broadband Business

Rural Broadband’s disaster – why I care – what’s wrong – what’s to be done

A farmer’s wife speaks – rural broadband solutions

why I care – what’s wrong – what’s to be done

I am a hairdresser and a farmer’s wife, and I don’t want to run the country, but I do want to set a few facts straight.

I got involved with tech in the late 80s, when my children started using computers, I didn’t want to ‘not know’ what they were doing. I did some training, and worked as a digital graphic artist for a designer from home, whilst doing caring duty. This meant posting large files on disks, but then we got digital in earnest to keep up with competitors. I started with dial up and tried satellites, without much success, so I ended up as part of a group building a wifi mesh with the help of the university, and this then led to laying the very first rural community fibre to the home in 2009. I am now a small cog in a fibre network called B4RN, built by the community, for the community, and costing £30 a month for gigabit symmetrical, unlimited, unthrottled awesomeness.

During the last 15 years I have seen what a mess we are making of ‘Digital Britain’. I have seen funding wasted. I have seen politicians looking foolish. I have worked as a volunteer for the Digital Assembly as an observer and reported to Neelie Kroes, who, like me wants every citizen to have the chance to be digital. I want to help. Thanks to my community and B4RN JFDI, I now have one of the best connections in the world, here on my farm. My speed test, just for interest, what’s yours like?

Why I care. (about the rest of the country) (inc You)

Millions of us are left on connections that are not, and never will be fit for purpose. Government have been brainwashed into believing in infinity.

In order to save billions of pounds in eHealth, eEducation and eGov we need every single citizen to be able to go online, easily, affordably. At the moment they can’t, so the analogue ways have to continue which is very expensive for the government and taxpayer. We should NEVER ask ‘what will it cost?’. We should ask ‘what will it cost if we don’t grasp the nettle and do it once, and do it right?’ Patching up the old phone lines is not a solution, and it is a scandal and a disgrace that this government, and the previous two have got it so wrong.

We are up against a monopoly incumbent, determined to protect its assets, with a massive marketing budget and snake oil salesmen. We are the lobbyists of the future. We need to be heard. Thank you to Tref for the platform! May I also say at this point that our phone line network was one the best in the world, it fed the industrial revolution, and that is down to the fantastic engineers who built and maintained it. Sadly, since privatisation the finances for upgrades simply haven’t happened. Yet money can be found to buy football coverage to try to stamp out Sky…

What’s wrong. (with the rest of the country) (inc you)

The current state of ‘Digital Britain’.

What really bugs me is the fact that most of the politicians, civil servants and funders who are in charge of building a Digital Britain in order to keep up with the digital revolution know very little about the subject. This has been proved time and time again. The emperor has no clothes, yet all the minions assure him he’s gorgeous. (looking at you Edward). As we lose our manufacturing industries we have to replace them with other exports, and digital exports are the way to do it.

All the funding for the final third (rural areas and those on long lines) who couldn’t get broadband has been manipulated into Openreach coffers and wasted. ‘Wasted’ you say? ‘they have brought fibre broadband, superfast to millions of homes’ you say? Not so. If you study the statistics its ‘homes passed’. What has really happened is that the monopoly has effectively prevented anyone else getting support by grabbing the funding and by doing so has throttled innovative solutions from altnets. They have enabled some cabinets, and every single home on those cabs are classed as having ‘fibre broadband, even if they are still on dial up.

The quango in charge of regulating telecoms is staffed with ex BT employees and tickboxers doing reports. They base their reports on information from BT and consultancies who are often paid by BT to write more reports. The ASA (advertising standards authority) has no grasp of physics and is worse than useless. They think we are getting fibre broadband through phone lines. They let millions of pounds of marketing budgets bombard you with advertising until you believe in infinity. This is total rubbish. I will tell you why…

Fibre broadband does not come down phone lines. Also, their statistics are ‘homes passed’, and many in those statistics aren’t really connectable, (too few cabinets deployed and not enough fibre).   If an exchange is enabled it moves into the superfarce statistics, even if users’ lines are still too far away to get a fit for purpose connection. Business area cabinets are not upgraded to protect openreach revenue from leased lines. Poor areas are often not enabled. Rural areas don’t have any cabinets to upgrade to ‘fibre’. It is all a superfarce.

The ‘fibre’ cabinets are a choke point (see p141, Peter Cochrane evidence to HOL) and a dead end and are not futureproof. All the funding wasted on these would have been better spent getting real fibre nodes into the final third, not squandering it on the urban fringe where there was easy picking. All it has done is enable a few near the cabinets to go a bit faster.

It hasn’t helped any on long lines. Many cabinets haven’t been enabled, only the easy ‘economic’ ones that BT could have done themselves, and should have done if they had wanted to.

Many millions are therefore still on the wrong side of the digital divide, still tied to copper phone lines. We are no nearer NGA than we were in 2003. In those days 2Mbps would have been luxury,  in 2005 someone invented youtube, and iPlayer and now needs are climbing and 100Mbps doesn’t seem that fast any more with many homes streaming on TV and PCs. Cabinets cannot deliver what many need now, let alone in the future. Many families have multiple devices and a single feed won’t be enough. Also they have to pay copper land line rental for phones they don’t use just to get the broadband.

Why did it go wrong?

In 80s the then government led by Margaret Thatcher started a programme to bring fibre to every part of the UK. They didn’t want a monopoly (BT) to do this, so they opened it up to competition. BT were well advanced in the manufacture of fibre and in pole position to deploy it in those days, but the Americans came in and it looked like they would get masses in before BT did.

So BT started with dial up, and followed with ADSL, and the bottom dropped out of the market, and the cable companies pulled out. BT have since ruled the roost with the second class solution – internet access through phone lines. Cheap as chips, should actually have been free.  Virgin bought some of the bankrupt fibre lines and started their own network in urban areas. This competition in towns and cities has led to what is FTTC, fibre to the cabinet, or ‘infinity’, a faster service for those who are close to the cabinets. It doesn’t help those who aren’t within a few hundred metres much – if at all. Where Virgin go, BT upgrade, but Virgin cable is a lot better service so customers stay with them. Virgin on adsl isn’t good, they then become just another reseller of Openreach via wholesale. (I know, it’s complicated but stick with it).

In the late 90s in project Colossus, most of the exchanges were fibred up. That meant your dial up was fibre based. Smaller exchanges were government funded (all the project access funding went there) and only odd tiny ones were left out. Then Openreach sat back and collected the golden eggs, not investing, not feeding the goose, just paying fat cat wages, and shareholders.

They even gave their boss over £9 million a year, two years running!

The only time they have done anything to update the infrastructure is when and where there was a sniff of competition. The rural areas languish on dial up and sub meg ‘broadband’ and nothing has been done at all to help. Along came the digital switchover fund, and BDUK. They gave the money to the councils. The councils gave BT the funding, and they have used it to cherry pick the urban fringes. Essential maintenance has not been done, as any customer will testify, but now Sky (another ISP) is calling for a review. Openreach are now holding out their paws for yet more funding, (Phase 2) having not delivered the first set of promises. This funding will end up going into satellites with their partner Avanti. It is all a stitch up.

British telecom is split into a few groups. Openreach control all the infrastructure. Wholesale sell the access. BT internet buy from wholesale and are an Internet Service Provider. All the other ISPs buy from wholesale too. Wholesale buy off Openreach. This is why we are deemed to have ‘a competitive market’ but in reality we are held to ransom by a monopoly, with the exception of a few altnets who are independent. Virgin also has an alternative network, mainly fed from their own cables. But in the main, it’s all down to Openreach, and they are failing the ISPs.

In 2002 we attempted to get our telephone exchange ‘enabled’ for broadband. We already had fibre in it, as did most of the others. We marketed for BT openreach in other words. They weren’t interested in us, as with many of the rural exchanges, there was not enough profit in us. In 2003 there was masses of funding made available, ie Project Access in our area, and we tried to get funding to build our own wifi mesh, using a feed from the publicly funded CLEO project. (CLEO Cumbria Lancashire Education Online) We couldn’t get any, and all the other funds – Big Lottery, Plunkett, Nominet, Nesta etc etc replied to say that ‘BT promise to get broadband to every home in the country, so we can’t fund you’.

Eventually project access, having wasted all their funds enabling a few exchanges for BT in Cumbria, and millions in ‘promoting the benefits’ were a bit embarrassed to have nothing to show for it, so they gave us £25k for 6 case studies to shut us up. We did the case studies from the wireless mesh we built with their money. They spent a fortune making a film about it. It was showcased at the launch of project access at Rheged  27/10/2005. As soon as we started building the mesh, BT enabled our exchange. Coincidence? It didn’t matter, as our network couldn’t get broadband through the copper anyway, and still can’t. Our mesh thrived and prospered and now all the customers are on our own community fibre. And have sacked off their phone lines.

For the next few years, our hopeless regulator assured government that everyone had access to broadband. The OFCOM website still has the information on it (page 5, but they have now added a proviso about long lines after pressure from grassroots lobby groups). The ordinary people who I met every day still hadn’t got it, and where I live the lines are so long even dial up didn’t work, despite being ‘fibre based’. In some areas there is no terrestrial tv nor mobile signals. Some places don’t have mains water and electric, but you can generate that. Not so with internet. If there are south facing hills, even satellites don’t work, but we tried those too. Very expensive to run, dodgy upload, high latency and not reliable. One even broke the quoins out of the side of a house, because round here it is windy too.

Anyway, we made a fuss. We had a conference in Cumbria, we launched the Final Third First campaign. Government needed to realise that to enable everyone to have NGA you have to start at the outside and work inwards. Openreach jumped onto this very quickly, and with their snake oil salesmen they convinced the councils that only they could deliver to this final third. They assured government that their commercial footprint would be upgraded at their own expense, if government would fund the harder to reach places. They visited every one of the councils and convinced them they could do it. They have put a lot of time and effort into making their vital vision work. Their vision is to keep the country on copper, but they call it fibre. FTTC is no more fibre broadband than dial up is.

Dr Cochrane: Fibre to the cabinet is one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made. It ties a knot in the cable in terms of bandwidth and imposes huge unreliability risks. 

We made it quite clear at the start that they couldn’t do it with copper. We tried to get the civil servants and the EU commission to see through the hype. But they wouldn’t listen. (nobody got fired for buying IBM).

The upshot of all this, is that any altnet (alternative network) was not able to access any funding. Despite the PAC and NAO investigating and castigating BDUK and BT Openreach, and demanding that they release the postcode data to descope areas they don’t intend helping, nothing has been done, and regulation isn’t working. In the last few months, 6 years after the launch of Digital Britain, we have seen a couple of altnets get support, having spent 3 years and a lot of community and private money fighting for funding. There is hope. But it’s a farce to have to play a stupid game when it should be made easy for people to help themselves.

We are being held to ransom by a greedy monopoly who is killing the golden goose. It has consumed all the golden eggs, so there is no next generation waiting in the wings. We are stuck on an obsolete phone network for our internet access, and we are fast becoming a laughing stock as BT leech the last remaining assets from what was a world leading telecoms company.

Nations without good phone networks have leapfrogged straight into fibre, which has also enabled powerful mobile networks too, even in remote regions. All this talk of 4G and 5G, it won’t work without the fibre backbone, and unless we want millions of masts it still won’t work in the majority of the land mass without small local fibre mobile cells in homes and businesses. Even 2G still isn’t available in a lot of rural areas. As long as government believes the telco hype, there is no hope for us though. That is what compelled me to write this blogpost.

You cannot get fibre broadband down a phone line. You cannot connect the whole country using obsolete cabinet technology. gFast is the next stupid thing they will try to push on to us, this only works down 19 metres of copper in lab conditions, not through miles of twisted pairs flapping in the sky or knotted up in trees and ploughed up in fields, or up and down city streets in jammed up conduits. We have to wake up and talk to the taxi drivers and those who cut our hair, and stop listening to snake oil salesmen.

In our area we are now ok. We all have real fibre, dug in by the community, owned by the community, and funded by the community until it was sustainable. Our local heroes.

photo by Murdo McCleod in June issue of Saga magazine

Now it is making a profit. We have proved it works. This project can be replicated to go the extra mile, where telcos fear to tread. We are ok, so should I just stop ranting and ignore what is going on in the rest of the UK? I think not.

Who are We ?

It’s the whole population of the UK really, isn’t it? If not us, then who? The population employs a government supported by public servants to ‘serve the public’. We can all see “our employees” have been seriously led astray by commercial interests who have lost the plot and are stifling innovation in the UK. The Vital Vision brainwashing ran for many years before it was removed, but the damage had been done and many public servants had been on it. They became the ‘visionaries’ for the infinite superfarce.  BT have erased all traces of it from their site, but the pdf lives on, thanks to the cloud.

The incumbent is determined to protect its investment in copper. It will not invest in fibre until it is forced to. It is wasting its profit on patch ups, fat cats and football, instead of futureproof upgrades. It has brainwashed our vital ‘visionary’ employees in Westminster.

What’s to be done?

If not now, then when? It’s almost impossible to deal with the “yes ministers” public servants but MPs are duty bound to investigate difficulties and instigate remedies. We need to insist that a group of MPs are educated with the basic rules of physics and successful solutions, such as B4RN the rural community solution, Gigaclear the commercial operators who have deployed rural fibre in several places and Hyperoptic in urban areas. These must be visited and studied as templates. These altnets have not had government support, but they are still delivering a vastly superior and more cost effective solution than the incumbent. After the explanations of what’s wrong, and when they understand, the MPs could follow instructions for including a much clearer and more precise set of definitions:

rural broadband solutions

It is not ‘fibre broadband‘ if it comes down a phone line.

‘Homes passed’ should not be included in statistics.

Upto‘ speeds are not acceptable.



It so happens that an “All Party Parliamentary Group” (this group could easily be brainwashed into becoming yet another delaying tactic?)  has been set up specifically to investigate Rural Broadband. Ian Liddell-Grainger MP will chair the Rural Broadband APPG with Richard Bacon MP and Nigel Evans MP as vice Chairs. They, for a start, must visit B4RN in Rural Lancashire, Hyperoptic in London and Gigaclear in Oxfordshire and find out the truth, free from snake oil salesman hype. The telco lobby has brainwashed most of our nation. Rural areas are the lifeblood of our nation, and need fibre, and it has been proven to be economical by altnets. Once the rural areas have fibre, the rest will swiftly follow, as food and water flow into the cities, so will superb internet access for all. <end rant>

If not us, then who?

Please do your bit. Think about it, talk about it, to the taxi driver and your barber/hairdresser, friends, family and co-workers, and help stop this superfarce, bit by bit. The same way you eat an elephant. One bite/byte at a time. Do it for the next generation. Help build a real Digital Britain.



4As – the Activists enthuse the Adopters, the Adopters can enthuse the Apathetic, (activists scare apathetics) otherwise the Anti brigade get their way, and all we’ll end up with is FTTC and a superfast train set for a few commuters. If you can’t be an Activist, be an Adopter. Help us build a Digital Britain to be proud of. Why not be the best?


We have made a start, here in Lancashire. We have built our own fibre network from scratch, and it just works. The people have done it all. We have many retired people working in the trenches, grannies and granddads with spades and pickaxes. We have found it builds community cohesion and everyone has a feel good factor. It can be done. If we can do it, others can too. If government would support it, it could be done a lot faster and a lot easier. Your future is in your hands. To which group do you belong? Activist or Anti?Adopter or Apathetic? You don’t have to be techie. It isn’t rocket science.


Thank You. Power to the People.

Dr Cochrane: Fibre to the cabinet is one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made. It ties a knot in the cable in terms of bandwidth and imposes huge unreliability risks. Click here for the full interview with the ex CTO of BT.

Update, July 8th 2015:

For those who are interested in a truly factual account and history of the Superfarce that is Digitalbritain, they need look no further than this blog, it is written by the very brave whistleblower, Mike Kiely, and you will have no doubt after reading it that what I said is true. He has the proof.


B4RN was ISPA Internet Hero in 2012

B4RN were awarded two MBEs in the Queen’s BirthdayHonours list 2015.

Other posts in our women in tech week include:

Geeks do drink prosecco by Liz Fletcher
Network filter bypass solutions by Rhosyn Celyn
Network Automation by Leslie Parr
IX model defended by Valeria Rossi
Veteran board level techie sees progress by Leslie Hansen

broadband Business internet

Digital Vacuum Sucks in Digby? Fibrestream NextGenUs #FTTP #finalthirdfirst #digitalbritain

I braved the elements of a windswept rural Lincolnshire on Saturday to visit the Digby Fete. Digby is in the middle of nowhere. It’s two main distinguishing features are the fact that it is the home of RAF Digby and that it is the next village on the map to Ashby De La Launde.

The proximity to Ashby has become an irritant to the good parishioners of Digby because their neighbouring village has just announced that it is getting 100Mbps Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). Up until now neither village could get decent broadband connectivity.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Diet of mince speeds Stephen Timms on way to recovery #deact

Former Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms was stabbed today whilst conducting a surgery in his constituency in East Ham. It is sad that this risk must be a by product of  public service for MPs.

Whilst I didn’t support what Stephen Timms did with the Digital Economy Act I did recognise that I was dealing with a good and honest man, regardless of whether we agreed with each other on what he was doing.

I’m sure that we all wish him a speedy recovery.

PS I’m sure he would appreciate it if anyone has a CD or two to lend him whilst he is in hospital. Hospital radio must get a bit repetitive.  No home made compilations please. Let’s be sensitive now.

Not to mention the mince…

broadband Business internet

ISPs Plunge Knife into Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) #digitalbritain #finalthirdfirst

A Digital Britain session at today’s BT ISP Forum at the BT Tower saw a vocal opposition to Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) as a prospective technology to meet the Government promise of a 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment by 2012.  Bit of a mouthful that.

Firm pricing is not yet available, but we are potentially looking at an installation cost of £850 for a single line with 1Mbps capability, £1,050 for two lines with up to 2Mbps.  Moreover, although the minimum demand per exchange has not yet been firmed up, it is likely to be 15 subscribers.

There was absolutely zero interest in this product from the 60 or so (guess) ISPs in the room. It is seen as too expensive, to the point where it is not dissimilar in price, if you need 15 users in an exchange to sign up, to the

Business internet ofcom piracy Regs

Stop UK Government From Breaking the Internet on April 6th #DEBill #digitalbritain

As a general principle and in support of the rule of law, nobody involved in the campaign process against the implementation of the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) supports the theft of someone else’s property as is the case when downloading a pirate copy of a music track. However, before we examine the history of the legislation, let’s take a reality check about where we are.

The cat is well and truly out of the bag. The downloading of copyrighted material is now so widespread and with faster and faster broadband and bigger and bigger hard drives it is never going to stop. Infringers will just move on to alternative means – encrypted P2P for example. On this basis all the hard work on the DEB is likely to be a complete waste of time. It is also very difficult to prove who has used a specific broadband connection to indulge in this copyright infringement; what’s more the burden of proof in this bill lies with the accused to prove themselves innocent. This is totally wrong and goes against all the principles of modern UK society.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Official Lib Dem line on Digital Economy Bill #deb #digitalbritain

The Lib Dem team focussing on Dept of Cuture Media and Sport issues now has an official party position on the Copyright Protection aspects of the Digital Economy Bill.

It is a sensible approach opposing website blocking whilst recognising the need to support the Creative Industries.  It is worth reading over at Bridget Fox’s blog.

Business internet Regs

Budget watching – internet usage grew by 22% during Alistair Darling speech #digitalbritain

Readers might be interested to know that internet usage on the Timico pipes grew by 22% over the same period yesterday as punters went online to watch Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling’s Budget speech.

This is roughly the same growth that we saw during the Olympics and also during last summer’s Ashes cricket tests and the Open golf.

In a sense they are similar events – jeering crowds, cheering crowds etc. I’d rather be watching the sport though.

Anyway he did confirm the 50 pence tax on phone lines.

Business internet Regs

Gordon Brown speech on Building Britain’s Digital Future #bbdf

The election campaign is in full swing with Prime Minster Gordon Brown this morning giving a speech, entitled “Building Britain’s Digital Future” and broadcast live at about 8am on

I’m not going to provide a detailed analysis of this.  You can catch that from all the tweets at #bbdf. The PM covered a wide range of subjects that fall under the banner of Digital Britain. Much of the content I am concerned with was just a regurgitation of what has been said for the last year – 50p tax on phone lines, high speed access for all etc. etc. I don’t really see the evidence that this is going to happen yet, or at least not much progress.

What was important in my mind was the recognition or reinforcement of the point that has to embrace web technology.  There is a long way to go here as well. I note that the speech was broadcast on the number 10 website. I found out about it on twitter via @hadleybeeman. When I “tuned in” there were 87 watchers.  By the time I had to leave to go to work there were 157. That’s only 157.

There is clearly a disconnect between the PMs speech being made available on line and people knowing it was there or feeling inclined to watch it. There is a long way to go before Government is properly online.

It was probably to some extent down to the timing – during the morning rush hour.  Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favour of much of what the Government is saying about Building Britain’s Digital Future. Regular readers will know that this doesn’t extend to how they are going about it though. 

The appointment of Sir Tim Berners-Lee as joing head of a new Institute of Web Science might sound good but web technology, once it got off the ground has proliferated because private industry recognised that there was money to be made. That same private industry is even prepared to take big punts where it isn’t quite  clear where the money will come from (eg twitter).

So in my mind the main area of focus should be creating the environment for ideas to flourish. An Institute of Web Science can no doubt contribute to this – just by being there.  More important is to make sure that all the contradictions we keep hearing about – digital inclusion versus blocking of websites and cutting off internet access; the improvement of the rates  set up for fibre; reforms to the online copyright licensing regime etc etc.

If anyone wants to add to the list by making a comment on this post that would be great. After Easter the Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) is going to be working on its own manifesto stating what the ISP industry thinks Government should be doing. All inputs considered.

Business internet Regs

Gordon Brown speech on Building Britain's Digital Future #bbdf

The election campaign is in full swing with Prime Minster Gordon Brown this morning giving a speech, entitled “Building Britain’s Digital Future” and broadcast live at about 8am on

I’m not going to provide a detailed analysis of this.  You can catch that from all the tweets at #bbdf. The PM covered a wide range of subjects that fall under the banner of Digital Britain. Much of the content I am concerned with was just a regurgitation of what has been said for the last year – 50p tax on phone lines, high speed access for all etc. etc. I don’t really see the evidence that this is going to happen yet, or at least not much progress.

What was important in my mind was the recognition or reinforcement of the point that has to embrace web technology.  There is a long way to go here as well. I note that the speech was broadcast on the number 10 website. I found out about it on twitter via @hadleybeeman. When I “tuned in” there were 87 watchers.  By the time I had to leave to go to work there were 157. That’s only 157.

There is clearly a disconnect between the PMs speech being made available on line and people knowing it was there or feeling inclined to watch it. There is a long way to go before Government is properly online.

It was probably to some extent down to the timing – during the morning rush hour.  Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favour of much of what the Government is saying about Building Britain’s Digital Future. Regular readers will know that this doesn’t extend to how they are going about it though. 

The appointment of Sir Tim Berners-Lee as joing head of a new Institute of Web Science might sound good but web technology, once it got off the ground has proliferated because private industry recognised that there was money to be made. That same private industry is even prepared to take big punts where it isn’t quite  clear where the money will come from (eg twitter).

So in my mind the main area of focus should be creating the environment for ideas to flourish. An Institute of Web Science can no doubt contribute to this – just by being there.  More important is to make sure that all the contradictions we keep hearing about – digital inclusion versus blocking of websites and cutting off internet access; the improvement of the rates  set up for fibre; reforms to the online copyright licensing regime etc etc.

If anyone wants to add to the list by making a comment on this post that would be great. After Easter the Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) is going to be working on its own manifesto stating what the ISP industry thinks Government should be doing. All inputs considered.

Business internet piracy Regs

120A kicked into touch but Digital Economy Bill still likely to cost ISPs half a billion #digitalbritain

The Digital Economy Bill passed through the House of Lords this week after completing its Third Reading. During the debate the Government kicked Lib Dem amendment 120A into touch.

This was the one on blocking of websites illegally containing copyright content and which caused an uprising of the internet industry last week. Lord Young speaking for the Government commented that “the clause was not enforceable and was incompatible with the Technical Standards Directive”.

The Government did commit to proposing a compromise clause that could give the Secretary of State power to “consult on blocking measures”. The debate in full can be found here.

In laymans terms this potentially gives Lord Mandelson (or whoever sits in that seat in a couple of months time) the ability to take power into his own hands… hmm… Not much better than 120A was suggesting in many people’s minds. These things are best handled by court judges, as indeed is the current position in Law.

The First Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons also took place this week and the date for the Second Reading is yet to be confirmed. As I have previously mentioned on a few occasions now due to the shortage of Parliamentary time before the election the Bill is likely to undergo very little scrutiny at the Second Reading before the front benches consider the Bill during wash-up (stitch-up).

Interesting to note that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has also updated its Digital Ecomomy Bill Impact Assessment. The report estimates a cost to ISPS of £290-500 million with a benefit to rights holders of £1,700 million.

The report also admits that the costs and benefits of Clause 18 have not been subject to prior consultation due to the limited time between the introduction of the clause and the finalisation of the impact assessment. In laymans terms what this says is that they haven’t really considered whether this part of the DEB is worth the effort.

A recently leaked Music Industry letter to Rights-Holders discussed the fact that when it comes to pursuing online copyright infringers any cost sharing that might be agreed would be split 75% Music Industry/25% ISPs. I can now see where they got this figure from. Foot – Gun – Bang.  They are after 50/50 share of the costs which on the face of it doesn’t seem fair. In fact if the RH benefits is almost £2Bn as suggested and the costs to ISPs are £0.5 Billion there seems to me to be a strong case for RHs to pay all the costs as is, (and I might be wrong here) currently the law.

The perceived benefits to Rights-Holders has also to be taken with a degree of caution here. What they are saying is that if you stop people from downloading music (& movies etc) illegally they will start paying for it instead. It also presupposes that the measures under consideration will actually stop copyright infringement. During the Panorama programme on the BBC this week it was clearly suggested it wouldn’t.

Meanwhile the UK Performing Rights Society for Music, which represents songwriters, composers and music publishers, announced this week a 2.6 per cent rise in annual revenues to £623m and a growth in online revenues from legal licensed digital music services from 72.7 per cent to £30.4m.


End User internet piracy Regs

3 strikes has resulted in increased illegal downloading #digitalbritain

I caught this article in Sam Knows telling us that in France the number of people downloading content illegally has increased since the 3 strikes law was introduced.  One wonders if it has encouraged people to do more of it,  knowing that they can get away with it twice even if they are caught!!

End User internet media piracy Regs

Music Industry piling on the punches in final round of DEB big fight #digitalbritain

In the press today is a report that says “The growth of illegal file-sharing could cost European countries 1.2m jobs and 240bn euros (£215bn) by 2015”.

“the UK’s creative industries experienced losses of 1.4bn euros in 2008 because of piracy.”

Really, so where did that 1.4bn go? It certainly didn’t go into bank accounts (otherwise the ratios would be really healthy), it hasn’t been spent in the shops (or they wouldn’t be suffering) and its not been invested in anything (because that amount of investment would have been noticed?).

The basic maths works something like this:

Business internet piracy Regs

Lib Dems Spring Conf Emergency Motion against amendment 120A carried unanimously #digitalbritain

People closely following the Amendment 120A debate at the Lib Dem Spring Conference will already know that the Emergency Motion was carried unanimously (apart from one vote I understand).

I am reporting it here for the record and following on from yesterday’s short post announcing it. You can read a bit more on the Lib Dem website here.

The Digital Economy Bill is going right to the wire I feel.

Business internet piracy Regs

Lib Dems to vote on Digital Economy Bill amendment 120A at spring conf this weekend #digitalbritain

An Emergency Motion against the Digital Economy Bill amendment 120A has been tabled at the Liberal Democrats Spring Conference in Manchester this weekend.

Obviously I’ll keep us all updated but it may make next week quite interesting on the Parliamentary front if the motion is carried.

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3 weeks to go to an election announcement is bad news for ISPs and democracy #DigitalBritain

It might be my naivety but I was surprised nay shocked at the ISPA Council meeting today. You must read all this post.

The informed betting is that the General Election is going to be on May 6th. The betting for the dissolution of Parliament is either the 1st or 8th April. Normally notice given is 6 weeks but I’m told that because the Labour Party is (allegedly) short of funds they only want a 4 week election campaign – eat yer heart out US of A. My bet is the 8th because they will all want a nice Easter break before the pitched battle to come.

The Government has confirmed that the Budget will be on 24th March (at 12.30pm for the detail minded – warm the TV up soon). Normally we might expect a week to be given for the media to digest and comment about what will presumably be a budget pitched to give us all as much of a feelgood factor as possible after the last year or two of financial hell/instability/crisis/disaster/nightmare/worry/prosperity (delete as appropriate).

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Industry unites against 120A #DigitalBritain

News is distributed so quickly these days (thanks to us ISPs) that by the time us ISPs finish doing the day job and get around to writing up the blog it almost seems like old news already. However in the interest of completeness (ish) of content on on the subject of the Digital Economy Bill I’m going to post it anyway.

Following on from my comments last week regarding the outrage amongst ISPs over clause 120A the industry has united and written a letter published in the FT this morning.  The signatories are a roll call of the heaviest hitters in the internet in the UK and include ISPA – drafts were circulated to us for comment on Monday.

It will be simply scandalous if 120A proceeds after this. Coincidentally and as a bit of an aside one of the consequences of 120A would be potentially to slow down the aforementioned lightening distribution of said news.  Half the websites concerned could be blocked!

To the letter

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Is Pre-Release killing the music business? #Digital Britain

In the context of the debate going on over copyright protection in the Digital Economy Bill there is an interesting event happening tomorrow night at the Performing Rights Society in London.

Entitled  “Is Pre-Release Killing Our Business?” tomorrow’s discussion is centred around the fact that in order to raise awareness the music industry conducts promotional campaigns for up to three months before a CD is released.  This stimulates demand for a product that is not yet available and it only takes one promo copy of a CD to be pirated and loaded onto a P2P network for that CD to be freely available which of course eats into sales at launch.

Because of this industry bodies including ERA and the MMF are calling for abolition of pre-release windows in their entirety. Tomorrow night’s speakers including the BBC’s Head of Music for Radio 1 George Ergatoudis, Martin Talbot, MD of the Official Charts Company, Ben Drury of 7 Digital and Emily MacKay of the NME.

It just goes to show that the whole fight against music piracy is something that has to be conducted across many fronts.

More details on the Music Tank website here.

It strikes me that there are so many discussion points/arguments surrounding the Copyright aspects of the Digital Economy Bill that it will be worth collating them all in an easy to access format – watch this space.

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Broadband Access: Getting Sensible about Digital Britain

The government this week said that they hope to provide access to the Internet to over 7 million people who can’t get online today…by 2014.

You have to ask what’s the point!?

It’s so exciting when you come across announcements such as that made by the Government this week saying that they are attempting to get over 7 million people who can’t get online today, access to the internet. By 2014!

This is of course great news!

The plan is being underpinned by funding in a number of areas

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Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) Not High in Popularity Stakes, Could Upset the Digital Britain 2mbps Cart

BT today appealed to its partner community for more trialists for their BET service.  Currently in pilot phase,  Broadband Enabling Technology (or BET) uses SHDSL to offer a broadband connection speed of up to 1 Mbps over a distance of 12 Kms from the local phone exchange. By using another line and bonding them together the speed can be effectively doubled up to 2 Mbps.

BT is testing this technology at the following exchanges:
Badsey, Worcestershire
Dingwall, Scotland
Horsham, West Sussex
Inverness Culloden, Scotland
Leyland, Lancashire
Llanfyllin, Powys
Ponteland, Northumberland
Twyford, Berkshire
Wigton, Cumbria
Wymondham, Norfolk

So far there have been around 40 installations which isn’t much across 10 exchanges (cf 1,750 FTTC on 3 exchanges). I’m not sure why there have not been more takers – whilst it is targeted at less densely populated rural areas there must be more people in those areas wanting to get on the internet. The plan is, in theory, to roll out a further 200 exchanges but I don’t think it is a done deal yet with the decision to go to production not yet being taken.

BET has aroused some emotion amongst rural dwellers looking for equality with city slickers in the broadband stakes.  They complain that an up to 2Mbps service (as mooted by the Government’s Digital Britain Review) doesn’t really cut it.  I guess the pressure is going to be on BT to make sure that this service does enter production regardless of uptake. Interesting though.

Timico is not a BET trialist but if you need help with getting on the trials by all means drop me a line and I will point you in the right direction.

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Review of 2009

If you have managed to keep a job in 2009 it has probably not been a bad year for you. For consumers, fuel apart, costs have by and large come down as vendors compete more aggressively in the tough market conditions. In the UK we haven’t started paying for it yet. If you have been out of work in 2009 I guess it will have been a different story.

At work Timico continued to grow both in sales and profitability. It hasn’t been easy but the year end looks as if it will be significantly up on last year.

Highlights in the year include decommissioning our last 155Mbps ATM connections to BT, followed later in the year by our 622Mbps pipes. They have been replaced by resilient Gigabit Ethernet Hostlinks.

We also set up our new Network Operations Centre in Newark and saw the successful move of the NetOps team up to Nottinghamshire from Ipswich.

One of the big success stories of the year is the growth in the high bandwidth leased line business. Uncontended (ie dedicated connectivity) leased lines are becoming more affordable and companies are increasing offloading (at least some) corporate resources into the ”cloud”. We have similarly seen a growth in our MPLS estate with some customers signing up for hundreds of connected sites.

2009 also saw some major technology introductions. ADSL2+ was introduced early in the year. The technology is capable of “up to 24Mbps” though we only quote 16Mbps to our customers – most users will not get the max performance and I think it is better to manage expectations in this way rather than have unhappy customers.

Timico was the second ISP in the country to sell Ethernet in the First Mile and have also been participants in the BT Fibre To The Cabinet  (FTTC) trials, the early stage of the much promoted £1.5Bn investment in Next Generation Access technology.

“Digital Britain” was also a much used “buzzword” during the year. It is easy for me to criticise and I realise it is a lot harder when you are making the actual decisions but I am afraid that we will look back and decide that the present Government did not do a good job on this one. The first 4 months of 2010 are going to be very important with laws being passed or not passed that will potentially adversely affect every internet user in the UK.

Don’t get me wrong though. 2010 is going to be an exciting year with lots happening. More tomorrow.

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Alliance Against IP Theft meets MPs

The Alliance Against IP Theft held a meeting yesterday at Westminster Hall in The House of Commons.  Present were 5 speakers from the creative industries – from Fulham FC, Universal Music, a freelance writer and journalist, a publisher from Random House and a construction manager at a film studio – and a panel of MPs including Tom Watson, John Whittingdale, Kerry McCarthy, Lord Corbett and Steven Pound. The meeting was chaired by Janet Anderson who leads the All Party IP Group.

Each speaker gave a talk on how piracy was having a negative impact on things like investing in new talent.  The MPs then asked a series of questions.

Most vocal was Tom Watson who argued that to give the Secretary of State unrestricted power to make rulings on copyright in the future was actually a potential problem for rights holders – MPs would be concerned that a Bill was trying to give powers to the Secretary of State without parliamentary oversight.

Mr Watson also questioned the figures that rights holders produced that suggested that every unlawful download was a lost sale. The panel agreed with him when he said that the creative industries had never been in a healthier state in terms of popularity, despite filesharing.

Lord Corbett gave an indication of how the Bill will progress through the Lords – it will receive its Second Reading next Wednesday December 2nd and is likely to leave the Lords and enter the Commons by the end of January. With a two week half term break in February, it was suggested that as Parliament is rumoured to be dissolved at the end of March for the general election, there was a good chance that the Bill will run out of time.

This is clearly an important phase where lobbying for and against this Bill is going on.  It is the first time I have been involved at such close quarters in something so important – one that is generating high emotion from both sides. The strange reality is that I doubt that there is a single person who is against the proposed regulation on P2P filesharing who actually supports the illegal activity.  It is just that they don’t think this regulation is the right way to go about it.

Also I’m not a particularly political person but it does strike me that we should now just get on with a General Election because we are now entering a silly season where there is a danger that Laws will be rushed in without properly being thought through. Of course I know politics doesn’t work like that…

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Digital Economy Bill is a Lesson in Politics

It’s out, after the first reading in the Lords yesterday!  The Digital Britain bill that is, now known as the Digital Economy Bill.

After months of debate, lobbying and speculation the proposed detail has been published and at first sight it appears to have bits missing. Of interest to ISPs is that there is a lot of content pertaining to Copyright of online digital content – ie illegal P2P filesharing but nothing regarding the Universal Service Obligation for broadband.

There is clearly some political manouvering going on here.  The 50pence tax is already supposedly going to be in the Finance Bill.  Word is that the Government doesn’t think that the USO specifically needs to be in any legislation as it will either be covered by the Finance Bill or the money is already there from the Digital Surplus – the fund set aside to help with Digital TV switchover.

By doing this the Government is trying to increase the likelihood of some of  the Digital Britain Review becoming law by splitting it up into smaller bits. It is also quite possibly using this to brush under the table that they are going to struggle with the implementation of an USO.  They just can’t get their brains round the problem. It is very unfortunate for the millions of Digitally Excluded unfortunates around the UK in suburbs and rural communities alike.  I might be wrong about this but I don’t think so.

Also of interest are proposed powers that will allow the Goverment to take over management of Domain Name Registry Nominet if it doesn’t like how it is being run. Nominet has seen some board room action this year with a couple of Directors making a lot of noise over governance.   The issue is fairly compicated but I believe that one of the issues was the amount of surplus cash being generated by the not for profit organisation.

Details of the Bill can be found here.  Separate post on copyright comes next.

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How to Win Votes at a General Election: Promise Next Gen Broadband!

Spanish Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade Miguel Sebastian has just announced that 1Mbps broadband will be a legal right in Spain by January 1st 2011. Apparently 4 million people in Spain cannot get 1Mbps today.

What’s more they are putting up 400M Euros to help with this.  Whether this is enough is in my mind neither here nor there. Also I don’t know how solid this is – the UK Government also made bold statements with Digital Britain that have become more confused and wishy washy as more people get involved.

Here in the UK we now await tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech to tell us exactly what we will be in for. It already seems that the 50 pence broadband tax is not going to be part of it or at least this is deferred to a Finance Bill that is unlikely to see the light of the Royal Seal.

Years ago when I worked for Mitel there was a story that a politician running for election as Prime Minister of Ontario ran on a manifesto of getting rid of speed cameras.  Apparently he won with a large majority.

Here’s a tip for those running in the next UK General Election. Promise Next Gen broadband for all by 2012. It a guaranteed election winner and the cost is also neither here nor there.

PS the link is to a Spanish online service – I used Google Translate to read it – it is brilliant.

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Parliament TV Digital Britain Stitch Up

Representatives of BT, Vtesse, The TalkTalk Group, and Avanti Communications appeared before an AdHoc Committee of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills yesterday.

The guests appeared to support the 2Mbps target for Broadband Universal Service and moreover kept repeating the phrase Universal Service “Commitment” as opposed to Universal Service “Obligation”. As readers will be aware Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms has already reaffirmed that USO is where the Government is at. The panelists may have had their own agenda here or not keeping up with the times.

I also hear “we don’t need faster broadband today”, “we should let the free market decide”, “it is very difficult to say what people will do with higher speeds”, “it wouldn’t be public money well spent”.

In my mind there is a significant level of “heads in the sand” here. Yesterday I was looking at HD TV streaming speed requirements and 17Mbps seemed to be the requirement for the BBC’s output. Multiply that by the number of family members wanting to watch in their own rooms…  There are no doubt codecs (MPEG4) that support good quality at lower speeds.  However the point is that 2Mpbs doesn’t cut it.

UK plc needs to get more aggressive in the global internet game.  The video evidence is available here.  I didn’t watch all 2 hours so there could, I guess, be some revelations after the 40 minutes mark that you might like to hear for yourselves.

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Martha Lane Fox, Queen of the Digitally Excluded

The Government’s Digital Inclusion Champion and my newest Facebook friend, Martha Lane Fox, gave a speech at yesterday’s Parliament and Internet Conference in Westminster.

There is a group of 4 million people, including the elderly and families living on the breadline, who do not have access to the internet and who run the risk of losing out in the digital economy. Moreover the children (20% of families don’t have internet access) face being left behind their education as other children forge ahead with modern life skills.

Aside from her inspirational case studies a few points interesting points arose:

Research suggest that if internet was provided to all families currently without then it would add £10Bn to the economy.

Cost was seen to be the significant barrier to internet access amongst the poor. We were told that these same families would be able to save £300 a year by accessing cheaper products online – if they were able to do so – a tangible incentive.

Earlier in the day Carphone Warehouse strategist Andrew Heaney, in discussing the 50 pence Digital Britain tax on analogue lines, said that CW had estimated that they could lose 100,000 customers as a result.

I put this point to Martha and she agreed that there were conflicting government goals here. On the one hand wanting to reach the digitally excluded whilst on the other hand raising the barriers by increasing prices.

Note I take Andrew Heaney’s comments with a pinch of salt. The former Ofcom executive has very firmly established himself in the anti-regulation camp here – gamekeeper turned poacher!

In walking the corridors of Westminster there is definitely a feeling of the last days of empire. However MLF has a two year remit which seems likely to span different flavours of Government. Her appointment appears non political with support from both sides of the House of Commons and so her role will hopefullybe safe under the Conservatives (should they win the election 🙂 ).

MLF will have to use all her powers of influence and persuasion to make her mark here and we all wish her every success.

To conclude, MP and Communications Group co-chair Derek Wyatt came up with the idea of getting industry to help educate the digitally excluded by providing help with training. This met with the universal approval of the meeting and is an initiative that is well worth everyone’s support.

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Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms reaffirms that 2Mbps USO remains on the table

In his speech at the Parliament and Internet Conference in Westminster today Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms reaffirmed that 2Mbps Universal Service Obligation remains the goal of the Government’s legislation.

Having spent the morning in a workshop with Andrew Heaney of Talk Talk and Andy Carter from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills I had grown disappointed with the progress of the USO concept introduced by Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report.

People had been telling me that USO was now USC – C for commitment. This was confirmed today. What’s more there was no guarantee of 2Mbps on the table they said. In fact there didn’t appear to be a minimum speed guarantee at all! I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the whole thing was a political con.

Then, talk about a roller coaster conference, Stephen Timms in his speech told us that no, 2Mbps remained the minimum speed people should be getting, and indeed it was an “Obligation”. He confirmed this when I asked the question from the floor.

This is a clear steer from Government here and is in fact an example of the clarity being sought by Ofcom CEO Ed Richards in his own speech earlier in the day.

So there you go you doubters everywhere! Unless the Government changes its mind, 2Mbps is what rural dwellers and the digitally deprived townies will be getting.

Of course the real debate is whether 2Mbps is enough. MP Derek Wyatt suspects it isn’t. We are about to see 3D video games and TV channels which will run over broadband connections.

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Digital Britain FTTC Broadband – The Truth

I spent this afternoon at the Muswell Hill telephone exchange! I’d not been into one before and it must be said it felt like walking into an old high school. A pre-war building that echoed to my footsteps…The most noticeable thing walking in was a constant clicking sound. TDM switching still alive and kicking!! Eerie.

The purpose of my visit was to test the FTTC broadband line. I had a gaggle of BT engineers in tow to watch. I don’t think I was the first in but I was certainly an early adopter.

The results were exciting. We used a number of speed test engines and saw between 22Mbps and 42Mbps download speed. There was also a 172Mbps which was clearly an aberration. I’ll not name the website that gave us that one! The BT Wholesale line checker suggested that we should be able to get a speed of 38.5Mbps.

The uplink was a consistent 1.8Mbps or so – we were clearly not running off the 5Meg version.

I performed a number of tests including video streaming and Voice over IP. Both were stunningly successful. I didn’t expect any problems – the VoIP had plenty of bandwidth and was clear as a bell.

For the video I ran a couple of iPlayer sessions in parallel. The full screen performance was great. With hindsight I should have seen how many I could run to determine the maximum – a consumer household simulation.

The photos below show two video streams running plus a full screen shot of a BBC wildlife programme. Excuse the caption – I had some photos of me making VoIP calls over FTTC but they mucked up the formatting of the post so I deleted them.

Few points in finishing off:
The current BT Openreach strategy is to provide the VDSL2 modem for the Communications Provider to hook up to with an Ethernet Router. This should ensure better interoperability with the MSAN – an issue with different routers in the regular ADSL game.

Speeds will get better during the course of the 10 day training period. BT has seen 30 – 35Meg reasonably consistently after this period though there is not enough trial data to yet be able to quote a “typical” speed. It will be dependent on average distance from the exchange.

Note our range of 22 – 42 Mbps was based on being 4 feet from the cabinet – so there is definitely some bedding down to do there.

I make no apologies for the size of the images – they were just screenprints – I resized them but left them unoptimised for the web so if some of them take a little time to load that’s why.

Note also that whilst FTTC broadband is still a trial apparently the local BT shop in Muswell Hill is selling connections as if there was no tomorrow.  Hopefully they are making their customers aware that it is a trial 🙂

two video streams running off BBC iPlayer over FTTC
two video streams running off BBC iPlayer over FTTC

insect screenprint off BBC iPlayer over FTTC

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Digital Britain high on the agenda at Parliament and Internet Conference

Another busy week in prospect. Tomorrow I’m off to Muswell Hill to test some routers we are considering using for the FTTC trials. Wednesday I’m doing a Hosted VoIP demo at the Convergence Summit South in Sandown Park and finally on Thursday it’s the Parliament and Internet Conference at Portcullis House in Westminster.

You should take note of the latter.  Posts on Parliamentary meetings seem to attract a lot of interest/blog visits long after the event itself has finished. In a sense there is a market for blogging non-stop on this subject. In my book it would make writing the blog a bit boring though.  Order, order!

Anyway this year’s conference has ’em all: Stephen Timms (Minister for Digital Britain and erstwhile commenter on,  Ed Richards (Ofcom) and Martha Lane Fox (the Government’s Digital Inclusion Champion). Lesley Cowley of Nominet is also speaking.

I’m genuinely excited about this year’s event.  With Digital Britain high on everybody’s agenda the conference includes a workshop suggested by yours truly on whether 2Mbps is an adequate target for USO.

If you haven’t already got your name down you are probably too late.  All seats have gone.  If you are going I look forward to seeing you – tap me on the shoulder and say hello. 

Footnote:  “Blazing the Digital Britain Trail from Muswell Hill to Westminster “.   A  pioneering new adventure based somewhere on the wild wild web.  Read all about it on

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Stephen Timms Digital Britain Minister

I met with Stephen Timms, Communications Minister today. His official title is Minister for Digital Britain.

I have met Government Ministers before in a long career spent lobbying Parliamentarians on behalf of various trade associations. This was my first meeting in what might be termed a formal environment. I was there with some of the ISP Association Council members to discuss topical issues pertinent to the ISP industry.

I was quite impressed with the process. We assembled in reception at 1 Victoria Street in plenty of time. At some stage an aide met us, whizzed us up to the top floor of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. It was a round elevator – very impressive – funny what sort of things you notice.

Arriving at the 8th floor we were ushered into a holding room before moving in to see Steve himself. At the appointed time a different aide moved us into ST’s office where we said our hellos and got down to the business of the day.

I was quite impressed with Stephen Timms. Being in the Dept of BIS his remit is to look after industry and he seemed genuinely interested in doing so.

In 45 minutes there is only a limited amount we could cover. We discussed the P2P aspects of the Digital Britain report. I’ve written plenty about this. Key points put across today were that in considering the legislation the Government should ensure that a fair way of apportioning the costs was implemented and that a review of the licensing framework should be conducted.

The current proposals hinge more around sticks than carrots. If illegal music downloaders are to be pursued then a legal alternative should be offered. This is not easy at the moment because of the complexities of licensing the Intellectual Properties of the various rights holders. I’ll detail this in a separate blog post.

We also discussed “prospective effect” and, briefly, more of the Digital Britain report. I doubt many of you have heard of prospective effect – again I will need to write a separate post on this. If I said “mere conduit” perhaps that gives you a clue.

I have to apologise to those of you who wanted me to bring up the subject of broadband 2Meg Universal Service Obligation. We ran out of time on this occasion but now contact has been established there will be other opportunities. 45 minutes, though it seems short, is quite a lot of time to be given by a Government Minister. His diary is chock a block and the next lot were already waiting in the holding room as we were leaving.

As a footnote the clock in his office had stopped – funny what you notice!…

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Digital Britain meeting with Stephen Timms Communications Minister

I have a meeting with Stephen Timms, Communications Minister at his office next Thursday. The topic of discussion is largely going to be Digital Britain.

If anyone has a specific internet related issue they want to pitch to me to bring up then please drop me a line through the usual channels.