back to article BT threatens to pull plug on better broadband

Cash-strapped BT has identified a vogueish fillip in its lobbying campaign for a looser regime to regulate access to forthcoming next-generation fibre deployments: the recession. For several months BT has been pushing the line that Ofcom will have to give it more control over wholesale access and pricing to make investments in …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. chas ponsford
    Thumb Down

    Usual BT Heavy handed

    The Govenment should open the market and tell BT to bid for to manage the UK's Telecom business. They are the reason why our telephone systems are so old and out dated compared to third world countries. OFCOM is a waste of time as they do as BT say and anyone complains and BT are the only company that can do the job. Open the market and let some real companies come in and see how BT do then.....Not

  2. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Big Bad BT.

    What fast broadband you have....

    All the better to spy on you, my dear....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much was hte Olympics again?

    National infrastructure project resulting in communications network that's the envy of the world, or a bunch of overpaid drugged up tossers running round in circles?

    Obviously only the latter is deserving of public money.

  4. Francis Fish

    Of course, we could follow the US model and issue bonds

    And tell BT to go play in the road?

    So, if you want fast broadband in your area buy a bond from the council or whoever is proposing to put it in.

    Then use public money where appropriate to ensure that rural areas aren't unfairly discriminated against.

    But that wouldn't make these jokers any money would it? However, given that everyone is giving broadband away and it's becoming hellishly difficult to make profit from it it might be a way forward.

  5. Tim

    A disgrace

    BT are an utter disgrace. A so-called technology company which can only provide the same ADSL service as it has offered for around 7 or 8 years (longer in some parts of the country) while the rest of the world, and those in the UK on cable, are getting far better value and speeds.


  6. Duncan Hothersall


    Can anyone explain to me why reporting of BT here appears always to ignore the EXISTING FIBRE NETWORK in this country, owned by Virgin Media? Whether it's reporting about exciting new high-speed broadband - which is to be slower than that already provided by cable - or this reporting about the 21CN, the elephant in the room always seems to go unmentioned. Am I missing something? Is there a fundamental difference between cable fibre and BT fibre?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me

    Give me more control of my dang monopoly or I'm gonna take my ball home!

  8. john loader

    They don't need to dig up the roads

    The comment on road digging a bit off - they pukk in fibre through the duct and pull out lots of valuable thus making some income and opening up duct space that they are now allowed to lease on

  9. andrew mulcock



    BT will not invest in the UK, they are a multinational company so why should they.

    So if we want a national infer structure, let the UK government purchase BT and rent the facilities back to the company,

    Is this not what happens on the railways ?

  10. Paul
    Thumb Down

    Another example...

    ...if one was needed, of why it's a bad idea to sell off bits of national infrastructure to the highest bidder, particularly when the infrastructure concerned conveys a monopoly. Regulator? Don't make me laugh...

  11. David

    @Duncan Hothersall

    "Can anyone explain to me why reporting of BT here appears always to ignore the EXISTING FIBRE NETWORK in this country, owned by Virgin Media?"

    Erm, maybe because it's not a national fibre network?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Confused

    I think the big difference is (to my knowledge), that VM _do not_ re-sell their fibre, whereas BT are split between BT Wholesale, who will resell the fibre to the likes of TalkTalk, AOL etc. and BT Retail, who will be more like VM once it's deployed.

    So while VM have an already existing and faster fibre network, it will only ever be used by them, so the only reporting on it is "VM to deploy 50Mb/s broadband" etc.

    I do agree though, a sly "BT's crappy fibre will be outdone by VM's long before it becomes anywhere near widespread" comment should be added.

    I'll get my coat... winter is coming, and heating + recession = :-(

  13. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Fair enough

    Don't sell fast broadband.

    You won't get PAID for fast broadband then.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Howcome the big names in broadband are basically giving it away for free or not far off (in LLU areas, as part of bundles?)

    Well OK maybe the LLU folks don't have expensive-to-serve areas (the ones where cable and LLU don't go)?

    More importantly, maybe the LLU folks don't have ill-advised ill-thought-out ventures like BT Global Services and technical incompetents like BTwholesale to support?

    As has already been suggested, there's no real reason why a couple of thousand exchanges have three or four sets of competing parallel broadband infrastructure (BT vs LLU kit and backhaul) while the rest of the country suffers under a barely-regulated BT monopoly. Just wait and see the disaster which awaits broadband pricing in non-LLU areas if BT's much over hyped 21CN ever gets a serious rollout.

    If taxpayer money is going to be used to support broadband in the UK, it should be invested in an asset with some ongoing value, and the money should not be diverted to end up in BT shareholders pockets. BT's poor performance is *their* responsibility, it is not the taxpayers' problem.

    If BT wanted a bit more sympathy from Joe Public they could announce and implement the immediate total withdrawal of clueless far-away callcentres whose VoIP systems are so poorly implemented that you couldn't tell what script they were reading even if Felicity Kendal was reading it. They could also reduce the charge for Anonymous Caller Rejection from an outrageous but presumably regulatorily acceptable £50 a year. That'll do for a start, there's plenty more to follow.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    'cos the feckers at Ofcom won't force the feckers at Virgin to share it. The solution is simple. Bring all the local loops into public ownership and sell the services on the open market. There's no other way with the current legislation and vested interests that anyone outside the major conurbations is going to get their road dug up.

    Paris, 'cos she's all for sharing it around.

  16. Jonathon Green
    Paris Hilton

    @Duncan Hothersall

    "Can anyone explain to me why reporting of BT here appears always to ignore the EXISTING FIBRE NETWORK in this country, owned by Virgin Media?"

    That'll be the existing fibre network which covers a few bits of the country which give easy access to large customer bases, has no obligation to provide service outside the comfort of the largely Metropolitan enclaves currently covers, and hasn't been extended in living memory...

    I think there's a clue there as to why BT (and their shareholders) aren't too keen to dig holes in the ground without some assurance that they're not just going to be throwing money into them - if Virgin don't see any return from extending their fibre network outside the areas they currently service why should BT, and given that why should they do it?

    Now, someone remind me why it was such a great idea to prevent BT from offering entertainment services over their network back in the early days of cable/satellite TV and broadband internet, because. looking at where we've ended up in terms of competition between content providers and the infrastructure we've ended up with I'm damned if I can see it now...

    Paris, because she probably thinks that handing the whole shooting match over to Murdoch, Branson. et-al while leaving BT hamstrung by its license conditions was a stroke of brilliance too...



  17. Billy


    You, young man are not old enough to remember the GPO. If you were, you would be very careful what you wish for...........

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Between The Lines?

    So has BT has decided that it wont be as profitable? Have they decided that selling there customers data is a trick only a dirty scumbag spyware outfit would pull? hence the need for more income elsewhere? tbh I dont care, phuck BT I'll never use them again.

  19. Tim Schomer

    Since when...

    could you get them to reject anonymous calls, whenever we've phoned up to complain about all these call centres that phone at all times (OK mostly during mealtimes) we've always been told "NOTHING WE CAN DO" from BT, the same BT that allows Indian call centres to reverse the charges without telling you after you've been trying to figure out what they want for more than 2 minutes.


  20. Yakumo
    IT Angle

    Fibre To The Home please.

    Virgins network does not provide FTTH, which is all anyone in touch with the times is interested in atm. Frankly I feel their adverts promoting their 'fibre network' are false advertising designed to con the populace into thinking it's a better service than it actually is. (they hear about the amazing fibre service in the US, Japan and elsewhere that is actually FTTH, then see virgins adverts and think it is the same thing).

    Japan has been on top for internet services for over a decade, we will be left behind even longer if FTTH is not invested in.

    And forget BT, the government should be looking to services like H2O Networks who do installs at a small fraction of the costs by deploying through the sewers. They're already hooking up Bournmouth and Dundee (see )

  21. Anonymous Coward


    If funding is needed, the gov should stop spending on useless wastes of money like the olympics or ID cards. Unlike those, a decent network will have actual benefits for the country rather than attracting terrorists like olympics or attempting to bring in 1984 like ID cards.

  22. James

    So last Century

    There is a lot of BT bashing going on here, and I'm no big fan on them myself, but I can see their point. Why should they invest Billions of their money into something without then being able to control their own property? At the end of the day they area private company who's purpose is to make money for their shareholders. If they cannot see a future profit to be made from it there is no point in the investment.

    If you have a problem with BT's monopoly then you're a couple of decades too late to fight that one. I wonder how many of the BT haters tried to fight it's privatisation back in the day.

    The only way the state can legitimately keep control of the future network infrastructure is for the state to stump up the cash for it in the first place. Although a large investment the money would be made back over time by leasing the network to private telecoms companies. If the state aren't prepared to do that then they need to let the private companies get on with it, even BT.

    BT was privatised to try and create a free market in telecoms (and of course earn a big lump of cash to finance tax cuts and stay in power), and it's not really BT's fault that the plan was poorly thought out and bound to fail in its aim.

  23. jon

    Vermin media

    ..are so winning this one... It's like console wars but slower.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Call their bluff

    Tell BT where they can stick their demands for subsidies. They can build it themselves, or if their shareholders are that short-sighted, they can go out of business as the competition overtakes them. Either way, the public are the winners!

  25. Name

    last mile fiber - do we need it?

    24mbs on dsl (still waiting on this BT!) should be enough but really the exchanges can't cope with 100s or 1000s of customers using that level of bandwidth.

    I'd rather have better capacity infrastructure within the exchange and upstream links / backbone rather than the last mile. If we really need it now fibre to cabinet level might work ok but fibre to the home can wait until we REALLY need it - allowing BT to take advantage of future advances, cost reductions etc

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Its not entirely BT's Fault.

    Back in the days when BT was the property of the GPO. in effect a government owned company. When the real investment work that was needed to be done in the late 70's and early 80's

    (before we sold it to ourselves) the GPO was massively over staffed. and because it was gov. owned it was a near impossibility to streamline the business. what profits were made were spent on paying wages for staff that just were not needed,,,

    after we sold BT to ourselves, and there was the massive staff cut backs and system x was developed and sold worldwide, the internet was not even thought about,,\ copper wire was fine for the last mile, fax machines worked fine telex worked fine..... BT became profitable !!! woo hoo..

    It was at this time that fiber to home should have been installed for the future expansion of digital networks... but packet switching networks were still in infancy... and to ask share holders to part with cash for something that at the time was not needed or for anyone to even give a good reason why it may be needed in the future, except for this pipe-dream of linking computers together,,,,

    Other countries at this time, there telcoms was near enough non existent, except for in large urban areas... it was not a matter of replacing copper with fiber, it was a matter of what should be installed in the first place. and as fiber was the cheaper option to install, they now benifit from the advantages....

    in other countries, as new towns and cities are built, they take a tight control over the background infrastructure,,,, there is no digging up of roads to keep adding stuff,,, its all done in the design of the city... we do not have that luxury in this country. we have to work around whats already there.... and its a nightmare..... go to your library and get a map of all crap buried under your street....

    its all about cost and if its worth the investment... if it costs 30bn to replace the last mile then in ten years the shareholders will will want 50bn back... if they don't, the cash will have made them more money sitting in a bank account... so before they will stump up the cash, they want to know they are going to get it back... if offcom restrict what they are allowed to do, that return is not going to happen.

    in short, bt inherited a massively out dated network and for the last 25 years have tried to modernise as best they can, while wearing the ofcom handcuffs. so it gets to the point where they want to break free...investors ans shareholders dont want to stump up cash.... i dont blame them for playing hardball with ofcom...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privitisation wasn't done properly

    It was fine to want competition in the telecoms industry. However, there is no competition when it comes to the infrastructure, as only one person can control this, so privatising the infrastructure makes little sense.

    The infrastructure should have been kept in the state's control, with improvements to it paid for by lease charges paid by the telcos.

    It's not really BT's fault since, as a PLC, their first priority is the interests of their shareholders. What incentive is there for a private company to spend billions on this massive upgrade and then be forced by law to allow their competitors equal access to it? The only way it makes sense for BT to do this is if their retail arm is allowed free access to it (BT Wholesale has to treat BT Retail the same as any other supplier), thereby allowing them to undercut their competitors.

  28. Ron Eve

    Please! Think of the children!

    "Cash-strapped BT has identified a vogueish fillip in its lobbying campaign for a looser regime to regulate access to forthcoming next-generation fibre deployments: the recession."

    Shirley you mean 'loser'....

    /mines got a pointy hat with D on it

  29. Gordon Grant


    Well got a mate in the far reaches of Norway and he's got FTTH installed which gives phone, TV, broadband at 10Mbit each way and pays a reasonable price for it..

    I mean if the land of ice and snow can manage it pretty well why can't BT oh wait cos they are a bunch of twonks and VM isn't much better, why not spread out from your precious little hubs you have and then see how much you could grab or just upgrade the existing network to cope with what you claim to be able to supply...

    Glad I'm not with BT for my BB, just the line, I've got a 3rd party provider for all my calls.

  30. Craig "Spuddleziz" Smith

    More like...

    ..they dont want to roll out a nationwide superfast network and lose all their ridonkulous leased line earnings. Oh and I can get Fibre up to 1GB to my door in scotland for some outrageous sum.. BTnet. Is this not part of 21CN and that the rollout is already underway. ADSL2+? Im in bloody scotland and I get all this, are they lying to us?

    STOP cos i think were missing summet!

  31. Mark
    Paris Hilton


    "Billions of their money into something without then being able to control their own property?"

    And what to they use without pay? MY PROPERTY!!!!

  32. Zmodem


    they could start sueing everyone in briton that calls them a monopoly

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    £1000 per household Investment with No Income Guarantee?

    What if Sky were obliged to put a HD Box and 40" HDTV into every home, and then you could then either watch SD on your new TV via a Freeview box, pay £50 per month to Sky for HDTV or simply buy your HDTV Bundle from the Co-operative Bank (or any old tom, Dick or Harry), who unbundled the service from Sky at £15 per month and charged you £30 for it, would you expect Sky to spend that £15-20 Billion nationwide?

    Well digging/ducting etc FTTH to 99% of the population would basically be the same thing for BT or anyone else willing to stump up the cash (Hmm, don't hear ANYONE else proposing to offer this, do you?).

    ID cards, Olympics, Cross-rail from Heathrow to some hole in the ground in Essex all get government funding, with 'questionable' public benefit.

    You may not be a BT fan (who is?) but someone needs to fund the investment, and if you the subscriber is not willing to do it. and you the BT shareholder is not willing to do it, your alter ego the taxpayer might just do it. Just need to set up "Network FTTH" to own it (as well as BT Wholesale) then BT Retail can get on the gravy train and lease it unbundled the same as everyone else to sell to you at a profit and we'll all be happy.

  34. N


    The last thing we need is Bastard Telecon expanding its monopoly

    The less control of the infrastructure they have the better

  35. alan

    I Personally Beleive.....

    "I personally believe if it is the right thing to do as a 20-year decision it is the right thing to do,"

    sounds a little like......

    "I Personally beleive that US Merkins......."

    you get the idea.

    In other words, BT = EPIC FAIL.

    Ill get my coat.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Vegetable Media

    Didn't BT want access to VMs fibre network, just like VM has access to BTs?

    Weren't they told to go jump?

    If all network providers had full access to each other then fibre would be reality in short order.

    However, only one company has to provide access to all the other companies.. BT... What free financial model works where one company has to share everything with everyone else?

    All the other companies do not... as seen by the VMs I'm not sharing attitude!

    If OFCOM wanted a free market, it should established fair competition, not handcuffed competition...

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Who costs these projects?

    Time for the Government to get tough. One wonders whether BT are up to the job of providing a 21st century network. Someone is over-quoting the costs of delivering a fast network, get some more bidders in and make it happen. Personally I think the Government ought to fund the development, and lease back to retail networks. Economies of scale ought to make this a nice little earner over the next 100 years.

    Additionally, some legislation to free up all that fibre VM is sitting on might be useful.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @"since when ... anonymous calls ... "

    Use your favourite search engine and search for "anonymous caller rejection". You may end up somewhere like

    Note that in addition to the outrageous £50/year price for a service which costs nothing to provide, there is another huge snag: for some impenetrable reason BT distinguish between "no ID" (because "international calls don't always present caller ID reliably" yeah right) and "ID withheld" (for some other reason). So a UK-originated number-withheld call should get blocked, but the overseas-originated nuisance calls ("you've won a cruise" etc) are likely to still get through. If you find this doubly unsatisfactory... well, so do I.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...there's quite a lot of people on here with short memories and no clue of how the telco sector works at all. Fortunately there do seem to be a handful that do.

    1) Govt. control over the infrastructure - bad idea, they will milk the profits and we'll have a really really really outdated infrastructure like we did just before BT/GPO was privatised.

    2) VM/LLU - It's easy for them, they can cherry pick the profitable areas and they don't have to provide access to any other providers - not only is that a technology nightmare, it's also an admin nightmare that eats up £££.

    3) If you want fast broadband, accept the reality that you will have to pay for it, it won't pay for itself, especially when you've got a lot of legacy kit/regulations to work around - many countries simply did not have that, so it's easier for them.

    Ofcom are largely to blame here, for dragging their heals when BT have been making noises for a long time now along the lines of, "give us a suitable ROI for the people whose money is at risk and we'll build the network".

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course it costs....

    ... to block any sort of call, there's the cost of the software that does it - the amortised development costs, then the costs of running the system and keeping it running in an acceptable performance window for realtime communications i.e. a 2s delay whilst it checks the number calling you against the database isn't acceptable - The more records and the more queries, the more it costs to run. Just because it it adding an electronic record to a database, does not mean it costs nothing. I think a few people on here could do with having to run some large scale systems, then come back and tell us all how it costs nothing to add another record.

  41. Paul Rhodes
    Black Helicopters

    @ Who costs these projects?

    How much do you think it cost to trench even 10% of the 1/4 Million miles of roads we have?????? It's the civils that kills this buniness case, not the telecoms kit or fibre costs:

    ""In January 2001 Ordnance Survey calculated that the following kilometres (miles) of road existed in Great Britain: motorways - 4 353 km (2 705.41 miles). A Roads - 48 164 km (29 934.12 miles). B Roads - 30 216 km (18 779.37 miles). minor public roads - 314 392 km (195 395.89 miles). pedestrianised streets - 278 km (172.78 miles).""

  42. JPA

    £29 billion? Not needed

    It's fascinating that a telephone company should be trying to create a broadband network using the knowledge that it "gained" from inheriting a point-to-point network.

    I have a patented design for a UK and Ireland encompassing fibre-optic network which would cost £1 billion tops. But who's going to listen when the 800 pound arthritic gorilla needs feeding?

    If there's a serious player who wants to build an ultra-high capacity network out there, then someone tell me who it is.

    No, I'm not crazy. No, I'm not kidding.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ""But I have to tell you..."

    The whiny, nasal tone that gives it all away, really. "let us keep this all to ourselves for years and years, and by the way, let us have phorm and a few more ways to monetise our gullible customers. Or you don't get your infrastructure upgrade."

    Lots more regulation please - and by the way, fuck you BT.

    Paris, cos even she's just not that stupid

  44. Anonymous Coward

    @"Of course it costs" (Anonymous Caller Rejection)

    "a few people on here could do with having to run some large scale systems experience"

    Indeed. In days gone by I knew a bit about BT's Number Translation Service (that takes non-geographical numbers and converts them into real numbers before the call can be connected). How many peak calls a second or run of the mill bhca do you think that handles? It's a lot, actually. The BT NTS is one of the ones that defines high performance high call rate high reliability in the value-added services telco market. In the BT NTS there was no "database" in the classic sense, just a whacking big in-memory lookup table with high speed links to the call handling kit (number in, number out), together with some tools to update and replicate the table (gross oversimplification, but hey..). I am well aware that tin capable of doing that kind of job generally doesn't come for free (though it's a whole lot cheaper today than it was a few years ago), and nor do the kind of people needed to design Stuff That Works in that kind of context.

    But unlike NTS, ACR (the ability to reject an anonymous incoming call) at any sensible level is a relatively simple operation - there is no "checks the number calling you against the database", there is just "is there any CLI with this call? If not, abandon call". You could almost do it with an Amstrad (if BTw had any spare from their much overhyped 21CN rollout).

  45. Dave Ashe

    Don't we already have a fibre network?

    Isn't it called virgin media? Shouldn't that monopoly be de-regulated, and allow other players to use the infrastructure?

  46. Florence Stanfield
    Thumb Down

    BT heavy handed with all including customers

    Should BT be made to account for their recent actions, not only are they trying to sell off your privacy for commercial gain, rip off copyright from websites to help fund they now throw their toys out of the pram for gods sake Ian grow up or get out..

    BT are getting a bad reputation which is caused by those at the top, now thye are censoring their own forums banning customers who dare to mention webwise or phorm.

    If this is the only way BT can deliver faster BB then those like Ian are on too high a wage £550,000 is over payment for the work supplied.

  47. Mick Sheppard


    The backbone infrastructure creaks by as it is. There is no incentive to massively upgrade it because the bandwidth on the last mile can't support the higher bandwidth services reliably. If there was fibre to home then the pressure would be on to up the backbone. Upgrading the backbone and inter-ISP links are trivial compared to the last mile.

  48. Mark

    re: Jeez....

    1) It's crap and like that now. At least shareholders won't be clamouring for more money.

    2) That's not a problem if the government own the infrastructure rather than BT

    3) It isn't even being built unless we pay for it (without seeing what the money is being spent on) FIRST.

    ROI doesn't matter to a government. They build it, maintain it and charge people for it.

    BT pays not for a line but for data rates over it. Why? Unused pipe width doesn't make the pipe cheaper. The rates BT charge are EXTORTIONATE. Compare it to a OC48 in the free market, just the pipe. Then check what BT charge if you used the full OC48 bandwidth on one of their networks. 10x and more. And it doesn't scale for bigger pipes (marginal cost doesn't increase linearly by any stretch of the imagination, but BT charge nearly linearly for bandwidth).

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022