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UK ISP Entanet Criticises Lords Amendment for a 30Mbps Broadband USO

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 (1:04 am) - Score 1,004

Communications provider Entanet has criticised the House of Lords for its failure to consult with the industry before deciding to vote through a tough new Universal Service Obligation (USO), which aims to deliver a minimum download speed of 30Mbps (6Mbps upload) to all by 2020.

Prior to last month’s decision the Government had been proposing a legally-binding 10Mbps USO as part of their 2017 Digital Economy Bill. Entanet describes that proposal as being “realistically possible via a variety of technologies that are expected to be delivered predominantly by BT,” although they warn that delivering a minimum service of 30Mbps to 100% of the UK (here) is a “whole new ball game!

The operator said that they welcomed the “desire to increase speeds” and “encourage network investment across the industry,” although they believe that this should be achieved through technological developments and “not Government-imposed demands“.

Neil Watson, Entanet’s Head of Service, said (blog):

“In our opinion, the Government, as usual, has missed the boat on this and should have had these plans and requirements in place back in the mid 2000’s when the 21C network was being developed and rolled out. If that had been the case we would be in a better position now to achieve this level of USO by the 2020 deadline as the correct technology would already have been implemented. As it stands, by the time we can implement the correct underlying infrastructure to deliver these sorts of speeds to 100% of the UK it will no doubt be overtaken by further technological developments or be irrelevant due to ever-increasing bandwidth demands.

It’s another example of coming up with great headline-hitting and consumer-pleasing ideas but without any industry consultation as to whether it could even be achieved. The estimated price tag for delivering a 30Mbps USO is already being cited at around £2 billion – who is expected to pay for this? Network providers? Tax payers? The Government (and thereby, tax payers)? Unsurprisingly, there is next to no information available to answer this question.

But it’s not just the headline ‘30Mbps USO’ we have concerns over. The new requirements also state every household should have access to an unlimited usage cap and receive committed information rates of 10Mbps. So, network providers are going to be required to build their networks to accommodate this ‘potential’ need for unlimited bandwidth from every user even though most don’t and won’t want or need it, just ‘in case’ it’s needed. Clearly the Lords have no idea how network management works or how much cost this would incur. Why do they have no idea? Because yet again, industry advice has been widely ignored.”

However we suspect that Entanet need not worry too much because there’s a high probability that the Government will simply cast out the amendment at the final hurdle, not least since they’ve so far showed no signs of accommodating it. Once approved there will also be another public consultation on the design of the USO, which is when the final requirements are due to be set.

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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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20 Responses
  1. MikeW says:

    +1, Neil. Well said.

    And that’s without pouring scorn on the supposed target of 2Gbps.

    1. Tim says:

      Well I actually approve of the Lord’s amendment, particularly 2BB “internet service providers have a duty to ensure that their networks offer at least the minimum standards specified in subsection (2BA) to every household in areas of low population density, before deploying their networks in urban areas.”
      I agree there are problems with implementing it, but Neil Watson doesn’t actually make any constructive suggestions of how to improve broadband for areas that still have poor broadband.
      In fact all of the Entanet resellers I’ve contacted have refused to provide any broadband at all at my (not particularly remote) area. So it seems clear to me that unless there is an ambitious USO nothing will be done for businesses and residents in slow broadband areas.

    2. @Tim. Refused or can’t?

      Have you contacted us, because we have never refused to provide a service to anyone? Unable to is of course a different matter.

    3. Tim says:

      Yes, I have contacted Aquiss, and I have a email from yourself that states “I’m afraid we no longer provision on to 20CN exchanges.”
      Of course Entanet resellers are not unique in this, as TalkTalk resellers won’t even provide a telephone line let alone broadband.

    4. @Tim We at Aquiss are now accepting 20CN orders again as our wholesale commercial relationships have changed to allow this to be possible. Our pricing/packages is now the same for both 20CN/21CN coverage.

    5. Tim says:

      @Martin – that’s interesting to know. Do Aquiss offer ADSL Max Premium? There’s no of it mention that I can find on your website.

    6. @Tim Yup, the legeacy Premium (832k upload) that would come under our “Business Unlimited Premium” range http://www.aquiss.net/unlimited-business-broadband-packages/

  2. Webbs says:

    Does it really matter either way? 10mbps or 30mbps… in all likelihood either the taxpayer will foot the bill or customers will when ISPs raise prices to cover the investment costs.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      Yes, it does matter as it seems around £2bn will be required for the 30mbps standard, whilst the 10mbps standard would not involve any significant expenditure of that sort. The criticism is not about the Lords motion as such, but the complete lack of analysis of how it might be achieved and where any funding might come from.

    2. Webbs says:

      Ok, but again, so what? If they set a target it’s up to those tasks with delivering to find a way to meet the target. If that means UK Gov decide at some point to pay for it out of public coffers somehow does that really matter? The result is a much better improvement on what’s available now.

    3. Web Dude says:

      They could have gone the whole hog and said 50 Mbps in urban areas and 30 elsewhere…

      I’d like to see broadband users lobby their MPs to tell them that the High Speed Rail project (at least the stretch from London to Birmingham) is not value for money, but digital infrastructure definitely *is* and for half the money planned for HS2, the high speeds that some in a fibre connected apartment block could be rolled out much further…

  3. Billy says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to only accuse the Lords of being guilty of failing to consult or being out of touch with reality, the Commons are equally as bad on both counts.

  4. TWKND says:

    I personally don’t see how 30Mbps isn’t realistic, WISPs for example are reaching 3x that in some areas.

  5. At Boundless we will be making sure that every customer that is able to “see” one of our access points will be able to order a 30Mbps service. So as well as delivering access to ultrafast products we will deliver our own “USO”! Considering we think our network can see about 300,000 rooftops this really shows that we should not, as a country, be too focused on how the big providers should deliver a 10Mbps USO that will not be fit for purpose by 2020

    1. 125uS says:

      Isn’t the point of the USO Jamie that it’s the customers who *are* out of reach of the network who will be able to demand service and not expect to have to pay any more than the ones you can already reach? How much would it cost you to deliver your 30Mb to a remote cottage in rural Suffolk versus that customer paying the same rate as all your others?

  6. Chris says:

    The 10Mbps USO is a joke – as a country we should be aiming higher than that. As already mentioned WISPs can do much better than that with today’s technology. Indeed we are getting wireless internet installed in our village at the moment and that is promised to be a minimum of 24Mbps. Look at what Gigaclear is set to do in regions such as Devon and Somerset.

    And the rural community should not be expected to fund high speed internet for townies only.

    The unlimited cap is also interesting. I guess the question is what it will be used for. 4K TV can consume an awful lot of bandwidth so if not unlimited, a high cap is needed. An awful lot of piracy may justify an unlimited cap…


  7. NGA for all says:

    The whole debate seems driven by frustration rather than informed. By referencing 10Mbps or 30Mbps your accepting copper as the future when BT and Ofcom and indeed BDUK are doing more FTTP.
    BDUK’s 97% was before the last two quarterly increments in clawback, so we are already doing better. Openreach said in their Charter that £130m would add 1% coverage and they were going to works on 400,000 copper upgrades.
    I think the Ofcom report did not do the sector any favours. The Scots and Welsh plans are comprehensive and well funded so they could have concluded differently. Why they focused on costs based on 2016 is odd, which is there is so much more to come.

  8. Fred Fibre says:

    I would love 10Mbs, 5 would be good in my area. Gigaclear are supposed to be coming to my area (SSLOP exchange area) but after contacting Fastershire with a question about something I read on this site it looks as though my particular area will not be included so forms part of the 1/3, yet again, left out.

    We were left out of the Openreach/Fastershire debacle and I wait to see if we will be included or left out YET again. Gigaclear and Fastershire will be signing (so I am told) in March and the Fastershire website will have house data available sometime in May – so we will see!!


  9. Apolloa says:

    I’m in full support of the government here! 30 MBPS is the minimum we should expect. This country is ssooooo far behind, we have half our lines still being Victorian copper cable, and an ISP is complaining about a 30mbps minimum speed.
    Mind you I’m also in full support for the government to stop waistline money down a pit hole for its new foreign train set, and spend the billions and billions and billions on this countries telecom infrastructure instead, they should also get a grip on fares costs and look after the present train network! But I guess that’s not how capitalism works?

    1. 125uS says:

      I don’t know that the UK is ‘soooo’ far behind. The latest Akamai report puts the UK at 22nd in the world, so inside the top 10%.

      Remember as well that the reason some countries report very high speeds is because they service cities with fibre cables and have no Internet provision at all in rural areas. The UK’s average Internet speed would leap in an instant if all the ISPs cut off anyone with a speed below 20M and told those people that they couldn’t have broadband any more.

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