broadband Business

Cumbrian Broadband Hiccups – Will the Rest of the Country Catch a Cold? #BDUK #digitalbritain

Cumbrian broadband – BDUK

Cumbria is the region leading the charge in the implementation of superfast broadband to rural areas using government funding via BDUK.

Cumbria has just rejected the bids made by BT and Fujitsu and asked them to retwrite the proposals. Neither bid apparently met the criteria laid down by the Cumbrian authorities.

This should be noted with concern by other Local Authorities around the country, all of whom are trying to get to grips with how to spend the government money in their own areas. The reason for the concern is that the model for how much the rollout should cost, and therefore the amount of money apportioned to each area was developed by BDUK using a subcontractor.

If this model turns out to be wrong then we could be facing the “Cumbrian” situation in every county. Delays and shortfalls in meeting targets are bad news all round.

The BBC coverage on the Cumbrian broadband situation is here.

You should also follow Ian Grant’s coverage here – he is very close to this stuff.

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Superfast Broadband for All – UKNetCo

The UK is in the middle of the annual round of booze ups known as the autumn Party Conference Season. High in the mindset of our political leaders will be the UK’s internet economy particularly as we await the next Communications Bill Green Paper. Stakeholders at the conference socials are I’m sure already lobbying, positioning and generally trying to get their message across.

The Eds and Daves of this world whilst being wooed by corporates with vested interests would do well to focus on basics that very much include decent and ubiquitous internet connectivity for the whole of the UK.

We are already seeing cracks in the government’s resolve to have “the best superfast broadband network in Europe by the end of this parliament” (2015). Actually it isn’t fair to call them “cracks in the resolve”. The resolve is there but the execution isn’t  and anyone who thinks that we would get anywhere near this goal without a radical change in the UK’s approach to internet connectivity is kidding themselves.

The only way we are going to achieve this is if UK plc, ie the taxpayer, invests in a full fibre infrastructure for “the final third”. This is not to say give money to BT. The only sensible approach

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@edvaizey @jeremy_hunt please read this #deappg #digitalbritain #fttc #fttp

Last week I wrote an analysis on the superfast broadband strategy published by Jeremy Hunt. It attracted more comments than any other post I have written in the last three years. I concluded that whilst the published strategy might enable the government to meet its near term objectives it was not necessarily the best thing for UK plc.

Now Barry Forde, the brains behind CLEO, has written a post on that goes into fantastic analytical detail as to why promoting a FTTC based plan is not the right thing to do. Indeed Barry shows that in the medium term it would be the more expensive approach and would lead to continued requests for government handouts.

I can’t better this piece of analysis and suggest you read it here.

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Read All About It – Wheel Invented – Or a Call Upon the People of Lincoln to Vote for Superfast Broadband

With a population of only 110,000, Lincoln is not on the list of Exchanges to be enabled for superfast broadband in the forseeable future.

Of course, the wheel was almost certainly invented before anyone could read all about it. However I do get the feeling that we are somehow still in the stone age. This afternoon I registered with the BT “Race to Infinity”.  I want superfast broadband (whatever that is).  Here are the stats from Lincoln, my hometown.

Percentage of votes 0.77%
252 votes have been cast out of a total of 32,844

With only 16 days to go this spells disaster. Lincoln is not on the list of Exchanges to be enabled in the forseeable future. With a population of only 110,000 or so (at least within the general area) you would think that constituted a reasonable sized conurbation. Clearly not reasonably sized enough!

This does pose an interesting question. Lincoln is not in what is described as “the final third” – the 33% of the country that is broadband impoverished so I would find it difficult to see a situation where the government would fund connectivity under its recently published superfast broadband strategy.

How therefore does the government decide which communities it should fund?

I can envisage a four tier society

  1. Areas where the business case easily merits initial investment – ie those where “FTTC/FTTP are currently planned
  2. Areas outside the above that can only get conventional broadband and are not in the plan for FTTC/FTTP
  3. Deprived areas that are currently not spots or have very slow connectivity and are obvious candidates for funding
  4. the final 10% that BT said it could not service even with the currently envisage level of funding

Now either BT isn’t doing a very good job promoting the Race to Infinity or nobody wants the product.

My message to the people of Lincoln?

We are talking wheels here.  When the wheel was first proposed to Og (3rd cave along) 10,000 years ago he didn’t at first appreciate the benefits. It was only after ha started using it that he saw the light (lightening of his load anyway).

Get voting!

PS Og and 10,000 years are made up names and dates. I could have Googled it I suppose…

broadband Business internet

Superfast Broadband and the FOURTH LAW OF THE INTERNET – It’s All Hype #digitalbritain

Some of you might remember the book “Masers and Lasers; How They Work, What They Do.” (1964, M. Brotherton. The McGraw-Hill Book Company). In my well thumbed copy page 5, talks about laser beams and uses the term “superhighways” for communication.

The January 3, 1983 issue of Newsweek: talked about “…information superhighways being built of fiber-optic cable will link Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D. C. in a 776-mile system on the East Coast.”

In the December 19, 1991 issue of the Christian Science Monitor Senator Al Gore called NREN the “information superhighway” – a catalyst for what he hoped would one day become a national fiber-optic network. Clearly in 1991 normal channels (TheRegister et al) were not around to make these announcements so he had to make do with the Christian Science Monitor.

I’ve already blogged that by last year BT in the UK had 11 million kms of fibre in the ground. I would expect that Al Gore might consider the Information Superhighway to well and truly have arrived.

Actually he would be reasonably right for a good proportion of internet users. This post though is not a rave about the digital divide. It is actually about marketing hype.

The latest political buzz-phrase seems to be “superfast broadband”. I personally think these hyped up phrases have had their day. Politicians across the ages have obviously latched on to them in their own messaging and marketing campaigns.

I wish people would just stick to the facts. In this case max possible speed 40Mbps, min 15Mbps, probably 25Mbps on average, certainly if we are talking FTTC. Clearly I will never make it in the marketing game.

I have though invented two Laws of the Internet.

The THIRD LAW OF THE INTERNET says that cups of tea always go cold before you finish drinking them when surfing. It’s a proven fact with a lot of laboratory research to back it up.

The FOURTH LAW OF THE INTERNET says that marketing hype accelerates faster than Moores Law. They are completely unconnected – I know that his will be a difficult concept for some to grasp (bit like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity but different).

The practical implication of the FOURTH LAW is that we will soon have to invent new words to describe how fast a connection is.

Today it is superfast broadband. Tomorrow it is going to have to be “this broadband is so fast you won’t be able to touch your router because it is so hot”. It’s a fact. It’ll give politicos a problem though – not a quick soundbyte phrase.

Ah well. My thanks to the internet (phrase circa1996) for access to Wikipedia for the historical stuff. Marvellous.

PS the FIRST and SECOND LAWS OF THE INTERNET have yet to be discovered.  They might not even exist. Scientists tell me we will need better search engine technology than is available today to find them.

PPS if someone else already invented different third and fourth laws, for clarity these are trefor davies’ third and fourth laws of the internet.