back to article BT chief: People don't need fibre to the home

BT chief executive Ian Livingstone defended his firm's limited plans for faster broadband today, arguing there is not enough demand for fibre to the home to justify its cost. He was appearing on a panel with his opposite numbers at Virgin Media and O2 at the Digital Britain summit this morning. "Of course a Ferrari is faster …


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  1. Steve

    "What we cannot do in the UK is go back to monopoly,"

    BT want's to use the fibre to the home Virgin are installing perhaps?

    Bollox to BT's Ford vs Ferrari argument I want instant downloads for iPlayer/Movie rental/torrents. ;)

  2. Man Outraged

    Thoughts on Ferrari comment courtessy of twitter: Fri 15 Apr 10:46

    @rickwray Erm, but aren't Virgin Media already offering that Ferrari to a % of customers for the price of a Ford? #digitalbritain Fri 15 Apr 10:49

    @JimboGunn well it's red and temperamental I guess

    Hats off to Mr Richard Wray (rickwray)

  3. Terry Pears
    Thumb Down

    History repeating?

    Didn't they say the same thing about broadband? Look where that got them.

  4. mike
    Thumb Down

    !? Lack of Vision?

    Well, this comes from the same company that claims their Business broadband router/ADSL broadband package is only intended for a single user. Seriously. We now use Virgin Fibre and we are enjoying it thoroughly, I've never had a positive experience with any ADSL provider, it's more the sub-standard technology than anything else.

    A message to BT : Stick in some fibre ... to the house and People might start "Actually coming back to BT" rather than being forced to use a BT phone line for any Broadband service other than Virgin. Although this has changed slightly with unbundling, with telcos taking over phone lines, BT was criticised for overcharging customers who wished to return from their unbundled line to BT.

  5. Martin Glenn
    Thumb Down


    I dont give a castlemaine four x I want my Speedy Fibre connection in my little back water town now!!!!

  6. Tony


    "Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds. "Ultimately it's about what people will pay for," he said. "The economic case is not great.""

    The man is an idiot or is just trying to justify BT's slow rollout / lack of investment.

    I vaguely remember a similar comment back in the 80s when someone asked why people would want to have a computer in their house.

    It comes down to this; If they don't make the investment, this country will be relegated to the level of a third world country.

  7. Stuart
    Thumb Down

    History repeating - BURP!

    As his Victorian predecessor said of the current technology "No, sir. The Americans have need of the telephone -- but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."

    When modem companies competed - speeds doubled every two years till the theoretical maximum was reached. When BT took monopoly control with broadband it stagnated.

    BT's interest isn't its customers. Why should Brits be content with a fraction of the resources of our competitors Mr BT?

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    Dear Mr. Livingstone.

    A Ford isn't something that one is happy with*, it's something that one puts up with, when forced, for want of anything better.

    A fine analogy in this case, it's just your presentation of it that stank.

    *Except the '56 Thunderbird of course. But he isn't going to give us all one of those by way of recompense I'm sure.

  9. Kenny Millar

    Talk about missing the point!

    We didn't need the internet, until we had it.

    It's not a matter of need, it's a matter of progress and availability will fuel demand, providing it is priced appropriately.

    In addittion, BT Can't afford NOT to do it, since someone else will, if they don't. It wouldn't cost Virgin much to extend their fibre to the home from the street cabinets.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    We pay. They dont deliver

    The goverment is usng tax money to pay BT to roll this out. Yet their not going to deliver what we need. And buy the time they roll out to cabinet. Nearly every country in the world will have fiber to door.

    What can we do to make them stop ripping us off!

  11. Stuart Udall

    famously preceded by....

    Tom Watson, then IBM chairman, who said in 1958: "I think there is a world market for about five computers."

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So basically he is saying...

    "High speed fibre to the end user? Nah, they won't want that.....what do you think we are trying to do here anyway? Lay the foundations of the UK's future high speed network infrastructure or something? Nah, you don't want that. 'sa load of rubbish."

  13. Elmer Phud


    "Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds."

    And, according to early predictions, how many computers would be needed to run everything?

  14. Martin Lyne

    No demand for it..

    Unless of course you mean the people that pay for X Mbps, unlimited and are then told it will be J-K Mbps and capped at ABC Gb/m

    I thought everyone was pissing and moaning about iPlayer/BitTorrent being onlineageddon?

  15. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    We won't pay for fibre to the house?

    Have they *asked*? Did they walk up to someone and say 'hundred megabits a second, unlimited downloads (none of your download caps, thank you), low contention ratio, fifty quid a month?

    Because frankly I'd have bitten their hands off. To be honest I don't think that the PO has the first clue about what it would cost - but Virgin can provide most of that over their fibre networks at twenty to fifty meg for under forty quid.

    I think they just don't want to do it, and they can't be arsed doing the sums.

  16. Bronek Kozicki
    Thumb Up

    the guy is right

    Not much point in having LAN-class connection bandwidth, with ugly latencies.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm happy with a ford...

    .. but currently given the state of the internet as it is we don't even have a ford, we have a half dead horse and a cart.

  18. Peter
    Paris Hilton


    640k is enough for anyone....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "What we cannot do in the UK is go back to monopoly,"

    Wrong. We can and we should.

    Would he argue that we should have competing electricity grids or sewage networks?

  20. michael

    and no boady should need

    more than 1mb of ram

    sound fimiler?

  21. Eponymous Cowherd

    Livingstone is right, but.....

    ADSL is fine for most people but....

    It is unacceptable to pay for "up to 8MB", be told your line will support 5MB, but only get 250KBps at peak times.

    It is unacceptable to pay for 'unlimited' broadband, only to find there are limits and/or your traffic is profiled.

    It is unacceptable for your ISP to spy on your traffic by doing deals with scum-sucking adware filth.

  22. Dave

    What about uploads?

    It's all very well saying that we could have 40Mbit/s downloads, but how about a decent bit of symmetry here. I'd like a more symmetrical service because I when I'm working from home, there's a noticeable bottleneck when accessing a VPN to upload files. If we're to become better at teleworking, this sort of thing needs to be taken into account so that video conferences (often N-way) are possible on a residential internet feed without running into capacity or bandwidth caps.

  23. OFI


    All this talk about increasing download speeds (whilst also increasing caps!) What about increasing our feable upload speeds?

    I forget how slow my upload speeds are up until the point I try to upload even small (<100MB) files to my web server then it feels like i've single handedly killed the internet.

  24. Matthew

    well 40mbit is a supercar...

    If he's from NZ. I live in Wellington the capital city, 7.5 mins from the CBD and I'm on the fastest connection available to me..

    Its less than 2mbit.....

    consider yourselves lucky!

  25. Polisson

    More tech savvy than real experts

    'I think there is a world market for maybe five computers'

    Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

    'There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in the home'

    Ken Olson, President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

    That is all.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    One for the ages

    Lets file this away along with "there is probably a world market for 5 or 6 mainframes" and "1MB ought to be enough for anybody" so we can dig it out and mock in the distant future.

    Two years ought to do it.

  27. Polisson

    Damn, I'm not the first to have a go

    or state the obvious..

    Back to work.. sigh!

  28. blackworx
    Paris Hilton

    "above my pay grade"

    For some reason I read that as "above my gay pride"

  29. AJG
    Gates Horns

    Obligatory quote

    "Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds."

    And 640KB is enough for anyone...

  30. DR

    loosers will always cry

    "What we cannot do in the UK is go back to monopoly," he said. "Imagine that coming from BT."

    yes, well they would say that when they are behind virgin already.

    they'd got many years of expensive infrastructure to put into place before they come to the same level of speed that virgin already offer.

    during this time with the same investment virgin can improve and expand their existing network.

    BT don't want to see a monopoly because they can't see it being their monopoly...

    And yes, Ferraris are faster than Fords, most people make do with Fords.

    I think that a more accurate description would be that modern locomotives are faster than steam trains...

    He's right of course, there aren't many applications that require 50Mbps download speed, but that's not to say that people don't want that.

    especially with TV being provided by the internet, houses having more than one computer...

    I think that the best advice that BT could be given is this.

    Build it and they will come.

    put the infrastructure in. make it over capacity.

    then you can run adverts saying, virgin not the only fibre provider, BT provide fibre, we give you what we sell you, no slow down, no caps, no limits, pay for what you get and get what you pay for...

    with a promise like that -that they actually could fulfil people will want to use BTs service.

  31. Fluffykins Silver badge

    And more idiot observations

    "We can't be guilty of interception - it's too difficult to explain"

    - BT

    "Phorm/Webwise is a good thing"


    "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."

    - Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

    "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

    - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

    "I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."

    - The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

    "But what ... is it good for?"

    - Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

    "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

    - Ken Olson, president, chairman & founder of Digital Equipment Co, 1977

    "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."

    - Western Union internal memo, 1876.

    "The telephone will be used to inform people that a telegram has been sent."

    - Alexander Graham Bell.

    "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

    - David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

    "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."

    - A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.

    "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

    - H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

  32. Adam

    They want the moon on a stick!

    If it's not profitable to put a hamlet on the next-gen network, why should a private company be obliged to make the investment? There are plenty of satellite-based broadband services out there, and plain-old half-meg ADSL is good enough for anything apart from streaming video and heavy-duty VPN use.

    Rural living carries far more benefits than we townies get through our broadband. I would love to have a few acres out back, a vastly cheaper mortgage, a barn to build my projects in and the ability to have some peace and solitude from time to time.

    Ah well, can't blame people for wanting everything.

  33. Christopher Rains

    Missing the point

    Livingstone is missing the point. The analogy is wrong. It's not about a Ford or Ferrari, but about the roads, ie the infrastructure.

    You couldn't wait until cars were capable of going up and down motorways before building them. You don't know necessarily at this point in time what services can be developed for the future, but you don't wait until then to develop the infrastructure.

    BT is supposed to be an industry leader. Livingstone should be leading. This is terrible if he's involved in this Think Tank and he thinks like this. Appalling.

  34. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bring back horse drawn carts!

    It was good enough for people in the middle ages!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To quote Henry Ford himself...

    It would seem that the world doesn't care who said what, or when they said it.

    --Henry Ford, 2035

  36. Simon Ball

    Dissenting voice

    Dot-com bubble fibre-mania anyone? While much of it did eventually get used, many of the firms that laid it lost their shirts. Assuming exponential growth is just as irresponsible as assuming little or no growth.

    The history of "build it and they will come" has as many failures as sucesses, so you can understand BT's caution. Will an application with even greater bandwidth requirements than HD-on-demand, AND mass-market appeal come along? Possibly. In a reasonable timescale? No way of knowing.

    You certainly can't build a business case for wiring the whole country based on the demands of the small segment of the population who post in this forum.

    Flame away.

    PS. Of course, this could merely be a negotiating tactic to get the government to spring for the costs.

  37. tref

    Government needs to invest in fibre to the home for rural/non metropolitan areas

    My views on all this are firming up. The Government needs to make the strategic investment in a fibre network in areas that are otherwise uneconomic for BT/NTL et al (whoever al is). What's more they need to abandon the idea of a 2Mbps USO and aim for 1Gbps. Anything else isn't going to cut it - especially by the time they have finished the roll out.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @ Kenny Millar

    "in addition, BT Can't afford NOT to do it, since someone else will, if they don't. It wouldn't cost Virgin much to extend their fibre to the home from the street cabinets"

    NOBODY is going to build Telco / cable infrastructure on a large scale in the current climate (or even the foreseeable future) unless it is COMPLETLEY necessary. Do you see Virgin even trying to build out the franchise areas which they missed after going crying to OFCOM that they couldn’t afford it (after buying up the little franchises to form a monopoly cable company.

    UNLESS there is a proven profit in it NOBODY will be build (residential) infrastructure, sorry, that's just the way it is.

    You do not need fibre to the home. Fibre to the cabinet would be nice but then so would doing away with the wet string from the cabinet / exchange to the home would greatly improve thing (along with the installation of a xDSL socket separate from the telephone line)

  39. Leonard
    Paris Hilton


    I agree with Tony. The man is an idiot living in the dark ages. We are being milked to death by being charged for something that we theoretically *could* have but will never get (8MB on 5MB lines). I will gladly pay £300 a month to get fibre to my door as long as I get the full throughput.

    I don't think BT has ever done any sort of survey asking their users what they want. Maybe they should fire this guy's ass and use his salary to fund a survey. BT will be surprised at the findings.

    Paris, because even she knows it pays to be quick.

  40. Mountford D

    BT, the NHS, and national provider

    Yet again BT proves themselves to be a bunch of incompetent bean-counting tossers. Not only are they capable of screwing up the NHS National Programme to the tune of £13billion+ to the UK taxpayer, they haven't even got the foresight or business sense to provide Britain with a national cutting-edge network. Why are they still endorsed by the Government as a level 1 supplier?

  41. Aaron

    Lol @ virgin comments

    I do find it so funny how so many people think virgin have put fiber into homes when thats just not the case, before anyone gets on their high horse I have both an ADSL connection and Virgin 50mbit installed, it comes in over copper coax cable, it runs copper to the cabinate. Most cabinates have copper to the headend still so at very very best virgin have the lead on BT doing the Fiber to the cab. Luckily im in one of the FTTC trial area's so I will be getting that, not for the added download but for the fact the imply there will be a decent upload.

    Ether way I pay for it because I want it, I dont NEED it but well I dont need a lot of things I pay for.

  42. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Who cares?

    The distinction between 40Mb/s and 100Mb/s is just a factor of 2-3. On a logarithmic scale, that's small beer if most urban populations currently make do with about one tenth of that and rural populations might have one hundredth. Now if FTTH could actually deliver 1Gb/s, it might be worth putting in, but I doubt the backbone could take it.

    Also, I'm not sure the focus on download speed is helpful. Someone else has already mentioned upload speed and (in the past) still others have mentioned implementing decent routing support in local exchanges as ways of boosting the overall usefulness of the whole system. And then there's the IPv6 rollout. I'm sure BT are investing *at some level* in all of these, but the constant focus on download speeds surely tends to bias their decision making in favour of the music and video pirates rather than people trying to use the net in more creative ways. If this is considered *national* investment, should it really be driven by freetards?

  43. David Neil
    Thumb Down

    @ kenny millar

    "It wouldn't cost Virgin much to extend their fibre to the home from the street cabinets."

    Well they are still trying to service the debt that was run up putting the street lines in, plus local councils are unlikely to agree to all that additional diging up after the hassles the last time. If you ever listen to the complaints on cable orum you'll see lot of people who cannit get service to a house which should be ok because the original duct work has collapsed in the intervening years and they cannot make a business case to dig it up for repair.

    As an example I live in a block of flats, council sent in some contractors two years ago to rewire the communal TV system. Speaking to the contractors and it appears that the costs of drilling lots of new cable runs through the reinforced concrete was a total pain, the original cable runs were built into the walls and are pretty much inaccesible.

  44. Anonymous Coward


    The key point that isn't made is that the provision of fibre to the home will drive new business and online technology.

    There may not be the requirement *right now*, but you can bet your life that if the bandwidth were available, services would appear that utilise it.

    As things stand all I see is a load of people wondering how they're going to make as much money as possible for a sub standard service. No-one is interested in "Digital Britain" unless they're going to leverage it to make them more money.

    We really need a national cable network with fibre to the home, just like (as someone pointed out earlier), the electricity, gas & water grids..

    Competition isn't working.

  45. Jeff
    Thumb Down

    Wrong priorities?

    Actually, there's no point in having fibre beyond the national backbone links (without a mesh infrastructure, at least) while it labours under current load. Virgin's 50mb service will be rendered useless by the crippling caps they've had since 2006. I'd rather have my 'obsolete' 8/24mb connection running at those advertised speeds, constantly, before they misleadingly increase them again.

  46. keith

    People don't need fibre to the home

    haha thats a joke right cause people do need fibre and they need it now how many internet connections on bts network struggle to get the speeds thats been advertised buy isps that say you get 10meg or 20 meg and only end up getten 3 meg or less. i think its time the government stepped in and shook bt up there a bunch of hippy lazy pricks who cant even do shit for us people who are struggling with the crapest speeds ever get ya finger out bt and install fibre to our homes. fibre to the cabinet isnt good enough because it still has to go down the aging crappy copper line to our house no point. although i have notcied somthing wierd in my street the green box which used to be at the end of my street has moved i hope that if fttc is deployed that this wont decrease my speed even more.

  47. Andy Livingstone

    Forward Thinking

    Remember these are the people who believed that the introduction of a two colours phone was more than radical enough for that century, and that there was really no demand for it as the black chunky phones were more than adequate to meet all known requirements.

    The only areas of innovation known within BT are creative billing and avoiding customers with legitimate complaints.

    At all levels they have the souls of clerks.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All I want is something in the region of the supposed national average speed claimed by Ofcom. Even 50 percent of it would be an improvement for me at the moment.

  49. b166er


    One of the greatest benefits of living in a rural environment being the absence of numpties like yourself ;-p.

    Yeah, we've all got acres out the back and barns and have names like Caractacus Potts! d(^O^)b

    Wouldn't swap it now I'm here though, even if it means I'm only at the end of an 8Mb line.

    This is just Bumbling Telecom at their finest.

  50. Julian
    Thumb Down


    If BT had got their way we all still be on dial up.

  51. Stephen Dykes

    It's not all about 'need'...

    Of course we don't 'need' fibre to the home (FTTH) connectivity but that's not the point. We don't 'need' bottled water in this country but people still buy it because it's what they want. The analogy between Fords and Ferrari's was also laughable. People buy Fords due to cost but want the Ferrari and if they could justify the additional expense, would also buy the Ferrari (or Aston Martin if they have any taste).

    What's more annoying is that as a society we are moving back to the cottage industry culture of pre Victorian times where more and more people are working for themselves and, often, from home. Therefore, many micro-businesses will be hindered by BT's decision that homes don't need FTTH.

    Add to this that as a nation we are far behind many others in the digital revolution because we simply don't have cost effective bandwidth availability. Until we have the infrastructure in place how can anybody possibly know what's 'needed'.

    I think BT should get out of their ivory tower and start delivering what people want and not dictating what we can have (in my humble opinion).

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Welcome to the 90's

    Here in California, I had the choice between tv, internet and phone services provided by cable tv, copper (adsl)+sattelite, or fiber optic. Replacing everything with fiber to my house via Verizon FIOS provides me with digital hdtv with a huge range of on demand content, 4 pots lines, and internet bandwidth of 15Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. We are not charged on internet usage. There is absolutely no way I would go back to copper. Fiber rocks and the service offerings only get better over time.

    Related, I have it on authority from Mr Jobs that no computer would ever need more than 512MB RAM?

    The BT Chief is stuck in the 90's.

  53. Duncan Robertson
    Paris Hilton

    Here, here b166er!

    Yep, Adam, you are indeed a numpty!!

    If you would kindly remove your head from your arse for a second or two, you may find that it is actually more expensive to live in a rural area than in the good old south east.

    My house is still quite expensive - on par with Edinburgh actually. We only have 1 supermarket in a 30 mile radius. It took me 2 years of hard campaigning to get ADSL. Yes, I have an acre of land and a log cabin in the garden and I love being at the end of a true 8Mbit/s line and being able to actually taste the water coming out of the tap.

    However, you are right that the benefits far out-weigh the expense or hassle.

    Now, if the government would just make car tax for 4x4's post code dependent such that those of us that actually need 4-wheel-drive can use the vehicles for what they are meant for rather than just running the kids to school!!!

  54. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    Economic case?

    Funny, I thought glass was cheaper than copper.

    I don't need a Ferrari but something a little better than a 1901 Benz would be appreciated. If my "up to 8MB" meant what it says on the tim instead of barely enough to stream a 128kb radio station I might be a bit happier.

  55. P. Lee

    That's different

    I thought one of the classic problems for telcos was "the last mile" where they had to change from all their nice fibre backbone digital tech to analogue & copper. Give me 100mb full duplex and QoS and there's a good chance I'll pay for the fibre termination hardware myself and ditch that copper link.

    I think what he actually said was (loosely translated): How are we supposed to sell business links if we're providing fibre at residential prices? And there's no chance our backbone will cope with what people will want to do with that!

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    He's right to a degree. But I suspect that his motivation for making the statement is that BT don't want be landed with the cost of installing fibre to the home. Last thing they want is the government wanting to up broadband speeds and applying pressure to BT to replace the local loop cable, so I think he's looking after the selfish interests of his company BT.

    However, the current broadband speeds are in many places a shambles, if you're lucky you can get 6Mbps or higher, and the wide range of speeds is caused by the local loop cables being a crappy, old and delapidated twisted pair that was never intended for high speed data transmission which was installed into the ground way before the internet even existed!

    So if the plan is to solve this crap speed problem then that local loop cables need to be replaced, what are you going to replace it with? Coaxial cable, optical fibre?

    May be the speeds of fibre aren't required or demanded at the moment, but if you're gonna lay new cables to solve the speed problem then you might as well use fibre over coaxial!

    So effectively, what Livingstone is saying "we know broadband speeds are crap, we know it's caused by the crap quality copper cables in place, but we're not going to do SFA about it".

    Because if they were going to do anything about it, they'd use fibre, and he's ruled that out.

    But BT own the local loop cables to people's homes, it's their f**ng problem to solve..they're responsible for the crap broadband speeds. Unless they're prepared to sell of huge bundles of local loop and the conduits in which they run to third party companies and allow them to lay down their own cables, and there's no friggin way BT are going to allow that.

    T**ts! It's our problem, we created it, we're not going to solve it, and we're not going to allow anyone else to solve it.

    Selfish b**tards!

  57. Julian Whitehead

    Shocked - but not surprised!

    Comments like this from people who should know better still shock me, but I am no longer surprised. We have the potential in the UK to be a world beating nation as far as the interweb is concerned, but we are constantly told what we do and don't want!

    At the moment I would just like a connection that is consistent and works 100% of the time - once that works, I would like it to go faster. The poppets who are responsible for my connection (not my ISP), have completely failed to find a fault - but then again I cannot actually get them to check the line when it refuses to connect!

    I would love fibre to my house - NOW, and would be prepared to pay for it. Maybe the solution would be to purchase 3km of fibre and turn up at the local exchange asking where this can be plugged in!

    Why do the leaders in the country consistently miss the mark completely! Then make us pay through the nose to live here!

  58. Anonymous Coward


    BT don't have a monopoly? Depends on precisely what is being talked about!

    BT own nearly all the entire local loop copper from people's homes to the exchanges where the network equipment is located! If that isn't a monopoly then I don't know what the f**k is.

    It is precisely that monopoly that has stifled the internet in the UK for many years.

    It's precisely those cables which determine and which limit the speeds people get on their ADSL connections!

    If companies such as Be Broadband, they may install their own network equipment at the exchange buildings, but their ADSL signals still travel down over BTs monopolistic copper cables to people's homes.

    Livingston is actually implying that a monoply is a bad thing, yeah you're right man, it is !! And don't we know it!

    No sir, there's no monopoly here...move along now, nothing to see here.

    Let's replace Livingston with a droid, because I think a droid could do a better job.

  59. Seanmon
    Thumb Down

    What age Ferrari?

    Pretty sure my 2yo Ford would accelerate faster, corner harder and stop quicker than a Ferrari from the 50's. It's not TODAY'S network you need to worry about, Mr BT.

    If virgin would only bother to come down my street, I'd switch in a shot.

  60. RW

    What a marroon!

    Here's an application that would greatly benefit from higher bandwidth:

    The simple truth is that British ISPs have a failed business model. If you want to go into the internet business, you can be sure that it will be an unending round of system upgrades, so you simply MUST charge enough to make that feasible.

    There must be a technical word in economics for the situation where sellers compete by lowering prices below the actual cost of goods or services, but let's just agree to call it an "implosion due to stupidity and lack of foresight."

    And with the marroons in NuLabour, you can't expect govt to do a damned thing about this stupidity.

  61. Dave Bell

    Don't choke the unknowns we don't know about

    Who could have predicted what broadband would bring.Who would want dial-up YouTube?

    I just hope that BT aren't stupid, abd the fibre they do install can be extended, both physically to the home and in the capacity of the connections between cabinet and the rest of the world.

    We'll find a use for it.

    I'm in a rural, off-cable, area. Will BT ever be able to provide the bandwidth for cable TV and good Internet? Or will they stick me with satellite, Freeview, and an internet the colour of a dead TV channel?

    Oh well, the graphics are still better in ASCII.

  62. Stewart Haywood

    Wrong Question.

    If BT have been wandering around asking people if they want fibre to their home or if they want symetrical 1Gb/s to their home and here is how much it will cost, they are not going to get many possitive answers. If ,on the other hand, they ask people what services they want, they will get more useful answers. People buy services, not the technical means to deliver them.

    The question should be, "here is a group of TV packages (lets say 50, 100 or 200 channels), here is a selection of phone services (local, long distance, overseas), Here is a selection of what you can do on the internet with your computer, here are some added extras like recording 4 TV programs whilst watching another one, controling the DVR from any computer or cell phone anywhere in the world, listing missed calls on the TV screen, placing caller ID on the TV or computer screen, etc etc." Now you know what people want to do, you can work out what speeds they need in each direction and what the latency requirements are. This is how you go about dimensioning the customer end link, the local network and the major backbone.

    The customers don't care how it is done, only that hey can do what they want to do.

    Now, living in Texas, I am just about to order my phone, internet connection and 200 TV channels from AT&T because they will give me more free stuff than Verizon (like the magic DVR that can be controled over the net and. It all uses IP and is delivered with fiber to the kerb or fiber to the premises (in my case to the kerb), they planted a new plastic box in the alley out back a few weeks ago. The kerb to house link is, I think, coax.

  63. G

    Iterative rather than breakthrough

    Closed mind thinking. Lets be honest, there is more to concern ourselves with. With many financial vehicles constrained and almost at the yard, recomposing toxicity, delivering 'hardened' capitalist economies with separated risk without overt control is the main priority, never mind sticking some wires in the ground. Applaud Mandelson for his play at the table.

    Wimax isn't the answer, but will provide some much needed innovation in tired and coralled industries. As for my significant innovations, I can't challenge alone, I and others try but the incumbents work in mysterious ways, not all of them gentlemanly.

    Naive, no. Transcendent yes.

    Back to Lilliput folks.

    Technicolour, cos it fits!

  64. Dick Emery

    Send him this page with your comments. It worked for the previous CEO as I was in touch with him over some issues in the past and the problems were fixed promptly.

    Be polite and you 'might' actually get a response or at the very least it might get to his personal secretary and passed along to him to look into. He may even change his opinion after reading this article and it's comments.

  65. Adrian Coward

    BT is a Plc

    There are a lot of "He's a Luddite!" type comments, but most of them seem to miss the point. Mr Livingston is paid to make money for BT's shareholders. If he can't make the business case for the *massive* investment that would be Fibre-to-the-Home then he can't make it - largely because, unlike Virgin, he can't tie the customer into paying BT for the use of that fibre.

    That's where his 'monopoly' comment was aimed - squarely at VirginMedia.

  66. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Much as I hate and dispise VM, I wish the fleas of thousand camel's arseholes infest them, you have to admit that fibre network hasn't done the beardy one's profits any harm!

    The old cliches are out "who would need a computer in their home?", "who needs more than 640k memory?", etc. What with TPB going down no BT we won't be needing anything faster than dial-up for our email or weather maps! We we'll be scaling back our requirements a lot more now and poof goes your profits.

  67. Ben
    Thumb Down

    Fiber v Mobile

    Rolling out more fibre would be a waste. It would be outdated by the time it is completed.

    Mobile connections should be reaching 42Mps by 2009-10:

    Mobile connections should reach 100Mps by 2012 with very little investment:

    Mobile connections should reach 10Gps not long after:

    Why roll out a FIXED-LINE network that will be outdated by the time it is finished? Why not invest in a faster MOBILE network?

  68. James Woods

    can someone tell obama this?

    We just blew how much taxpayer money into expanding broadband in the USA to areas that the industry has said are not economically feasible to service.

    Whenever I can write blind checks from my checking account and not worry about having the money in my account to cover them, i'll join the bandwagon (let's have broadband everywhere) I just LOVE dealing with all the spam I get from the insecure third-world hi-jacked networks. Need more of that, kthx.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The poor misguided leading the poorly informed

    It seems a bit like Barnes Wallis and swing wing jets?

    "Great idea Barnes, but it isn't going to catch on you know. There's no future in it."

    If the present mentality was manifest years ago there would probably be no cable at all - zilch (I think BT was against that too hence ntl, Tele-West, ... provided they were allowed to put it into areas that had a high income, high spend in order to make a return on private investment.

    The sooner we face it that BT has no real interest in putting out high quality 'net the better.

    BT wants low quality 'net (dial-up modems basically) and nought else.

    That will probably be base level for the nation with cherry-picking faster stuff from the private sector receiving full government support. Why? Well, look at the projected Treasury returns of course.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Livingston isn't a worker

    So of course he doesn't need fiber to the home, and extends that to mean no one else does either.

    The c-suite and their lackey sycophant hanger on executive slacker flunkeys only need cash and a Blackberry. The rest of us need the fiber to work. Why should anyone listen to non-workers anyway?

  71. Mark Donnison

    Get tough on vision ......... and the causes of vision.

    There is a piece of waste ground over there that no one is playing football on, therefore we don't need to build a football pitch. We also did a poll of one nearby tramp who dribbled on himself, farted and said 'What? Got any spare change Mr?" So from this we concluded that there really isn't a need for a foot ball pitch.

    If you make the pitch, people will play on it.

    It should not always be about what people want or need now, what it makes possible can be just as important.

    It all comes down to vision.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An alternative view

    A very unpopular view on this site but the comment was made that there isn't an economic case for spending £20bn on fibre to the home across the UK because there aren't the consumer applications that people will pay for. Remember, Hi Def TV will take sub 10Mps. BT have said they are doing 40% of UK with fibre (£1.5bn committed by Livingston within a month of becoming CEO).

  73. Benjamin

    I won't notice a difference.

    Look. We are 7.2km from the exchange. We get 60kbs peek. Will fiber to the cabinet make a difference, if it still comes over copper for 7.2km? No. Wake up, we will not see any speed difference. And what if I want to upload something?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    1 Mbps would be an improvement...

    here in the colonies. For years, with ADSL we typically got 180 kbps and in the last year or so I've noticed that I get approximately 400 kbps download speeds with up to 680 kbps.

    Living in a small Canadian province that has small, dispersed population has some advantages. Fiber to the home and high download speeds are not amongst them, though. When you're used to 180 kbps and start to get in the 500 kbps range that seems fast.

    For my home use and the price I pay, 1 Mbps peak times included, would be great. If I lived in an area with a larger population density I could perhaps hope for Fiber to the home, but I'm not willing to pay a lot extra for it where I do live and sure as hell won't move just to get it.

    It's all about balance and I'd sure love to balance Paris.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It would have been better to sell it as fibre to the cabinet gives the best benefit/cost to the consumer at the moment - naturally this will be evaluated on an ongoing basis as technology evolves. (who knows what is round the corner)

    The limiting factor must be connectivity from the exchange up no way would this support 1000s of users using the full 100mbps - just look at the early bbc iplayer problems.

  76. dev handsome

    the world is run by morons at 300baud

    the world is run by morons at 300baud

  77. paul clarke

    Oye - Stupid!!

    I just left BT for BE. Why? Because they offer ADSL2+ service and BT don't. Its also cheaper than BT.

    I have two kids at home, both have PC's. I WANT faster internet so that they can watch iPlayer, ITVPlayer, C4 On Demand, C5 On Demand etc etc etc.

    Where does this person get his facts from? Fortune Cookies?

  78. raving angry loony

    another scam

    I love this excuse. "Not much demand". Of course, they don't keep track of who actually asks for it, so every request is a "new" request, so the number of requests is invariable "one". Nor do they offer any such thing, or if they do it's a trial to 3 households in the outer hebrides, so they can look at sales figures and honestly say "nope, nobody is buying it".

    Lovely scam the "not much demand" excuse.

  79. N

    Typical BT

    We'd still be on 56k if it was left to them.

    I want the finest broadband available to humanity, I want it here & I want it now.

  80. John Smith Gold badge


    "Would he argue that we should have competing electricity grids or sewage networks?"

    To which you should add the local loop for most telephone subscribers and the gas and water distribution network..

    In point of fact all of these are single networks.

    Electricity and gas are IIRC both now owned by Transco, a Centrica subsidiary. Its their core business and they seem to invest in both to maintain service. But users can change suppliers linked to them.

    Water & sewage seem to be owned by the end companies. And you cannot change suppliers. High profits, ongoing leaking (Thames water leaks as much water as it delivers). And despite decades of talk no actual "National Grid" for water. NB the last national water survey (done in the mid 1970s!) showed we have plenty of water as a nation, but a lot is in Wales (which is where Birmingham's water supply comes from). Remember that when your water co issues another hose pipe ban but can't be bothered to fix a leak for 2 months and then whines it needs a new reservoir.

    Local loop. Mostly owned by BT. not too keen on upgrading it and most suppliers seem to read "Up to xMbs" as "Whatever we damm well feel like."

    This suggests that where a supplier owns its own infrastructure *directly* there is little incentive to upgrade it. Only when its split off into a separate company for which the infrastructure is its *core* asset does money get spent.

  81. Tony


    "Mobile connections should be reaching 42Mps by 2009-10:"

    Possibly in a very few areas - but certainly not available throughout the majorty of the network.

    "Mobile connections should reach 100Mps by 2012 with very little investment:"

    Really? I would suggest that it will require a massive investment - plus my other comment above.

    "Mobile connections should reach 10Gps not long after:"

    Depends upon your definiton of "not long" - in terms of global existence, no not long. But I doubt I will see that in my lifetime. Plus there are limits to the available bandwidth that they struggle to cope with now.

    "Why roll out a FIXED-LINE network that will be outdated by the time it is finished"

    The speed of transmission over fibre is not determined by the fibre itself, but by the switching equipment. Once the fibre is in the ground, they can upgrade the switches to take advantage of any advances.

    The only real changes likely at the moment is some work that is being done to create fibre from plastic instead of silica.

  82. Robert E A Harvey

    It's all true

    What with traffic shaping, bottlenecks, caps and conention I don't need the 8Mb I'm paying for now.

    If they start charging extra for additional tiers of service I won't be able to afford anything more than 512K.

    So I'll never need fibre.

  83. Paul Widger

    Do it now !

    Fibre direct to the home may well be underused initially but new uses will soon evolve.

    It will be a long term upgrade instead of a series of fudges.

    If handled properly it will turn out to be a boost to the national economy.

    Come on HMG give this BT goonbrain a kick up the butt!

  84. David S
    Jobs Horns

    Try this

    I think we should apply the same principles to his and other excetutives' pay, and formally link them with laws and other legal constraints: "Your salary will be up to £600,000, though contention amongst other executives and company performance to its customers may mean the actual salary is lower." Then stick them on £18,000 as a perfectly adequate salary. If they argue about it, say "It is an adequate salary for a family to live on, and it does not contravene the advertised conditions of the job. We could make it larger, but there is no real call for it unless other changes are brought into play." I think we would see marked changes in pretty swift order to the broadband connections with little or no comeback, because, basically, if other countries can do it, there are few reasons why the UK cannot do it.

  85. Anonymous Coward

    BT Vision (NOT)

    Well been using BT vision for a while now and as you have to download HD content due to badnwith limitations I am amazed at this discolsure. Does this mean they are not interested in further expanding into the home entertainment industry?

  86. Anonymous Coward

    Corporate Myopia

    How can someone heading a technology giant be so short sighted..?

    "Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds"

    Maybe true now, maybe not, but certainly won't be tomorrow...

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Patronizing, ignorant, stupid and cynical?

    "Of course a Ferrari is faster than a Ford," Livingstone said. "But most people are happy with a Ford"

    1. Most people can choose to buy a (newish) Ford but not a (newish) Ferrari.

    2. A Ford today is probably a faster car than a fifty years old Ferrari.

    3. A new Ford today is reliable and its maximum speed is unregulated by Ford and is the same in the morning as in the afternoon and evening.

    4. Ford comes in different sizes and types. A Ford GT may very well be faster than many new Ferraris.

    5. Ford asks their customers what they would like and be happy with - Ford does not tell people what they are happy with.

    Ocourse the Ford analogy is irrelevant - but then why mention it in the first place?

  88. John Smith Gold badge

    Had those bozos drop a BB offer through my letterbox

    It might be an idea to dial 0800 345 7419 /1 /1 and explain without shouting or swearing, that You don't want Webwise, you don't want Phorm and you won't consider their package (which they claim has won Broadband Provider of the Year) untill they dump Webwise.

  89. Another Anonymous Coward

    I'm happy enough, with downloads.

    10mb download is fine, tends to do the job even after the cap kicks in. More often my download speed is limited by the server I'm connected to, a lot of them still can't deliver content at that speed.

    Would prefer it if they worked on sorting out the mediocre upload speeds and telling Phorm to suck a fat one instead.

  90. Anonymous Coward

    Arrgghh! Stop with the misquotes...

    I'm far from a Microsoft fan but why do people still misquote Bill Gates about this "640k of memory being enough for anyone" quote? I thought it was common knowledge that he was misquoted - see for the genuine quote - and that it has just kinda stuck (like a custard pie to the face, eh, Bill?).

    Even the most ardent Linux / OS X fans must be aware of this by now.

    However, the other quotes about computers in the home, weighing 1½ tonnes, Fed Express, etc... are hilarious! I hope they're genuine.

    /me dons flameproof jacket in preparation for the ratalliatory posts from the kids... and heads off to

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