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Fast broadband: An election issue?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 11:08 UK time, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I've been abroad on holiday for a couple of days, so apologies for the lack of blog posts. So what have I missed? Well the travails of Microsoft's IE6 browser continue, with pressure mounting on UK government departments that use it to upgrade. The merits and demerits of Apple's iPad continue to be debated at interminable length - I think I'll wait until it's actually on sale before taking another look. But what really interests me is the future of fast broadband in the UK - and its emergence as a possible election issue which could divide town and country.

At the weekend, the Conservatives unveiled their plans to ensure the rollout of superfast broadband - or "up to 100mbps to the majority of homes" by 2017.

Last summer, the Labour government outlined its vision in the Digital Britain report, now making its way through Parliament in the form of the Digital Economy Bill, which also sees superfast broadband reaching 90% of the UK by 2017.

Both parties concede that it is unlikely that the market will do the job on its own - though the Conservatives are hoping that allowing other operators to use BT's local network, its "loops and poles", will promote investment by companies like Carphone Warehouse in superfast broadband.

And each party is planning to use taxation - Labour from a landline tax, the Conservatives from the BBC licence fee - to take fast broadband to areas which the market won't reach.

Each has since argued that its plans are the ones that will put Britain in the broadband fast lane - and the Liberal Democrats are accusing both of indulging in fantasy economics.

Amongst what you might call the fibrenauts - campaigners for fast fibre-based broadband to every corner of Britain - there's delight that this argument has broken out now. As one of them put it to me:

"I told everyone that broadband would become an election issue and no-one believed me!! Mind you, it was about three years ago... LOL."

But if it is to be an issue it's one that will play best in rural areas, poorly served now by broadband and likely to miss out on the next phase of the revolution. And the rather unlikely revolutionaries leading the charge for rural fibre are at the Country Landowners Association.

They were critics of the government's Digital Britain report, welcoming the 50p levy on landlines, but warning that the report failed to understand the urgent need of rural business for universal high-speed internet access. They were sceptical too about the Conservative plan, warning that every rural home needed broadband now rather than having to wait until 2017, by which time "many rural businesses will either have gone to the wall or relocated to areas where fast broadband speeds are available".

CountrysideAnd now news reaches me of an attempt by the CLA to rally support around the rural fibre cause before the general election. The association has sent out an email to a number of people and organisations inviting them to a meeting in London on 2 March, where a coalition to fight the cause will be formed. The email says:

"There needs to be a significant element of co-ordination for there to be any major success, both in terms of the Government's 2012 objective (commitment) and beyond to 2017. Therefore, it is our view that now is the right time to seek to pull together a national coalition of groups and individuals that can set and focus on a series of lobbying objectives."

So the fibrevolutionaries are massing and candidates in the upcoming general election, particularly in rural areas, will need to know where they stand on the funding of fast broadband.

Mind you, they will also be aware that more voters live in towns than in the country - and they may view the prospect of tax-funded superfast broadband rather more sceptically than their rural cousins. Like this gentleman, who contacted me this morning when I suggested that this might be an election issue:

"I strongly disagree that a private service like this should be an election issue. If they don't like it, they can bloody move."

Oh dear, not a polite start to the great broadband debate.


  • Comment number 1.

    I have recently moved to the only part of the country with an effective monopoly on telecoms and broadband, Kingston-upon-Hull. While they have indeed opened up the exchanges to others, the city is too small, and indeed too impoverished, to be worth any other provider coming in.

    We are stuck with overhead wires, no cable television, expensive limited download internet packages, etc. Karoo's service is good, but we have no choice, and they have been known to cut people off in the past - this should not be allowed when there is no choice.

  • Comment number 2.

    The 'move house' statement should be treated the same way as the 'Hitler' argument. By stating it you automatically forfeit your credibility and therefore lose the argument

    That it's an election issue is indicative of the direction in which the world is moving, towards seamless connectivity. Our descendants will look back and wonder at the FTTH (Fibre-To-The-Home) debate just as we look back at those who questioned the need for ETTH (Electricity-To-The-Home) 100 years ago.

    There should be no rural divide. There should just be a single populace needing different solutions. One of those solutions is not taxing the consumers but reviewing the unfair taxes that stifle private competition and keep BT/OpenReach in their dominant market position. This is something government can do right now.

    BT already have a network. Unfortunately it's made primarily of copper, but it's all paid for and everything now is profit. Clearly they'll want to hold on to that asset just as long as possible. But other players are waiting in the wings. Lots of them. They'll build you your Next Generation Network, just give them the opportunity.

  • Comment number 3.

    Surely the focus should be to ensure countrywide coverage of broadband with a minimum useable speed, something like 2Mb? That should be achievable at a reasonable cost. Superfast should be market driven - those that want/need it should pay for it. Government ensure core services are available, individuals pay for the luxury component.

    If people want to watch video well, there's that good old standby called television.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hmmm, people are complaining that this is "a private service"?

    It would not be a private service if British Telecom had not been sold off at a knock-down price. Of course, then there would be the issues of a large, slow-moving, public utility that saw more profit in ISDN (gah! I recall that particular horror).

    ADSL, which is what most people who have broadband rely on, was a very ingenious "hack" that extended the life of the old copper pair considerably. However, both main parties absolved themselves of any responsibility to look beyond that. The mantra, "The market will provide" failed. Completely.

    Now we've what? Virgin rolling out fibre-to-the-door *where it is profitable*. And, plans to in some way or other pay lots of taxpayers money to other private businesses to take that initiative to the less-profitable parts of the country. Yes, including rural areas that might be so far from the local exchange that ADSL is not an option.

    I was offered SDSL service in Belgium over five years ago. The first S stands for Synchronous; and, if you don't know what that means, it basically is that I could send data as fast as I could receive it. THAT puts you online with a level footing with the big players - in stark contrast to turning the Internet into "Glass Teat 2.0".

    Perhaps I should just wait until Google's TiSP ( is available in my area?

  • Comment number 5.

    I find it difficult to believe that when many rural communities don't benefit from mains sewerage (an environmental risk if nothing else), mains gas (seriously expensive oil or LPG have to be used) and some pretty ropey roads, the main concentration now seems to be whether they can download pornographic movies in an instant. I install satellite communications equipment and very few multinational offices overseas have a link that exceeds 2MB/s. 500kB/s is pretty much the norm and perfectly adequate for email and basic browsing.

    A 50p tax on landlines is likely to result in the migration of the more tech-savvy customers to VoIP (I've already done it), leaving the less proficient to subsidise people that live in the countyr (usually by choice, as house prices are higher there).

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh dear, not a polite start to the great broadband debate.

    Harsh, maybe, but perfectly fair. Life in the countryside has it's advantages, and it's rich in the extreme for people who choose to enjoy those benefits for themselves to suggest that not only should they also enjoy city style infrastructure, but that someone else should pay for them to do so.

    If you choose to live an expensive lifestyle, you should pay what it costs.

  • Comment number 7.

    @1, mac jordan: The Karoo service from Kingston Comms in Hull and parts of East Yorkshire is NOT good. It is slow (very slow on uploads), drops the connection too often, has a flakey DNS, is too expensive and restricts people from taking up offers like a free laptop with internet or bundled TV, phone & internet. The customer service from KC is poor too, reminiscent of the high-handed council they came from.

    The local loop/last km nationwide should be run like the gas network, centrally maintained by a single company and 'rented out' to service providers like telephone, internet and TV companies. This would encourage more imaginative use of the local circuit. The central company could then be set targets to improve and extend the network by a regulator.

  • Comment number 8.

    Oh dear, not a polite start to the great broadband debate.

    I totally agree with your commentator. I choose to live in a town, it has it's good and bad points but that's my choice, why should I pay a tax to provide people who choose to live in rural areas with broadband? And if we do decide to do that can the country folk please subsidise my rent?

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm sorry, why do I have to help pay for someone who made a decision to live out in the sticks? I'm yet to see any real justification for why the rest of the country should subsidise the few who made conscious decisions to live in quiet and peaceful parts of the country yet want the luxury and mod comes that have typically come from living in cities and large towns... right ok!

  • Comment number 10.

    Why are we worrying so much about wired broadband when we have 3g/4g broadband reaching speeds that you can stream high def. video over? Surely the government would be far better served in ensuring a decent nationwide roll out of these technologies?

  • Comment number 11.

    People seem to be missing a couple of points here. Firstly, since when has it been an expensive life option to live in the country? I moved out of London to Wiltshire six years ago because I couldn't afford city living any more. Secondly, no-one has mentioned the real reason it's important to have fast broadband (or indeed any broadband)available in the rural areas. With this facility, more and more people could work from home, saving a large part of the disproportionate amount of pollution caused by rural commuters - almost all car drivers, as public transport in country areas is largely unsubsidised and therefore almost non-existent.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm with Ian - The ability to communicate across distances is a great leveller and enabler in society. You never hear anyone saying that someone in the Scottish Islands should pay more for to post a letter than in a city where the true costs are widely different. Because governments are very much focused on getting it's services online it really does matter that we can all use the internet for the same basic costs, therefore it is inevitable that they will intervene through taxation and regulation.

    The trick for the market is to enhance the basic services to a point where we are willing to pay a premium what they offer i.e. HD-TV, mobile phones, films, faster downloads etc all through a single bill.

    Interestingly market forces and local action are starting to have a small effect. My county has a local ISP, rolling out broadband to remote locations at reasonable costs using wireless, SDSL, Fibre, VDSL, ADSL2 etc.

  • Comment number 13.

    @10 Having access to 3G and being able to use it given the investment that's been put into the networks, are 2 different things. Just ask anyone who has a smartphone.

  • Comment number 14.

    Simple solution. Re-nationalise BT Openreach and install a national FTTH infrastructure. Charge ISPs for access to the network at a rate that covers the costs and also brings in a profit that is ring-fenced for future upgrades to the network.

  • Comment number 15.

    @11. - Right so now the reason people in the country should have super fast broadband which everyone else is to pay towards is so they can work from home and save the environment? If that was the case maybe the city dwellers should be doing it more then because there are far more of them than country folk...

    So is working from home something else the country folk think they're entitled too after moving away from their places of work and finding it takes them longer to get to work now? Stop wanting the best of both worlds!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    Instead of the gvt trying to make "world leading" (LOL, whatever), 2MB broadband, why don't they go the whole hog and try for 100mb ... or more?

    UK "World leaders" in broadband my 4rs3.

  • Comment number 17.

    @CountryLifer Firstly, since when has it been an expensive life option to live in the country?

    Since people living there started wanting high speed internet connections. It costs a lot more to run cables into the countryside to serve the small population there than it does to run them round cities. Partly because you need more cable, and partly because there are fewer people to split the cost. Either way; if it wasn't more expensive we wouldn't be having a discussion about the rest of us having to buy you an internet connection - you have done it yourself already.

  • Comment number 18.

    I am astonished at the blinkered metropolitan perception of rural life going on here. Not everyone in a broadband not-spot is in some far-flung hill-top hamlet!

    I'm a former city boy who now lives in a suburbanised village with about 1500 properties. It is 3 miles from the nearest town centre but less than a mile as the crow flies from the boundary of urban sprawl.

    We have a mainline railway station (18 minutes to two city centres), and five major trunk roads (three motorways and two major cross-country A roads) all within 10 minutes' drive.

    Within five years, according to the press, we will also have an intercity station on the doorstep.

    The problem for this "not spot" is not our remoteness.

    It is simply that we are too far away from the exchange to get reliable >2mbit broadband over copper, even in principle, AND we are too far away from a "normal" green cabinet to benefit from Fibre to the Cabinet, AND our existing local loop uses a technology that isn't fit for purpose in the Internet Age.

    Before privatisation, and before Telephone Over Passive Optical Networking (TPON), the solution to phone line congestion in a village of this size could have been, "build an exchange". Certainly, there are rural villages in Yorkshire which are a third the size of this suburban village and enjoy 8mbit broadband today thanks to an exchange already being in place.

    But along came TPON, and boom - the new solution was, "stick in an optic fibre that is designed only to be used for phone and fax".

    And it's not just rural places that suffer as a consequence of this decision.

    There's only one really sensible solution to this sort of problem, and that's to rip out the existing infrastructure completely, and put one in place that's capable of delivering fibre to the premises. But there is no commercial incentive for any investor to do this work on such a small scale, unless they can prevent the consumers in those areas from migrating to other providers.

    "Leave it to the market" works whenever you have a large potential customer base, and telephone exchanges big enough to have several providers outdoing each other in order to win business. That is also why Virgin Media are happy to cable up places that already have reasonably fast broadband. It's all about providing a choice.

    If there is no real choice to start with, and the local loop is already two decades out of date, none of the big boys wants to be the first to blow a huge wad on improving a network only for its competitors to jump on their coat-tails.

    Personally I would like to see smaller, leaner, more innovative players like Rutland Telecom (for fibre solutions), Kijoma and VFAST (for wireless solutions), see a bigger slice of the pie; give them the incentive to go to these areas and do what BT and Virgin are not prepared to do.

  • Comment number 19.

    If the government wants the UK to keep up with the rest of the developed world then waiting until 2017 so that only MOST of the country has 100Mb/s broadband is foolish, ignorant and harmful to the UK economy.

    A good article from a very knowledgeable source can be found here:

  • Comment number 20.

    A quick point from someone sitting close to the place where the UK's connections to the global fibre network come ashore;
    We are about as rural as it gets in Western Cornwall, yet I can get a faster direct connection speed to Portugal or New York than I can to London or Amsterdam. However since the infrastructure doesn't exist for me to connect locally I have to suffer the pedestrian connection speeds that the rest of the UK has, just because some urbanite doesn't recognise that putting infrastructure in the right physical location can increase overall efficiency. There is a whacking great fibre pipe passing up the spine of the SW Penninsular that we can't access properly and its holding local industry back. Think about it, if you are in a global packet-based economy you want to be as close to the boundary of national networks as possible, not suffering the internal congestion. In the UK that means locating server farms in SE England (looking towards continental Europe) and in Cornwall (looking everywhere else). But because the infrastructure between the two boundary locations is not up to snuff, momentum is keeping the industry where it is, near London.
    As regards costs, urban vs rural, 'on yer bike' and all that jazz. The cost of living here in Cornwall as a function of local average income is easily as high as London and having lived in both locations I know which I prefer and I know which is more conducive to the creativity of my business. What I would like to bring down here though, is the range of opportunity afforded to those living in the SE of England. Allow us access to the same tools (in terms of connection speed and reliability) and just see how far a bit of imagination and positive attitude can take us. I've heard all manner of imaginative ideas based around comms and IT, but they require that there is an even footing for them to take off locally rather than moving away from home.

  • Comment number 21.


    "Stop wanting the best of both worlds"?!

    If this debate were a case of having your cake and eating it, I would cite the exorbitant cost of providing FTTC to the NIMBY folk in London who already had decent broadband... only for them to to whine because they thought the new cabinets were too fat.

    At least with rural broadband you do get a quid-pro-quo. It costs buttons to run a trench along a rural B road with the permission of the land-owner, compared to the cost of bulldozing a busy city street.


    You're assuming this solution *requires* 10km of fibre to be fed up hill and down dale. It doesn't. That's just industrial spin.

    A cost-effective (and infinitely more resilient) alternative for really rural areas is to use fixed wireless solutions achieving >100mbits/second on point-to-point, for back haul.

    But, as usual, the politicians are asking BT and Virgin what suits them, and naturally they will suggest the most "commercial" solution. To wit, "We'll fibre it up and charge silly money for the privilege. Because we're worth it".

  • Comment number 22.

    If Gordon Brown gave us all free broadband with 10Gb/s upload speed, 10Gb/s download speed, unlimited data usage, with no bandwidth issues, a network to actually deliver those speeds, all available on all our home, office and mobile devices, all with free music, free films, free software, free games, even free food cooked for us every night, all included in our broadband package............. I'd still never vote for him.

  • Comment number 23.

    People who choose to leave in a rural location are making a conscious lifestyle choice. Part and parcel of being in the country is things like not having big name shops, no reliable public transport service, expensive petrol etc.

    If high speed broadband services get installed in these places then big businesses will move in, more people will start commuting there to work for the big businesses, public transport will be improved, more houses more will built to accomodate the influx and, before you know it, it won't be a rural location anymore but an urban location.

    Also, for what it's worth, every household in the UK can already get 2meg broadband using a satellite provider such as Tariam. It's a hefty installation fee and fairly steep monthly cost but, if you absolutely must have broadband, then I'm sure the cost will be no issue. People aren't limited just to receiving it over their copper lines, there are always other solutions.

  • Comment number 24.

    @7, EYChris, I can only speak as I find. Our Karoo has been pretty much flawless after we had KC install a new master socket. They did this free of charge after a conversation with tech support, who accepted that I knew what I was talking about and sent out an engineer - a very refreshing change from, say, Virgin Media.

    We get a reasonable download here, and the upload speeds are acceptable too. We pay for the top of the range domestic package to get a fixed IP, which we need. But I come from a cabled area, where we had both cable and ADSL, which gave us redundancy (we work from home) and I'm not comfortable with no failover. Still, we have 3G coverage here, so that's a plus.

  • Comment number 25.

    Saying that those in rural communities should move if they want good Internet access is just a show of ignorance.

    If I were to move to a city, how would I grow the food that appears on your table? Running a sustainable farming business in the UK requires me to have Internet access, just like a desk job in the city does.

    My wife wouldn't need to commute to the city to get to work so often if we had proper broadband. She already works at home sometimes, but could do a lot more with faster broadband. Surely cutting down the use of the car and spending more time with the family is a good thing?

    We're all part of the same economy, if doing business for me is more expensive then your food bill increases. I either pass on the extra costs, or I go bust and we as a country import more food. You can't ignore important parts of the UK economy because you think it's nicer to live in rural areas.

  • Comment number 26.

    Your all missing the obvious-the expensive bit is the ducts.You let people into the ducts, and the cost of a network reduces dramatically. It's well known that companies pay buttons to ISP's for P2P (point to point) links then use the fibre (then called dark fibre) to link up their own equipment.Why-because to dig up the streets costs a fortune.So where there are ducts, let other operators in-but BT wont.

    Then you have wireless-there are loads of community driven wireless projects trying to get off the ground. To smother an area in wireless doesn't cost that much-the expensive part is the backhaul to the Internet.So encourage the community to do it for themselves, not bring in a nanny state to do everything for them, but be there at the end to connect the fat fibre.If the community wants it, then have a process which lets them do it.

    Once people realise that fast broadband doesn't have to be the same all over, then you'll move things along. Its not that difficult, honest.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is not just a rural issue, it is about about having a data transport infrastructure capable of supporting quality home working, telecare etc.

    No political party can transform health care delivery, education or unemployment without having a reasonable speed and good quality (low loss) bit transport infrastructure.

    UK communications law is written around sustaining a 1970's phone service and a 1990's mobile service, not creating a multi-purpose high speed data transport facilities.

    The 'market' is currently written around 'call conveyance' not bit transport.

    To get the networking we need Carphone, BT and the rest to agree to an environment where they sacrifice their call revenues to convert to bits. The talk of the 'market' is a substitute for any understanding of what is required.

    Politicians have not mentioned the spectrum auctions, spectrun being a key resource in creating Digital Britain. Splitting it and selling it to the highest bidder (current plan) is a good way of licensing oligopolies and scarcity.

    Creating a UNiversal Service of say 15Mpbs (two-way with a .1% loss for key applications) with a roaming facility of circa 600kbps is not that difficult, but does need to be declared.

  • Comment number 28.

    Should it be an election issue? Yes, of course. The same goes for how new power plants should be funded - it seems everyone agrees they're needed, but no party seems prepared to be "pro nuclear". Basic infrastructure needs sorting out, and private investment alone won't be good enough - market forces are simply too weak until the lights go out, and by then its too late.

  • Comment number 29.

    The notion of the UK being rural is odd. Australia understands rural, as does the US.

    Inducing a town v country debate is a bit cynical, given the distances and problem is easy to overcome.

    We used to have geographic averaged pricing which meant this matter was covered. Selective competition in selective areas led to geograpgic de-averaged wholesale prices removing the means to keep infrastructure on an equal footing.

    The 50p or the £5 is just another way of putting back a facility which existed previously.

    Checking whether our politicians understand what critical infrastructure is needed is a good test as to whether they are qualified to do the jobs they are hoping to get. Town V Country is not the way to do it, forcing them to describe in detail what they have in mind is.

  • Comment number 30.

    Yes it has to be an important Election issue, just as getting the Banks better regulated, determining what is spent on Defence and what we do with our dwindling energy resources are. It's all about better national infrastructure planning and no government has really done that properly since WW II.

    It's very clear to me that 'The Market' (okay it can't help that much with defence) cannot do this by itself, look at the mess we face with meeting our energy needs - no commercial company will build the national infrastructure needed for the next generation and successive governments have abdicated their responsibly of doing it for short term populist gains.

    The same is true for BroadBand. We have known for a number of years that more of everyday life is moving 'online' and with a current government promoting more and more of this through its many 'citizen' portals - Directgov is but one example - giving full and speedy access to all these platforms 'is' the governments responsibility.

    An earlier post showed a good example of the lack of joined up thinking by this government. If you create legislation for farming that requires daily data to be uploaded from farms, then you have to build the infrastructure to support that across the whole of the UK not just urban and city -scapes, unless of course you move all the farms into the cities to give them a good connection!

    No individual commercial company is going to 'wire' the UK for free and why should they. More importantly, why do they need to when we already have a national infrastructure practically covering the whole of the UK and particularly rural areas - yes the BT network.

    Over the years BT has I think done a good job of building a better network and delivering good broadband speed (no I don't work for them), but without (as far as I know) any large government funding/assistance specifically aimed at Broadband infrastructure. As a commercial company, yes they have had to be forced to open up their network to competing providers, but that is not a bad thing as it has helped drive down the overall costs to the end user - I know it has done that in my case and yes we now have more choice. But of course if government doesn't 'encourage' BT with direct funding, even they will not upgrade all the UK exchanges to deliver the so called minimum 2MB target talked about by Labour.

    Perhaps the BT national network infrastructure needs to be hived off and run as a separate concern providing a fully government funded/assisted 'standard' platform for all UK Broadband ISP's. Nationalised? PPP? Something in between? Not sure. What I do know is that something needs to be done (not just talked about) quickly or the UK will slip further down the various league tables and any advantage that we think we have, will be further eradicated.

    Again, yes it is an important election issue, but so are the UK power resources, you can have the best super fast broadband in the world, but if you cannot power your router up, what's the point.

    Some Broadband speed info results from friends around the UK. Reading: BT-5.5 MB (Me), Richmond: Virgin-10.5MB, Montgomery: BT-4.3MB, Manchester: TalkTalk-2.3MB

  • Comment number 31.

    who-ever wins, it sounds like a good idea, but im not holding my breath.
    where i live (about 1 mile away from a city centre), i can get 2mb broadband (so long as its not between 4:00 - 8:00pm...) which is nice, but i still cant get freeview. or channel 5. or Virgin etc etc. Granted - i would rather have 100mb broadband than channel 5, but i very much doubt i will get any of the above by 2017.

  • Comment number 32.

    Spare a thought for those of us living under the yoke of Kingston Communications East German style broadband monopoly. Not only do we get one of the worst services in the UK, with no access to competitive services, Sky-style bundles or BT Vision style services, we also face the insulting position of seeing the company offer cheaper, better services elsewhere in the country under its Eclipse ISP brand. Ironically, it's the revenues generated in the monopoly that prop up the rest of of the company. And it's just got worse. By stealth, 100 plus years of independent operation has now been handed on a plate to BT who now manage the KC network in Hull - yet the city is going to miss the boat on an uograde to BT's 21century network because the management has decided not to! (See their investor relation site for details). As you can image this has been a hot political potato for our glorious triumvirate of leading Labour lights who have watched from the sidelines as the company exports jobs from the city, closes its headquarters and continues to pillage local revenues to line various troughs for directors to wallow in. To think we were once proud in this city to have our own independent telephone company!

  • Comment number 33.

    Typical Government quango thinking. Spend all that time and money on old technology that still doesn't provide the solution.

    Why be tied down to cables, when the future is all wireless/mobile?
    The technology for fast mobile broadband is already here (WiMAX, 4g).
    Mobile phone firm TeliaSonera has completed work on two 4G networks

    If they applied the same thinking to voice telephony, we'd have seen phones with longer extension cords, instead of hands-free and subsequently the modern mobile phone.

  • Comment number 34.

    We need fiber to green box, and every one within 2km of a green box.

    Its that simple and BUT WE NEED IT DONE AND STARTED NOW.

    I would prefere BT (Openreach) to be encouraged to upgrade all the green boxes in as short a time frame as possible. We dont need to allow every tom dick or harry to add their own equipment in the boxes as we did with exchanges as it will only slow down the process. Fix the Price open reach charges per conection, so costs are covered and maintance is paid for.

    Ideally give BT 2 to 4 years to do the upgrade.

    Somewhere over 70% of all busnesses have home workers and/or are small busnesses relying on the internet and approx half of those are rural.

    Remember Grodan took 24BILLION for 3g licences, and is due to receive several billion selling off the analoge TV spectrum in a few years time.

    We do not need a 50p land line tax, we definatly dont need a bit tax.

    And as for those saying that they live in a town and have the im all right jack attitude, fiber to the green box will mean that when the do travel out of their rabbit hatches their 3G phones will also work as one main hold up with the 3g network is poor rural high speed landline network.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm not going to get into city v country debate.
    What I want to find out is if I am paying this 'landline levy' then when will my line get upgraded?
    I recently installed an iPlate from BT and this has raised my download speed to a massive 500k to at best 1Mb!
    The download speed is sometimes slower than my upload speed of at best 300k!
    I live in Bicester, a town just north of Oxford with over 28,000 people living here. I live (by BT's own admission) 1300 metres away from the exchange but can't do anything about my poor speeds. They state that my line possible (they don't know for certain) "goes around the town before it gets to the house".
    People talk of superfast broadband of 100Mb+.
    2Mb+ would be nice!
    I would just like to be able to have a choice of whether to use things like BT Vision etc but I obviously can't due to the awful speeds.

    Can anyone tell me if and when my 'landline levy' will be used to upgrade my system?
    What speed can I expect?

    Cable is not available in my area although COMTEL (taken over by NTL then Virgin)did install all the ducting, manhole covers and conduit to the door of nearby streets when the houses were built about 14 years ago.
    Surely a wee bit extra digging and installation of fibre by either BT or Virgin is a possibility?

    Contact me Rory!
    Use me as a case study to see the difficulties we face when dealing with these telecomms companies that don't seem interested unless you live next door to an exchange and want to sell you the top package!

  • Comment number 36.


    WiMAX is (correct me if I'm wrong here) a carrier class setup which can be quite expensive to implement.

    I think we need to be more creative about what solutions we use, and why. For example, you could use tailored TDMA to provide a 150Mbps point-to-point wireless link between a rural exchange and a hamlet five miles away, for a fraction of the cost of using any other technology (even WiMAX) to achieve the same thing.

    Granted 150Mbps isn't exactly next-gen, but if it allows a hamlet to deliver 24mbit broadband to 25 properties then that's miles better than having them languish on dial-up because they're too far out to get anything better.

    This kind of infrastructure is so cheap compared to either WiMAX or FTTH, that it would be an ideal way of getting fast broadband deployed to very small villages or hamlets NOW.

    Frankly we don't know which technology - be it LTE, WiMAX, AIRMAX, FTTH or something else - will work out to be the best long term solution for those remote areas.

    I'd rather see a cheap but cutting edge interim solution that meets the needs of the community put in place now, than have years of dithering before an expensive (to the consumer) and by then obsolete Betamax solution is rolled out.


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