back to article UK's National Audit Office warns full-fibre rollout strategy is leaving rural Britain behind. Again

The UK government's strategy for deploying full-fibre broadband shows signs of repeating the errors of previous broadband infrastructure programmes, which failed to extend comprehensive access to rural areas, a report from the National Audit Office has claimed [PDF]. In "Improving Broadband", the NAO - a Parliamentary body …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moving goalposts

    So "superfast" is now 1Gbit/s? I suppose when they start rolling that out the bar will be raised to 10GBit/s, just to keep up the "UK is crap" mantra?

    It's true that only 14% can get "full fibre", but from other reports "At present the United Kingdom actually does quite well in terms of so-called “superfast” (aka – NGA) coverage at speeds of 30Mbps+ (around 96-97%), while a little over half of premises can order an “ultrafast” service of 100Mbps+ (aka – VHCN) – mostly thanks to FTTP and Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre DOCSIS." which shows that the UK has actually met the targets mentioned in the article: "superfast broadband (defined as either 24Mbps or 30Mbps, depending on whether you talk to Building Digital UK or Ofcom) to 95 per cent of the country", albeit a couple of years late. At the end of the day it's the speed & latency that really matter, not the physical medium used to deliver the link.

    A more recent report (from June) says "the UK’s NGA coverage manages to put us ahead of other major EU economies like Germany, France, Italy and Spain" and I can vouch for that personally. I live in semi-rural France, about a year ago they built a fibre exchange just across the road from my house. They spent most of last year digging up & trenching the roads and lanes, yet this whole area is still listed as getting fibre "after 2021"

    1. Steve Button

      Re: Moving goalposts

      That's what I thought. When I read "some premises may still lack superfast speeds, let alone gigabit connectivity". I thought "Let Alone!?" Gigabit is pretty damned fast, and should be enough for even the hungriest of bandwidth needs for quite some time for the vast majority of people.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Moving goalposts

        But the Jones's next door have 1Gb I want 2GB NOW.

        wail

        wail

        wail

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Moving goalposts

      If everyone ordered the best package currently available to them we'd probably be in the global top three for speed. That would likely spur our CPs into even more investment so we could be number one soon after.

      However most people don't want to spend more than they have to (and preferably less) so tend to go for whatever package is 'good enough'.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Moving goalposts

        I think they measure by availability rather than take-up.

        So if everybody on your street can access fibre (cable or otherwise) the whole street is counted, even if you're the only person that signs up for it.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Moving goalposts

          It depends who's doing the testing and why I suppose. I'd think that network planners and architects would rely on observed speeds because that's reality. Accountants and marketing departments would probably use availability because that's what can be sold.

          But the market shows that most households do not want the fastest package available to them. The idea that there is significant pent up demand for Gb services is currently a fallacy. There is pent up demand for something decent in some areas of the country (those unable to get at least 40/10 I'd suggest) but for at least 90% of the UK population 'adequate' seems to be fine and FTTC is meeting that requirement at the moment.

          My feeling is that most households currently have no real need for anything better than 100Mb/s and a lot can (and do!) get by on half that. Quite a lot might in any case be being throttled by their use of wifi.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moving goalposts

      All well and good, but I live in a medium sized town about half a mile from the exchage, and can receive "superfast" fttc internet. The only problem is the reality which is that BT connected me to a cabinet 20 feet away from the exchange (despite there being multiple closer cabinets), with the rest of my connection being copper which meanders around the area for about a mile and a half before it gets to me resulting in a superfast interent speed of around 15Mbps. There are probably a couple of hundred houses around me in the same situation. I am pretty sure that we are happily logged as being able receive 30Mbps or above as we can get a FTTC connection. The reality is very different. I know of many of my colleagues in a similar situation all around the country including London who suffer the same issues. Anecdotal of course. but I have never managed to find a clear answer whether the stats relate to people who can definitely get the quoted speeds, or just theoretically can get the speeds because they have an FTTC connection.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Moving goalposts

        but I have never managed to find a clear answer whether the stats relate to people who can definitely get the quoted speeds, or just theoretically can get the speeds because they have an FTTC connection.

        Whoever publishes the result should tell you that. The NAO PDF lists its sources as an appendix. From that I'd conclude it's a mixture of real-world and estimation which seems reasonable. There's not normally much inaccuracy in any of these figures but there are always a few outliers such as yourself.

        As regards your cabinet - BT did not connect you to that cabinet when FTTC became available. Your line has always been routed that way ever since your house was built. It's unfortunate but the cost of re-routing your cable to a closer cabinet would be too high (potentially many thousands of pounds). BT have re-routed cable runs in some cases but they don't do it very often.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

          Re: Moving goalposts

          Or the solution, as usual, would be to ask for a second line, that will then be connected to the nearest exchange with some room available, hopefully a nearest one.

    4. Lorribot Bronze badge

      Re: Moving goalposts

      Fast broadband means up to 20Mbps, but more likely 1 or 2, Supertfast broadband means up to 75Mbps, or 30 if you ar lucky but could be slower than Fast broadband at around 10 or 12 with some seriously variable latency if you are 1 or more digital miles from yoru green box (note: digital miles can be up to 4 times the miles that a crow flies). Utrafast can be anything from 100Mbps to 1Gbps but is atleast consitant based on teh speed you choose rather the speed that can be supplied.

      Strangely it seems that despite all reasonable people say it is stupid our beloved regulator seems to feel that describing a service using superlatives is resonable way to label services based on a physical cable used for part or all of teh connection.

      The regulator is dumb, manged by a minister who has no idea, talking to shysters that will get away with whatever money they can to cream out of governments and customers for a piss poor service and selling to consumers that fall for every con going and expect the government to protect them because it is too hard to understand it all.

      ISPs should only be able to charge for the speed they deliver regardless of the method/technology of delivery. Anything under 10Mb/s should be a free service. Then we will see how quick the fibre rollout will happen in rural arears.

      If only I ruled the world...or at least oversaw Ofcom and weilded a big whip or better still a gun and blood soaked wall.

    5. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Moving goalposts

      You missed Openreach’s G.Fast.

      I can get it via my existing Sky Fibre at around 145Mbit @£35/Month (inc line rental).

  2. My-Handle Silver badge

    OW

    "Coverage in Northern Ireland was particularly bad..."

    Rub salt in an open wound, why don't you </grump>

    I'm on 2Mbps over here, living about 2.5 miles outside a Northern Ireland town. I was recently overjoyed at taking delivery on a nice piece of IT kit, before finding out that the associated software would take SIX DAYS to download. Best case, with 100% utilisation of my connection.

    It's a sodding joke, it really is. I'm tempted to set up a business that has shops in local town centres with popular packages pre-downloaded and stored on-site. Come in with a USB key, select a package, show proof you've already paid for it, copy over USB3 and take away. Minor charge taken for provision of service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OW

      the associated software would take SIX DAYS to download.

      Must be nice kit if it needs 120 GByte of software! Hope it never needs patching.

      1. 96percentchimp

        Re: OW

        I play games that regularly receive 60GB updates - even if you buy a disc the first thing to happen will often be a massive patch download, effectively a new version of the entire game. 120GB is a lot, but I don't think it's that unusual, particularly for enterprise hardware where the vendor will assume the user to have good connectivity.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: OW

          >I play games that regularly receive 60GB updates

          I bet these are only FHD games, not 4K one's that the new generation of consoles will support...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OW

          I play games that regularly receive 60GB updates - even if you buy a disc the first thing to happen will often be a massive patch download

          A disc? 60GB would take at least 7 DVDs.

    2. Steve Button

      Re: OW

      You could set up a DVD-by-mail delivery service too. Like Netflx, but through the post. Call it Postflix? (oh, wait. They already did that 10 years ago). But they called it Netflix.

  3. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Better than

    The absolute train wreck that the government's superfarce voucher scheme was. Got a grant for £3k for a 100Mbit connection then we had to pay £50 a month.

    It was great for I assume the minimum period of 24 months then they degraded the service to the point it was unusable! I checked the kit they used / long range Wi-Fi antenna and a Cisco switch, cost no more that £1k and even that's a stretch. They totally took the government for a ride !

    Arsehats like this are the problem! What a waste of money.

  4. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo
    Coat

    How on earth is this prohibitively expensive?

    My guess, supplying broadband to the x% of the hardest-to-reach households is not as lucrative as they would like it to be. Heck, even if laying fiber to the remotest Glenns is more expensive than the telco would make from the subscriptions originating from the Glenn, isn't infrastructure supposed to cross-finance itself? I.e. using some part of the nice profits from getting hundreds of subscriptions from one fibre laid into a London suburb to subsidize the laying of fiber into the Glenn?

    It's time, telcos face some regulation which corresponds to the importance of their service.

    "the internet you're providing feels like vital infrastructure. How about a mandate to service all citizens?"

    Never mind, I am off into the weekend.

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: How on earth is this prohibitively expensive?

      It just amazes me that it's been possible to get mains water and electricity to the hard to reach 0.5%. What's so hard about a strand of glass?

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: How on earth is this prohibitively expensive?

      Your forgetting, they are only talking about the major's ie. BT and Virgin.

      One of the big reasons for the shortcomings of the BDUK programme was that it was too aligned with and cosied up to BT, so no one other than BT actually knew where the real not spots and 'rural' (ie. lots of infrastructure per subscriber) were. I would hope that from the BDUK programme, we know have an understanding of the areas BT has and wants to cover and those it would prefer to be someone else's problem, and thus target monies at those companies such as BARN, Gigaclear, etc. who are actually delivering infrastructure in these constituencies.

    3. 96percentchimp

      Re: How on earth is this prohibitively expensive?

      "using some part of the nice profits from getting hundreds of subscriptions from one fibre laid into a London suburb to subsidize the laying of fiber into the Glenn".

      That sounds like filthy socialism, and the UK voted firmly against any of that Corbynite nonsense (apart from London and Scotland, that is...). So it's the shires' own fault if they can't get decent broadband, and Scotland's for rejecting independence.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How on earth is this prohibitively expensive?

      Th remotest Glenn I know moved to New Zealand; however, there are a few glens within 50 miles of where I live :-)

      Seriously, as somebody else has commented, we can get water, power and POTS almost anywhere in the UK (at least, all habitation) - why is it such a struggle to get a fibre there? Having said that, who really NEEDS Gb at home. Nice for gaming, perhaps, but how often is that a *need*? If it is a real need, then why are they not living where there need can be met? It comes down to priorities. Let's get basic fibre (i.e. 30Gbps) universal first.

      Now to stand back from the flames!!

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: How on earth is this prohibitively expensive?

        > Having said that, who really NEEDS Gb at home.

        Marketing and "to show a difference" - to attract investors (governments and private).

        Fundamentally, the need is to refresh the POTS local loop, which today really means fibre. So given (the correct) fibre cable speed is no real object, so to justify an expedited upgrade the emphasis has been on speed - especially speeds greater than generally available over the copper/aluminium POTS infrastructure and Gb fits the marketing bill nicely. The fact that currently most households only need 40Mbps services is not really relevant. However, given how things have progressed since the 1980's (9600 baud modems), I would not be surprised if in a few decades your average home actually needs a 40Gb service...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well obviously. Investment goes to urban areas first when it is useful. Then the countryside gets subsidised later.

    So obviously the countryside is going to get left behind when the network is upgraded.

    What's the alternative? Upgrade the country backwards, most expensive, lowest impact first?

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      What's the alternative? Upgrade the country backwards, most expensive, lowest impact first?

      Yes. Because you need to define "impact".

      In towns, VDSL means you can typically get 30-70Mb (or 300+ with Vermin). Moving to 100Mb/1Gb FTTP is nice, but not a significant jump. Yes, your updates will download a bit quicker, but you're talking 5minutes instead of 10 minutes (for instance). Upgrading VDSL to G.Fast or FTTP isn't going to make an appreciable difference to my life unless you're going to bundle in static IPs and symmetric uploads so I can host servers from home. QoS (in both technical and feature terms) becomes far more important than throughput.

      By contrast, many rural areas remain stuck on 1-5Mb. They will NEVER get 30Mb because even if OpenRetch claim that they're connected to a "fibre" exchange (as my parents technically are), the two miles of corroded copper from the VDSL cabinet renders it meaningless. Theirs must be one of the least contended cabinets in the country - all that juicy fibre and nobody can put more than 5-8Mb over it!

      My parents - and their entire community - will go from 1Mb to 100Mb when G.Fast or FTTP arrives. There is no in-between (unless we get sick of it and do our own community WISP, which we're actually looking into).

      So yes, having - quite reasonably - done the "high impact" (where impact = user numbers) business of getting towns and cities onto FTTC, the FTTP rollout should be started in the countryside, where it will have a far higher impact than in urban areas.

      My wife and I are both WFH in an urban area and as it turns out - 30/15Mb is more than adequate unless I wanted to start a hosting company. But even then, no retail provider is going to give you sensible upload speeds - my brother gets "fibre" in his London flat (fibre into the basement, then Cat6 to each unit, up to 1Gb if he wants to pay for it). For some inexplicable reason the provider gives him 100/20 even though it's a symmetric bearer.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >My parents - and their entire community - will go from 1Mb to 100Mb when G.Fast or FTTP arrives.

        IF they are currently only getting 1Mb then G.Fast will have zero impact - it is only of use on sub-500m home-to-cabinet cable runs, which you don't have if you live more than 2km from the cabinet...

        1. rg287 Silver badge

          G.Fast is typically associated with FTTdP (Fibre To The distribution Point).

          In an urban area where most cabinets serve customers <500m away then it's done in the cabinet. For rural areas, it implies overhead fibre to pole-mount equipment (about the size of a shoebox) replacing the old copper lines, which gets you within 500m of the premises without actually deploying FTTP fully.

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      How about slowest areas first, that would give the biggest benefit for locals. the jump from 1-2mbs up to 50+ would transform rural business prospects far more than an urban jump from 50+ to 200+ where a second line wouldn't break the bank.

      For most people being able to stream a film or two is fast enough, the urban upgrades are not free so why would they stump up cash for the extra capacity.

      Cable install costs will be written off over decades while the rental fees will just keep rolling in, so over the long term there's little difference on the installers balance sheet either.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @Wellyboot

        "How about slowest areas first, that would give the biggest benefit for locals."

        First of all would it? Second is it worth it?

        The first issue is it is only a benefit to the locals if they will pay for the service. For a small number of people where very few might pay for a decent connection if the price was low enough isnt much of an overall benefit nor a local one. This would of course need serious subsidy as those people would never pay the costs of delivery in decades (or ever).

        The second issue is the vast expense to get a cable there isnt worth it to the people living there or they could pay for the company to install it. They wont because of the first issue, it isnt worth it. Few people in the sticks vs hundreds of people for just a single upgrade is a massive difference in value throughout the economy.

        "Cable install costs will be written off over decades while the rental fees will just keep rolling in, so over the long term there's little difference on the installers balance sheet either."

        That is not much of an investment strategy. Invest in infrastructure requiring maintenance and all the usual hassle to be of negative value for decades until it might finally be worth something (except before then it will likely be replaced by the next technology/upgrade) vs installing the infrastructure for many and making the money back within a reasonable time frame.

        1. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: @Wellyboot

          First of all would it? Second is it worth it?

          1. Yes it would.

          2. Let me introduce you to the concept of a "Universal Service Obligation".

          Copper is incapable of meeting sensible speeds for the last 5% of properties. And actually, it makes sense to bite the bullet and start your FTTP (or at the very least, FTTdP/G.Fast) rollout there.

          You can cover those 5% of properties far quicker and easier than doing FTTP in town where you have to hard-dig roads and pavements. FTTP to rural premises is a lot of fibre per property but it's mostly done on overhead lines which are pretty quick to deploy per-kilometre. Given that most of the cost of laying fibre is in salaries/manpower (the fibre itself is dirt cheap), it could actually have a pretty big-bang impact by ticking off those 5% of properties over the next 18months. The city-dwellers honestly won't notice the delay in going from 75Mb to 145Mb.

          Pushing FTTP in urban areas is going to take many years. Leaving the already-behind rural areas till last will deepen deprivation, rural poverty and our widening social divide. FTTP installs should be working backwards based on average distance of cabinet-property, since the cabinets with the shortest runs are the most receptive to no-dig upgrades like VDSL2 and G.Fast.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: @Wellyboot

            @rg287

            I wasnt trying to be funny about this, but none of what you mention suggests it is worth doing. If it costs more than it makes then what is the justification for doing it? First is the effort to get the cables there, then there is the minimal uptake of the better speeds (not everyone will upgrade) all so man in the sticks can get fast broadband.

            I understand for the man in the sticks wanting fast broadband it sucks but then choosing to be in the sticks will move you away from high capacity projects such as transport links and broadband. This is because the people who want it are not willing to pay for it (few people at high cost vs many people at higher overall cost but split between more people).

            "The city-dwellers honestly won't notice the delay in going from 75Mb to 145Mb."

            The city dwellers wont miss what they dont have because it hasnt been created yet. The rural dwellers miss what they dont have because innovation has been done because capacity for the many caused more innovation. To innovate more requires many getting access to more.

            1. rg287 Silver badge

              Re: @Wellyboot

              If it costs more than it makes then what is the justification for doing it?

              I refer you again to the concept of a "Universal Service Obligation".

              A child should not have their education compromised because their parents are farmers and this means they're lumbered with inferior internet. They'll already be attending a school which is likely under-resourced compared to those in more heavily populated areas where specialist staff and facilities can be shared between a group of schools.

              Speaking of farmers, DEFRA increasingly insist on their paperwork being done online. This is an exercise in frustration if your internet is barely better than "dial-up".

              If government speaks of a "digital first nation", then government must match their policies to ensure everyone can access those resources. I know of kids who go to the library after school to do their homework, because their home broadband is so execrable. This is not necessarily a bad thing - assuming you still have a library and yours wasn't one of the 773 culled since 2010 (~20% of UK libraries have closed in the past decade).

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: @Wellyboot

                @rg287

                "I refer you again to the concept of a "Universal Service Obligation"."

                I saw you refer me to it the first time. It doesnt answer the issue at all. A law stating the tide must go out is about as worthless. Or one saying 100% taxation mwahaha. The only way such a rich country law as "Universal Service Obligation" can exist is if money can be pissed away with little notice. Hence not worth it (worth as in value).

                "A child should not have their education compromised because their parents are farmers and this means they're lumbered with inferior internet."

                Think of the children doesnt work here. Why are the parents compromising their kids education? Or are their values and perception of education different to yours? Chances are they do have internet in some form, but would they pay to put a cable all the way out there? It is for their childs education after all.

                "They'll already be attending a school which is likely under-resourced compared to those in more heavily populated areas where specialist staff and facilities can be shared between a group of schools."

                What about the concept of a "Universal Service Obligation"? Or is that what they are getting? A base level since they are too far away to be worth excessive resources for almost nobody to use?

                "Speaking of farmers, DEFRA increasingly insist on their paperwork being done online. This is an exercise in frustration if your internet is barely better than "dial-up"."

                So they have connectivity. If they need better why dont they pay for it? This isnt to knock them at all it is to drum home the point that it isnt worth it. The value will never be regained from the expense so it is not an investment (investment suggests a return in value above what was spent).

                "If government speaks of a "digital first nation", then government must match their policies to ensure everyone can access those resources"

                Why? Covering almost everyone is enough but there will always be some awkward sod in the middle of nowhere. Or should they hike tax on everyone to pay for a tiny number to get fast internet access they probably wont subscribe to because the package costs too much?

                "I know of kids who go to the library after school to do their homework, because their home broadband is so execrable."

                That sounds like broadband is provided. The internet is not an absolute necessity and yet they still have access to it (which is good). So you insist they must have better because reasons. At no point have you suggested it is worth it. And this is why it is so difficult to do because it is not an investment but a cost.

                1. rg287 Silver badge

                  Re: @Wellyboot

                  Hence not worth it (worth as in value).

                  USOs are a standard and widely accepted concept for public services like electricity, water and telecoms. Everything you have said about broadband could also be applied to electricity.

                  The rest of your post is predicated on them "not being worth it" or a valid concept, and is thus fatally flawed.

                  In the real world, councils are obligated to provide various services to all constituents, regardless of their remoteness.

                  Your discussion re: schools misses the point. Schools are subject to USO - children are guaranteed a place in a school. But rural schools typically skate along the minimum permissible, whilst urban schools are able to pool more esoteric resources.

                  Compared to providing those facilities in rural schools, running a bit of overhead fibre optic costs sod all. There is no reason we should deepen the inequality by leaving people off an increasingly important communications channel.

                  Think of the children doesnt work here. Why are the parents compromising their kids education?

                  Ah okay, we just won't have farmers then. The Americans seem keen to sell us their food.

                  Chances are they do have internet in some form, but would they pay to put a cable all the way out there? It is for their childs education after all.

                  Don't be facetious. In most areas OpenReach suspended their FTTP-on-Demand product years ago (if it was even available to start with). That is only just restarting. No amount of money will get you FTTP if the provider won't do it. Of course you could find a private provider and become your own ISP but that's silly talk. I'm not against rural users having to stump up some cash to contribute to OR building out their network, but it has to be a reasonable and proportionate fee. It's funny that you think a farmer could simply roll over and drop £15k for FTTP to be laid.

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: @Wellyboot

                    @rg287

                    "USOs are a standard and widely accepted concept for public services like electricity, water and telecoms. Everything you have said about broadband could also be applied to electricity."

                    Yes. Well said. Its a rich world problem. Now as a rich country these are things we can afford to piss money up the wall for middle of nowhere and so we do.

                    "In the real world, councils are obligated to provide various services to all constituents, regardless of their remoteness."

                    Based on the fact that we are one of the richest places on earth! This is still not justifying fast broadband for the sticks where uptake will be minimal and a large piss away of money.

                    "Your discussion re: schools misses the point. Schools are subject to USO - children are guaranteed a place in a school. But rural schools typically skate along the minimum permissible, whilst urban schools are able to pool more esoteric resources."

                    It doesnt miss the point, that is the point. It really is the point. It is the exact thing you need to read and apply to internet. You need to read that exact paragraph to understand why blazing fast download speeds to a place of almost insignificant utilisation makes it not worth the cost. This paragraph is hammer meet nail.

                    "There is no reason we should deepen the inequality by leaving people off an increasingly important communications channel."

                    Cool so the few in the sticks who want it can pool together and pay for it? Compared to the costs of bare minimum schooling in the sticks its sod all, so why dont they? Go back to hammer meet nail paragraph, its not worth it. Too expensive for next to no value.

                    "Ah okay, we just won't have farmers then. The Americans seem keen to sell us their food."

                    Is that your decision or peoples decision what they do? I asked if they could have a different perspective to you. They may not agree with you wanting to dictate they cant be farmers because they cant have gigafast broadband.

                    "Don't be facetious"

                    You just suggested ditching farming because if they cant have superfast FTTP they shouldnt be doing it.

                    "That is only just restarting. No amount of money will get you FTTP if the provider won't do it"

                    These people are willing to cough up for FTTP! If there was much demand for it in the sticks then this service would be available. But as you said there are ways.

                    "I'm not against rural users having to stump up some cash to contribute to OR building out their network, but it has to be a reasonable and proportionate fee."

                    So not the cost of actually doing it? They should get expensive FTTP but not pay for it? Reasonable and proportionate would be to pay for the cost of it. Thats what everyone else must do, but being higher density population spreads the cost for a line vs low density to pay for a line.

                    "It's funny that you think a farmer could simply roll over and drop £15k for FTTP to be laid."

                    I dont. Thats the point, they cant even over subscription pay the cost of an expensive country to be laied to their door in one of the richest places on earth! That should scream the answer at you. Its a damned expensive problem because there is a huge negative value associated to it. A lack of actual benefit. Which is exactly what I keep explaining.

                2. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: @Wellyboot

                  >The only way such a rich country law as "Universal Service Obligation" can exist is if money can be pissed away with little notice.

                  Yep, don't see an issue here - wrt "pissing away money": HS2, Track&Trace, Ferries, Brexit "preparation", or are you implying with a USO the monies don't go into the pockets of Conservative party sponsors...

                  >Why are the parents compromising their kids education? Or are their values and perception of education different to yours?

                  Probably have different values, I took the choice and 'compromised' my kids education by moving out of town - took them away from all the endemic inner-city school problems that curtail aspirations and limit achievement: drugs, gangs...

                  >Why? Covering almost everyone is enough but there will always be some awkward sod in the middle of nowhere.

                  I fully get this point, however, it is the government/Ofcom who are pushing the 100% geo coverage. However, there is a balance between catering for the individual and catering for people - hence why mobile coverage is of some use, as then the service can be used by both (fixed address) residents and mobile/field workers. (Yes, I've designed and delivered Internet access at some remote reservoirs just so that the engineers can call home and update SAP in real-time...).

                  >The internet is not an absolute necessity

                  Yet... in a wealth country such as the UK, it is becoming harder to stuff without "the Internet" and by "the Internet" I include the infrastructure necessary for cashless payments etc.

                  >So you insist they must have better because reasons. At no point have you suggested it is worth it. And this is why it is so difficult to do because it is not an investment but a cost.

                  Looking at it from a commercial perspective, I suspect many inner-city areas aren't worth providing coverage too either...

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: @Wellyboot

                    @Roland6

                    "Yep, don't see an issue here - wrt "pissing away money": HS2, Track&Trace, Ferries, Brexit "preparation", or are you implying with a USO the monies don't go into the pockets of Conservative party sponsors..."

                    I dont support HS2 or the track and trace mess. Brexit prep is very different as remainers already cry there isnt any. I have no love for 'sponsors' Labour or Tory.

                    "Probably have different values, I took the choice and 'compromised' my kids education by moving out of town - took them away from all the endemic inner-city school problems that curtail aspirations and limit achievement: drugs, gangs..."

                    Thanks for a different perspective as I am trying to explain to rg287.

                    "I fully get this point, however, it is the government/Ofcom who are pushing the 100% geo coverage."

                    I dont think either of us think the gov are smart ;) my point really is just that it isnt worth delivering such fast internet (in terms of value).

                    "Yet... in a wealth country such as the UK, it is becoming harder to stuff without "the Internet" and by "the Internet" I include the infrastructure necessary for cashless payments etc."

                    This is where a basic connection even by mobile is desirable but it is down to how remote people choose to be in the end.

                    "Looking at it from a commercial perspective, I suspect many inner-city areas aren't worth providing coverage too either..."

                    I suspect that has some influence on how it gets rolled out even in cities.

                    1. Roland6 Silver badge

                      Re: @Wellyboot

                      >Brexit prep is very different as remainers already cry there isnt any.

                      That's why I included it, the government has spent millions on its get ready for Brexit campaign, only to have no advice other than "things will be different, we won't know how different until Jan 2021 because we can't agree among ourselves nor with the EU, but you need to prepare..."

    3. Nifty Silver badge

      The FTTH that is expanding in East Berks now seems to cover all rural areas on my cycling routes. It stops as soon as it reaches the town where Virgin and Openreach compete.

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Given up waiting.

    Once my ADSL contract is up, switching to a wireless solution at the same price as BT fibre.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Given up waiting.

      Why are you waiting?

      Surely, you've already got a mobile broadband connection up and running with a MiFi so that you already know which operator provides the best better than ADSL coverage at your home and where you need to site the antenna/signal booster?

  7. jonha

    Royle says...

    Rural... my arse.

    And I have to agree with him... I am living in 100k+ town and it took until two years ago to get FTTC.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    From item 6 of the summary in the report: "Since we last reported, the Superfast Programme has moved increasingly to gigabit-capable full-fibre solutions in

    place of copper telephone wires from premises to a local cabinet."

    So they've switching from an approach where the individual premises connections are handled by existing infrastructure to one where the existing infrastructure has to be replaced. Is it surprising that things have slowed?

    For the more widely scattered farms it may well be that a direct fibre connection is the only effective one and if the sites suitable for FTTC have all been supplied this is reasonable and inevitable but I do wonder if this is a matter of selecting those who already have a good service and replacing it with better whilst those without hang on for longer and longer.

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      This is the point of the report.

      The 5% that dont have FTTP are starting to look like they will be the same 5% that dont have FTTC

      so there will be 95% of the population with direct All-You-Can-Eat acces internet, with 5% still sending smoke signals.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
        Devil

        And as soon as UK switches to fully green energy they won't be able anymore to release CO2 for their smoke signals...

  9. Simple Simon

    Never mind “rural areas”

    In the city centre of Edinburgh - Scotland’s capital city - we get about 5Mbits/s down, and about 0.2 up. On a good day. The connection is “full price” ADSL. There is no unbundled availability. There is no VDSL availability. There is no cable availability.

    It seems that there are not enough wires.

  10. Lorribot Bronze badge

    30000 homes per sq mile vs 100. Hmmm were they going to install?

    Unless teh people handing out money specify the home density has to be below x house per acre then what the hell did they think would happen. Dumb arse regulators that just don't get it,

    No if I ruled the world shit would get done properly my way or there would serious consequeces, sod the legal contract rubbish. Non compliance when being paid to do a job involves guns and walls.

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Unless teh people handing out money specify the home density has to be below x house per acre then what the hell did they think would happen. Dumb arse regulators that just don't get it,

      Not sure home/acre is the right way of going about it. If the data exists to calculate the average electrical distance from premises-cabinet for each cabinet (i.e. in the Highlands it might be 3.7km/run average, in London it's probably <0.3km) then you simply rank the cabinets and work backwards.

      It might be permissible for a small "B" Team to start at the cabinets with average distances of 500m and do in-cabinet G.Fast installs, but the bulk of install teams should be counting off the top of the list and doing full FTTP work. That team might also be reasonably tasked with eliminating all the legacy EO lines which can't support sensible speeds.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thing about the investment costs...

    Is that, unlike what has been done in the past, fibre can be "upgraded" in future at a much lower cost (assuming the right fibre is used).

    Take B4RN for example, where users currently have 1Gbps symmetric connections*. They _only_ get 1Gbps because that's where the sweet spot is for the optical modules at each end; they will likely switch to using 10Gpbs transceivers when they become cost effective (and others can be upgraded, as required).

    * Based on what I learned from them when I visited some years ago, so this may not be correct these days.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: The thing about the investment costs...

      We went from 300 baud dialup to ADSL 2 with just equipment upgrades. FTTC is the first time we upgraded the wiring.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Living in a 'Fibre First' city (a big one) and despite OpenRetch erecting poles with fibre within sight of my front garden in 2018 they haven't actually provided any means of providing an actual service, so in the 21st century my is claimed to be 9Mbps down, 0.6Mbps up, heavily contended with 50ms ping times to major sites located in the UK and slower than it was five years ago.

    So forget the rural areas and FFS sort out areas like mine, missed for FTTC, hanging on a dodgy piece of copper and still with no service date for FTTH

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      not Al Cu here

      Chances are you are not even on copper, for a period in the late 70s/early 80s BT was repairing/re-routing telephone connections with an AlCu alloy that was "good-enough" for voice, due to copper prices The problem is no-one kept track of exactly where it wwas deployed, and its some of the trunk cables too, so BT won't pull up and replace it, even when they find it....

      the problem is the profile on the line needs to be tweaked a lot to get a decent speed, and it depends on where in the line and how long the Al sections are...

  13. illiad

    Huh... the reason the call it a name, is they don't have give it a speed.. and if you think it 'covers the country' , you will find it doesn't... you have to dig deep to find it is 90% promises..

    here is a report of ACTUAL speeds, note the 'bottom 10% speeds...

    https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8837-uk-broadband-speed-test-results-for-september-2020

    see comments for REALITY...

    " Following an Openreach engineers visit, my speed is now up to 22mbps. The engineers stated it is not possible to achieve 40mbps due to the distance (over 1.1km) to the cabinet and this is in line with nearby streets. "

    time to get VM I think... DO NOTE the 'speed of bottom 10%" figure!! :):)

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      here is a report of ACTUAL speeds

      Helpful in some respects but not in others, remember the majority of service providers are piggybacking on BT/OpenReach carrier services. So the differences are more in the exchange contention ratios and what happens behind the LLU ie. in the backbone.

      " Following an Openreach engineers visit, my speed is now up to 22mbps. The engineers stated it is not possible to achieve 40mbps due to the distance (over 1.1km) to the cabinet and this is in line with nearby streets. "

      time to get VM I think...

      Given the cabinet distance, suspect VM isn't an option; although I note that VM are now reselling some BT services so it is possible to get 'VM' over the BT/OpenReach G.Fast carrier for example...

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        does depend on wether VM (or its pre-decessors) decided to cable your area, some that have PP service from BT actually have VM Coax in the street.

        but yes VM are selling BTW white label where they dont have cable

  14. hairydog

    Superfast swindle

    A collaboration including taxpayers' money has provided the village I live in with a shiny new FTTC cabinet, bringing superfast speeds to new phone lines in the village.

    The trouble is that almost every house in the village already has a phone line, connected to a cabinet well over a kilometre away in one direction or another.

    It isn't possible to get connected to the new cabinet.

    Even if you pay for a new installation, Openreach will re-use the existing line rather than run a cable to the new cabinet.

    I wasted half an hour looking, and found just one single address where the BT speed estimate was the 60mb/sec the new cabinet gives, rather than the 20mb/sec (or less) the existing cabinets are estimated to give. That address has no phone line at present.

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Superfast swindle

      The trouble is that almost every house in the village already has a phone line, connected to a cabinet well over a kilometre away in one direction or another.

      It isn't possible to get connected to the new cabinet.

      Exactly my parent's experience. A mile outside an FTTC village, but their line inexplicably comes a village 2 miles in the opposite direction (which is also FTTC, but that doesn't matter at those distances).

      They accept that they're not going to get 70Mb VDSL2 outside of the village, but it'd be nice to get basic DSL speeds (~10/2) reliably.

  15. AGeezer

    What does "not commercially viable" mean?

    By way of an investment into the country's future tax payers money has been used to subsidise BT to roll out superfast broadband, BT has then cherrypicked which cabinets they enable for superfast broadband, the remaining cabinets leave their subscribers hanging due to it being "not commercially viable". We are given the impression that all of these "not commercially viable" cabinets are in rural areas, check some of the the maps they are not, many appear to be cabinets installed in support of a new property development in reasonably urban areas.

    I would like to see a list of all cabinets with how many properties are served by each cabinet, where they are located, their superfast broadband status, and how many broadband subscribers they serve. This should not be too hard for the likes of Openreach to provide, or Ofcom/NAO to request. Perhaps this has not happened as the result would look very much like state sponsorship of BT. Anyone know how to approach this with a Freedom of Information (FoI) request?

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: What does "not commercially viable" mean?

      Building FTTC cabinets then not developing actual access to them reminds me of 'land banking' as practiced by our big ogopolistic house builders.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: What does "not commercially viable" mean?

        >Building FTTC cabinets then not developing actual access to them reminds me of 'land banking'

        Yes, it was something BT did do during the BDUK programme. It would put in a 'strategic' cabinet rendering the area uneconomic for a third party.

        They did this in my village, we have two cabinets - BT ungraded one, then a year or so later finally got around to equiping it, a few years later the second cabinet was upgraded...

        We are sure the only reason the first cabinet was installed was because we had approached both the Superfast Broadband quango for the area and third-parties such as Gigaclear to do our own thing after BT had told the quango our village "wasn't economic" for them... Naturally, the installation of the single cabinet meant: firstly, the remaining village was not really economic to do independently and secondly as far as the Quango were concerned BT had staked their claim and thus would not fund third-party solutions for the village...

        The laugh is the first cabinet has this last year been upgraded further and the village has gone from "not on the radar" to "FTTP is now available", naturally most days during lockdown OR vans and engineers were a common sight...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HS2 v fibre direct to every single room in your property wherever it is in England

    Surprised no one has raised this possibility.

    1. hoola Bronze badge

      Re: HS2 v fibre direct to every single room in your property wherever it is in England

      Many have probably thought about it however the big construction companies own the Government so nothing is going to happen.

      Equally they could have spent the money (and benefitted the same construction companies) fixing all the leaking water mains and maybe whilst the roads were dug up laying some large ducts.

      That is never going to happen because so much has already been invested in HS2 that it is deemed too advanced and expensive to stop. What is incredible is that construction only started a month or so ago, in spite of the fact that it has been obvious to everyone they have been building it for years.

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: HS2 v fibre direct to every single room in your property wherever it is in England

        not while 5 of the top 25 paid civil servants work for HS2 (including the top and 4th, 2nd and 3rd work for network rail)

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: HS2 v fibre direct to every single room in your property wherever it is in England

        "so much has already been invested in HS2 that it is deemed too advanced and expensive to stop"

        The estimated total cost is increasing faster than they are spending money on it, so it would actually be cheaper to stop.

  17. Aseries

    USA knows that story.

    Highspeed Internet or any Internet at all has been promised to rural communities in the USA for decades but Big Media ignores those clients even more than the urban ones. It's not bad enough being ignored but if a community in the hinterlands attempts to connect itself to the Internet they get smacked in the chops by big media calling out State regulators, burying the town under anti-tax propaganda and lawyers. Good Luck.

  18. Aseries

    Meanwhile in India

    The Indian government is set to shell out some Billions to connect 46,000 rural communities to the Internet by fiber.

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