwillingly disconnected.

End User fun stuff nuisance calls and messages ofcom online safety Regs social networking


I’m not a lawyer. This is something of which I am proud. Nor am I a chartered accountant, this is something of which I am equally proud.

People that are in Regulatory Affairs (telecoms or otherwise) often individually present a real Heinz 57 of backgrounds, abilities and skills. As far as I am aware, no-one leaves school thinking “I want to be in Regulation!”. You sort of fall into it, from a carrier in the faculties of law, economics, accounting or the commercial arena – and have to be able to hold your own, at a high level, in all of them. In all cases, you need a desire and drive to get under the skin of the regulator and former incumbents alike; those that know me know I revel in this sort of protagonism.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I have an academic background in Finance and Management and a professional background in commercial affairs and compliance, hence my ultimate arrival in Regulatory Affairs. 18 year old Pete Farmer would’ve laughed if anyone suggested this is where I would end up.

So, this isn’t legal advice. It isn’t to be relied upon. It’s to be taken on an “as-is” basis as a way of stimulating debate and discussion around a subject of which I am as passionate about as annoying the Office of Communications; food.

Believe it or not, in my spare time I run a foodie

Business net neutrality ofcom piracy Regs

The Copyright Enforcement Enigma

When I was on a panel at the Eight Parliament and Internet Conference last year, I was approached afterwards by an academic – Monica Horten. We had a chat about a few things regulatory (notably ITSPA’s work in the field of Net Neutrality) and she mentioned she had written a book on copyright, called the Copyright Enforcement Enigma.

I eventually sourced a copy and then eventually read it (it took a while as there were quite a few on my bookcase I hadn’t read that had military hardware on the cover, you see). It’s quite an excellent romp through the beginnings of copyright, from printing presses and State censorship all the way through to recent European pronouncements on piracy and counteracting it, along with comparing and contrasting different national approaches to intellectual property.

I’ve always found that the view on copyright, intellectual property and piracy  generally correlates strongly with political views. These range from “you can’t own an idea” on one end of the scale through to basic property and contract rights saying you should have the right to protect and exploit your creations. Obviously the debate around piracy tracks the political leanings with the preferred sanction often generally correlating with that political niche’s view on criminal sanctions and it is good to read a balanced and non-partisan approach to the topic; if it raises its head again I would suggest this book as a good refresher.

In any event, the primary legislation focusing on this issue today in the UK is the Digital Economy Act 2010, which covers the obligations on Internet Service Providers to restrict access of (or even disconnect) some users or some content depending on the will of the court at the time in the face of an army of barristers from various large entertainment companies. BT and TalkTalk sought a judicial review of the legislation as it had been accelerated through Parliament as a general election had been called, but lost. Then lost the Appeal. So there we have it, Ofcom are now front and centre in managing a lot of this stuff.

There’s one out though; if you are an Internet Service Provider with less than 400,000 subscribers, as it stands, you are not in scope for much of the legislation. I am surprised that so far this gaping loophole has not been exploited; after all, surely you could charge a substantial premium for Napster Broadband? A high bandwidth service that guarantees it will never exceed 399,999 subscribers? I am sure the regulator would soon move to close the loophole, but that takes time. And on that note, I am off to find some seed capital 😉


End User events Regs

Larging it up in London – the NLC and American Bar at the Savoy

lloyd_georgeNight on the tiles last night. Dinner with Julian Huppert at the National Liberal Club followed by cocktails at London’s oldest cocktail bar – the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.

I was thinking of using the American Bar for last year’s Xmas bash. Ended up not doing so because the capacity was only 78 persons, you couldn’t book it and a cocktail was around fifteen quid a go.

I’ve only been there once before. That was after my first year in Uni in 1981. Out on the town with my London based cousins we passed the Savoy and popped in for a swift one. It was very swift. Two halves of lager and a bourbon were £4.50. This was when a pint in my local was forty pence!

Last night seven drinks came to

Business net neutrality Regs

Farm regs and navigating around London

farmregs_smallI’m on the way to Laandan and just took a look on my phone downloads for the best way of getting to the Strand. I keep a downloaded tube map on the dog and bone for occasions such as this where the train connectivity is rubbish and it makes more sense to have a local copy.

Imagine my total surprise when the first doc I came across in the downloads section was a report of a farm regulation task force. Don’t ask me how I downloaded this (I can probably find out when).

It’s not that I’m not interested in farm regulations I’m not really interested in farm regulations though I imagine thats situation would change if I was ever thinking of buying a farm. Or going on holiday to a farm. In the case of the latter there could be rules about letting dogs off leashes or not bringing your own sheep. Things you’d need to know.

I’m not sure if my document covers that sort of thing though. I haven’t read it. If anyone wants a copy let me know and I’ll email it to them. I’m not going to host it on this site. People might think it was an offical farm reg doc or that I supported the conclusions of the report. I couldn’t tell you one way or another in respect of that because as I said I haven’t read it. Yet.

The fact that I have no idea how I came to download this report is an example of how easy it would be to pick up malware. I do have McAfee on the phone. I have no idea if it is effective. All it ever seems to warn me about are sms messages from WIlliam Hill which it rightly considers to be dodgy.

As far as getting to The Strand goes I’m going to take the Piccadilly Line from Kings Cross to Covent Garden and walk from there. If I didn’t have my bag I’d walk the whole way. It isn’t that far. Unless it’s chucking it down in which case I’ll take a taxi.

That’s how to get around Laandan for ya gor blimey Guvner, would you Adam and Eve it, ruby murray, frog and toad.

@Cyberdoyle’s first fibre network down on the farm here

Pete Farmer on Net Neutrality here

Rapidly becoming an agricultural blog this.

Business Regs

Openreach structural separation – a call for inputs

trefor_thumbI happen to be writing a paper. It will probably never see the light of day…. though maybe in an archeological dig of Esher in 2,000 years time there could be some interesting head scratching going on if it were uncovered.

The subject is, broadly, “Arguments for and against the structural separation of BT”. In a nutshell, should BT’s Openreach subsidiary be wholly separate, or should we have the status quo….. or maybe some hybrid in between.

The arguments against I have largely got to grips with – one only has to look at the railways to see the issues generated by Network Rail’s status against the train companies which I would suggest is a potentially analogous situation for a future structurally separate Openreach….. but I could especially do with some inputs on what you all think for the arguments for might be.

Feel free to comment away!


Business online safety Regs social networking

Edward Snowden – Facebook charges its users!

Facebook charges its users!

A dramatic byline….. ostensibly it hasn’t broken its vow that it is “free to use and always will be“, and there isn’t a pay-wall being erected around it. That said, with the hefty price tag it just paid for WhatsApp, it may well have to consider things!.

But Facebook has always charged, as has Twitter, and Google and so on. So it hasn’t had a Direct Debit mandate, but they have taken something you have freely offered in return for perpetual use of the site for free, and have marketed that. Your most valuable information; your preferences, your search history, your favourite band, most checked in pub, your beach snaps, all of this adds up to a data-miner’s paradise.

A quick calculation on Facebook’s market capitalisation just prior to the

Business online safety Regs

To decapitate or not to decapitate – a political bet? Vodafone filter

An eagle eyed reader spotted this little piece of bemusement from Vodafone.

decapitationHis newsfeed this morning had an interesting enough looking headline “Labour to launch decapitation strategy against Clegg” meaning that they were going to have a go at unseating him in the next general election.

vodafone_filteringInterest piqued, the reader clicked on the link only to come up against Vodafone’s content filter.

What was the content one wonders that made the Vodafone filter kick in? The reference to decapitation? Or did it find the politics of the host blog politicalbetting offensive.

Points arise:

Business ofcom Regs

Mid Term Price Rises

The implementation date of Ofcom’s recent foray into mid-term price rises has now been and gone.

If you were the recently discovered Pacific castaway, then, briefly, Ofcom were concerned that Communications Providers were advertising fixed term contracts at a price and then increasing that price during the contract

This went through one stage of Ofcom intervention, when they introduced (via General Condition of Entitlement 9) the “materially detrimental” test. Which was to say that if an Communications Provider during a fixed term, to a domestic consumer or a small business (the usual sub-10 employee rule) made materially detrimental changes to the terms, the contracted party could have a penalty free exit from the contract.

Don’t ask me what materially detrimental meant. I once spent

broadband Business ofcom Regs

Should Ofcom compel BT to publish broadband maps?

Should BT have to publish broadband availability map?

trefor_150We keep hearing complaints from many quarters about the lack of transparency related to the Government subsidised Superfast Broadband rollout into the “final third”. Should BT be compelled to publish broadband availability map?

County Councils are apparently seen to hide behind “non disclosure agreements” signed with BT that prevent them from disclosing details of broadband plans.

Having sat on the Broadband Panel for Nottinghamshire the input from BT was that it whilst they had an outline plan for target broadband rollout areas this would be very much subject to change when detailed site surveys were made of conditions on the ground.

For example

charitable End User Regs Weekend

Donating Stem Cells (Part II)

It’s the final countdown.

I am writing this expecting my first of four daily injections of granuloycte colony stimulating factor, or “GCSF” anytime soon. A nurse appointed by the Anthony Nolan Trust will seek me out in London / at home and administer a drug which will get them stem cells moving out of my bone marrow into my blood stream ready for the aphoresis machine to filter them out for the adult lady with leukemia who is in desperate need of them.

Unfortunately, on that front, apparently she now has an infection, so they’ve had to stop her build up to treatment. This faced the medics with a bit of a Sophie’s choice apparently. They can cryogenically preserve my stem cells until she’s fit and well enough to receive them (and risk some of them being damaged in the process), or delay the harvest but hope all the planets align with the timings – not just my availability but a 6 day collection cycle which given predictions of narrow windows of opportunity when she may be well enough had to be traded against the slightly more optimal nature of the procedure.

The medical boffins went with the latter, so I am about to be injected and will still donate on Wednesday/Thursday.

Fitting this around work is interesting though……. well, I mean it’s fine Saturday/Sunday, I am just waiting on a nurse to pitch up, but when you are lead in your company for a litigation and the court hearing is on the Monday and Tuesday before the donation, things get interesting.

I know I, and others, can sometimes get down on the former incumbent in our industry….. and its regulator, and sometimes even the judiciary. In this case though, I have to express my extreme gratitude to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom for making the “Robing Room” available for the injections and BT offering their break-out room for the same if need be.

Many of you will have read the first article on this I posted here; and many of your have made or pledged financial support to Anthony Nolan Trust via JustGiving or otherwise. Importantly though, I am pleased to say that this story has encouraged at least 2 people so far to register themselves as potential donors – in amongst all this, and especially amongst the worrying news about the recipient, it’s truly heartening!


charitable End User Regs Weekend

Donating Stem Cells (Part 1)

For those expecting some deep regulatory insights, alas, they will come in due course ….. But today I am hijacking to talk about my experiences to date helping someone suffering from leukemia.

There’s an adult female out there somewhere, afflicted with this cancer . Alas, that’s all I am allowed to know for 2 years….. and if she wants anonymity I’ll never know any more.

This time last year I had a phone call from Anthony Nolan, the charity that runs the UK’s largest register. I signed up in a moment of philanthropy 15 years ago…… And despite near misses before, this time I was supposed to be a proper bona-fide match.

More blood was taken (all the samples are done by your local practice nurse) and I kept getting holding emails thereafter. The recipients medical team where unsure whether or not to proceed. Then, two weeks ago, all of a sudden we were go…. and in a hurry.

I’ve now had my medical – this was 3 hours of poking and prodding and X-Rays and ECGs in a special unit in University College London Hospital. All apparently seems fine but I await the result. Assuming that’s OK, a week Wednesday I shall be in to donate.

In most circumstances, it’s allegedly complication free. Simply involves 4 days of injections to get stem cells moving out of your bone marrow into your blood, and then 5 hours on a special “dialysis” machine that centrifuges your blood and separates stem cells from the rest. Sounds like a very long blood donation, though involves bigger needles and one more of them.

This is nowhere like the general anaesthetic and excavation of the pelvis prevalent when I signed up….. and easily fitting around work – the injections are administered by a nurse wherever you are that day …… Though that operation may still have to happen yet (if enough aren’t collected). And for some recipients that is the best way of doing it, medically speaking.

I’ll let you know how it goes on the day; I might even live tweet it on the hospital WiFi. In the meantime though, there’s a shortage of donors, especially from ethnic minorities. If you’re between 16-30, you can sign up with Anthony Nolan here – read it all carefully and be sure before you commit!.

If you’re over 30, or it isn’t for you (there’s no shame in that), can I encourage you to give to the Anthony Nolan here via my JustGiving site, so they can continue to do their life saving work…… tissue typing isn’t cheap, and nor is the procedure. That, and they’ll have to keep me in coffee for a day!

PS. People have said that I’m brave – I don’t consider myself that…..the brave one is the anonymous adult woman battling this disease. That said, I will be teetotal for a week or so, which is probably, for me at least, the bravest bit!


Business internet online safety piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

An evening with Julian Huppert MP – Internet Hero #fundraiser

julian_huppert_mpI’m not in the least bit political. If I get involved on the periphery of Parliamentary discussions and debate it is because I occasionally see MPs trying to implement legislation that doesn’t make sense in our modern internet based world. This is often because MPs have so much information thrown t them that they have to resort to keeping ideas simple so that they can get their brain around them.

Unfortunately when it comes to legislation that touches the internet, and by default touches those of us whose livelihood depends in one way or another (an increasingly large cohort of people) on the internet, the simplistic view often taken by MPs is often at odds with the practical workings of internet technologies.

We end up spending a lot of time and money fending off such legislation, more often than not pretty successfully but usually after great effort and pain. This is because it takes an age for people (MPs) who because of the practicalities of their job have to look at complex issues very simplistically.

I’m all for keeping things simple (stupid) but we also need people in our Parliament who can get their brain around the complexities associated with the internet. What to the layman is a simple network that “just works” is in reality a hugely complex ecosystem. In fact the complex issues faced by MPs often extend to non-technical considerations such as the privacy of the individual In reality it is difficult to separate the technical issues from the non technical as they feed off each other.

One of the few Members of Parliament who does understand these issues is Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge. His background is research science at Cambridge University. Julian has taken a very active participation in internet and technology related debates in the House of Commons and was one of the leading opponents of the Digital Economy Act that was (outrageously in many people’s view) rushed through in the dying days of the last Labour government.

Because of his work supporting the internet industry, last summer Julian was awarded the Internet Hero Award at the annual ISP Association Awards dinner. Since then he served on the Parliamentary Select Committee looking at the Draft Data Communications Bill (Snooper’s Charter) and was highly influential in the decision making that lead to the Bill being killed it off for this Parliament.

We need to keep MPs like Julian in the House of Commons. He is good for the internet. He understands the issues. MPs need to raise a lot of cash to pay for their election campaign. I assume the next election will be in 2015 but much will go on between now and then.

I have agreed to help Julian by organising a fundraising dinner on his behalf. He is a Liberal Democrat but this is not a party political issue. In fact this is a technology blog not a political blog.

Whatever your political beliefs, if you work in a business, or maybe it is your business, that makes its living from the internet it is in your interest to support Julian.

So this is an invitation to you to a Fundraising Dinner entitled “An  Evening with Julian Huppert – Internet Hero”. This dinner, on Tuesday 25th February,  is a sit down job at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall – a totally high class environment if you’ve never been.

At £300 a head this isn’t a cheap do but we have to remember that the idea is to help raise funds to get Julian re-elected. We won’t be stinting on the quality of the food and drink in any case.

You will be in the company of 49 other influential people from the internet industry so it will also be a great night for networking. We shouldn’t forget that it will also be an opportunity to share your thoughts with Julian.

Click here to find out more or drop me a line if you want to talk about it.

That’s all for now. Please help if you can.

Business ofcom Regs

Non-Geographic Villainy

Unless you’ve been in Outer Mongolia, on the Moon, or unconscious for the last few years, the trials and tribulations of the non-geographic numbering regime won’t have escaped you.

We’ve had the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (“BIS”) implementing the European Consumer Rights Directive which mandated the use of basic rate (don’t ask what that really means) numbers for post-contract queries. This came with a list of exemptions so long and complicated it’ll be beyond many on the coalface advising service providers on their telecommunications. The initial drafting also made it unlawful to use a freephone number for around 9 months between June 2014 and March 2015. Thankfully, BIS has recognised this as an issue and has apparently changed the drafting to say that you can use a higher revenue sharing number than just free to caller, geographic or 03 (the original proposal) but you have to offer a refund if you used a higher one. I am yet unclear whether that is a refund on just Ofcom’s proposed Service Charge or the combination of the Access Charge and Service Charge in the new regime coming into force in 18 months (more on that in a second).

We’ve also had PhonepayPlus intervening in requiring signposting services

Business internet ofcom Regs

Business Rates

In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne gave small businesses an early Christmas present with some relief on business rates. Welcome news, I am sure, for all of our high streets and favourite independent hostelries.

However, when you start to look into the rates regime in telecommunications, things starts to get a little more confusing. Yes, they are due on our data centres and our offices and whatnot, just as we would expect them to be if we were a bank, a pub or a newsagents. But they are also due on fibre and ductwork. Worse still, one council or unitary authority (specifically one in England & Wales and one in Scotland) is often the beneficiary of the whole liability regardless of its potentially national coverage, which defies logic, but that’s a story for another time.

I have a problem with how fibre and duct can be rateable in the first place. Keeping the receipts and expenditure method of valuation (otherwise known as the “profits basis” out of it for a minute), to my simple mind, a factory has a rates liability – i.e. the bricks and mortar, but the machines inside don’t attract it. After all, tax is levied on their product (value-added tax, for example, or other duties in the case of alcohol) and the company producing them is also levied taxes on their profits (corporation tax, or income tax for a sole trader). It would seem somewhat akin to “two bites of the cherry” to tax the machines…… of course that argument could apply to the building itself as well, though I would suggest that as business rates are meant to pay for local services, a building is a fairer demarcation than counting widget machines for example; one could say fairer than some duct in a field.

Anyway, that can all be debated ad nauseum. What I want to get across here today is that when we talk about incentives to develop telecommunications, say 3G coverage to address those so-called “not spots”, or dealing with the issue of slow speeds in rural broadband, one of the critical factors facing a telco in deciding whether or not to build masts, unbundle exchanges (those taking BT Openreach Access Locate space have to pay a room licence fee, which is code for “their share of the rates bill”) or dig up fields to lay fibre out to a rural community with dial-up speeds on their ADSL is how much that activity will increase their rates liability. Seeing as fibre in rated on a sliding scale per pair per kilometer (contiguous in your network) basis, and given the distances that can be involved, it can soon add up.

We have high profile government initiatives such as BDUK, to deliver rural broadband, but I wonder…… instead of spending to “stimulate commercial investment” for telecos to expand into these areas, how much could be achieved through some simple manipulation of basic levers such as business rates? After all, if it were profitable for a telco to expand into such an area (be it a 3G mast or high speed broadband), an economically rational profit maximising entity would’ve done so already. One can only assume the investment appraisal delivered a negative net present value…. perhaps, just perhaps, it may have swung the other way if the rates regime in telecommunications was different.

As ever, very interested in all of your views.


Business ofcom Regs

The Single Market

At the recent Eighth Parliament and Internet Conference, at which I was privileged enough to be speaking on a panel extolling the virtues of an open internet for ITSPA, one of the preceding presentations had been by the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (that mouthful is colloquially abridged to “DG Connect“) promoting the Commission’s new idea for a single market for telecommunications.

A slide was shown, seemingly promoting the United State’s competitive landscape of 3 major operators, alongside China’s similar landscape, against the European Union’s 250 major operators. The Commission’s proposals, in summary are “aimed at building a connected, competitive continent and enabling sustainable digital jobs and industries.“.

Hang on a second. I thought the European Economic Community established a single market for goods and services? I thought the Common Regulatory Framework introduced in 2002 harmonised telecommunications regulations and a general authorisation regime across Europe, negating the need to be “licenced” in each country (though as Skype recently found out, it doesn’t prevent “registration” necessarily)? Bluntly, today, if Deutsche Telekom wants to buy Jazztel, it can, subject only to the overarching rules of mergers and acquisitions and competition concerns common to any member state and any industry.

Yet they haven’t. All of these hundreds of telecommunications companies branded “major operators” by the European Commission are economically rational profit maximising entities. That’s regulatory/economist speak for “they’ll make decisions in relation to their resources that will always maximise their profits”, in other words if buying Jazztel was the best thing for Deutsche Telekom to do, that means they would’ve done so already.

We live in an era where mass consolidation led to “too big to fail”. The Banking industry is a shining example of how such growth through acquisition can go horribly wrong; but yet we seem to be promoting a regulatory and legislative framework to repeat it in telecommunications.

Theoretically, consolidation should lead to efficiency savings for the benefit of both shareholder and consumer, but there is empirical proof it didn’t in telecommunications; look at the cost of broadband in New York versus London. Take a moment to compare mobile tariffs across different countries on Google too. Within that article is a quote from a presidential adviser on technology;

We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we’ve seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight.

Instead of thinking that having 250 major operators is a weakness in our competitive landscape, or instead of thinking there are barriers to consolidation, maybe the European Commission should embrace what has been created under the framework we already have and the US and China should be looking to them for guidance, not the other way around.

These proposals, to me, are worrying. Unless I have missed the point (which, in all fairness wouldn’t be the first time) they seem to be a solution hunting for a problem. Ill-conceived and rushed (they are trying to get it through before this EU parliament ends) legislation rarely ends well. This is why I was heartened to hear Ed Richards, the Ofcom CEO, challenging this during the conference and have heard rumblings of concern in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Of course, there is always room for improvement…. and there are issues with the regulatory landscape across Europe today, but nothing insurmountable – certainly not beyond the odd evolutionary tweak as opposed to a revolutionary approach.

That said, this pack of proposals also contains the proposed Regulation on an Open Internet, a subject close to my heart, so hopefully that at least will survive the legislative process! What does everyone else think – interested in your views, but be kind on my inaugural proper guest post!


Business Regs spam

A cold call from Ideal Solar Solutions to someone signed up with the TPS

Cold call from Ideal Solar Solutions to someone signed up for TPS

Ideal Solar Solutions Ltd are based in Derby. They rang me at 10.27 this morning to try and sell me something, or at least to say that they were in the area on Monday and it would be good if they could arrange to come around to see me.

Actually they wanted to see both meself and Anne. Experience must tell them that decisions on big capital spend items such as solar panels are not made alone.

Unfortunately for them Anne was not around but also unfortunately I recorded the whole conversation – just to make sure that I got the name of the company right etc.

Their website is here. It’s got all their contact details.

Thing is they shouldn’t be calling me. I told them that I was signed up to the Telephone Preference Service and that I would be reporting them to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

They and their ilk are a blight on society. I realise that they are trying to earn a quid but don’t they understand how difficult it is to make sales with cold calling like this. Far better they did a sensible Google Adwords campaign and attracted people actually looking for solar panels. It would meant that the poor telephone sales girl who was clearly reading from a not particularly well written script didn’t have to endure days of fruitless calling speaking to people who didn’t want to talk to her and  who might report her employers to the ICO.

When calling me they withheld their number but if you need solar panels you can call them on 0844 472 2941. It’s on their website. Give em a ring. They haven’t asked you to call but I’m sure they won’t mind.

I note that they carry the logo of the CPA (Consumer Protection Association). The CPA needs to update its Code of Practice, assuming they have one – I couldn’t find it on their site, to include not calling people who are signed up with the TPS.

The recording of the call is here if you are interested. They didn’t ask me to record it but there again I didn’t ask them to call me. It’s a bit noisy but hey… I was recording off the speakerphone of a dect phone. You do hear the occasional ping – it’s my Chromebook – I was in the middle of a hangout with my daughter.

Business mobile connectivity ofcom Regs

Orange avoids banana skin – Ts & Cs changed to allow VoIP

EE subsidiary Orange appears to have avoided a slippery situation by amending its terms and condition for mobile internet use

The pic below is a screenshot of a YouTube video ad published by EE on July 31st 2013 to push Orange PAYG mobile. It majors on the fact that you get “a shed load of data” (1GB) when you top up your Orange mobile PAYG sim with £10. It’s an attractive ad.

shed load of data

However this advert was misleading as it explicitly showed the logos of Skype, Whats App, YouTube and  SkySports. Whilst the guy in the ad doesn’t specifically mention these services the impression you get is that you could use your shed load of data to access them.

orangetscs1What the average punter doesn’t know is that the EE t’s & c’s for Orange at the time specifically prohibited the use of these services. Page 45 in issue 12 (September 2013) of EE’s booklet  (EE81006958_0913) ee_page45contains lots of very small print of “legal stuff” – in other words its customer terms and conditions.

Page 45: Internet on your phone/data tethering for consumers

ORANGE DATA (including mobile broadband): Mobile internet browsing or tethering (whether as part of an inclusive allowance or not) is not to be used for other activities (such as non-Orange internet based streaming services, voice or video over the internet, instant messaging, peer to peer file sharing).










In their November brochure the TCs and Cs appear to have been changed and VoIP is now allowed. No mention is made of the other services previously proscribed but presumably this means they are also allowed.

Over the past 12 – 18 months The UK VoIP industry trade body ITSPA has been complaining to regulator Ofcom and others that some mobile networks have been exhibiting anti competitive practices by specifically banning the use of Over The Top VoIP services on their data services with Orange being a specific culprit.

The EE response has been that older networks can’t cope with the levels of data traffic generated by these services and that the restrictions were imposed to protect other users’ traffic.

EE now seems to have relented. I doubt that this was down to any ITSPA pressure though this may well have helped. More likely in my mind is the fact that a lot of Orange’s network traffic will have moved to the newer 4G service which will have freed up some bandwidth on the older 3G network making VoIP more palatable.

The final inset picture is of the latest EE T’s & Cs showing the change in terms. Click on the image for a pdf of the full page. It’s nice to be able to put this episode behind us. Well done folks.EE November brochure

Business internet Regs

ISPA Conference – unbelievably great offer (etc)

Have I got a deal for you. The highlight of the annual conference season that is the ISPA Conference is fast approaching. I am chairing a session. Last year I chaired a session (can’t remember what on – I don’t dwell in the past) and caught the 07.20 from Lincoln to Kings X which was slightly delayed and arrived at 09.35. No probs I thought. Still got plenty of time as the conference didn’t start until 10am.

In the taxi on the way to K&L Gates in the City (Bill’s dad apparently) it occurred to me that I wasn’t entirely sure what time my slot started so I called someone at ITSPA to check. Apparently I was first on! It was almost like a scene from a movie where someone is dashing to get to an appointment or the opening scene of a play that they were in (you get the drift) and just make it in time.

I appeared at the back of the lecture theatre and strode down to the stage discarding coat and laptop bag on the way. At 10am exactly I introduced the panelists:)  I also had to chair the next panel as somebody else had had to cancel their trip.

Anyway I digress. The good folk at ISPA have asked me to promote this year’s conference. My bit is all about The Future ISP:

“What will an ‘ISP’ look like in 10 years’ time? A look at ISPA membership demonstrates how diverse the Internet industry is.  Whether it is small business, corporate or consumer connectivity, hosting or the delivery of TV, search, social networks or other services over the top, the expectation of what services an ISP provides is changing . This session will analyse what the internet industry will look like in 5, 10 or 15 years’ time.”

Key themes are (apparently):

  • What are the key challenges that ISPs will have to face?
  • What the key opportunities that ISPs will be able to exploit?
  • What are the key trends that shape the business environment for ISPs?
  • Is there a future in offering connectivity alone?

The other speakers are:

  • Dana Pressman Tobak, Managing Director, Hyperoptic
  • David Barker, Founder & Technical Director, 4D Data Centres
  • Matthew Hare, Chief Executive, Gigaclear

More details are available here. ISPA are offering some sweeteners for those who want to come. The first two people to put their hands up get a free ticket (you put your hands up by leaving a comment on this blog post saying that you are putting your hand up and want to come). Everyone who is disappointed at not getting in their hads up quickly enough can get a huge 50% discount by using the promo code TREF50 at the Eventbrite page here.

On a serious note this is a very useful conference and also brings with it good networking opportunities. You will also get to find out what the internet industry will look like in 15 years – which is why I’m going. Bring your crystal balls and we can have a seergazing session – ommmmm.

PS I dunno if seergazing is a word but it is now.

Business online safety Regs security

Government Minister responsible for leaking secrets to enemy spies?

I note that old Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, has taken his communications services into his own hands and  installed a WiFi connection. The Telegraph article doesn’t go into any great detail as to what the WiFi is connected to. You get the impression he has ordered a separate broadband line to his office.

I was pondering on a comment on this article. Should we the great unwashed have a view on this? On the one hand if he is just using the WiFi to hook up his iPad etc just to catch up with his pals on Facebook and Twitter what’s the harm in that? I’m not sure he uses Twitter mind – I could only find a couple of parody accounts in his name. Maybe he uses an alias. I digress.

On the other hand he could be opening up the whole government communications infrastructure to foreign spies hell bent on infiltration and bad things. FM could be the cause of us having enemy sleepers (is that the correct terminology, it’s been a while since I read Le Carre – curse you #Twitterthiefoftime) deep into Whitehall ready to spring into action when the activation code word is broadcast on the BBC Radio4 Today programme or in a classified ad in The Financial Times (or Telegraph).

It might be argued that all the security that makes Government systems so clunky as described in the Telegraph article is all a waste of time anyway when it seems inevitable that Edward Snowden will one day leak all the secrets. We may well find that most of the info is routine stuff like what is Francis Maude’s favourite sandwich filling. Could of course be of use to an enemy seeking to poison him. Look out for yourself Francis. Take care now.

Whatever happens I’m all in favour of reducing the cost of Government, especially if he is paying for the broadband himself which I doubt but don’t know really. If we the unclean are paying lets hope he got a good deal – 50% off for the first six months or something like that. Maybe even unlimited calls to geographic numbers bundled in.

It’s not a Friday afternoon but I feel a competition coming on here. What keyword will our fiendish enemies use for a wakeup call and where will they publish it? It might be a phrase.

“The snow geese have arrived early this winter” is not an eligible entry – that one is too obvious and would immediately put MI5 on the alert. Or is it MI6?

Entries in the comments section please. Winner gets a terrific Timico megamug which they can collect in person at #trefbash2013. As a supplementary question if you want to guess what is FM’s favourite sandwich filling then I may use that as a tiebreaker in the event of a draw.

Your mother wears army boots.

Engineer ipv6 ofcom

IPv6 usage in UK lagging behind our major global competitors

ipv6_usage_headerThis graph of  percentage IPv6 adoption by country as of today, 14th October 2013, was extracted from It shows the percentage of internet users in each country using IPv6. You can get the exact numbers from potaroo. The UK’s 34th place suggests we are seriously lagging behind. OK we can look at it in terms of actual numbers of users – see the next chart below.  We are 13th one this one but take a look at the top 5 – all major competitors in the global commercial stakes.



These charts don’t show us how IPv6 adoption is moving with time for each country but I don’t get the feeling it is proceeding with any pace here in the UK.

Whilst we are on the subject of UK competiveness it is also worth noting that the annual Cisco Visual Networking Index is forecasting an average global broadband speed of 39Mbps by 2017. Ofcom reports that in May 2013 the UK average broadband speed was 14.7Mbps. This does fit with the Cisco forecast but to keep up with the game there is a lot of work to do to hit the 2017 number.

The base technology roadmap is there in the UK – you can now get FTTP on demand at 330Mbps. It’s going to take ultra high def TV delivery over broadband to drive the market. I think we are still relatively early days in this space. Fibre To The Premises with a performance of 1Gbps and up is still the end game.

4g broadband Business mobile connectivity net neutrality

4G adoption in UK businesses

4g for business offers backup facility for superfast broadband

Why should business use 4G?

Yesterday I sat on a panel discussing 4G at the Convergence Summit South trade show in Sandown Park. The audience was largely resellers of communications services. What you would traditionally call a PBX reseller.

In terms of expectations of what 4G would do for this channel it would appear that it was very much a case of wait and see. There are some sceptics who go as far as to that “4G is just a faster version of 3G and won’t really have any specific applications and uses”.

Well I think they are wrong. 4G may well be “just a faster bearer” but it is going to open up opportunities in the communications market that weren’t there before.

For example Timico does a lot of good business selling 3G cellular back up solutions for broadband lines used to carry credit card transactional data. This type of application doesn’t need the bandwidth capabilities that 4G can offer (although 4G’s faster ping times could have a role to play here).

This type of back up application is not used nearly as much to back up ADSL lines to offices. 3G just isn’t good enough for this other than as a very basic means of accessing the internet. If you rely on your broadband for VoIP then it ain’t going to be any use over 3G, as much as anything because half the networks block VoIP (note to self to do net neutrality update post).

Now something is happening in the communications market in the UK and that is FTTC, Fibre to the Cabinet, fibre broadband, call it what you will. The superior speeds of FTTC make a huge difference to how businesses and indeed consumers use the internet. They are starting to make use of online resources like they have never before.

Witness the aggressive promotion of the Samsung Chromebook. Not only did I get 100GB of free Drive storage (ok only for two years by which time Google hopes I’m hooked enough to buy more) but I also get a free Galaxy phone. When I got my Samsung Galaxy S4 they gave me two years of free 50GB Dropbox which I am very much starting to use.

All this is driving the market towards using more and more of the cloud.

Now businesses when they start to rely more on cloud services are not going to be happy if their internet connection goes down. These things do happen, regularly.

With an increasing availability of 4G it is going to be a no-brainer for  business to have a 4G backup for its FTTC connection. The speeds, assuming you can get coverage, are pretty much identical. In fact 4G is likely to give a better uplink speed than FTTC.

4G networks do not (currently) block VoIP applications such as Skype and have latencies that are going to be able to support other real time applications. I can’t see 4G replacing FTTC in a business connection because of the cost of bandwith.

This may not apply for certain demographics in the consumer market. The only reason we have a phone line in our house is because it supports our data connection. The only people that phone it are scammers from Indian call centres and anti social pariahs trying to sell me PPI miss-selling compensation.

For a single person leaving home, saving on the cost of a phone line and broadband might well be enough to offset the additional bandwidth costs of a 4G subscription. I digress.

The upshot is that I think that the combination of FTTC and 4G is going to be a real driver for sales of mobile subscriptions and that the resellers sat in that room listening to the panel discussion should all be thinking of how they can add mobile into their portfolio. If you like think of it in terms of increasing ARPU for broadband sales.

On a similar but different note I met with EE last week for a chinwag on life, the universe and 4G. I had been pretty critical about the EE efforts to sell 4G (see post here). However soon after I wrote that post their subscriber uptake rocketed and I think they may well have now reached a million subs.

It would seem that this increase in interest is due to a combination of market reach (ie more people can now get 4G), growing awareness due to the continued marketing effort and more people coming up to contract renewal. The entry of the O2 and Vodafone into the market will also help by creating even more market awareness.

This same dynamic is going to happen in the business comms market. There will come a time where 4G is generally available, more or less, to all businesses and they will start to use it.

Obvious really. Ciao.

PS if you want to talk more about this drop me a line.

PPS I was driving past Coventry earlier this week and noticed an O2 4G signal on my phone. Hey Coventry, it’s on it’s way to you next 🙂

Business net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality – Pete Farmer speaks

PortcullisOpen Internet & Net Neutrality – both are terms that are meaningless to many and equally emotive and commercially crucial to many others.

As with many things in life, there’s a spectrum of what this means. At one end, there’s a threat to civil liberties, commercial strategies, intellectual property and safeguarding against illegal content. At the other end, there’s (for want of a better phrase) a type of technological anarchy whereby there are ideological demands that all packets of data should be equal regardless of the content, legality, source or otherwise.

ITSPA’s members all operate in the VoIP space to some degree, so the subject of throttling (sorry, I think the marketing term is “traffic shaping”), blocking etc is both emotive and important to their businesses; so I think it is worthwhile explaining what I think the average VoIP provider means by Net Neutrality.

The first qualifier is that we always talk about legal content. What is legal and not legal varies by jurisdiction and is defined by various legislatures around the world; we would not necessarily expect any definition of an open internet to include illegal content.

We would also say that prioritisation of some services is an important