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Government and Corbyn Spar Over a “Gigabit Britain” Broadband Future

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 (1:48 pm) - Score 1,498
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The leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, has claimed that broadband connectivity in the United Kingdom is being held back by “government foot-dragging and ideological dithering,” which he suggests can only be improved by pushing more public money towards fibre optic services.

In fairness the existing Broadband Delivery UK programme is doing a reasonable job of helping to bring superfast broadband (24Mbps+) capable connections to 95-96% of the UK by 2017/18, although there’s still a question mark over how best to cater for the final 3-5%.

At this stage we’re expecting a mixed technology approach for the final 3-5% and greater reliance on smaller alternative network (altnet) ISPs, but a firm strategy is still missing and it remains to be seen whether the forthcoming Budget 2016 announcement will offer anything constructive on that front.

Meanwhile commercial investment from Virgin Media and BT (Openreach) looks set to see 200-500Mbps+ capable broadband connections being delivered to around 60-70% of the United Kingdom by 2025 (we suspect Virgin Media’s domestic cable network may be pushing in to Gigabit land by then), but that does leave another big question mark over the viability of deploying similar “ultrafast” services to the final 30-40%.

Last week’s decision by Ofcom to give rivals greater access to BT’s national UK cable ducts / poles could help to fill some of the current and future gaps (here), but it’s very plausible that a future Government may still need to support the wider roll-out of ultrafast connectivity with more state aid and in that sense Corbyn’s speech to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) isn’t surprising.

Jeremy Corbyn MP said:

“The Centre for Economics and Business ranks the UK thirteenth on the value of its infrastructure, behind every other G7 country bar Canada. Enterprise and innovation cannot flourish when our roads and railways, ports and airports are lagging behind our competitors. But infrastructure means the digital economy as well.

Our digital and communications market, as Ofcom recognised last week, is simply not working. Chile, Estonia and Iceland all have a higher percentage of premises connected to fibre-optic broadband. Businesses simply cannot expand, particularly in rural areas, without improvements to our digital economy.

The evidence is clear that only the public sector and public investment can guarantee the super-fast broadband network in every part of Britain the essential low-cost connections people and businesses need in a 21st century economy. As it is, government foot-dragging and ideological dithering is holding digital Britain back.”

At this point we should say that senior members of the Labour Party have recently gone on record to call for BT to be split from control of their national telecoms network (Openreach) and in 2014 a report from Labour activists proposed a vague £10bn plan that would deliver 1000Mbps (1Gbps) broadband to all, with 10Gps connections for business hubs like Tech City (here).

Ofcom’s Strategic Review also appeared to favour a future of Gigabit connectivity, although there will be no end of debate about whether their approach can deliver that or not. But funnily enough even the Government now seem to be eyeing a “gigabit Britain.”

During a debate in the House of Commons yesterday, which focused on the issue of urban broadband, Ben Howlett (Conservative MP for Bath) asked whether the Government agreed with the logic of going “directly to the installation of ultrafast broadband” and skipping right past the “superfast” target.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, replied:

“It is very important to set realistic targets. That is why we dropped Labour’s pathetic 2 megabits policy and went to 24 megabits. Now is the time to start looking at a gigabit Britain. I utterly endorse what my hon. Friend says. Let us not get stuck in the past with Labour; let us go forward to the future.”

It’s interesting that Ed Vaizey should so specifically mention “gigabit” Britain, particular as they previously only touted a longer term ambition to foster “ultra-fast” broadband (defined by them as 100Mbps+) to “nearly all the homes in the country” (here), although “gigabit” tends to mean speeds that are at least ten times faster than even that (1000Mbps+).

As ever with politics, take everything that MPs say with a huge pinch of salt until somebody spells out the details in a clear, funded and official policy.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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52 Responses
  1. I strongly suspect VM’s network will be in gigabit territory by 2017-18.

    I also strongly suspect FTTP is going to be way more available than expected right now by 2025.

    • Definitely, but there’s still going to be a huge gap in FTTP/H coverage and Virgin have some challenges to overcome with regards to feeding their network with the capacity it needs. I think they were sensible not to jump on to 300Mbps for the domestic market until a little later.

    • The challenges are quite specific and are being worked on. Once their root causes are all sorted it should be fine.

      Fixing those issues at the hubs and the ongoing network rebuild programme will allow them, if they choose, to hit a gigabit sooner rather than later.

      They are putting in 3.1-ready kit for obvious reasons.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      I think as soon as production ready g.fast kit is available and the systems support is done, BT is going to seek to get some of it into the field ASAP. Coverage will, of course, be very patchy but there’s a potential chasm opening up with VM’s offerings, and they’ll want something broadly in the same speed category, if only to limit some of the bragging rights/advertising damage. Initially deployment will surely have to be round existing cabinets. I don’t know if the existing cabinets are capable of taking g.fast line cards, but there is surely an upgrade to do it such that both VDSL and g.fast can be supported from the same cabinet (or, even the same line ports).

      The work to put in more nodes to shorten the loop distance to those outside of g.fast range of the current cabinets would be the really expensive bit and, of course, take a lot longer.

    • Avatar wirelesspacman

      “…and, of course, take a lot longer.”

      And no doubt require another £billion or so of public subsidy! 🙂

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Commercial criteria are commercial criteria. If the government wants universal coverage at ultrafast speeds, then either they will need to subsidise somebody to do the expensive areas or come up with a regulatory environment anf licence obligations to make it so.

  2. Avatar gerarda

    I see Ed Vaizey is still spinning like mad to justify his superfarce cock up

    • Avatar DTMark

      “That is why we dropped Labour’s pathetic 2 megabits policy and went to 24 megabits”

      While aiming for something better than 2Mbps for all is commendable and appropriate, when that target was quietly dropped after allegedly being contracted to BT to deliver in contracts kept largely or wholly secret from those paying for it, it was not replaced with a plan to deliver anything else in particular, and certainly not 24Mbps for all.

      And AFAIK there remains no plan to deliver that. I doubt it has even been costed despite him then going on to say that “we have found the money to give everyone superfast broadband now”.

      Makes me wonder if he has one eye on a place on the BT Board in the future since he’s doing a better job of representing them than the electorate.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      BT was never contracted to deliver 2mbps fixed link on BDUK. There was a satellite option, but where local BDUK projects are providing satellite subsidies, it’s direct as it’s cheaper that way.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @steve jones. If that is true it was spun very differently – as far as I can remember no BDUK project website admitted that the 2Mbps commitment would be satellite and that option is only cheap because they expect virtually no-one to take it up.

    • The original 2Mbps commitment was never even fleshed out by the pre-2010 Labour government and indeed they couldn’t have met their own 2012 target without using Satellite, which is despite initially referencing it in terms of a possible fixed line upgrade.

      Meanwhile the post-2010 coalition did adopt the USC and set funding aside to help deliver it, although they too failed to flesh out a clear approach until only last year. Both past and present Government’s made a hash of it.

      In a way this was to be expected because during the early post-2010 election debates there was an understandable concern that to spend the USC on fixed line would risk duplicating the investment with their “superfast” (24Mbps+) target. At the time they didn’t have a clear roll-out plan for the 24Mbps target either, so it was a tricky one.

      In the end we got a USC that’s available to both satellite and now certain approved fixed wireless ISPs. Personally I feel they should have just scrapped the USC in 2010 (politically that would have been difficult) / made it available to all ISPs or at least added it to BDUK’s wider budget to expand “superfast”.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @gerarda

      You could, indeed, be forgiven for having the impression that there was a 2mbps obligation contracted by BT under BDUK, but that was never the case. Such a thing would never have been deliverable in the timescale, and you can be sure the BT contract negotiators would not have committed to it. There was, of course, lots of political obfuscation, but the fallback for BDUK was always satellite. That the DCM&S put a gloss on it, is the issue. I think, in truth, nobody actually knew how all of the 2mbps USC was to be met in detail.

    • Avatar MikeW

      The 2Mbps USC is a lot harder to pin down – either definitively for, or definitively against.

      In North Yorkshire, we’ve certainly seen the following from council reports:

      – In phase 1, the USC subsidy budget was £5m out of a total subsidy of £26.4m

      – In phase 2, £2m of the £5m was re-purposed to superfast coverage, and USC coverage delayed, alongside a further £8m of new public subsidy. The council report said, of negotiations: “Because this additional spend with BT effectively reduces the cost to BT of fulfilling their USC obligation BT has released £2m (of the £5m referred to in paragraph 3.1.4 above) to augment the additional funding of £8m.”

      – At the same time, council reports also indicated that BT’s USC agreement allows for “the use of satellite technology being limited to 3895 premises”. This amounts to 1% of North Yorkshire.

      That information was known around the end of 2013, early 2014.

      More recent council reports (Autumn 2015) restates the satellite cap to be 2% of the intervention area, but this is roughly the same as 1% of North Yorkshire. However, there is also an acknowledgement that some of the satellite provision is an interim measure (due to be in place by the end of 2015) while phase 3 work is planned to be ongoing until the end of 2018/19; perhaps the 2% cap is also an interim cap.

      Confirmation, then, that BT was indeed contracted to some part of a USC provision, and that funding was budgeted for it. But importantly, that contracts could allow for satellite provision too.

      NY is a pilot project, using its own contract. That doesn’t tell us what the framework included – but it does tell us what was included in early thinking.

      The very earliest indications of intent, related to the 2Mbps USC, from the coalition government shows that discussions with industry showed heavy agreement that there was no point pursuing a 2Mbps-first, or 2Mbps-only policy. That it should be an integral part of a superfast project.

      First requests to scope a USC project, mid-2010:
      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/78368/10-1065-bduk-usc-theoretical-exercise-request-information.pdf

      Resulting report, late 2010:
      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/77505/10-1330-broadband-delivery-exercise-conclusions.pdf

      Resulting policy, late 2010:
      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/78096/10-1320-britains-superfast-broadband-future.pdf

      These documents all envisage satellite as part of the overall solution. One calculates capacity for around 225,000-300,000 subscribers, from the then-known launches, using 50:1 contention and 2Mbps speeds. Isn’t that roughly the target market of the current satellite voucher scheme?

    • Avatar gerarda

      @MikeW It is interesting to see from those documents how the original hope was that BT would respond to the creation of superfast areas in the rural parts of the country by increasing their commercial footprint. As we all know when they awarded all 44 contracts the commercial areas they specified in the OMR were actually reduced.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @SteveJones

      I read somewhere there is a contractual relationship between BT and the companies who are offering the satellite voucher scheme, which is why they are largely unknown, and in at least one case, somewhat spivish, companies and not the more experienced satellite providers

    • Avatar MikeW

      @gerarda
      Do we all know that the commercial footprint reduced? Certainly some borderline cases moved one way across the threshold, but my experience was that they were matched by other sites moving the other way. As continuously proven, viability changes based on the combinations of problems encountered. Flexibility was always a feature.

      However, any authority hoping to induce an unbalanced increase in the commercial footprint was deluded. Hopelessly deluded.

      Why? Simple. Once BT made their commercial criteria known to one authority, the BDUK “crosschecking” pretty much requires BT to apply consistent criteria in all 45 areas. If they change to looser criteria in one LA, they’d be forced to change the other 44.

      BT end up pretty much forced to apply the same criteria across the country over time. Isn’t that what we’d want?

      Witness the outcome we *have* seen: an increase in takeup criteria to 30%. Offered across the board, to all LAs. Recalculated costs for phase 2, applied to all LAs across the board. Consistency is all.

      Most surprising is the bit that passed you by… that, in a world where BT has to religiously apply consistent criteria across the country, the way for them to do what you want – increase the commercial footprint – is by altering takeup expectations. They’ve done that … and the £129m clawback, rising to >£155m, is BTs money that buys that extra footprint.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @MikeW – they were certainly deluded if they BT would increase their commercial footprint after they had been awarded the BDUK – but the paper which suggested this was very early stage. I would have thought it a reasonable assumption that BT would respond by increasing their coverage when faced with a competitive threat. However as we know the threat was nullified by the subsequent process, and particularly the outside in costing model used.

      In Suffolk the commercial footprint dropped from 58% to at least 54% – the better broadband suffolk site started with a thermometer at 58% but had to be redesigned as coverage appeared to be dropping as the rollout got underway.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @MikeW My understanding of the clawback mechanism is that this is money BT would have had to repay once take up had reached 30%. It is not a recalculation of the intervention area to exclude those places BT would have covered in their commercial rollout had they used a 30% take up assumption instead of 20%.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      @gerarda

      There is no doubt that had BDUK not come along, that the scope of the BT commercial area would have increased markedly, and that’s especially so if the expected takeup had been revised from the fairly conservative 20% to the 30% now used on BDUK projects as VDSL rollout economics are very sensitive to that figure, as fixed costs are fairly high whilst marginal costs are low. However, the OMS was done when the commercial viability criteria where more conservative, and as that was based on actual credible plans at the time, it’s very difficult to revise it all in retrospect. As it is, the accelerated clawback process has returned a lot of what would have been BT capex back into the BDUK pot. There is a valid objection to BDUK in that it allowed OR to de-risk investment, but it wasn’t all one way in that if costs had proved higher than expected, the downside was carried by the contractor.

      So was BT able to extend the network into more marginal areas with less risk? Undoubtedly yes, but that wasn’t wholly risk free. My strong suspicion was that a lot of the conservatism in the expected takeup on FTTC was the lack of commitment to marketing by the LLU ISPs who have their own competing product and may have their own issues on ROI on semi-stranded assets in unbundled exchanges. Of course none of us are partners to the discussions that went on, but it would be astonishing if OR hadn’t directly discussed with the major ISPs on what their projected sales might be for FTTC products. With LLU ISPs responsible for the majority of fixed link BB services on the OR network that sort of information surely played into then expected takeup percentages plugged into the commercial viability model.

    • The cabinet I’m typing this through was added to the commercial deployment after the BDUK contract was awarded.

      I can also show you a bunch of cabinets in London, where there was zero BDUK programme, that were removed from the commercial rollout. Clearly these were nothing to do with the BDUK programme as there wasn’t one there.

      I’m sure there are many examples both ways making generalisation inadvisable.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/11/fibre-for-middleton-broadband-campaign-criticises-bt-viability-assessments.html

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/12/strong-uptake-street-cabinet-82-hunslet-finally-gets-fttc-battle.html

    • Avatar MikeW

      @gerarda
      Your understanding, if not outright flawed, is certainly limited.

      Think harder about what an increase in the expected takeup means to the full breadth of BTs plans. An increase in takeup means an increase in income for every single cabinet – commercial, borderline and subsidised. Every single cabinet becomes slightly more viable. Those viable before will have shorter payback times. Those borderline cases shift further into viability. Those just unviable become viable, just. And those badly unviable will need less subsidy.

      If BT had made their original plans based on the new takeup values, they would have spent more, covered more commercially, and needed less subsidy within the (smaller) BDUK intervention areas.

      The thing with clawback based on 30% is that it sets up the economics as though BT had always planned on such takeup. So you effectively get that higher coverage, as though BT had always intended that coverage commercially.

      All obvious, once you think what it means for BT to be paying an extra £155m+.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @MikeW – your logic works if the clawback mechanism mirrors BTs investment criteria and returns, directly or indirectly, 100% of the subsidy on cabinets which move from non-viable. The formula for doing the clawback on take up is Exposure to claw-back at Take-up Review Point = Net Additional Take-up x Project Unit Margin x [(1 – the higher of (i) the Project Investment Ratio; or (ii) the Outturn Investment Ratio)]

      This is spread over the entire intervention area project by project so will not necessarily return everything to square one but will depend on where within the project overspends and underspends occur. It may well be that had the original BDUK intervention areas been smaller then the cost per premise would have been a lot higher, but this would have had an advantage of making the rejected alternative technologies relatively more attractive.

  3. Avatar Steve Jones

    nb. I should add that there’s a proposal coming for a 10mbps USC, so let’s see what that comes up with.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Is it USC I thought it was a USO?

    • Yes it’s a USO, which is legally binding and seems likely (but not yet 100% confirmed) to be focused on fixed line solutions. Not to be confused with a paper thin USC.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      My apologies, I meant USO.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      It will be interesting to see what it looks like and who would be involved, for me it shouldn’t be left to bt as the landscape is very different to when the voice uso came in.

    • Avatar wirelesspacman

      If not BT, then in my view it will have to be the Government, or some such central purchasing body. That body could then have a list of “approved” suppliers that it could call on to connect an individual house – perhaps via some sort of mini-tender per property.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Sounds like a plan!

      Things are a lot different now let’s not put all eggs in one basket when we don’t need too.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      It does sound like a plan, or at least a principle, but I can’t see that the government will want to pick up what could be a big drain on public finances. It would also require what would amount to a regional network planning organisation as it would be insanely inefficient to do this on a case-by-case basis. I really don’t think that the government wants to get involved at that level of detailed planning. I suspect they’d much rather throw the problem over to commercial providers and hang a USO onto the back of that in defined areas. Almost like a regional franchise.

      Then there is the issue of financing the bits that are not commercially viable. The government are certainly not going to grant an open cheque-book. Ideally they’d look to suppliers that can cross-subsidise from profitable areas to loss-making ones as a term of their licence. It’s difficult to see that ever happening. Another possibility is some form of industry levy on “cheap to service” areas to provide a fund to be called on for more expensive to service areas (the US has something like this, albeit limited). However, you can guarantee that there will be ferocious opposition to this lead by, especially, VM and the LLU operators (who depend heavily on those areas). The past Labour government had proposed a levy on phone lines (but, bizarrely, not all fixed line BB). That is unlikely to reappear and, in any event, would be seen as discriminatory if it didn’t apply to cable and FTTH too.

      Realistically, BT tends to get treated that way purely because of its history as a universal supplier of phone lines and because of past national monopolies. My guess is that there may be some sort of deal whereby BT will accept some form of USO in return for some softening of Ofcom’s regulatory approach. No doubt there will be exceptions even on that (when it gets down to the last percentile things get really difficult). This really ought to contain conditions to allow for the dropping of exchange-based MPF/WLR services over time where it makes technical and economic sense.

      What I don’t think Ofcom will do is loosen up on their dogged determination to maintain national pricing structures for telecommunications infrastructure, even if it makes no economic sense. That might have provided a better economic case for investing in hard-to-reach areas (with USO conditions). Ofcom did fiddle around with some of that with respect to market designation of exchanges for LLU purposes, but I don’t think it amounted to any more than the recognition of a reality.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “some sort of deal whereby BT will accept some form of USO in return for some softening of Ofcom’s regulatory approach”

      The trouble with that is, regulation changes.

      No commercial outfit will want to have to provide something that makes no money or worse a loss. For me… if the Government want a USO they will have to pay for areas that are not commercially viable, much like BDUK

    • Avatar DTMark

      “Much like BDUK”

      I thought that was one of the core reasons for the existence of BDUK.

      And yet here we still are, with some areas having seen speed uplifts, but others having received nothing, and there is still no costed plan.

      Aside from a few local authorities which created satellite voucher schemes, it appears to me that every BDUK local authority project failed rather spectacularly at the end of last year.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @DT – Was BDUK 100%? If not then there would be properties missed. Counties wanted max number of properties for min cost.

    • Avatar DTMark

      My understanding was that the project would be completed when availability was:

      100% at 2Mbps or better
      90% at 24Mbps or better

      What I still can’t grasp is how we still don’t have a plan to deliver what was in the plan from years ago; why the projects deliberately planned for failure.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @DTMark: The 100% 2Mbps coverage cannot be verified because councils usually hide because dubious confidentiality clauses, to hide some of the BDUK issues. This is one of the reasons why the BDUK has been a farce. Taxpayer’s money was basically given away to BT which had no need for it. At the very least the BDUK contractors should have been subjected to public scrutiny. You won’t even find a clear definition of what ‘commercially viable’ actually means. At the very least, the USO, whether 2Mbps, or 10 Mbps, should be fully imposed upon BT.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      No…. it shouldn’t

    • Avatar MikeW

      Given there was always an expectation of some satellite involvement in the 2Mbps USC, and the scale of the satellite voucher scheme seems to match the numbers behind the original expectations, I’d say the plans have always been there, and have come to fruition. Well, they will within the next month or so.

      The plan has always been there, and appears successful by their targets.

      What’s not to grasp?

  4. Avatar Gadget

    Not wishing to be “picky” but as a member of the Privy Council I believe he is entitled to be the “Right Honourable” if we are going to add the MP after his name.

    • Avatar MikeW

      I remember reading about him being stripped of the honorific when he first failed to attend the council. Has he learnt to respect the honour now? In a way that doesn’t include “grudgingly” in the sentence?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      He’s entitled to it, but fortunately we don’t live in a country where we are required to use every state-endowed form of address. My general rule is only to use such things when it’s a functional part of the job title.

    • Avatar MikeW

      If we did, we’d have to use “Call me the right honourable Dave”.

  5. Avatar bob

    The big problem is without competition BT has no incentive to do more than minimal investment. At this stage with TV & Phone etc having converged it makes no real sense to overlay a second network particularly at the problem areas are mainly outside of the large urban areas. The approach in my view is to have a proper separation of from the BT Group. This does not mean selling off Openreach but can be achieved by making Openreach a wholly owned subsidery of the BT Group . ISPs can then compete to provide services

    • Avatar TheManStan

      It doesn’t solve the problem.
      Actually, for national infrastructure a second or third layer does make sense SFBB/UFBB is so critical to the economy.
      It provides redundancy to the system allowing businesses which have critical IT to have fall back connections, albeit at a much lower throughput to their principle supplier.
      A separated Openreach still has no incentive commercially… The lack of coherent strategy from UKgov has seen to that. Over twenty years of BT being prevented from investing in fibre has seen minimal investment by others… one complaint being the tax on fibre, if UKgov had really been interested in infrastructure build for the benefit of the nation, then zero rating fibre infrastructure would have been the incentive for others to compete… to this day there has been no movement on the matter… which means UKgov really doesn’t have a coherent plan for information technology business and economy at a national level.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @Bob – How would ISPs compete in any way different from now?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Your suggestion makes absolutely no difference to the situation. It would also not satisfy Sky, TalkTalk etc. as BT would still have a financial interest. In any event, it would alter nothing about poorly served areas.

      As for the part about an alternative network operator in some parts of the country, that already exists and it is called Virgin Media who already serve over half the premises in tne UK and with plans to extend that to approaching 70%. That still won’t help the “notspots”. I should add that there are other, mostly business related network operators in major cities who also compete with BT.

      Finally, competition will, indeed, spur OR into retaining market share which will mean that investment will be prioritised to those areas as OR can’t simply let market share slide to VM in the most economic areas.

    • You’ve expressed this view on ThinkBroadband and here, Bob, and not once have you provided any kind of coherent explanation, or indeed any kind of explanation, as to how or why the course of action you advocate would actually improve anything.

      Please feel free to do so.

    • Avatar Al

      Sorry but I don’t see how a seperate OR would make any difference to me as the end user. If you are lucky enough to live on an LLU exchange ISP’s already compete for your buisness. If you live on a non-LLU exchange BT has a de facto monopoly and whilst you might be able to get service from another ISP you don’t pay the price they advertise (as you are outside their network area). Besides there is nothing to stop Sky, TT etc… building their own rival network to compete with BT.

      Really the only way for it to work would be something like the National Grid, where we all pay a standing charge for upkeep of the network and then pay for our ISP. Hopefully a side effect of that would be effect of that would be the elimination of LLU/non-LLU

  6. Avatar Greg Dalgleish

    BT first started to build a fibre network in the late 70’s/early 80’s with the intention of using it to replace copper lines. It is now 40 years later and we are still waiting for them to finish it.

    Claims that it is too expensive are simply not true. If we had applied that type of short minded attitude to coating roads with tarmac (a far more expensive exercise given the number of rural roads) then people would struggle to travel at more than 20mph.

    The technology that is planned over copper in the next ten years will exclude more people due to distance from cabinets. It takes no account of more symmetrical needs such as cloud services. It is just another expensive minimalist step to getting in place a fully fibre network that was identified by BT in the 70’s as being needed to handle the needs of the digital age.

  7. Avatar Greg Dalgleish

    Read the article Fred. “Jeremy Corbyn MP, has claimed that broadband connectivity in the United Kingdom is being held back by ‘government foot-dragging and ideological dithering”.

    Maggie Thatcher was as responsible for the problem as any of her successors.

    I don’t need to Google it I have lived through it.

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