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Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Calls for 100Mbps Broadband Everywhere

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 (2:52 pm) - Score 607
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The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, which touts itself as being the voice of local businesses in that corner of South East England, has called on the UK Government to deliver 10 times faster broadband speeds than those being pledged as part of the 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) for 2020.

Mercifully Nick Burfield, the chamber’s policy director, recognises that delivering 100Mbps everywhere by the end of the decade is “maybe, not realistic“, which is correct because the infrastructure would take a lot longer to reach that level of coverage and this assumes we’re using cheaper / quick to deploy (e.g. hybrid-fibre or wireless) solutions than “full fibre” (FTTP/H); the latter might need 10-20 years.

On top of that Nick also calls for mobile networks to strive for 100% coverage, although he doesn’t clarify whether that means population or geographic coverage and if he wants this to be 3G, 4G or is only talking about voice calls (2G). At present EE expects to extend their 4G network to 95% of the UK’s landmass by the end of 2020, which in population terms is fairly close to universal coverage.

Nick Burfield said (EADT):

“There isn’t a meeting where it doesn’t come up. On broadband, our view is that the Government’s Universal Service Obligation, which is for 10Mbps download speeds, is not enough. Our position is we should be targeting 100Mbps everywhere by the end of the decade. That is, maybe, not realistic but that is what we should be aiming for.

Unless we have 100% high speed coverage the gains won’t be felt as they will always have to have a back up paper system in place. You won’t get the economic benefits unless you have high speeds. The Government should be committed to that; more resources would close the gap.

Broadband speeds affect a lot of small business in areas, creative businesses that need the high speeds, those that work from home – they need comprehensive cover.”

The latest data (here) reveals that around 53% of the United Kingdom can already access an “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) capable broadband connection (this falls to about 24% in Suffolk alone) and most of that is via Virgin Media’s HFC cable network (we expect them to reach around 60-65% by 2019/20).

Meanwhile Openreach’s FTTC based G.fast solution should cover 10 million premises by 2020, although we don’t know how many of those can expect 100Mbps+ speeds via the service. A few million premises will also get Gigabit capable FTTP/H/B connectivity via various operators’ but, overall, we’ll still be a very long way from 100% cover of 100Mbps+ networks by 2020.

Nevertheless we do agree that it would be helpful for the Government to start establishing a clear long-term strategy and targets for this kind of service delivery, albeit perhaps more as a commitment rather than a legally-binding obligation. A binding 100Mbps USO isn’t going to be viable for many years.

Mind you cost, as well as time-scale, is still the major barrier for any universal scale delivery of ultrafast broadband. On top of that it would have to be handled with care so as to avoid concerns over damaging competition (e.g. efforts to foster commercial investment via alternative “full fibre” networks are still very sensitive to such things). Not to mention the thorny subject of Ofcom’s regulation.

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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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10 Responses
  1. Avatar GNewton

    It’s good to see that they finally realize that the current broadband policy, which has focused too much on DSL instead of fibre, simply isn’t good enough. Let’s hope it will be backed up by some actions and a longterm strategy for full-fibre.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      There seems to be no problems with new builds and later BDUK phases. How to fund the rest? Do VM areas need overbuilding?

    • Avatar GNewton

      “no problems with new builds” Agree
      “Do VM areas need overbuilding” No
      “How to fund the rest?” Scrap HS2? Remove VOA fibre tax? Stop LLU? Separate Openreach?

    • Avatar Joe

      “How to fund the rest?” Scrap HS2? Remove VOA fibre tax? Stop LLU? Separate Openreach?”

      Scrapping HS2 is a red herring and becoming a tiresome ‘when people want a magic money tree’ solution. While I agree that LLU is a mess and frankly need scrapping (at least for copper) I see no obvious way to do this without multi-year litigation from those who oppose it. OR separation won’t do much to help and may well hinder things as internal reorganisations tend to disrupt and delay everything.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      But VM is not full fibre that we all need.

  2. Avatar occasionally factual

    Yes, the business brains at SCoC, who are business leaders, have failed to tell us how we are going to do this.
    Yet again as all these self appointed business groups do. Point out the bleeding obvious but have zero ideas on how to actually implement anything. Or cost it. Or fund it. Or give timescales for their grandiose plans.
    Which is worrying given they are “world class” business leaders who the UK must look up to to prosper.

    • Avatar John Miles

      Nor do they tell us why ‘100 Mbit’ will bring economic gains (except to the companies that are used to deploy it).

  3. Avatar Johnson

    Buy passports, driver’s licenses, id cards, resident permits, green cards e.t.c of very high quality and other products for all countries. DIRECT CONTACT: mrdocu2015@gmail.com

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      I’m not aware that you can buy the above legally, presumably these are fakes. Suggest you remove the spam ASAP.

  4. Avatar dragoneast

    I use a fair amount of services from software developers. From foreigners because it’s the best I can get. But most of them seem to have sub-ADSL and VDSL speeds, even some virtually on dial-up. How do they manage it?

    I can only assume they are not blessed with robotic British brains, trained only to repeat the same mantra endlessly like some broken-down record, as it used to be described when I was growing up. The great benefit of Brexit seems to be that we can just carry on talking to ourselves.

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