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Brown lays out super-fast broadband plans by 2020
Monday 22 March 2010 11:47:41 by John Hunt

Gordon Brown has today set out plans to enrich the UK's broadband industry with ambitions to give next-generation super-fast broadband to everyone by 2020. He wants Britain to be the world leader of the digital economy, which will create over 250,000 skilled jobs by 2020, and he sees the Internet as a way of boosting public services to allow them to be delivered more efficiently.

"Superfast broadband is the electricity of the digital age. And I believe it must be for all - not just for some.

We have already decided to commit public funding to ensure existing broadband reaches nearly every household in Britain by 2012.

Now government must decide what action it will take to bring about universal access to the next generation of superfast broadband, simultaneously ensuring the highest quality content is available online and available to all.

The choice with broadband infrastructure is clear. We can allow the market to provide a solution on its own terms and according to its own timetable. The result would be superfast broadband coverage determined not by need or by social justice, but by profitability. This would open a lasting, pervasive and damaging new digital divide. It would allow the country to become split between a fast-track and a slow-track to the future, between those fortunate to live in densely-populated areas and those not.

Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister

No details of what exactly will be delivered by 2020 were released but this seems to correlate with the US plan's to deploy 'at-least' 100meg broadband to 100 million households by 2020, and we would expect a similar level of service to be considered here. Of course in 10 years, technology evolves rapidly, so we may look back and consider this 100meg goal as too low.

The talk also seems to be putting down Conservative ideas to let the market lead the way with incentives such as easements to planning rules to help encourage competition. It is true that the market alone would be unlikely to reach the entire population, but the proposals from the Conservatives do look to provide funding from the BBC license fee to places that the market can't reach from 2012 onwards. With the Budget being announced on Wednesday, we may see some further bits filter though this week. The 50p levy on telephone lines is expected to be cemented within this.

Comments

Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
"nearly every household in Britain by 2012"

"super-fast broadband to everyone by 2020"
- what, even those missed out in 2012 ?
Posted by docki over 7 years ago
Seeing as VM will have 100mbps by the end of 2010 I hope in 10 years time things have moved on abit.

Let's hope your out soon brown. You are a pile of toss.
Posted by TonyHoyle over 7 years ago
It's existing broadband to nearly every household by 2012.. so if you get 256kbps on the bit of string that BT call your exchange you're already included in that figure. The 'nearly' gives them a nice getout clause as well.

That gives them 8 years to invest massively in infrastructure - where's the money coming from? The 50p levy doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what would be required to give FTTC to everyone by 2020 let alone FTTH.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
This is such rubbish. Lets review:

The Government wants to use superfast broadband to deliver public services.

The heaviest users of public services are the elderly and those on low incomes.

The price points for superfast broadband is going to be £30 + per month. How many heavy users of public services will be able to pay this?

This will save zero money, nothing. If the Government is serious about delivering public services online it will have to be in a vechile which can be used over an affordable line i.e. 512Kbps-2Mbps.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
This social justice meme is such toss. Superfast broadband, like anything else, will cost alot of money in the early years. If the Governments aim is social justice cheap, social tarriff reliable low speed lines are what we need.

The problem with Government subsidy now is that VM, BT and others will just wait and hike up there prices. It will stifle investment at this early stage not encourage it.
Posted by nmg196 over 7 years ago
There is no link between the superfast broadband and the new government services. You do not need a 100Mbps line to book a doctors appointment or file a tax return. Pretty much the ONLY requirement anyone could have for 100Mbps is for streaming multiple high definition TV channels similtanously (ie entertainment). Nothing else needs bandwidth like that and therefore nothing else will drive it.
Posted by dov1 over 7 years ago
Backing up your hard drive requires this. Imagine having 5 computers at home each with 2TB+ hard drives full of HD films/videos/photos etc and backing up the disk images to a remote server while watching your 5 streams of super HD TV simultaneously.
Posted by mattbibby over 7 years ago
@dov1

5 Computers with 2TB each? Well you won't be able to use the service because Digital Britain will cut you off for File Sharing my friend :)


With regards to public funding into infrastructure, proof is in the pudding. There is no body in Government who has a true technical understanding of what needs to be achieved and there lies the problem.

Virgin's trials of Fibre over Telegraph Poles has caught my interest. I can see that becoming a major success.

This would all be so much easier if BT were forced to share access to their underground network.
Posted by dov1 over 7 years ago
I'm talking about 2020 not now but even now if you want to do image back ups or even just standard file back ups it will take a very long time to do and faster uploads speeds would be required. Of course any movies you had would be legally downloaded and its not file sharing to backup your computer my friend :).
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
QUOTES"He wants Britain to be the world leader of the digital economy"
"No details of what exactly will be delivered by 2020"
"nearly every household in Britain by 2012."

Are MPs, subject to drug testing?
Posted by mikeblogs over 7 years ago
VDSL in Northern Ireland has been extended to 85% of the population (extra 128 exchanges) by 2012 for a public subsidy (EU money) of £16k per street cabinet (£18m on 1100 street cabinets) and paths to them.

18000 PCPs in Market 1 areas plus 2,000 exchanges with directly connected customers, means this is very do-able with the budget available.

The real question is how to extract the required equivalance of access, and cost reductions out of Openreach.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
Final Third First looks interesting... Its a collaborative group formed out of many organisations to lobby government to roll out Next Gen to the areas that the main telcos consider uneconomical. By doing those areas it is pretty certain openretch or virgin will do the rest.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
It matters not which party wins the election, this problem is not going to go away, and for open government to stand a chance we have to have ubiquitous connections.

The simple way is just to replace existing copper with fibre. There are plenty of unemployed tradesmen who would be glad of a good job. That lessens the cost. The return on investment would put any government into the history books. If they don't do IT then this country will drop even further behind. If korea and india can do a gig then surely so can we?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
The devil is in the detail, and my feeling is that this is reaction to what The Conservaties have recently said, rather than an actual firm policy.

87% get 2Meg or more now, so that is nearly everyone, tick 2012.

If 100Meg to a similar 87% then by 2020 this is to be expected, 50% will have access to 100Meg in a year or so from Virgin Media. Add the other projects and its getting very close with little extra effort.

The effect comes on how much wiggling goes on at the 87% and above coverage. There all parties appear to be vague.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"87% get 2Meg or more now, so that is nearly everyone, tick 2012."

In a grading system that gets a B... Hardly near perfect.

quote"50% will have access to 100Meg in a year or so from Virgin Media. Add the other projects and its getting very close with little extra effort."

So Virgin have done half the country with their own money in a year!!! So why do we need this tax again, cant BT who are bigger do the other 50% with their own money?
Oh and what other projects are delivering 100+Mb to large percentages of the UK?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
dunno where the 87% are, the other 13% must all live in my area. Hardly anyone I know gets much more than a meg, on a good day, with a following wind. At least 100 homes and businesses within spitting distance can't even get decent dial up. 10km from a city. Just sayin.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
"cant BT who are bigger do the other 50% with their own money?" - Well not really, its not really comparing apples to apples, the tail end of the BT network was built for voice not data so can't easily scale to 100Mb, Virgin's was built for TV and Data and has always been capable of these speeds depending on what version of DOCSIS is used. So what is easy for one isn't for the other
Posted by davolente over 7 years ago
I am in an eighties-built estate, not a huge distance from the exchange but with lousy telephone lines, giving a mere half a meg "broadband" at most and with a covenant on the area which forbids any excavation, which would, of course, be necessary to either provide cable (the rest of the town has it) or to upgrade existing lines. So where does that leave us, Mr. Brown? What sort of return am I going to get on the so-called "broadband tax"? Personally, I thoroughly resent having to pay this to subsidise other folks' broadband.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote""cant BT who are bigger do the other 50% with their own money?" - Well not really, its not really comparing apples to apples, the tail end of the BT network was built for voice not data so can't easily scale to 100Mb, Virgin's was built for TV and Data and has always been capable of these speeds depending on what version of DOCSIS is used. So what is easy for one isn't for the other "

Or in short one spent money one didnt.
Posted by damien001 over 7 years ago
the point is V Media only installed their network where they knew they would make money i.e. cost to install it in the area was low and number of people that would want it was high. Getting high speed data to the less populated area will be lot more costly.

expecting BT to do the other 50% because VM was willing to do the first 50% is like comparing the budget of a 3 man business against that of Microsoft and wondering why MS can buy more hardware.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"the point is V Media only installed their network where they knew they would make money i.e. cost to install it in the area was low and number of people that would want it was high. Getting high speed data to the less populated area will be lot more costly."

Nonsense, Virgin are slowly doing that also...
http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/i/4181.html
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago

quote"expecting BT to do the other 50% because VM was willing to do the first 50% is like comparing the budget of a 3 man business against that of Microsoft and wondering why MS can buy more hardware."

BT are bigger than Virgin, BT fans are always harping on about debt Virgin is in and profit BT make, theres no reason BT couldnt do 50% of the country with their own money.
Posted by kamelion over 7 years ago
yes there is, the shareholders wouldn't go for it.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
@ andrew

I very much doubt this is a "Government" annoucment. It sounds much more like Brown a(probably with Ed Balls' encouragment) trying to bounce Alistar Darling ahead of the budget - he is well known to want a more austere budget.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
@Carpetburn

There is (probably) only a limited business case for going beyond 50%. The Governments figures assume a 31% uptake (wildley optimisitic in my opinion) so if your rolling fibre out to a rural exchange thats 31% or around 500 dwelling or in other words 150 people. Not worth the investment given the cost per household in rural areas is over £1000 per household (Gov' stats).

The risk reward ratio doesn't work for rural NGA yet. I don't see why BT should be expected to do it. They don't owe you, me or anyone else an NGA connection.

Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
Sorry correction 150 households not people.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Chris Doyle says above:

'The simple way is just to replace existing copper with fibre. There are plenty of unemployed tradesmen who would be glad of a good job. That lessens the cost.'

It's clear she has no idea of the engineering reality.
Posted by themanstan over 7 years ago
quote "Or in short one spent money one didnt."

Um... yes they did sort of... NTL and Telewest both effectively went bakrupt owing many billions. They did debt for equity swaps. Effectively the original shareholders got shafted big time. The math is pretty ugly, ~15BN in debt was turned into shares. The original shareholder investments added in, plus current debt 5.5B = a shed load of money.
So BT could roll-out the same network, but would have to play the same debt game...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"yes there is, the shareholders wouldn't go for it. "

LOL Nail... Struck... Head :D
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"So BT could roll-out the same network, but would have to play the same debt game..."

I thought BT made profit?
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
I think its worth pointing out shareholders havent even been asked their views on FTTC/P rollouts. The comments made saying they wouldnt approve is based on assumptions.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
"LOL Nail... Struck... Head :D"

Umm yeah that's how capitalism works... BT isn't a nationalised company anymore. You might argue it should be (I don't) but so long as its private there can be no compulsion.

For the record I'm a small share holder in BT and I'd be horrified if they announced FTTC but only in areas where VM didn't operate.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
@Carpetburn

Yes but you can't finance a major programme without incurring debt. To get the sort of money required in a reasonable length of time and to do so tax efficiently would be incredibly difficult. Unfortunatly companies are discouraged from saving up war chests for expansion by the taxation system meaning you generally have to incur medium terms debt to pay for the expansion - you then repay that debt with the pre-tax profits. Then your assuming the investment will make money - it might not.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"For the record I'm a small share holder in BT....."

Say no more, kamelions point is proven
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
BT share holders need to learn shares are not a savings account prices can go up as well as down no matter how much they cry about it.

You invested your money into the company you take the wins and loses that go with it.
Posted by themanstan over 7 years ago
I assume your shareholding is so small that you don't care about their value or the dividends they return...
BT shareholders should expect the board to make sound financial decisions. i.e. not do what NTL and Telewest did, which was a complete debacle.
Share prices will reflect the market and decisions made by the board. Not paying a dividend will devalue the shares. Taking on large amounts debt without a return in the medium term devalues shares and reduces dividends through bond interest payments.

This is what people's pension fund managers rely on...
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
I know but you buy shares based on your assessment of the companies prospects which is influenced by their plans.

If BT does something I regard as stupid I sell my shares and if I'm wrong I miss out on the bonanza. BT needs to decide if my view is a majoritarian view among its shareholders.

That's how capitalism works, I get it. You however...
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
Incidentally, although I accept shares go up and down I expect them to go up over a 5-20 year period if I'm going to invest. Otherwise, why would I bother and if I didn't invest they'd be unable to expand.

Incidentally, I won't be holding them much longer - BT's pension deficit is too huge for them to properly benefit from the coming teleco boom. I fancy Avanti or the mobile telecos.

Capitalism 101.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
Oh also Carpetburn - do you have a pension? If you have your invested in BT.

@Themanstan: yeah my exposure is pretty small (not because of financial foresight but I'm just not that rick lol). So yeah your right I'm not an income investor the div' is not that important to me.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Incidentally, although I accept shares go up and down I expect them to go up over a 5-20 year period if I'm going to invest."

LMAO... Good damn job you didnt have shares in the banking system then LMAO
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Oh also Carpetburn - do you have a pension? If you have your invested in BT."

Really if i have a pension im invested in BT??? Explain how that works then. Is most of the country now funding BT, and if they are why do they need more public money?
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
Damn right.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"and if I didn't invest they'd be unable to expand."

Yeah im sure your few quid on shares you spent runs the entire company :rolleyes:

Theres been sarcasm levelled at shareholders on here before, never did i think i would see one make such silly remarks to back it up though.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
Private pensions schemes i.e. ones you invest in throught work or yourself will be invested in shares (unless you are v. close to retirment in which case your fund will be transferred into bonds - which will probably include BT issues as well). Anyway, the pension funds invest in shares and as a rule most institutional investors will invest in "safe" blue cap shares i.e. FTSE 100 companies. This will include BT, BP, GSK etc etc. The big companies attract pension funds like flies to s**t.

There won't be a pension scheme in the UK that doesn't hold at least some BT.
Posted by dch3dwj over 7 years ago
"Yeah im sure your few quid on shares you spent runs the entire company :rolleyes:"

Yes but it's aggregate behavoir that's how markets work. JESUS! Of course my small amount doesn't determine BTs future but its the aggregage descions of people like me who do. I thought you'd be clever enough to follow the argument through!
Posted by themanstan over 7 years ago
@dch3dwj, oops forgot to make clear i was replying to two statements in my reply. But you appear to have cottoned on to that!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
quote"Yes but it's aggregate behavoir that's how markets work. JESUS! Of course my small amount doesn't determine BTs future but its the aggregage descions of people like me who do. I thought you'd be clever enough to follow the argument through!"

Using your logic then if everyone pays BT via a pension it should be upto the public as a whole what BT do with their money, not personal shareholders who have contributed less.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Oh and I dont invest into a pension scheme through work, i own my own business.
Posted by john77r over 7 years ago
The reason the government want to roll out broad band is to get everybody to do the pensions ect. on the internet saving the government money. Is the government going to supply pc to the million + not on the internet
and train them to use the pc or will these people no get the pensions ect. because to government has supplied a fast broadband line if they don't use it hard luck?
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
To get where Brown seems to be talking about by 2020 I think would require investing about £2.5-3.0 billion (or milliard if you're English) since the shortfall in genuine broadband infrastructure has been about £25-30 billion since the start of the millennium at least
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
(Actually I meant to say £2.5-3.0 billion per annum)
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