back to article Provincial outrage over BT's broadband upgrade race

The early standings in BT's competition to find the five communities where faster broadband is most in demand aren't encouraging for anyone living outside the M25, or indeed Zone 1, if an email to entrants today is to be believed. It claims the current top five in the "Race to Infinity" are Bermondsey, Bishopsgate, Canonbury, …


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  1. nigel 15

    If you don't have broadband.... do you vote?

    In statistics i believe this is called a structural bias. it's almost the very definition of it.

    1. Annihilator Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Why do you need broadband?

      A structural bias? Why? They're clearly looking for existing internet users to vote. I doubt that someone without ANY internet access at all is waiting for FTTC before they take the leap, having ignored dial-up, ADSL, and their local library/school/workplace up until now..

      What's stoopid is that you can vote for exchanges that are scheduled to be activated shortly anyway.

      Mind you, I think some people need to wake up and realise this is a bloody advertising campaign by BT and nothing more.

  2. simon newton

    mailing database

    Wouldnt this be a shocker if the exchanges were actually pre-determined and the whole race thing is just to get names and addresses of potential future fast broadband customers.

    I will be shocked *sarcasm* to see the exchanges from the 'test email' actually make it into the final.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BT spam

      I was going to vote, thinking maybe you could get away with a disposable email or just a click, but seeing as I've just managed to stop BT pestering to return to the fold after 4 years, I'll decline giving them a fresh supply of my details to use and abuse.

  3. Da Weezil


    Meh! The race to Infinity..its all a PR stunt by an abusive incumbent - and please dont lecture me about the faux separation of divisions its still one group too busy chasing crumbs from LLU and cable to worry about the way it abuses market one customers. Most of us wont have a chance at this and in that maybe it is time for pricing to be tied to sync. with market one prices dropped to reflect the poor service provided on those exchanges.

    The IPSC price hike from last year should be reversed until BTw can offer WBC/ADSL" on all exchanges.

    This must be the only industry where the pricing gets higher for poorer service/lower provision.

  4. Colin Millar

    It still doesn't sound very fair

    It seems to favour articulate, middle classers who know how to play the system and in particular those in higher denisty areas - i.e. North London.

    Of course, that these are the very areas where companies like BT can make the most money I am sure does not enter into this. Lets run a campaign to get everyone in the Outer Hebrides to register.

    Where's the filthy lucre icon?

    1. James Thomas


      Surely upgrading the exchanges with highest density of users first is only sensible, espcially given that the upgrade is a fixed cost. More people will benefit quicker and it will cost less per user.

      If you want to live in a village in the middle of nowhere that's fine, but you can't expect to get a fiber upgrade before major metropolitan areas. You get the beautiful countryside, fresh air and shit braodband. We get the filth and stink of the city and fibre upgrades. Suck it up.

      1. Alex 0.1


        >>>Surely upgrading the exchanges with highest density of users first is only sensible, espcially given that the upgrade is a fixed cost. More people will benefit quicker and it will cost less per user.

        Yes, this is correct. BUT. The whole point of this race to infinity business is meant to be for *overlooked* areas that arent neccesarily massive density locations to gain a chance of being on the upgrade list.

        BT have already announced / started upgrading hundreds of exchanges using their own basis to determine which ones to do, don't you think this list is already the list of the highest density, best-return-on-investment areas?

        Hint: They already know where the highest density broadband areas are, because theyre the ones that supply it. They dont need some bullshit PR "competition" to tell them that, the competition is supposedly for exchanges that *arent* what BT consider to be high enough density to upgrade anyway, but have a high proportion of people wanting the upgrade.

      2. Max Pritchard

        Increase in ARPU

        The established thinking suggests that upgrading the densest exchanges makes the most sense. As you say - more people, lower cost per user (although cost is not fixed - you need more scalable kit and greater backhaul capacity for larger exchanges).

        However a more sophisticated analysis might consider the increase in ARPU as well as the number of people that will benefit. If city-folk already enjoy high-speed Internet access (ADSL2+, cable, LLU services) and the majority will not see a huge benefit in further increases (FTTC, FTTH) - the majority are unlikely to pay significantly more for additional Mbps downstream. If you already have broadband that gives you 15Mbps, how many users will pay more for 30Mbps? How many new applications will it give you access to? The demand for greater than 8Mbps is limited to power users until applications appear that use the capacity.

        In rural areas though, the differential between the current (512kbps perhaps) and possible capacity will make take up of applications and services that require higher capacity more likely as more Mbps downstream is made available. I will watch videos online, perhaps even subscribe to a video-over-IP service if I can achieve 8Mbps downstream. I won't spend that money if I can't.

        If I would pay £40 per month to an ISP more than I do now after an exchange upgrade - then I am worth eight times more as a customer than someone who may pay £5 per month more after an exchange upgrade.

        At some point people will no longer know what to do with the additional capacity and so offering them more will make no difference to the revenue generated by the service providers. Perhaps that's when the rural market will start to look attractive to investors.

      3. bolccg
        Thumb Up

        Agree but...

        you might want to brace yourself for some heavy down-voting. I've expounded this view on other articles and received some fairly forthright opposition.

        That said, thus far you seem to be doing better than I did.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Outer Hebredies?

      "Sorry but your exchange is not eligible to enter The Race to Infinity as it has fewer than 1000 premises.

      Unless you live in Stornoway you can't even enter.

  5. Neil Greatorex

    I just voted

    And currently make up 25% of the voters in my village.

    Don't think we'll be getting FTTC anytime soon.

    1. Roger B

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      25%? Ha! I just voted and I am at 0.11% of the votes, although our exchange has less than 1000 premises apparently so we don't even count! We have 884. Can I apply to the council to build another 116 houses so we can all vote do you think?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Typical BT Bollox

    Tried to register my vote and it would not recognise my postcode even though it's listed on my bill.

    Epic fail BT.

  7. Tom 35

    The winners will be

    Places they already plan to upgrade.

    No new unplanned costs, and pretend that they listen to customers.

    1. Subban


      Anywhere that you can 1000 people to express interest in fibre beofre it arrived has surely going to have a heck of a lot more customers if BT did the upgrade anyway, and surely 1000 separate properties hanging off an exchange has to make it already financially viable.. Surely?

  8. Dale 3

    Just a test

    Ah yes, the good old "it was just a test that went wrong". Maybe they should use GMail with the "undo" lab switched on, then they wouldn't make those "mistakes".

  9. Anonymous Coward

    A typo is required and must contain either letters or digits

    It doesn't bode well for Zennor (in Cornwall).

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Are you also on the Penzance exchange then?

      For some reason, broadband didn't work on a 12.6KM pair when we tried - despite several BT SFI/SFI2 visits.

      1. simon newton

        12.6 km!

        Im surprised the phone even worked ;)

      2. AndrueC Silver badge


        You mean BT were actually prepared to send engineers out to look at a 12.6km line? What a pointless waste of money. That's never going to work as long as it's a single pair. I bet even their dodgy 'BET' technology would struggle.

        Then again - 12.6km is a helluva long line. You must really live out in the sticks.

  10. bettername

    I'd say...

    ...that diring out the email wasn't the only cockup... it's an suspicious list of names - beginning of alphabet, in alphabetical order! I'd say they ordered the list by area_name, and not (total_requests / total_connected)!

    Not that I've ever forgotton to tweak the "order by" in a query. Ahem.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical and not unexpected

    Let the Londoners pay the premium prices. BT will feel happy its not all spend, spend, spend, and can plan ahead.

    Makes perfect sense, especially since it seems the whole of England have turned as tight as a fishes bumhole.

  12. Andy 18

    Must reproduce quickly

    Unfortunately, our exchange has less than 1000 people so I guess we are doomed. I'm sure they picked that limit to ensure no one really rural had a chance.

    I never expect anything good from BT. They have been and continue to be the biggest source of downtime after Incapable and Witless. But what should you expect from an effective monopoly.

    1. Mad as a Bat
      Thumb Up

      same here

      I also live in a village with an exchange that has less than half of the 1000 subscribers required to join BTs "race". Mind as we have just switched our domestic and business phones/broadband away from BT I am not very interested in being their customer again anytime soon. I don't see that BT will upgrade small rural exchanges like ours until they're forced to by guvinmint. Not that I'm complaining - that's the price we pay for living in the countryside.

  13. Andy Livingstone

    At Least 1000 people?

    Great. My exchange has fewer than 750 lines. Stuffed before we start. Another BT stitch up.

    BT Wholesale is the sole provider and even SamKnows has given up indicating when there might be movement on that front.

    Ofcom? Chocolate fireguard? Spot the difference.

    As for James Thomas, but.... welcome to our sheep shit and cow shit; sounds like fair exchange for BT shit. 3 out of 3. Ain't we lucky?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Sigh - let the flaming begin

      It's not BT's fault that your village is too small. BT are a business and they have a legal obligation to try and make a profit. You act as if BT had some kind of vendetta against you. I bet BT (and other telcos) would just love to provide you with a service if they could. Unfortunately the economics just don't add up. It's not your fault. It's not BT's fault. It's just the way things are.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: Sigh - let the flaming begin

        I'm going to try to avoid this being a flame, and try to stay rational.

        The internet has in the last 10 years turned from something cool to part of the fabric of consumer and business life.

        The internet was supposed to free us rural folk from the need to all migrate to cities when we grew up. I grew up, I migrated to a city. I would love to go back home, but the infrastructure just ain't there.

        Leaving rural areas on dial-up is like giving them cycle paths instead of roads and saying the cost of their choice to live in the countryside is that they can't get access to fast transport. It's the country dwellers who need cars most, and it's the country dwellers, without access to the bright lights of the west-end party scene and close access to offices etc that need the internet.

        The Western Isles were so badly served by BT that they had to develop their own too-clever-by-half wireless system that 8 years in is badly outdated, underspecced and riddled with faults. And not yet finished.

        BT are a business, but they are also a monopoly, particularly in the sort of places we're talking about now. Capitalism abhors commercial monopoly. Socialism abhors commercial monopoly. It's time to nationalise the internet.

  14. William Gallafent

    Fewer than 1000 premises connected?

    Still in with a chance, not for an “automatic” upgrade, but “If 75% of your exchange registers, BT will engage with your community to see what we can do in your area.”

    Make of that what you will! I'm sure with that many people interested, other parties may also consider stepping in and providing FTTC.

    The exchange I have an interest in is at 0.58% at the moment!

    1. Tim #3


      0.58%? you're well ahead of me already.... according to the site my exchange has 681 lines; and I just got vote #1.

      So i only need to persuade 510 other households. Back in a few minutes.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        0.08% here

        Voter number 4 of the 5222 possible for my exchange, and I'm right in the centre of Birmingham.

        Unfortunately I suppose most of those 5222 lines are businesses.

  15. ShaggyDoggy


    Those 5 are in alphabetical order and at or near the start, in the central London "region" so perhaps they are doing the whole country in alphabetical order, or perhaps crypto-alphabetical, since I'm sure there will be some "priority" cases pop up

  16. Rog69


    There are 3300 lines to my exchange from three different villages, I doubt every third household is going to sign up for this as the biggest village is a chav infested shit hole.

    So unless the only way to obtain white cider and watch the X factor is now via FTTC then we are screwed.

  17. The Other Steve
    Thumb Up

    London calling/Grim oop North

    Bollocks to that, I'm nowhere near that London and BT are fibre-ing us up just about as fast they can get the cabinets open. 115,500 premises covered by this time next year. I'm expecting FT my personal C by about January.

    At which point I will probably not bother, because lets face it, what the fuck am I going to do with 40Mbps other than pirate shit all day long, which will be speed humped to buggery anyway ?

    I'm not sure there are many compelling services that require this much bandwidth, but then again, lets wait and see what the file size is like on MS Office 2012.

    1. Chris 211

      @access bandwidth

      I don't actually see any-more then 40mb/s into the home is needed just now, not unless ultra HD telly will be on iplayer. You need around 20-30mbps for HD telly, that's for proper 1080p stuff. That is the most bandwidth legitimate users will need. The file sharers always want more bandwidth, well the core has limits you know so don't forget when access is upgraded the distribution and core have to be upgraded as well!

    2. William Gallafent

      It's not so much "40Mb/s vs 24Mb/s" …

      … as “more than you can get with ADSL2+”. At the moment I get 3.3Mb/s although the equipment is all ADSL2+, due to the length of the line. FTTC will give me a significant increase in speed since the DSLAM will be a lot closer to my house! 3.3Mb/s is not enough for some services that already exist, e.g. BBC iPlayer HD (3.5Mb/s), so that increase will be welcome!

    3. blackworx
      Thumb Up

      I LOL'd

      That is all

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those in London aren't exactly 'broadband rich'

    I live in Paddington in Zone 1. You'd think this means I have super options. It doesn't. (a) There is no cable in my street because of some stupid throwback to who has the coaxial cable license in our area, meaning I can't get Virgin. (b) Planning restrictions mean it is not possible to get a satellite dish easily, so I have to go through a lot of hoops to do this. (c) Broadband is currently abymsal - I am on 24Mbps service, yet my sync speed is 2.3Mbps down. You got it: Live in Zone 1, but get no more than 2Mbps broadband. So don't think that being outside London means you're neglected. We're just as neglected and we're inside.

  19. Robinson
    Thumb Down


    This must be wrong. My exchange (for example), a small town in Cambridgeshire, is already scheduled for an upgrade, so I couldn't vote. I'm not sure what it's all about then...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deja vu anyone?

    Anyone feel like we've slipped back a decade? We had all this nonsense before and hopefully this time around (with a few less quangos willing to slip BT some cash) the same nonsense will end sooner.

    Don't participate in anything BT promote is my advice.

    Just say no.

  21. Busby
    Thumb Up


    I would just like to point out / boast that I live in a tiny village in the middle of now where in the north east and currently get BT Infinity. Only 24 Meg download but not to be sniffed at. Oh and the advert free vision service is pretty good as well.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want to sue BT for abuse of the English language

    Since "Infinity" now has a fair usage policy.... its another ASDA "forever" (lasted 6 months) or as we all know "Unlimited".

    And dont get me started on any x-factor-level IQ idiot who says 110%.......

    1. Autonomous Cowherd

      False advertising

      I noticed on some gumph that came through my door this morning, BT are also applying the Unlimited magic wand to their free weekend phone calls.

      I'm actually very pleased that BT have started doing it to their call packages. This allows us to sidestep the whole legality/morality of filesharing and concentrate squarely on the legality of their lies/marketing slight of hand intended to decieve.

      I'm sure the person who figured out this slight of hand is feeling very pleased with themselves.

      And probably got a payrise.

      And probably has 8mb+ broadband every moment of the day.


      (Shouty, shouty, shouty.)

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Automatic disqualification

    Anyone who goes on the Race to Infinity site to register their exchange and *doesn't* have to go and make a cup of tea while the site loads should automatically be disqualified.

    And AC on 2.3Mbps - hearing people moan about being at the bottom of the pile with only >2M does not win friends with us poor sods on speeds still measured in k.

    There's a threshold somewhere between 1 and 2 meg, above which things are merely slow. Below the threshold, and things are broken - videos play in 10 second chunks, iPlayer never clears the spinny thing off the screen, voip breaks every time an e-mail arrives.

    Wish they'd concentrate on getting everyone up to 2 meg, but you know they'll make more money - and therefore prioritise - getting those on already decent speeds up to silly speeds first.

  24. irrelevant


    13 votes out of 8224 on Trafford exchange so far.

    Not sure if having 20% business users on our exchange is going to be a good thing or a bad thing...

  25. Carl W

    Race to infinity?

    Surely a race to infinity is one where the end will never get any nearer, and is thus ultimately pointless?

  26. tardigrade
    Thumb Down

    It's getting slower, not faster.

    I used to live in the Midlands and went from a 2Mb connection to a 8Mb connection that actually gave me 4Mb regularly, which I thought was super.

    Then I moved to, "deare ole Debun".

    Back to 2Mb again only curiously not. My connection has never topped 1.2Mb and has over the last 18 months degraded to an average of 0.6Mb! Everyone in the village is experiencing the same problem, regardless of the ISP they use.

    What a crock of shite. BT need to sort this stuff out first, before we end up back in the 90's, with the only thing able to load up being usernet and compuserve.

    I suppose when the Internet does finally leave Debun for good, I'llz ave to goun find entertainzment in flingin cow patz and roiling flamings tarr barells down hillz, loik whartz the localz doze. Yarrp.

    1. Jared Hunt

      I live in deare ole Debun...

      ...and my broadband speed has been steadily rising overt he years. I currently get 7 meg. Maybe I'm stealing your tubes.....

      1. tardigrade
        Thumb Up

        Yarp, Yarp, Narp, him be a roight pig scarer.

        You bastard, stop stealing my Internetz!

        I will be at the Ottery Tar Barrelling alroight. Despite me being from "upcountry".

        I'm only the third person to vote for my local exchange though! 0.19% Pffft!

    2. Jared Hunt


      They don't roll the flaming tar barrels down hills. They run around with the flaming tar barrels on their backs! Big ones for the men, medium sized ones for the women and ickle ones for the children. Health and safety? Bollocks to that!

      It's coming up in a few weeks. You should go.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Due respect in zone 2 just round the corner from harbour exchange, sovh et al (no word of a lie they're like 60 meters up the road) we can't even get > 105KB/sec afternoon to 2am.

    BT can talk all day long but if they can't even get useful speeds in the middle of arguably one of the most connected places in the world what's the point in even discussing anywhere else in the country?

    1. The Other Steve

      Ah but then

      "Due respect in zone 2 just round the corner from harbour exchange, sovh et al (no word of a lie they're like 60 meters up the road) we can't even get > 105KB/sec afternoon to 2am."

      Are you sure that you are connected to that exchange ? I get >=7Mbps for much of the time, and had assumed it was because I was very close to the city's main exchange. But I had the Openreach chaps out the other day to replace an overhead cable that had been mauled by a rogue tree, and it turns out that I am in fact connected to one much further away, as is everything south of the CBD.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    er ... and beyond?

    What a swizz. Persons with already fast broadband will be likely eligible for the newer speeds. Come on BT\.Gov its time to pull your finger out, Leaf out of book and increase our national average to match the Finnish.

    2 Mbps broadband connection by 2012 pffft its embarrassing.

  29. Chris Puttick

    I'd just like to say

    Last time I checked, our (reet rural) exchange was winning...

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