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Government to aid with Fibre rollout?
Wednesday 19 September 2007 14:35:48 by John Hunt

Stephen Timms, Competitiveness Minister (and former E-commerce Minister), announced last night to the Broadband Stakeholder Group that one of his highest personal priorities is to ensure that there is a high performance telecommunications infrastructure nationwide.

Mr Timms said that he was to chair a high level summit later this year that will look into the possibility of public sector involvement and investment within the deployment of a next-generation broadband network. The way forward by most industry representatives is seen to be fibre to the home (FTTH). This involves deploying fibre optic cable as 'the last mile' either in place of, or as well as the existing copper telephone cables. Some countries are taking a lead in Europe on FTTH roll outs. In March 2007, Sweden had 650,000 fibre connections, making up about 28% of their broadband connections. BT Openreach is currently deploying fibre on a very limited scale, generally only to new development sites such as Ebbsfleet Valley, and has no wide spread deployment plans. Current investment is into intermediary technologies such as ADSL2+ (with benefits being limited by proximity to the telephone exchange), and improvements to coax-fibre hybrid networks (such as the cable network of Virgin Media) that allow faster speeds (currently up to 50Mbps in trials). These two deployments may improve access, but they will also widen the digital divide between those who can and can't get higher speed broadband services. They are also largely a stepping stone until investment can be made into a nationwide fibre deployment.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group has been campaigning for investment into newer technologies and with the incumbent operator, BT, unwilling to make a commitment as they see no business case for it, Government support may be the key to getting this off the ground.

Comments

Posted by Balb0wa over 9 years ago
About time this government did something worthwhile.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
dont get excited too quick... quote "...later this year that will look into the possibility of public sector involvement and investment within the deployment of a next-generation broadband network."
TRANSLATION, we will have a chat about it for 30 mins and thats the last you will hear about that idea.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
one such public sector initiative is already allegedly "underway" - http://www.digitalregion.co.uk/ - although no updates on the web site don't bode well. It did get EU State Aid clearance.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 9 years ago
What Stephen Timms should do is explain to the government that the incumbent (BT) has conned them into thinking 21st century network was exactly that, when all it was is another way of making more money out of an obsolete copper network. Fibre to every home in this country would cost them a fiver. That's all. Then we would lead the way with broadband instead of being the poor relations... the digital divide would be no more, and UKplc would thrive again.
Posted by babylon5 over 9 years ago
@carpetburn:
The issue with government (national or local) investment is the hoops that have to be jumped through in relation to EU procurement and State Aids legislation. However, there are already projects underway which are aimed at encouraging the investment/deployment, such as the Pathfinder projects in Scotland:
http://www.pathfindernorth.co.uk/
http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/dumgal/broadband/default.aspx?id=176&menuid=3562&openid=3562
Posted by cyberdoyle over 9 years ago
why should it take public funding? BT should do the job it is supposed to do, and which it braggs it has done...
... which the govt believes it has done... and which we know it HASN'T done. If it spent less on fat cat wages and deceptive advertising and paying dehli to run helplines for people complaining - then they could afford fibre for us and the job is done.
Posted by bosie over 9 years ago
The Government is beginning to recognise the importance of fast internet connections to our economy and this is very good news, albeit a few years late. 2012 is too late though, by then we really will be a long way behind the competition. I welcome the news and hope it will be given more priority than initially suggested.
Posted by Dryheat over 9 years ago
The government should do it themselves. Dig up the road put 6 or more cables down for the entire country. 1 or 2 cable's can be used for police, government's, nhs etc. The other cables can be sold off, the companies who would most most probably get it would be sky, BT, virgin and others.

They should also look at other ways of putting cables down instead of digging up thw word.
1) Optical fibre over power lines.
2) Optical fibre over telephone lines
3) Optical fibre using the sewers.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 9 years ago
The govt won't do anything, because they think the job is done. They believe the BT propaganda.
It is up to the govt and people like Stephen Timms to get their heads out of the sand and get real, and make the incumbent telco tow the line and do the job they stop others doing...
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
Dryheat - what are you talking about?

It's the last mile or several that's being discussed. How do you get fibre over power lines? (There is fibre around the earth wire between pylons)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"However, there are already projects underway which are aimed at encouraging the investment/deployment, such as the Pathfinder projects in Scotland:
http://www.pathfindernorth.co.uk/"
1) different government (scottish)
2) (from what i understand at that link) its local investment rather then actual head government
3) scotland is much smaller scale then the whole on the England
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
I personally agree with cyberdoyle the government wont do a damn thing. Public investment shouldnt even be an option either. Why the hell should we have to pay for it when our broadband already is some of the most expensive in europe? The government or BT should just pay up and do the job right. This country isnt gonna get fibre based connections for atleast another 30 years and when it does it wont be because they wanted to do it, it will be because the old copper rubbish will be rotten (literaally).
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
"Public investment shouldnt even be an option either. ..... The government or BT should just pay up" - so the Govt should make a public investment or it shouldn't ?

"This country isnt gonna get fibre based connections for atleast another 30 years" yeah right.
Posted by adslmax over 9 years ago
Why spend toward a optical fibre ? The government should use these money toward the NHS and School. Never mind broadband because I believe no one is going to pay for up to 50Mbps because it will be costy probably around £40+ per month. Not worth it cos it will be hard capping and hard throttling afterall. Up to 8 mbps is fastest enough for surf the net, video, radio, chat onlines - why do we need 50Mbps ? Illegal downloading movies, music, softwares from p2p.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote""This country isnt gonna get fibre based connections for atleast another 30 years" yeah right."

Yep that is right... http://www.telecommagazine.com/newsglobe/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_2576
unless as always the community of rip off britain has to foot the bill for it, your precious BT has no interest.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
the very article we are discussing talks of FTTH deployment on greenfield sites. No fibre in 30 years - nonsense. If that chip on your shoulder gets any bigger you'll fall in two.

The market is open to anyone to do it - cable companies have fibre in the neighbourhood of 50% or more of the population.

There are companies like COLT and Geo - http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=87068 with significant assets already in place.

Problem remains the business case and people like you demanding more but wanting to pay less.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
lol, I lvoe these kind of topics, people under the assumption that because you can go to PC World and buy a bit of networking kit cheap, then it must be cheap to do things like FTTH - well, it isn't.

If people aren't willing to pay a price that makes it sustainable and makes a good return on the massive investment needed, then companies aren't going to do it. BT doesn't go in to its back garden and get money off of its money trees - it has to go to investors and banks. If you think the money spent on 21CN was a lot, then it's nothing compared to what FTTH would cost for the whole country.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
21CN will cost around £10bn and will save BT £1bn a year. (source: various)

Estimates for FTTH for the whole country are £10bn-£15bn. (source: Broadband Stakeholder Group via BBC News). Presumably income would be generated as a result.

FTTC would be a lot cheaper than FTTH. (source: ThinkBroadband)
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"Problem remains the business case and people like you demanding more but wanting to pay less."
Rubbish, id happily pay double probably even more than what i pay now for a fibre connection. Also if people want to pay less then i assume 21CN is going to cost less is it?? If it isnt explain again whats the point in 21CN if people dont want to pay more?
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
"Problem remains the business case and people like you demanding more but wanting to pay less."

I think you'll find it's the people who've already got a decent service who want more for less cost. Those without are likely to be willing to pay more. 21CN services at any rate is likely to cost people more who are in ares currently not well-served.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
"Problem remains the business case and people like you demanding more but wanting to pay less."

I think you'll find it's the people who've already got a decent service who want more for less cost. Those without are likely to be willing to pay more. 21CN services at any rate is likely to cost people more who are in ares currently not well-served.
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
> 1) Optical fibre over power lines.
> 2) Optical fibre over telephone lines

They possibly could use the same ducting, particularly in newer developments where it is likely to be capable of taking new cables.

> 3) Optical fibre using the sewers.

This got mentioned by the beeb, and it was said to be less plausible here than where it has been used in other places: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7001413.stm
Posted by phantom66uk over 9 years ago
"why do we need 50Mbps ? Illegal downloading movies, music, softwares from p2p"

Nope, HDTV / IPTV over broadband is one of the primary reasons these days for even faster connection speeds. Not everyone wants 'Sky' or 'Virgin' and 'Freeview' (Through the aeriel) hasn't the capacity for HDTV without losing lots of channels (although they are all rubbish).

Yes, people will continue to 'freeload', but that is and always has been the case..
Posted by Gitface over 9 years ago
I have 900k a second currently, down from 1700k in march as the lines degenerated and BT don't care - I'd love faster as the TV services are there (BT are in my local centre pushing their TV service) and I'd like to be able to work from home, both of which are impossible with the speed I have. Far from wanting others to pay for it, I'd happily spend more for a faster connection, I'd like the choice. It's those with a fast connection already who want to pay less and want those on a slower speed to pay the same as them and sub their speed.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
quote"It's those with a fast connection already who want to pay less and want those on a slower speed to pay the same as them and sub their speed."
That comment i personally can not agree on, currently im a LLU subscriber and get about 16Mb as i said id happily pay double maybe even more for an even faster connection. The consumer is not to blame here its certain industrys that refuse to make big investment. Fibre isnt going to happen in this country for years, business in any sense in Britain is one of a greed mentality rather than an innovative one, you have government to thank for that.
Posted by rian over 9 years ago
Pls, make it happen. Our country has been falling behind from others for many years in broadband development. We got the exclusive FUP, traffic shaping and the rotten copper wire for ages. We are paying the most expensive tele-communication service in Europe. So, what is the point that we paid?
Posted by PeteK over 9 years ago
The Digital Region project is still going ahead, in fact steaming ahead as we spead. (We are a supplier to the consortium in one way and another) However it is not FTTH, its FTTK with ADSL2+/VDSL local loop delivery, effectively just sub-loop unbundling.

Quote - "Posted by herdwick 1 day ago
one such public sector initiative is already allegedly "underway" - http://www.digitalregion.co.uk/ - although no updates on the web site don't bode well. It did get EU State Aid clearance."
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
herdwick - Yes, and Virgin Media shows why cable is useless without the investment in the backhall to match.

And no, I want less speed for more money. What I want is reliability and low ping. Only a few business ADSL ISP's are even remotely interested.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
csimon - 21CN will save BT 1 billion a year. Okay. Now, now much extra will it cost ISP's?
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
Yeah - that was my point really, although I didn't make it very well because I removed one vital sentence as my reply was over the word length, although I put it in a later message. 21CN services will probably cost quite a few people more than current services (because it will cost the ISPs more) and those people are likely to be the ones that won't actually get the major benefits of 21CN.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
Most people will not pay more for a better service, hence why so many are swapping to the "free" services on offer even though they will complain about them and from reading the forums here, are generally poor - They could pay more already and get a better service.

Yes, you me, others on this site may be willing to pay more, but we're in a minority - your mum and dad are unlikely to visit this site, and are unlikely to care that they can get something faster if they pay more, they don't care because it won't make their email any faster, or ordering a book from Amazon any faster.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
One mistkae many businesses make is to assume that because they have a better product, people will buy it - it's not that simple by a long long shot, the best product rarely wins.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Not so small a minority, Karl. Lots of people use VoIP. Lots of people play ping-sensitive games. Certainly enough to market products to!

A few business ADSL providers and now plusnet (who I won't use - especially with a 10GB limit (I use 15-16)) are the only people interested, though.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
Lots of people went out and bought into Sky HD! Sky know that people will pay for a better product, it just has to be marketed the right way. Also as has been shown with Sky, people are willing to pay more each year for the same product or even a lesser product.
Posted by KarlAustin over 9 years ago
VoIP? Each stream uses 7-8KB/s, 56-64Kbit/s. Hardly a killer even for ADSL Max to be honest. People may be prepared to be fleeced by Sky for their TV, but most people spend more time in front of the TV than they do on the net. The current proportion of people prepared to pay what it'll cost to run something like FTTH aren't going to cover the bills any time soon. I can honestly say I don't think I'd pay more than I do now if it were available, and I use the net 12-16 hours a day (I work from home a lot).
Posted by Ghey_Buoy over 9 years ago
wow all the uninformed jabberings who think 21CN will raise costs not lower them...
Posted by 2doorsbob over 9 years ago
I certianly think theres a strong case for introducing more fibre into the local loop but ftth i believe wouldnt be the best way forword, fttk i think would be the best option using adsl+2 or vdsl2 as most cabs are ducted through to the exchange and it would just be a case of getting a power supply to each of them ..this would give speeds upto 50meg 500metres away and 20meg 1 kilometre away and wouldnt involve digging up our estates ..should this be implemented it would make sence to upgrade those who are only getting a fringe service first eg 512k 5 or 6 kilometres from the exchange..
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Ghey_Bhoy - provide your figures then. BT's say costs will rise.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
to adslmax.

if i rememebr correctly you have a 8128 synch so local loop investment doesnt really offer you much, the examples you gave what a 8mbit line can do think of someone who can only synch at 1meg. Or maybe synchs higher but the line drops regurly etc. This is the real reason we need somethinbg not so ppl who can already get 20meg can go upto 50meg. I got no problem with the government doing but if they do they should not hand it over to BT or anyone else for free instead rent it to them.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
response to csimon and karlaustin. If BT were to only fiber high populated areas and then also skip areas which have short copper loops they could probably do that for less then 2 billion possibly even a billion. There is no need to do the whole country all at once just start where its mostly needed and most payback. An issue here is ppl think BT should either do it all or nothing.
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
response to karlaustin again you taking a biased view, how can people choose to pay more for a better service that dont exist? stop and think for a second. If you had a upto 8meg line that synched at 1meg and dropped a lot would you think its rubbish I may as well pay less for it. of course there is also people who just want cheap no matter what but dont be fooled into thinking there is no market for people who would pay more for a better quality line if it was available.
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