back to article Congratulations! You finally have the 10Mbps you're legally entitled to. Too bad that's obsolete

Plans to introduce a legal right for everyone in the UK to have minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps next year will be "obsolete soon after introduction", a Parliamentary report has found. The investigation by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (PDF) slammed government policy for barely keeping pace with the rate …

  1. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    HS2, Crossrail, ITpfNHS

    They are consistent.

    Like cold mud with broken glass and crocodiles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HS2, Crossrail, ITpfNHS

      HS2 - a potentially useful rail improvement turned into an attempt to give the UK Europes fastest train system. I say potentially because they are looking to deliver the track infrastructure at a massively inflated price when compared to lower speed solutions and in 10 years they might find the money to get the trains to match...

      The various NHS IT projects suffer from the disparate nature of NHS trusts. Unfortunately, trying to address the disparate nature really needs common standards and some centralisation. However, the high level NHS management are closely monitoring chickens and eggs to try and determine which came first.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: HS2, Crossrail, ITpfNHS

      Quite so. My belief, founded upon experience of senior Whitehall cretins under secretaries, is that the standards they set are so optimistically high that they know service providers such as BT will not be able to deliver. Hence the nice job awaiting them at Ofcom, BT (and in particular their favourite which seems to be the BT Remuneration Committee .. strange that) where they will be able to 'advise' on how to work around the standards.

      So it's trebles and knighthoods all round.

  2. Commswonk Silver badge

    That Reminds Me...

    From the article: The committee also said that while it "welcomes the ambition of the new prime minister to deliver universal full-fibre broadband by 2025"

    ...of the old adage that Nothing is impossible to the man who doesn't have to do it,

    Although this example singles out Johnson, B for criticism he is hardly the first politician to fall into this trap.

    Smart Meter, anyone?

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: That Reminds Me...

      My energy provide (EBS) kept smart meters at arm's length.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That Reminds Me...

      "Smart Meter, anyone?"

      Compare how the UK has done smart meters compared to other countries.

      Perhaps getting suppliers to create incompatible systems to discourage customers from switching suppliers and charging customers for any changes after the original install was not a great idea?

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: That Reminds Me...

      Although this example singles out Johnson, B for criticism he is hardly the first politician to fall into this trap.

      Although he does seem to fall in it regularly and often. Seems he's just worked out what the single market is:

      Boris Johnson 'surprised' by level of Irish border checks

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: That Reminds Me...

        "Boris Johnson 'surprised' by level of Irish border checks"

        How could he have been? As a journalist he covered the EEC as it then was so he's familiar with such regulations as the necessity for straight cucumbers. You're not suggesting he made that up are you?

  3. JimmyPage
    Flame

    "digital-by-default"

    Good luck with that. I've had to use the phone more in the past 3 years than then preceding 7. We are going backwards.

    And that's before you add in the governments desire to keep some aspects deliberately offline (you can't electronically apply for PIP, for example. Nor contact the DWP via email).

    And as for the outfits that allow employees to tell me they "lost" my email ....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since when did roaming abroad allow you to use any operator.

    When I come to the UK to visit my parents, my telco has two UK partners, neither of which cover my parents suburb at better than 2G

    1. James O'Shea

      Which is why you should replace the SIM in your device with a local SIM. Well, that and using a local SIM will both avoid roaming charges, which are usually highly exorbitant, while at the same time ensuring that the office can't call you because they don't have the number on the local SIM.

      I have local SIMs, on a pay-as-you-go basis, for several Caribbean countries. I turn my phone off in the airport when I'm leaving, take out the main SIM, insert the appropriate SIM for the country I'm going to, and turn the phone back on when I'm on the ground there. When leaving, I reverse the process. I keep a small amount of credit on the SIMs from aboard, topping them up if necessary so that I can make calls. Just without roaming charges. And only those _I_ want to tell have the number for the Caribbean SIMs.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Except in the EU where roaming is currently not chargeable....

        Which is brilliant.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          That hasn't always been the case, and it only happened after a lot of conflict and maybe even bloodshed, but the EU laid down the law on that point and thank God for that.

          In any case, I cannot forget Les Guignols and our national PPDA in one episode where he proudly announced : " France-Telecom has lowered prices to over 120 countries - too bad France is not included".

          Pure. Comedy. Gold.

          1. bpfh Silver badge
            Flame

            France Telecom, a.k.a...

            Trance Félécons for any other francophiles who get the joke or had the misfortune of interacting with their internally managed but outsourced infrastructure team...

            Still, Orange is the most expensive broadband operator out there but they are trying to adapt, 10 years late, though they did move their behinds when Free cut the grass under their feet with cheap unlimited mobile calls and mobile internet...

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          The catch is that you get billed slightly differently.

          With a local SIM local (within country) calls are cheap, but you pay their international call charges if you phone anywhere else.

          With the EU, you effectively pay "as if you were at home", so on your UK SIM all calls to UK destinations are local calls, but calls to non-UK numbers (eg. to the local hotel) are charged as if you were making the call from the UK.

          So to get the best of both worlds you need a phone that can handle two live SIMs and (ideally) can intelligently switch between them depending on called number.

          1. Tomato42

            > With the EU, you effectively pay "as if you were at home", so on your UK SIM all calls to UK destinations are local calls,

            that's correct, though the maximum price of those calls is also regulated, so while not as cheap, you won't have to sell your firstborn if you make a mistake of making a half an hour call...

            also, what's quite important in current age, the lack of roaming charges applies to data too

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Since forever as far as I'm aware.

      When I go to France, my O2 and Three phones have roamed to Orange, SFr, Bouygues and Free at various times, and that is all four networks in France.

  5. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Still only a right to request

    And if it would be too expensive to do (over £3,400) you'll still get told no unless you cough up the excess. The report reckons 25,000 premises would cost over £5,000 to connect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still only a right to request

      That's 25,000 out of 30 million (~0.83%) - Openreach are likely to get additional funding to cover these at some point given the relatively small cost (£125m) in the larger scheme of things.

      I would hope common sense is applied and they are connected via fibre rather than copper. I mention this because it probably won't be applied...

  6. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Fibre

    Anything that isn't full-fibre to each and every premises is just perpetuating cumbersome old technology. It may just about do for some people to have 10Mbps, but what happens when they go to sell their house, and it can't do 1Gbps like in the town next door? It's not so much that 1Gbps is needed now per se, it's more that the tech that *can* give us 1Gbps is needed right now: Fibre

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fibre

      Can we do fibre to every premises in the UK tomorrow? No

      So what do we do in the meantime? Ignore the problem and wait 10+ years with what we have?

      1. Jon 37

        Re: Fibre

        No.

        What we should be doing is a gradual rollout of FTTP to all the rural places that can't get 40Mbit FTTC, and retiring all the rural copper (& other metal) phone wires. In cities and major towns, most people can get FTTC which is "good enough" right now. And whatever we do in the rural areas is going to be expensive, we should go straight to FTTP so we don't have to go back later with more expensive upgrades.

        And if we have to pay BT for that, then we need to prevent them cherry-picking sites, perhaps by requiring 100% coverage of a county before each payment. (County boundaries are fairly arbitrary, but we know they weren't cherry-picked by BT).

        We should also be requiring FTTP for all new housing estates.

        Then in future, as 40Mbit becomes too slow, we can roll out FTTP more widely, ending with full FTTP coverage.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Fibre

          >What we should be doing is a gradual rollout of FTTP to all the rural places that can't get 40Mbit FTTC

          Which is what is happening.

          Now it is okay for Ofcom to specify a minimum speed to encourage the deployment of FTTP/H, which can be ratcheted up so that those currently getting 70Mbps FTTC effectively have a lower priority on their upgrade to FTTP than those ADSL connections barely getting 1Mbps. The problems arise when the government wants a legal minimum speed to be enshrining it in law.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Fibre

          "And if we have to pay BT for that, then we need to prevent them cherry-picking sites, perhaps by requiring 100% coverage of a county before each payment."

          Unlike the cable companies who were allowed to cherry pick whilst BT wasn't allowed to provide anything other than POTS and who then want to piggy-back on OpenReach's fibre when it's in place.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fibre

          "What we should be doing is a gradual rollout of FTTP to all the rural places that can't get 40Mbit FTTC, and retiring all the rural copper (& other metal) phone wires."

          The current rollout is aimed at delivering the most coverage as quickly as possible, with around 95% coverage in each area completed. Yes, even current areas receiving fibre are not getting 100% coverage due to challenges with both access and cost.

          If the rollout was done to rural not spots first, you would likely be looking at 10+ year wait to roll out fibre to urban areas and a very low ROI. Instead, you will see urban areas addressed until around 50% of the population is covered and hopefully (not guaranteed) rule changes around access that would allow some of the rural properties to be connected for much less than the current costs.

          Having said that, 5G on taller masts maybe a faster and more economic solution for many rural areas.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "People in rural areas will increasingly feel like second-class citizens if they can't access 4G or even 3G services".

    I don't get a consistently usable 4G or even 3G signal on my (overground) train to work and that journey takes place entirely within the M25.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try disabling 4G and see if you get stable 3G coverage.

      I realise that isn't a solution, but it demonstrates there is 3G coverage, its just that the patchy 4G coverage ruins the end user experience.

  8. Lazlo Woodbine Bronze badge

    My router usually says I'm connected at about 10.2, but I never get anything like that, more like 7.5 on a good day, I'd like to see how they could get me any more on the aged copper I'm at the remote end of, there's fibre to the next cabinet in town, but no indication as to when they're going to add fibre to the one I'm attached to

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      You're lucky Lazlo!

      I get 400 kilobit at best over a copper last mile, and that I'm not remotely rural - 4 miles outside the M25. There's a fibre cabinet within a three minute walk, but my "last mile" apparently runs all the way back to the exchange on the other side of town. I don't know how true it is but I've been told that to connect to the cabinet I would have to be a BT broadband customer - no thanks, higher prices, worse service.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: You're lucky Lazlo!

        You only need to stay with them for a year - then choose someone else.

        Once the wire is in place it can be unbundled.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK.gov policy slammed for not keeping pace with technology

    Surely, no one is surprised that bureaucrats don't keep pace with the innovations in a particular market. This is jist of F.A. Hayek's "Knowledge Problem". No bureaucrat has ever had the necessary knowledge to consistently execute centralized command-and-control schemes for an economy, because that knowledge is highly distributed.

    It's also the main reason why any attempts to closely regulate markets are quite idiotic. I know that's not a popular opinion at El Reg (and most anywhere else), but I don't see how anyone can complain that regulations don't keep pace with technology but then also complain that the solution to such gaps is more regulation.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      It’s not technology specific - it took them decades to allow LED cycle lights. For some reason they write the law specifying the technology of the light (filament bulb) not the output...

  10. TheVogon

    Bearing in mind that if this is really a universal obligation, 10mbits would seem to me entirely reasonable as a minimum entitlement at least for now as it would be the rest of us paying to subsidise better services for those that choose to live in remote locations.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      And us that live in rurual area subsidise the town and city folk, with boring things such a water and breathable air.

      By the way did you know that most villages pay MORE council tax for FEWER services.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Meh

        Yes...

        My home town famously charges more in council tax than properties in Knightsbridge. Hell, my own parents pay half as much again as I do for a property barely worth half of my own home (and I'm still in the North like them, just one county over)

      2. Aitor 1

        subsidies

        Yet those remote councils need subsidies.

        Providing services inside a city is relatively cheap.. on the countryside it is very expensive.

        So the gvnt expends way more money on less dense populations in order to give them worse services.. yet said ppl still complain.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: subsidies

          "Providing services inside a city is relatively cheap.. on the countryside it is very expensive."

          You mean that remote rural area called London?

          https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN04033

          Scroll down to see the table and histogram.

      3. TheVogon

        Last time I checked, forests grew and it rained without the assistance of the rural population.

        And rural properties pay way less council tax than similar urban properties - because rural property is cheaper - and are vastly subsidised by tax payers in the cities.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "vastly subsidised by tax payers in the cities."

          Check out the link in my comment above.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      I think I could live with 10MB. It's certainly better than the <1MB we used to get in my parents place in the countryside.

      These days they have fibre (the whole village got together and paid for the install), but only pay for the lowest tier (20MB iirc), and for two elderly people, that's more than enough. Mostly all it's used for is pictures of the grandkids.

    3. david 12

      I'm on 10Mbs at work. Me and the rest of the company. And yes, we use that for bookkeeping, banking, research, documentation, mail, and government websites. It's going to be obsolete sometime in the next couple of months, because our providers are forcing us out of 10Mbs services. But unless downloading and playing high-bandwidth games becomes a human right, I don't predict a human-rights problem in the next couple of years.

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Rural roaming

    I'm spoiled here... Verizon Wireless has almost blanket LTE, even rurally, *and* roaming off US Cellular (in my area, several dozen roaming networks nationwide) if I do lose service.

    But, I wonder how much rural roaming would help? So you can roam if you lose service; this in no way means you can roam when your carrier has some rancid old 2G coverage while a roamer has nice 4G.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our MP's are Morons

    They don't have a clue about how the internet or encryption actually works.

  13. Sherrie Ludwig

    10Mbps?

    I live in rural USA. I pay $79 per month for a landline (have to have it - lousy cell coverage) and a supposed 1.75Mbps, usually tests at about 1.25 actually. The "competitor" (everyone is supposed to pick from at least two providers, "competing") would offer internet and cable tv, at blistering speeds, but only if I PAY TO LAY THE CABLE, about $3,000, and pay over $100 per month after that. And that is after a complaint made to the FCC.

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