back to article Govt: Citizens, we know you want 10Mbps. This is the last broadband scheme for that

The government has said it will not conduct another national broadband roll-out programme in order to meet its promise that every citizen in Blighty will have access to 10Mbps by 2010. In its consultation document regarding the Universal Service Obligation promised by David Cameron last year, the department for Culture, Media …

  1. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    We have to encourage the market towards ubiquitous ultrafast services but balance the additional benefits of increasing speed against the costs today of providing the infrastructure.

    The markets have always been doing that. I don't think many sensible people believe that BT or VM decline to offer certain services in an area simply because they hate the residents. It has always been about the cost v. return. Even when governments are picking up the tab it still comes down to cost v. return. It's just that governments often don't care as much about the money (because it's not theirs) as they do about the the votes they can buy with it.

    As for this USO, let's be careful here. It is only the right to ask for 10Mb/s. CP's will still be allowed to levy excess construction charges. So as I pointed out in a post a while back, all that changes is that instead of this conversation:

    You to CP> I want a 10Mb/s internet connection at my house.

    CP> No, can't do it.

    Things change to:

    You to CP> I want a 10Mb/s internet connection at my house.

    CP> Sure. It'll cost you £15,000. Don't worry though, we're covering the first £3,500.

    1. Adam Jarvis

      Not sure where you are getting the £3500 subsidiy from? If BT say it will cost £15,000 it will cost £15,000.

      Might be technology agnostic in terms of a staement, but this is actually subety about making sure the presented 'cost' of true FTTP is always seen to be prohibitive/difficult, in relation to G.Fast and FTTC aka 'copper services', lets make that clear.

      Even when that's not the case, especially if you include device firmware,crosstalk issues and copper line faults, repairs/replacement and standalone electricity supplies/charges required going forward + the exponential increase in the requirement of FTTdP devices to cover say a 2KM2 area.

      Exponential Carpet bombing of FTTdp's on masse+separate power, is the only way coverage will ever reach 300Mbps+ in the real world, its just not going to happen rurally. And if you did, to reach Gigabit+ services, you need to rip it all out and lay the fibre to the premises that BT have been so determined not to, all along. (to protect their copper investments). G.fast is a Cul-de-Sac technology, it distorts the market because the technology will entrench itself, making it almost impossible to move away from, to true FTTP going forward, as by then the investment will be too big, against the apathy of sticking with 'upto' 300Mps (most will be on sub 100Mbps). Its setting in stone, Britain in a slow lane for years to come.

      BT might not hate the residents, but it certainly hates residents clubbing together 'B4RN esk' style installs - with residents ditching BT all together. Funny how they agressively find the resources to target those areas once they see their little patch of copper rural grass threatened.

      BT hover like vultures (no 'thereg' pun intended) protecting their dead prey (BT rural copper services) just in case some else decides to even look at the dead pickings.

      I haven't used my BT landline in 3 years, to actually make a call. What would have BT done to add to their revenue stream if they hadn't had massive BDUK subsidies to 'incrementally' upgrade the services on offer or allowed to take over EE? - with potential rollout of Femtocell inflated per MB/s pricing on the horizon.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        RE: subsidy

        The govmt/OpenReach subsidises up to this amount for new connections to new premises, as I was told when I was attempting to get BTOR to provide one. A shame they can't manage a drinks-related party in a brewing establishment, so I went to an alternative provider and got a FTTP connection for <£200 connection (admittedly this was luck as Gigaclear was rolling out in my village at the time).

        On larger new developments, BT are laying FTTP (apparently), but yes, they're not going to upgrade the last mile copper to the premises any time soon.

        I'd ruther have govmt mandate that all new connections must be FTTP, with new adaptors deployed to the green cabs to pipe the fibre into the copper backbone if that's all that is there. Then you could add a rule for "once green cab load > threshold, mandate copper-fibre upgrade on all connections & backhaul". Might be expensive, but it's a far better long term strategy.

        1. Adam Jarvis

          Re: RE: subsidy

          Given we have a Universal Service Obligation for Voice, most people asking for a 10Mbps BB minimum aren't going to be new installs.

          1. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: RE: subsidy

            Agreed - I was just answering that there *is* a subsidy of up to £3,500 for new installs, but yes, ringing up and saying "my 1mbps isn't good enough, gimme 10mbps instead" is not going to attract that subsidy

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: RE: subsidy

              The £3,500 (actually it's £3,400 - my bad) is the maximum cost that BT will currently 'swallow' for a new telephone line being provided under the terms of their existing USO. You can see this in the 'Exemptions' section of the document I linked to or alternatively it's mentioned here as well:

              "Where installation of a new line costs £3400 or less, BT sets a standard charge. Where installation will cost over £3400, BT requires the customer to pay the excess costs (plus its standard connection charge)."

              My assumption is that Ofcom will allow BT to operate a similar threshold system for the broadband USO. I suppose it depends how the USO is worded but there seems little point in introducing it if it only applies for new telephone lines. Especally since Ofcom is now pushing for all new builds to be fibre-by-default. Then again governments and government agencies aren't always sensible and being seen to be doing something (the revised USO) without it actually costing anything (because hardly anyone has to order a new telephone line these days) is the kind of sneaky thing they'd love.

              1. Adam Jarvis

                Re: RE: subsidy

                A 'token' separate USO is possible, but only because of the announcement in the drive to make broadband costs transparent and separately charged, independent of the landline charges.

                There will still be a maintenance element for the line and likely no different to the current £18.99 charge which will instead be included in the headline broadband monthly fee . So its mostly an accounting change, thats all.

                But given there is no timescale on the length of time to install, to highlight new line subsidies is wrong when the vast majority will already have a landline and a derisory intermittent BB service of probably less than or equal to 2Mbps to even make it worth bothering, with no current subsidy on offer.

                Its this 'pay up or shut up - just make do attitude' by BT/Ofcom, and it sets an 'apathy approach' in the way this is geared, if you have a 4Mbps-8Mbps its hardly worth spending thousands to get 10Mbps. Its not anything like a USO, it's bullsh.it.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: RE: subsidy

                  "There will still be a maintenance element for the line and likely no different to the current £18.99 charge "

                  OR don't charge £18.99 a month, it's about £8 a month. If your telco or ISP is adding more than a 100% margin to the line rental that's hardly OR's fault.

                  1. Adam Jarvis

                    Re: RE: subsidy

                    BT Retail charge £18.99 a month, so that covers the majority of line rentals, though not sure of BT Retail's exact share of the consumer line rental market, with bundled deals from Sky, TalkTalk etc, but given we're talking rural subscribers with derisory BB speeds around 2Mbps, many will still be on BT Retail, paying £18.99 a month line rental, just so they can get their line faults fixed quicker (in theory, it shouldn't matter, but in reality, it seems to)

                    1. Roland6 Silver badge

                      Re: RE: subsidy

                      The line prices currently charged by Openreach can be found here:

                      https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/pricing/loadProductPrices.do?data=63iUyYbpRV%2Fdw36mtxo4r1nqs1m6OcKz301sgolk8P2FdiaKKPEfrCsJCb3sZkzJ

                      Basically it's £89.50+vat pa. or £8.95 pcm (inc. vat)

                    2. Terry Barnes

                      Re: RE: subsidy

                      "BT Retail charge £18.99 a month, so that covers the majority of line rentals, though not sure of BT Retail's exact share of the consumer line rental market, "

                      Less than a third the last time I looked at an Ofcom report.

      2. MR J

        "Not sure where you are getting the £3500 subsidy from? If BT say it will cost £15,000 it will cost £15,000."

        Perhaps off topic slightly.

        I had something installed about 18 months ago for "Free", mostly paid for by a Gov Grant. The price for the item was I think £900 + (extras) out of my pocket, the Grant changed about a month later to be a max of £650 instead of £900 and the installer changed the price down to £650+(extras). The last I heard was that the max has been reduced again down to £500 and now they charge some on top, but other installers are doing it for "free" with said grant/subsidy.

        I am sure OpenReach does the same type of thing for all subsidy based installs. Find a way to make the numbers go as high as the creative accounting can take it.

  2. Tom Chiverton 1

    "enshrine citizens' right to to request a 10Mps service from providers."

    So it's totally worthless then ? "Right to request" is not the same thing as a USO like having a phone line.

  3. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Meh

    No wonder it's rubbish...

    ...they're trying to use hosepipes.

    1. Known Hero

      Re: No wonder it's rubbish...

      Makes sense to me, The internet is just a bunch of pipes !?!?

      1. Crisp

        Re: No wonder it's rubbish...

        It's more like series of tubes...

        1. Jedit
          Megaphone

          "It's more like series of tubes..."

          What's that? A series of lubes, you say?

  4. james.aka.damingo
    Stop

    All well and good but....

    The internet and access to it are extremely important. But if you choose to live in the ass end of no where miles away from the nearest city then you should expect to get poor asdl speeds over your 2 pair copper.

    Has anyone asked the sheep farmer in deepest darkest wales if they actually want super-fast broadband?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: All well and good but....

      "Has anyone asked the sheep farmer in deepest darkest wales if they actually want super-fast broadband?"

      No, DEFRA just assumed they had it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All well and good but....

      But if you choose to live in the ass end of no where miles away from the nearest city then you should expect to get poor asdl speeds over your 2 pair copper.

      An uninformed comment typical of someone who doesn't get out of their basement in Streatham much. You can be 2 or 3 miles outside a major town like Reading in the "high tech" Thames Valley, an area that by any comparable international standard is densely populated, and still get shit broadband speeds. The idea that it's only Welsh mountain sheep farmers who are poorly served by lack of a USO is ridiculous.

      1. Dr Paul Taylor

        Re: All well and good but....

        You can be 2 or 3 miles outside a major town like Reading in the "high tech" Thames Valley, an area that by any comparable international standard is densely populated, and still get shit broadband speeds.

        You can be 2 or 3 miles outside a major town like Stratford in the "high tech" Lea Valley (in London Transport Zone 3), an area that by any comparable international standard is very densely populated, and still get shit broadband speeds (4 megabits/sec).

        The "last 8%" that is mentioned elsewhere is familiar. In the early 1990s the Stratford exchange (code 555 to the amusement of Americans) was in the "last 8%" of mechanical Strowger exchanges.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: You can be 2 or 3 miles outside a major town like Reading

          Another embittered Wokingham resident?

          Look on the bright side, you're two or three miles outside Reading.

        2. aidanstevens

          Re: All well and good but....

          In Rotherhithe (zone 2, in the shadows of Canary Wharf) you get 1.5 megabit/sec if you're lucky.

    3. rh587 Silver badge

      Re: All well and good but....

      But if you choose to live in the ass end of no where miles away from the nearest city then you should expect to get poor asdl speeds over your 2 pair copper.

      My parents live about a mile out of a decent sized market town which has FTTC. However, they are the last property on their phone line which comes from a village two miles in the other direction. Infinity? Not a chance.

      They cannot be defined as "out in the sticks" by any objective or subjective measure you care to define. But because of the quirky and patchwork manner in which the old PSTN network was rolled out over the years, they can't access services from the (much closer) FTTC-enabled cabinet. The only way they're going to get better than 1.5Mb ADSL any time soon is to get a wayleave across some fields and find someone willing to have some private fibre come into their garden and share their Infinity.

      1. Dan Wilkie

        Re: All well and good but....

        I live in a small town in Devon and get 40Mb Infinity... But I think we are a hub for a lot of the outlying villages (assuming it works like that...).

        Mind in our old house in a small town in Hampshire we had double that :( Benefits of brand new copper to the house as there was no existing line I guess!

      2. plunet

        Re: All well and good but....

        All is not well in the metropolis either.

        Swathes of Mayfair have the peril of "Exchange Only" lines. This is where cabling from the Exchange to the premise doesn't pass via Green cabinets. And of course this cabling as been around since the early days of PO Telephones and isn't the best. Result: around Oxford Circus and Oxford Street you can either get normal ADSL or a leased line unless there is VM in the street. A small business owner located 50m from Oxford Circus is "enjoying" 6mbps ADSL with no plans for infinity.

        So although it's probably not as bad as it might be for those rural hill farmers, it's not exactly great in the places where the general population think it must be great.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: All well and good but....

        However, they are the last property on their phone line which comes from a village two miles in the other direction.

        ...

        But because of the quirky and patchwork manner in which the old PSTN network was rolled out over the years, they can't access services from the (much closer) FTTC-enabled cabinet.

        And therein is the fundamental issue with the BDUK project and government investment in broadband, it has reinforced the old PSTN network topography rather than look afresh at areas based on modern day settlements.

        My area has this problem in spades, all because BT are effectively deploying a star-based point-to-point phone network and not a multidrop data network.

    4. Adam Jarvis

      Re: All well and good but....

      Access to clean water is all well and good, but if you choose to live in the ass end of congested polluted city, miles from the nearest Mountain - clean water source/reservoir (Elan Valley), then you should expect a piss poor dirty parasite infested water supply and the diseases that come with that.

      But instead, luckily for you, 120 years ago Chamberlain (B'ham) built a 100 mile 42" aquaduct to carry clean water from the heart of Wales, to your ass end of a polluted city, miles from the nearest clean water source, to supply your ignorant lead polluted brains so you might use them better.

      How do you think Welsh Sheep and Cattle farmers deal with direct contracts with the likes of Tesco, so you get your meat in a timely way, so its fresh on your ignorant plate? By lighting fires on hilltops?

    5. Andrew Richards

      Re: All well and good but....

      I have line of sight from my house to the BT's Adastral park on the outskirts of Ipswich. I'm 1.5 miles from my exchange (where overheads run along the road inbetween). If I were on the same exchange on the other side of the nearest main road I'd be on BT Inifinity (as I would if I were further from the town centre).

      Being on the wrong side of the road means BT offers 2-3Mb/s, which happily is an underestimate given fiddling with internal wiring and a decent router mean I can get 5Mb/s.

      Hardly miles from anywhere and I'm probably one of the lucky ones. Yes, living up a mountain away from a running water supply and the demand for a fast internet connection might be a bit optimistic. However, there are pockets of (relative) civilisation that are just in slightly the wrong place so get overlooked.

      I might be surrounded by fields but then if you choose to live in a city centre than you shouldn't expect to be have access to foodstuffs grown elsewhere, oh... :)

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All well and good but....

      Being related to one such farmer (Sheep Farmer in mid Wales) I know that getting a decent BB connection is possible.

      He allowed a mobile provider to stick up a mast on his land about half a mile from his farmhouse.

      In return for a reduced land rental from the mobile co, he got them to run a cable (using a trench that he dug with his farm equipment) from the base station to his house.

      bingo and he gets 40Mbits BB.

      Ok, so not every farmer can do this but the new Mast allowed a 'not spot' to be filled not that far from Rhyader. win-win on both sides.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't move into the middle of the country and then complain that there are no buses.

    People who chose to live where there is no real broadband should pay for the expensive installation costs themselves

    1. Adam Jarvis

      See clean water comment above.

      1. Timto

        It's a lot cheaper to supply citizens in the city with water than it is those in small towns and villages. I wouldn't be surprised if the city water customers were subsidising the country ones (apart from those who are off grid, who again chose to live there) Lots of customers being close together makes almost anything cheaper.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I live near a working farm. I hope you pay more for your milk, meat and cereal living in a city.

      A joke, obviously but in reality it's possible to live in the country and be surrounded by cabinets that are fibre-enabled when yours isn't. A relative's house is about 5m from overhead fibre feeding another cabinet but it's not connected to his. It's the apparent randomness that's a bit annoying. And I'd think the same stuff occurs in more densely populated areas too.

      1. Neil 44

        I think ours is even worse than that:

        The fibre feeding the cabinet down the road in the next village goes through the underground chamber immediately next to the somewhat rare concrete pillar junction box (cabinet!) that serves us. However, despite the concrete pillar junction / cabinet we count as "exchange only" lines, so no fibre service. We are about a mile and a half as the cable runs from the exchange (which used to be quite a major routing exchange for the large tower!)

        Shame the government / BT didn't think of a decent plan for the not insignificant number of exchange only lines....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm a vegan so you can keep all your mistreated animals where they are, thank you very much.

    3. Bluenose

      Or we could just....

      Bring our cattle and other animals with us take up all the green space in the city and then you would be nearer to your food. However, we would also need to plough up a few streets to grow the crops that you also need us to provide for your bread, vegetables, ec. Or would you rather starve whilst enjoying you allegedly unsubsidised fast broadband?

      Not everyone gets to CHOOSE where they live. The jobs people do also have a relavence to where they are required or need to live. You also ignore that this is actually a very small island on which we live where no one lives more than 75 miles from the coast. Very few people actually live more than 10 or 15 miles from a major conurbation and due to the fact that broadband is a network, very few actually live more than 2-3 miles from a major network link (there is one that runs right down the middel of the high street in my village). The issue therefore is not that the networks are not there rather than the cost of actually connecting people to them and reducing bandwidth to those who pay more (businesses) to provide it to those who pay less (consumers) means that most telecoms providers are reluctant to make the necessary investment.

      I also live 2.5 miles from a small town that has fibre to the cabinet and about six miles from one where Virgin Media is providing 200MB plus to the residents. Unfortunately free market capitalism means that no one wants to punt some capital investment to link me up to the faster forms of broadband apart from BT who will do it eventually say in another 2 years which is the normal delay in deploying faster broadband technologies where I live (that is 2 years after everyone else has it).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A matter of units

    I know of Megabits (Mb/s) and Megabytes (MBs) per second....but what does an Mps measure?

    Members of Parliament Stupidity?

    Money Poorly Spent?

    Managers per Service (a good measure of project inefficiency)

    .....

    1. Adam Jarvis

      Re: A matter of units

      Mbps, there sorted it for you.

  7. Warm Braw Silver badge

    All homes and businesses can now access basic broadband at speeds of 2Mps

    And all swans are white.

    1. Tim Jenkins

      Re: All homes and businesses can now access basic broadband at speeds of 2Mps

      I'm assuming I'm reading the sync speeds on all four of our business ADSLs wrong, because I'd swear they say 1.1 - 1.6 Mbs inbound (which all the graphs say is correct given the attenuation over 5km of copper). Maybe we've moved closer to town without anyone telling me...

      1. localzuk

        Re: All homes and businesses can now access basic broadband at speeds of 2Mps

        Have you spoken to a satellite internet provider? That's what the government means by their statement really - you can get it but not via a wire.

  8. fissuria
    Coat

    2Mps

    2Mps is approximately 2 times the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow.

    ..er.. yes, my coat..

  9. aidanstevens

    I have a little sympathy for BT: in the early/middle twentieth century when the infrastructure was being built and the lines being laid they weren't exactly weighing up the pros and cons of G.Fast vs. FTTP, were they?

    That said, they do need to improve on things for those with truly poor speeds. I don't know if a government subsidy is the answer, but a good connection does at least need to available to those who want/need it. Otherwise rural communities will suffer, and we should be reversing the influx of people into cities in order to take the heat out of the housing market and ensure food supplies (says he, a city dweller).

    1. Adam Jarvis

      I'd like to see BT blocked from areas for a minimum of 10 years, if BT decide now that it is uneconomical to invest in a particular area.. Give people a clear answer and just Fcuk off, leave Rural communities to it, we'll get it done ourselves because its that important. BT hovering over the dead carcass of an outdated copper network helps no one, rurally.

      1. Aqua Marina

        I'd like to see BT blocked from areas for a minimum of 10 years,

        That would be a great idea. I've seen this happen 3 times now.

        BT decide a small village is uneconomical and will receive no upgrade.

        The residents all chip in and start to arrange the upgrade themselves, with another supplier.

        BT suddenly decide that it's economical after all, and all the residents and other supplier are left out of pocket for all their expenses so far.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd like to see BT blocked from areas for a minimum of 10 years,

          "The residents all chip in and start to arrange the upgrade themselves, with another supplier.

          BT suddenly decide that it's economical after all, and all the residents and other supplier are left out of pocket for all their expenses so far."

          Why is that? Why doesn't the community scheme go ahead anyway? It's not compulsory to buy BT provided broadband.

          If the answer is that the business case is marginal and can only fly with no competition, doesn't that sort of make BT's point about the difficulty of making rural investments?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have a little sympathy for BT

      I don't.

      The article quotes BT's CEO as saying that it'd cost £2bn to do the job properly. BT's excess profits are by my guess around £1.6bn a year, so there's the spare cash in about fourteen months, if Ofcom would stop BT from paying high risk returns for a low risk business. And BT's sporting rights "investments" have been not far shy of £2bn, so they've even got this sort of money sitting in around as cold hard cash.

      And when it comes to the clowns of government spouting about "proportionate" and "value for money", I'll raise you the £4bn writeoff on Nimrod MRA4. Or the likely £8bn outturn for two aircraft carriers without aircraft. Or the £3bn overspend on Astute class submarines. Or the planned £50-90bn to be frittered on the utterly unneeded HS2. Or the £16bn lifetime cost of Universal Credit. Or the £11bn+ wasted on "foreign aid" every year. Or indeed government enthusiasm to commit us to pay through our energy bills for follies like £19bn on smart meters, or £24bn+ on nuclear trinketry at Hinkley Point, and something of the order of £60bn on a fleet of windmills and solar panels.

      I can say with confidence that the big wigs at BT will have FTTP for their country pads. And any minister willing to ask will have the taxpayer bankroll them for the same. The reason that £2bn is "too much" is because the 1%'ers are already being served just fine, and the rest of us don't count.

      1. Gio Ciampa

        re: "I have a little sympathy for BT" - "I don't."

        Nor me ... still annoyed by the £125 charge for "connecting" the flat I was in to the exchange ... which involved someone at a desk clicking a mouse on a screen (and then not bothering to let me know until 3 days after I discovered they'd done it myself)

  10. gerdesj Silver badge

    Pity BT

    How on earth is a very densely populated, small, and very rich country supposed to achieve the dizzy heights of 2Mbs-1 intertubes?

  11. Bill M

    What speed would I need to watch cat videos ?

    1. cosymart
      Happy

      A "puss paw" speed :-)

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