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Broadband Campaign "Final Third First" launched
Friday 05 March 2010 20:49:24 by Sebastien Lahtinen

A number of organisations including the Country Land and Business Association have launched a campaign called Final Third First with the aim of lobbying government on behalf of those living in what is commonly referred to as the 'final third' of the UK.

The Digital Britain Report earlier this year coined the term 'final third' to describe the areas within the UK where a purely market-lead approach was unlikely to deliver the next generation broadband services which we already see in many of the more populated areas. The government announced its intention to intervene by way of establishing a next generation fund which would be paid for by a 50 pence a month levy on fixed telephone lines, the so called 'broadband tax'.

Earlier this week, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced the establishment of the organisation Broadband Delivery UK which would be responsible both for delivering the Universal Service Commitment of 2Mbps by 2012 as well as next-generation services by 2017. The campaign's first action is to push for "faster action" on the promises made by the government.

"The Government's universal service commitment to provide broadband speeds of two megabits per second (Mbps) for all by 2012 will be hard to achieve. Those living in areas known as the Final Third still receive no proper access to broadband, putting them at a severe disadvantage. This campaign calls for faster action on the progress already made so that everyone can benefit from the Government's increasing array of online services."

Dr Charles Trotman, Head of Rural Business Development, CLA

"Public sector websites now take good access for granted.  They should revert to dial-up for a month and watch their children flounder in with coursework, their businesses stagger, and their tax, social services and DVLA transactions revert to Royal Mail. That is the issue not 50 miles from Westminster. E-government is a good policy but its deployment is socially flawed."

Neil Blake, Ewelme Parish Council, Oxfordshire

Vtesse Networks, recently in the news when it lost its appeal over fibre taxes also supports the campaign. It will be deploying a new network in Birch Green, Bramfield, Hertingfordbury and Stapleford in Hertfordshire, to demonstrate that it is viable to deliver next generation broadband services in these rural areas. The services are expected to be available in late spring and early summer.

The results both from this trial and other areas already served by Vtesse will help it support applications for grants from Broadband Delivery UK both for delivering the Universal Service Commitment in the next two years as well as the next generation fund. We hope that in assessing the funding requirements for the 2012 target, the organisation will consider the benefits of a future-proof solution to ensure public money is spent wisely.

Those interested in being considered for the Vtesse pilot in Hertfordshire should e-mail for more details and to register their interest.


Posted by chefbyte over 7 years ago
It amazes me that my Mate lives in the middle of nowhere in Finland, with 7 foot of snow as normal and he has a 50 meg connection LOL
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
If anyone would like to support the groups fighting for the final third then check out the
If anyone has time to write a letter helping us fight for a cut in the tax on lit fibre and help vtesse in the supreme court then checkout for details and more info. Together we can JFDI and build our own digitalbritain. Collaboration is King.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
We could fix the whole country overnight, just requires everyone to meet in London.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@chefbyte - I was "in the middle of nowhere" in Finland over the weekend and they get ADSL and wireless with fibre coming soon. Admittedly I was only on GPRS myself but it is possible to get faster services if you live there.
Posted by NetGuy over 7 years ago
There's a petition on the Number 10 site which has a couple objectives, one of which is to get Fibre to the Cabinet in rural areas before cities. If enough people 'signed' it might make any politicians take note about what they might include in their manifesto. (Other objective is to have regional data centres as infrastucture is under strain within M25)
Posted by njalondon over 7 years ago
Why should the country get fibre baassed access first when it's more expensive to build the infrastructure than the city? I find this whole debate premature as virtually noone can get Openreach's fibre based service yet.
Posted by kev445 over 7 years ago
I don't see why rural areas should get broadband 1st.

I think the next generation networks should be built in the most cost effective way possible, if this means starting with broadband not spots, then fine, however if it means starting with the cities first and then building the network outwards, then equally fine by me.

I think everyone that has access to mains gas and electricity should eventually have access to 100Mbit / 1Gbit broadband.
Posted by kev445 over 7 years ago
By broadband I meant 100Mbit+, which I should have wrote next generation services.
Posted by NetGuy over 7 years ago
There's already fibre to many cabinets, so that bit of the work has already been done. FTTH would be much more expensive in rural areas than towns/ cities, but if one considers FTTC then there's still likely to be a longer line in the rural areas from the roadside cabinet to some homes.

In cities, there is already considerable competition and as a result, people can get up to 16/ 24/ 50 /100 (? cable/ fibre) so providing FTTC in rural areas would just start to level the playing field.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
In response to NetGuy:

Out of the 85,000 BT cabinets in the UK, how many have fibre? Not enough to count as many in any common use of the word.

My view the USC funds would be better spent getting next generation to those obviously never going to get a commercial roll-out.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 7 years ago
Fibre to the cabinet wouldn't be so good in rural areas. Our green cabinet is very close to the exchange. We are not.
Posted by timmay over 7 years ago
The distances between homes in the county is greater but the amount of obstacles such as other utilities, roads and pavements are far less. this means that a large amount of the trenches can be dug with a trencher along the verge, through a field or along a foot path etc. This is far easier, quicker and cheaper than in towns where diggers and road closures are required. With no competing service the take up will also be much higher and the opposition to the project far less.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
I think the answer is more about government encouraging private companies laying fibre than funding it (although some may be necessary). This could be done by tax credits rather than actually charging companies which use fibre!
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
How about making rural areas and urban areas balanced via fibre tax.

Then companies can't cherry pick.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
timmay - sounds easy but there will be roads to cross and pipes to avoid - a professional job.
Posted by 2doorsbob over 7 years ago
i agree with the princaple ..these people pay taxes like we all do ..but theres no need for the expense of fttc/ftth just run fibre to a small sub exchange where a wireless solution can be deployed eg wimax..or maybe improve mobile mast backhaull and have a router that converts hsdpa to wlan/lan
Posted by jtthedevil over 7 years ago
I know in Rural N Ireland most of the BT wires are on overhead cables. I'm assuming that these poles would carry the fibre, so surely it would be easy to cover miles in a day, with no roads disturbed and minimal disruption.
This will obviously reignite the 'Why should the bumpkins get faster speeds than me' debate. We all pay the same price for the product so as Kev445 says, we should all get the same product.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@jtthedevil: On the strict "we all pay the same", you might find that you'd be paying more as the cost to deliver a telephone line to the middle of nowhere is more expensive. The argument that support rural developments are (a) digital inclusion (it's cheaper for society for you to be able to file your tax return online among other things), and (b) the fact that the competitive market wouldn't necessarily work on its own.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
one thing to consider when looking at rollout costs is the cost of failure demand in a given area, if an area is costing £5000 in repairs every month then that should be accoutned for in FTTC projections. However BT found a way round that by simply ripping people off for engineer visits and I guess the profits from that are used to cover failure demand costs.
Posted by michaels_perry over 7 years ago
Providing FTTC in rural areas does *not* require digging loads of trenches. A great many rural telephones services are provided mainly overhead on poles. String the fibre cable alongside that, so no digging needed except where the cable has to go underground - and much cheaper!
Posted by nicmic over 7 years ago
I'm curious why anyone should want more than, say, 10Mbps. Is it just that I'm an oldie with a more laid-back approach. Even with my currently poor service (hovering around an average of 1.3Mbps) I'm able to use iPlayer, for instance, although I do have to download most stuff rather than stream it. Personally, I’d be content with 5Mbps.

I’m genuinely interested to know what 100Mbps (or even 1Gbps!) would be used for. Online gaming springs to mind but, with respect, I don’t see why vast amounts of cash should be spent if that’s all it’s needed for – ‘owt else?
Posted by jtthedevil over 7 years ago
@Seb. I understand the cost of infrastructure is possibly more expensive, subject to what I and Perry have said about overhead cabling.
If we are looking at Broadband as a utility, as the other article states, then it is cheaper to run electricity and water to my house from the rural areas than to the city. Should the city pay more? Imagine my house lit up like Blackpool and you barely able to light one bulb at a time, but still pay the same costs.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
nicmic, you would be happy with 5-10mbit right?

for many people FTTC is needed to get them to those speeds, the average sync speed on adsl is only 4mbit.
Posted by hefilump over 7 years ago
Those of us who do live in rural areas do not have the access to services that those living in towns and cities have. It is a 20 minute drive to the nearest shop, 40 minutes to the nearest school and have to travel even further for libraries, cinemas and all the other things that folks in cities have relatively easy access to.

I currently have a connection speed of 500K, pay the same as someone with 8MB and only got that last November. This means that I cannot use iplayer or any other type of online media.

2MB would be fantastic. But how long will it take? Longer than 2012, I suspect
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
"the average sync speed on adsl is only 4mbit."

Are you sure? Average download speed on tests is around 3.9 to 4.1Mbps, so sync must be higher.
Posted by nicmic over 7 years ago
hefilump: "2MB would be fantastic. But how long will it take". Point taken - I'm only 5Km from the exchange so I guess anyone further away is bound to have problems.

Perhaps the point has already been made, but those countries without an existing telecoms infrastructure are jumping straight to wireless. Perhaps we should do the same, thus killing two birds with one stone: bypassing the St Albans street furniture issue and giving a good speed to all within reach of a 3G mast (which would be more widespread). I know mobile broadband is currently costly, but that will not always be so.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
andrew my source is ofcom's own figures. I assume those average speed results exclude cable and leased line users?
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
To ask the tax payer & or tax the landlines is clearly wrong,Bt have not invested in upgrading/replacing the current network of failing copper cables, that were never designed with ADSL signals in mind, but good old BT continually kept taking tour money and it would seem something else whilst they were at it,and still are taking it,
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Where are copper cables failing?
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