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UK government to review future of broadband
Saturday 23 February 2008 10:02:25 by Andrew Ferguson

Is this the start of something big in terms of Internet access for consumers and businesses in the UK? Today sees the UK government announce a review of the future of broadband internet in the UK. The review is set to be headed by Francesco Caio who is the former chief executive of Cable & Wireless.

To say that France is just trialling broadband services using real next generation technologies like fibre is a bit of an understatement, the impression one gets is that they are far from trials and are real products. Admittedly the coverage is patchy in most countries embracing fibre or other alternative connection methods that have a lifespan you can really call next generation. Hopefully any UK review will look at the different cases that exist across the UK.

A case can be made for the UK government to assist a private company or create a publically owned one that simply installs and maintains a new fibre based local loop throughout the UK. Providers can then rent capacity to provide what ever services they wish and with government backing perhaps a longer term view can be taken particularly in respect to the fact that while the need for the network is not compelling currently if work is not started very soon the UK will risk becoming an Internet backwater.

"The business case for next generation access is weak, Virgin Media already has a high speed network and Sky has a strong hold of the premium content that users might actually pay for,"

Ian Watt, head of fixed-line research at Enders Analysis

While Virgin Media has its high speed network investment is needed to get the 50Mbps products that are designed to keep them ahead in the space race, and there is the question of what levels of bandwidth people can expect. Coverage with the Virgin Media network is such that it passes around half the UK households. The pressure from the public and businesses is such that products need to have true UK coverage.

Even with incremental advances in speed if congestion (due to low bandwidth allocation) is such that usage levels remain static, innovative new applications may not be able to thrive.

The UK government has stepped in to help one company and nationalised it to protect taxpayers' best interests, perhaps a nationalised fibre local loop is also in our best interests.


Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Getting bored of this with all these news reports sites repeatedly getting the facts wrong, assumptions are been made that we already have 8meg and 24 meg for adsl and 20meg for cable, on the adsl side only 25% of lines can get the quoted speeds so the reality is much different and the cable coverage is poor not covering all city areas.
Posted by fusen over 9 years ago
I'd be willing to pay for government funded FTTC
and then let in the future look at hooking it the last stretch to the home.
Posted by fusen over 9 years ago

Saying there isn't a clear case for consumers wanting higher speeds... just wait until your everyday Joe starts actually USING their internet connection. Personally I transfer at least 1GB a day, but as I'm on a university connection it doesn't really matter. If everyone was doing the same instead of the average which is like a couple of gigabytes a month then just imagine how congested and absolutely unusable the UK internet infrastructure would be.
Posted by fusen over 9 years ago

Until the average person you meet in the street uses their connection for more than just checking their email there won't realistically be much point in upgrading the main backend.
Posted by fusen over 9 years ago
Look at ISPs reports were it's mainly only 5% of their userbase actually using 50% of the whole network capacity and you realise how little normal everyday people use their lines
Posted by fusen over 9 years ago
sorry about that, it kept telling me my comment was too long so I thought I'd brake it down to a paragraph per post :P
Posted by cherrion over 9 years ago
I think it's a good idea. The current ADSL infanstructure is beginning to crack. You try and find an ISp that provides a constant connection that doesnt slow down at peak times.

a national FTTH/C network, thats one thing i;m willing to pay for.
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
Connections slowing down is not the ADSL infrastructure. It's what's behind it. ADSL is just the copper from the exchange to home.

FTTC seems the best way forward, duct is already in the ground.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
The *temporary* nationalisation of Northern Rock only became in the taxpayer's interests because of a previous Govt error in wantonly giving said taxpayer's money to a bank based in a Labour constituency and providing a mortgage to The Chancellor. The whole episode was certainly not in the taxpayer's best interests as we are exposed to the tune of £3,500 per taxpayer.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Yes herdwick, because a bank run costing billions would have been a good idea. Oh wait.

chrysalis - and 10% for cable, yes
Posted by gayboy-ds over 9 years ago
Would you really want your internet to be nationalised? That way the goverrnment could really impose measures on our connections such as P2P and Bittorrent. It would be like creating the great firewall of China. Think of the security risks which would happen here - it will only make it easier for the government to snoop on you!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
It's going to happen anyway gayboy, BT has miserably failed to account for the fact that most people are starting to use gigs of bandwidth each, legally, per month. Most of the small ISP's I know are working on exit strategies.
Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
"Sky has a strong hold of the premium content that users might actually pay for,"

Other than sport, what content is there on Sky that people might want, which isn't already readily available for free, without any DRM infestations, for clued-up folks, so long as they're not greatly fussed about "rights ownership" and other threats from the pigopolists' lawyers and their government lackeys?

Privatise the royal family and use the resulting money to fund fibre to the home for nearly-legal torrents and newsgroups. Makes sense to me.

Or maybe not.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 9 years ago
fibre to every home in the country would cost a fiver a month on top of what they pay now.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Prove it. With a full economic impact report.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 9 years ago
There clearly is a business case for fibre to be rolled out within the last mile as dsl over copper pair has been pushed as far as it can go..i feel the government is wasting time and money in studying this ..i wish i was given the choice where my £3500.00 was going..back in my pocket i dont believe saving northern rock will prevent a ressesion ..more below
Posted by 2doorsbob over 9 years ago
but clearly this is at the top of the gov's agenda ..i would however support the topic in question just imagine having our isp's lease bandwidth over fibre will probably be us that pay's for it in the end anyway like we do everything else .
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
the NR debacle is a prime example of how messed up this country is, the government ran to aid the banks, a bank run may have cost billions but how many people know the expected taxpayers money to be used by end of 2008 to keep banks going will be 250billions or more. Makes a FTTC/H investment seem like pocket change.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
I think some people need to read up on precisely what the issues are with the NR bank from a non-tabloid newspaper.
Posted by kendal01 over 9 years ago
i just don't get this sometimes. MP's go on extended visits to France, Japan, Hong Kong to see there wonderful fibre and BB setups and for what purpose other than a cheap holiday on taxpayers money??
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 9 years ago
My hand is up, volunteering to go as a 'broadband expert' on these trips.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
the run on Northern Rock was specific to Northern Rock, people took there money out of there and put it into other retail banks with more robust business models. It should have sunk like its local shipbuilding industry did.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
Uh-huh. Oh wait, no it wasn't - most of the other banks are also exposed in various ways, hence the soaring interest rates for inter-bank loans.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
More government clap trap for we are gonna have another nice cosy chat while half the MPs fall asleep and then we will do nothing
Posted by LawrenceCarabine over 9 years ago
I look forward to the day I get a true 1M connection. I am stuck with a BT landline which is on the extremity from the exchange. I regularly use the speed test and it invariably returns speeds of around 300k. The only other option I have is a 3 GSM modem. This returns a speed of around 500k. Pathetic, considering I pay (in total) around £35/month for these services. I would welcome any intervention to get the 1M that BT claims my line will support and the 2M that 3 claim my GSM modem will support. 50M for me is a pipe dream.
Posted by Somerset over 9 years ago
FTTC is the answer.
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