Hyperoptic UK ISP Interview - Page 3 - UK ISPreview
Hyperoptic UK ISP Interview
By: Mark Jackson - November 7th, 2011 : Page 3 -of- 3
"the UK isn’t even in the Top 20 for Fibre to the Home/Building homes passed in Europe so we have a big gap to close"

dana prressman tobakHyperoptic uk isp logo9. The UK government aims to make superfast broadband services of 25Mbps+ available to 90% of the country by 2015, with the last 10% gaining a download speed of at least 2Mbps. What are your thoughts on this? For example, do you think that this commitment goes far enough and is the budget (£530m until 2015, potentially rising to £830m by 2017 if necessary) big enough?

Hyperoptic (Dana Pressman Tobak):

Firstly, I see a lot of disparity in how “superfast broadband” is defined and advertised but that’s a separate conversation.  Hyperoptic of course welcomes and supports these goals, but from my perspective, they are really too low if we’re serious about the UK economy being a major next generation player.  Right now, the UK isn’t even in the Top 20 for Fibre to the Home/Building homes passed in Europe so we have a big gap to close. 

My worry is that the free and bundled offers started in 2006 devalue broadband in the eyes of the consumer.  They don't expect to pay for it and the quality of free and bundled services tends to be less than in cases where proper investment is made..  This devaluation is further compounded by the media’s lack of support and understanding of what fibre broadband can bring to our lives.  When we launched Be, we were constantly asked why people needed 24 Meg and although there is less scepticism now, there is still reticence to believe that any solution other than the current incumbents’ is beneficial.  And here we are, 5 years on, and you can’t even buy a 2 Meg or up to 8 Meg solution in the bulk of the country.

Is the budget big enough? Well that's highly depending on the rates Openreach is allowed to charge for Passive Infrastructure access and how much consumers are willing to spend.  If they expect to get a 100 Meg service for £5/month, then operators will need far more subsidy to make it commercially viable.

10. The Broadband Stakeholder Group, several major broadband ISPs and mobile operators have recently banded together to produce a Voluntary Code of Practice (vCOP) for broadband Traffic Management transparency, which is currently being piloted. The move is designed to make it easier for customers to find out whether or not their ISP is restricting internet traffic, when, what types and by how much.

However some fear that the code will not be effective unless all ISPs signup and agree to publicise full details to show their Traffic Management solutions will affect customers. What are your thoughts on the code and is it needed?

Hyperoptic (Dana Pressman Tobak):

While we’re supportive of the concept of ISPs being clear of the service they offer, we’re coming back to the question of the regulation versus the power of the individual.

We would always encourage individuals to question the traffic management approach their potential ISPs and to be aware how they will impact their downloading and uploading expectations and requirements.  Different consumers have different needs and are willing to pay different prices for the services they require.  Someone who does only occasional web surfing may not care if it is slower in the evenings, especially if they only use it during the day.  My Mum, for example, does not mind if it takes 15 minutes to download pictures of her grandchildren – as long as she gets them.  But for me, spending 15 minutes waiting for content means I won't buy it.

While we don’t currently use Traffic Management Solutions, we wouldn’t rule it out completely for the future. We aim to make our network efficient and value for money to ensure that we match the majority’s price preferences while surpassing their performance expectations – so we’ll be able to delivery virtually instant photos without requiring a premium price.  Our practical approach informs every decision we make in terms of product development and is embedded in our policies.

11. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently set out new guidelines for clearer broadband ISP advertising of internet access speeds and "unlimited" style usage allowances (here). Many consumers feel as though ISPs have intentionally misled them over service performance and capability. Where does your own ISP stand in this debate and what would be the best solution?

Hyperoptic (Dana Pressman Tobak):

The customer experience is at the heart of everything we do at Hyperoptic.  Great customer experience is about honesty and transparency so our network will deliver end-user throughput consistent with the actual speeds advertised. Recent tests show that customers’ throughput on the Hyperoptic fibre network will be 95% of their connection speeds assuming their equipment up to the task.

DSL technologies (which are used for most of the broadband connections today based on Broadband delivered over the phone line) are limited by the distance from the providing node (either the exchange or the cabinet) to the end user. Period.  There is no perfect solution of how to advertise a technology whose main characteristic varies with where you live and how many people in our area are using it.  If an ISP intentially misled someone then there is no excuse for that.   And we would never do that.

I’m happy we don't have to be in the debate at all.  With Hyperoptic and FTTB there is no line degradation over distance or through interference with others.  Eventually everyone will be on fibre and the debates about ‘up to’ will disappear.


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