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UK's culture secretary lays out broadband plans
Tuesday 08 June 2010 18:30:30 by John Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the UK's culture secretary has today spoken on broadband for the first time and put forward a "series of actions" that he hopes will help boost our broadband infrastructure to be comparable with other countries around the world.

The previous governments commitment to roll out 2Mbps broadband to everyone under a universal service commitment (USC) is described as "paltry" but necessary and will hence remain in place, using the underspend of the digital switch over budget to fund this as per Labour's original plans. The second step is to launch 3 test projects that will bring super-fast broadband to some rural areas which will be hard to reach. The aim is to firstly, bring this new service to these areas, but also to provide vital information about how government can best target their resources in ensuring next generation broadband can reach all areas. Broadband Delivery UK, set up under the Labour government to drive the USC to every home and manage next-generation roll out, will manage these projects. The location of the 3 test areas was not announced.

The third area to address is access to infrastructure. Ofcom is already investigating opening up access to BT's ducts and poles but other infrastructure is also available such as ducts from other telecommunications providers, gas, electricity and water utilities and also the sewers (as are already used in some areas). With access to these, it could save large costs as network providers would not need to dig up roads, one aspect that can bring a high cost to deploying broadband.

A consultation will take place with the government publishing a paper on 15th July welcoming comment and knowledge learnt from the industry to try and help boost our broadband delivery and bring it in to line with various other countries. The governments goal from this: "within this parliament we want Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe."; an optimistic aim.

"It is a scandal that nearly 3 million households in this country still cannot access 2 Mbps broadband speeds, and less than 1% of the country is able to access the internet using modern fibre optic technology – compared to an OECD average of around 10%.

Some people ask why we need these speeds when the iPlayer can manage on less than one Mpbs.

They are missing the point.

Superfast broadband is not simply about doing the same things faster. It's about doing totally new things – creating a platform on which a whole generation of new businesses can thrive.

The Federation of Small Businesses has estimated that a superfast network could add £18 billion to GDP and create 60,000 jobs. NESTA thinks it could be ten times that – 600,000 new jobs."

Jeremy Hunt, UK Culture Secretary

So generally, the speech helps solidify the Conservative party plans set out for broadband and it's good to see the 2Mbps commitment for all will hold place, although some are encouraging broadband providers to act sooner than this to get the USC delivered.

"We have also committed to delivering 2Mbps to everyone within our service area by March next year - well ahead of the Digital Economy Bill deadline. We are urging other operators to follow suit so that everyone around the country can benefit from a quality broadband service.

Nick Thompson, (Director of Consumer Services), KC (formerly Kingston Communications)

The full speech by Jeremy Hunt is available from the governments culture.gov.uk website.

Comments

Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
I really hope this government can pull it off, they seem to be listening to the right groups of people, whereas the previous bunch didn't. Interesting that in the speech today and in the questions afterwards Jeremy and Ed said that rural areas were just as important as urban ones, whereas pre election they said they would wait and see what market forces delivered. I guess they have quickly seen that the telcos will never deliver and they are prepared to act. Well done them. Power to the People.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Progress! Fibre down gas pipes?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
It won't bother the gas and it won't bother the fibre. Collaboration and innovation Somerset. Whatever it takes, if there is a duct there use it. Lets get this show on the road and stop messing about with the old phone network. It wasn't designed for the job we are expecting it to do. Fibre is the eNdGAme.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Typically gas, water and electricity are not in ducts.

It's unlikely that there is a way of safely putting fibre in a gas pipe...

You do realise that apart from the local ends the whole of the UK telecomms network is nearly 100% fibre?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
Yes I only learnt about that last week. They called it colossus didn't they? It just shows they could easily allow access to all the exchanges if they wanted to, but they don't want to. That is why our community networks in areas which can't get adsl can't get a feed either, cos the POPs where we could join the fibre are in cities and it costs a fortune to transit to them. It makes one wonder if the government know about the exchanges having fibre doesn't it? do you think they do?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
er, if there is fibre in every exchange, would it really cost billions to replace the last mile of copper with fibre if you already own the ducts, poles and wayleaves? just asking...
Posted by MarkHampshire over 4 years ago
This is great. But has anyone investigated what delivery mechanism is going to provide 2Mbps to everyone by 2012 - so far as I can see, it hasn't been invented yet, unless a huge number of 3G masts are put up or Virgin Media is given lots of taxpayer's money assuming we're not going to get Openreach providing FTTP by then.

Is now a good time to suggest nationalising Openreach?
Posted by MarkHampshire over 4 years ago
@cyberdoyle

If only the lines were just a mile long then more people would be able to get 2Mbps with current DSL technologies. I'll bet the actual length of all the lines put together end to end is enormous.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
cd - you have got it completely wrong. It's seems to be too complicated to describe here easily.

But... Obviously anyone with a networking or telecomms background knows how the country is connected up. Again, I have to tell you not to be confused between fibre, as a means of connection (like copper pairs, co-ax etc.) and 'the internet'.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
There is no problem in you or I ordering an internet connection from a number of suppliers to a point in a town or village. However somebody has to pay for it, both for the physical link and the use of it as moving data does not come free.

Of course the goverment know about fibre but it's not the fibre you want access to, it's an RJ45 socket with 100M ethernet into an ISP.

So it's not that we/you could have access to exchanges, it's what you actually want that is not clear.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
As I have explained before fibre is a transmission medium and it's what goes down it you need to understand. You cannot just 'hook into' a piece of fibre like, for instance, the fibre in the C&W ducts through Cornwall and expect to have loads of internet connectivity (for free?). These bits of fibre connect C&W systems together so not available for you.

Discussions like this concern me as they cloudy the issue when there is a misunderstanding that filters out to other people.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Particulary statements like 'they could easily allow access to all the exchanges if they wanted to' which means absolutely nothing and just confirms a lack of understanding.

It would help if we could explain this in detail to avoid confusion.
Posted by uniquename over 4 years ago
"Typically gas, water and electricity are not in ducts".

Doesn't all mains water come through ducts?

Doesn't all mains gas come through ducts?
Posted by john (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@Somerset You can do fibre down gas lines safely infact..

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/wla/operational_models.pdf

page 24.
Posted by systemx over 4 years ago
Yes you can use gas, water, and to a lesser extent oil pipe lines to deploy fibre (oil pipe lines are a problem because of the separation devices which are used to allow differant products down the same line)

The problem with doing this to the home is the cost of valve replacement, and possible gas main repair.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
unique - pipes and cables are not ducts.

Ducts are 90mm diameter tubes that cables are run into.

systemx - what's the cost of deplying fibre into pipes?
Posted by systemx over 4 years ago
I dont know, and I doubt anybody else has any real idea of the cost of doing this. The gas industry will know the cost of valve replacement.

I think that once the interested parties all sit down to discuss this one thing will become clear, it would be cheaper to give satellite BB access to the few homes that truly cannot get 2meg BB.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Can anyone think of a location where running through gas or water pipes would be the best solution?
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
cd - a POP is different to the end of a length of fibre.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
I bet running fibre into the gas mains is as expensive as digging up the road in the first place, and what happens when they need to replace a section of pipe that has fibre? I think the sewer system is a better choice to be honest. @cd if you didn't know we've had a fibre core network for years that might explain your rants about copper, its been in place for a long long time
Posted by systemx over 4 years ago
Using the dranage system is far more practical and there are advantages for both the drain owner and telecom. The fibre is cheaper to deploy, and the owner of the drains gets a free video of the internal state of them.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
I would love them to use the drains, I'm still unsure how they would go about replacing broken pipes that had fibre in I'm sure there must be a way. Anyway far cheaper than messing with gas and valves, breaking it out into the home must be easy. Not sure I'd want to be the one blowing the fibre though... phew...
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
@cd - regarding costs of delivering fibre if there's access to existing infrastructure yes it is still expensive. You campaign for fibre rollout and post on every news story here yet need to ask this question, odd.

Do some research - the BSG have already done the maths on this.

http://www.broadbanduk.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=66&Itemid=43
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Somerset there may be no other choice than to use pipes like the sewers, I can't speak for the main road runs from the exchange to the streets but I know a lot of BT local ducts from the main road to your own road are full which is why you see them digging up the road as there's no room left. So it might be the only solution in some areas.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
dixie, I have done lots of research, and have always checked BSG stuff and been to their presentations and still something isn't ringing true. If the victorians could get the phone network built and copper lines to everyone how come in this day and age we can't replace what's there with fibre? We know it is the only way for NGA, so why are you so protective of this copper cabal which is throttling the country?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
somerset,-if all the exchanges were turned into pops then private investors or community groups could afford to connect? Regarding sharing ducts,the main step forward would be to make sure anyone digging for something gives other utilities the chance to share the dig and install their own ducts, even if they aren't used right away. The main east/west gas pipe just came through our valley, and that followed on from a massive water dig a few years ago, and the electric runs on pylons. All three could have shared. (and popped a fibre duct in too) ;)
Posted by systemx over 4 years ago
If you are talking about national grid power lines on pylons, as opposed to running them underground, the cost of running such cables underground is very high. They have to be pressurised and cooled in order to ensure their insulation remains intact.

I think that running fibre on these pylons has been looked at but there are/were problems with access to it.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
cd - nobody is protective of copper, everyone is trying to put realistic business caes together for upgardes, but it's not easy.

There could be a POP in every exchange - what would you pay for it?

Utilities do coordinate digging up the road.

Energis, as was, ran fibre round the earth wire on pylons.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
cd - I'm not protective of the 'copper cabal' I'm just realistic.

I hope you'll excuse me if I don't take instruction in telecomms deployment costs from someone who only last week found out that nearly all phone exchanges have fibre backhauls.

You may have read the BSG stuff but evidently didn't understand it. Do pay attention to the cost per home *passed* and cost per home *connected*.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
systemx - the Energis fibre network was pilon mounted, shielded fibre bundles around the earth wire.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@cd:The population of Victorian Britain was less than half ours today. The percentage of people with telephone lines installed was far, far lower. The quality was equally low - just being able to shout a conversation and losing the connection every five minutes was probably considered perfectly adequate.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@cd (contd):I mean seriously - how can you compare the Victorian telephone system with Britain's modern network? Heck - even comparing what we have with the 1970s would be pointless.

The current copper loop serves (I assume) 99.9% of properties in the UK. That's a /helluva/ lot of cable to replace. We also ask a lot more from our telecommunications than any previous generation has.

It is the height of folly to dismiss the costs of NGA. It's going to be the biggest infrastructure project this country has ever seen.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
CD - you might find http://vimeo.com/5390794 informative along with the other presentations from NextGen09.

Do also note that wider deployment of fibre outside of Amsterdam by KPN has had to be scaled back due to being unviable and partially replaced by FTTC.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
:) This is gold. Anyway aside from some of the laughable comments, as has previously been discussed putting costs to one side you can't simply replace copper with fibre, there is still a remit to provide power to phones (over copper) which still needs to be addressed before any copper can be removed for good.
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
That's done with battery backed up ONUs GMAN.

Two things about the Vimeo presentation I linked by the way, in Amsterdam 30Mbps symmetrical is charged at 49 Euros a month, and about half the cost of the network is fibre, in the exchange and in the home.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Sure yeah I know they exist (like a small UPS) I was talking more about the fact that "something" will have to be passed to allow us to move from one to the other so BT/Kingston no longer have to worry about that side of things.
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
isn't the kit on the customer end of fibre the size of a small fridge?

cd- in the "victorian days", GPO was state owned, using state money, and was a monopoly. a lot has changed since then
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
if its costin £2.5 bilion and taking til possibly 2015 to get FTTC to 65% of the country, how much, and more to the point how long will FTTP take, and of cause cost?
who would install it? there are only so many people working in the industry, were would he extra manpower come from? u can't just one day say were no longer supporting copper and taking all epople that work on that and moving them to do FTTP
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
regulation is also a barrier to FTTP, huge investment and if its BT installing it they need to be sure that ofcom regulations will allow them to make a fair return, as they will be forced to provide open access to other providers.. VLLU seems to have been aggreed which is helpfull,
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
hopefully the new government won't have any crazzy ideas that mess things up, we will have to see. and i forgot part of that 65% by 2015 will include FTTP where viable...realisticly for the majority of people the up to 40 meg FTTC provides is plenty, and by the time real mass demand is there for better products there may be other stuff available
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
if thats not good enough maybe re-nationalising openreach would be the answer, but i don't think virgin would be too happy with that so is unlikely to happen...if thather had let BT put fibre to every home in the 80's we wouldn't have this problem
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
'I hope you'll excuse me if I don't take instruction in telecomms deployment costs from someone who only last week found out that nearly all phone exchanges have fibre backhauls.'

This totally discredits everything Cyberdoyle (Chris Doyle) says about fibre (ie. means internet) and broadband deployment!
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
CHH - customer box is small.
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
cd "er, if there is fibre in every exchange, would it really cost billions to replace the last mile of copper with fibre if you already own the ducts, poles and wayleaves? just asking.."

rofl, if it was that cheap it would be done by now
if they could just click their fingers and have FTTP everywhere they would, no one is holding onto copper, there just isn't the money or returns right now to do it
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
is it, good. what size, last i heard they were a bit of a beast
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
cd -'if there is fibre in every exchange, would it really cost billions to replace the last mile of copper...'

You really don't understand...
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
I know what size the box in the house would be for a fibre connection, cos i have two on our network here. the box where the fibre comes in is about 6 inches square, and from that goes a pigtail to the media adaptor, about the size of a fag packet. Thats it. video of the install here http://www.youtube.com/user/wennetvideo#p/u/6/QB4bFNTNjhY
Some things I do understand, and some I still don't. One lives and learns and keeps trying. At least I have laid and lit a tiny bit of fibre. ;) A kilometre aint bad, if we all did that we would have a digitalbritain?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
interesting
a few questions, fibre isn't my area of expertise. -does your network run in a similar way, and similar kit as GPON
-battery backup?
-what was the costs, and manhours, voluntered manhours?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
-what speed do you get into the network
-what speed do the end users get
-
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
ours is just a little wifi network in an area of no mobile or adsl. a notspot. we get a microwaved feed from telewest into our hub. we pick it up through meshboxes. We have some users we couldn't 'see' with our antenna, so we thought we would have a bash at fibre. so we did. It works, its brilliant. It cost two householders under a grand each, but only cos we had to dig a long way. if we had a few close together it would be a lot cheaper. It often costs £500 to do a wireless install by the time you have paid the aerial guy.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
We only have a half hour UPS backup. It took half a day to lay 720 metres, next day we did another 400, (incl spade work through garden by me and lady next door) and we lit it the next day. man hours, I guess 16 hrs paid for. (2 digger men 8hrs each) me and the other lady were volunteers. speed into network is 2meg symmetrical and that is what comes out of the other end of fibre, no loss. no noise. You can see all the kit we used on the videos and the moleplough/diggers etc. If we had been better organised it could have all been done in a day.
Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
@Cd:That's one of the advantages of remote areas. All you need is a friendly farmer with a digger. The size and nature of the community also helps since people are more likely to come together.

Unfortunately that kind of project just doesn't scale up. It's the difference between taking some home cooking to a local fete and trying to supply Tesco :-/
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Correct me if I'm wrong but CD's digital britain project looks like this in reality:-

Wireless broadband comes in( less than 5Mb shared might be 2) breaks out locally in one property and then has point to point fibre to another property. And that's it. NGA it isn't more like a bit of string lash up with the fibre being the string. There's nothing wrong with what you've done, fibre is the choice for that set-up & distance but saying "Hey I've done it, what's the hold up" and using your set-up as a model is a little ridiculous
Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
the tories look after their friends in the countryside eh, if they going to concentrate on rural areas only, what happens to the long line urban areas?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
Cd- from the comments u leave on this site and ur constant reference to ur pulling in your own fibre u try to make out u know what ur talking about and have set up a proper fibre to the community set up
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
But really all u have done is a hard wired link from a wireless mast in the area, and the speed your getting at that distance could probably have been done with cat 5/6 or co-ax,
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
I agree with gman , u can't use ur example and say its easy, why hasn't the whole country been done yet.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Pls no txtspk. CAT5 is 100m max?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
shove a dslam at the mast, use cat 3/5/6 and modems, job done.
my point was for what they are doing fibre isn't necessary, granted its more future proof, but if only getting 2 meg into network other things would work
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
cd- the 2 meg you get into the network. is that shared, or is that each, and how many people are on the network?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
23 business properties on network, 2 of them on the fibre, rest on meshboxes. Feed burst to 10 meg. we all share 2meg. that is all the current 802.11b boxes can cope with. Do we upgrade the boxes or invest in fibre? longest link is 7km. fibre link isn't from the mast, the mast is fed with microwave. fibre link is from my farm to 2 others, and it wasn't our diggers, we hired them and the operators. distance to them too great to use CAT5. Trees blocked wifi. Fibre only thing that would work. so that's what we did.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Well done!
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
I'm not having a go at what you did cyberdoyle its a good thing and fibre was the way to go for sure. All I'm saying is what you've done is very specific and specific to rural areas. Just doing the same thing many times over elsewhere doesn't equate to NGA. As what you have is next gen access to a past gen shared uplink.
Posted by mattbibby over 4 years ago
If the government placed their efforts in assisting BT to complete the already on-going FTTC project, then as a country we wouldn't be doing to badly to be honest.

You have to remember the enthusiasts crave higher speeds. But if you give 40mbit to your typical household with the last 1km from the to the home being copper then they've achieved something.

I'm convinced that trying to re-invent the wheel to magic up an amazing new solution to fibre the UK is rather optimistic and a waste of time.

Lets not run before we can walk!
Posted by MarkHampshire over 4 years ago
... or assisted VM financially, as they're further ahead than BT anyway as far as NGA is concerned - 50% of the country already. But then...

Rather than just applying another sticking plaster over the disaster in hindsight that was the BT privatisation to try to level a playing field, just nationalise Openreach, and then build a level playing field.

Most lines are more than 1km long and that's why ADSL is useless in so many places now let alone in the future, it's not a rural issue. I daresay the number of people with access to only dog slow broadband is greater in urban areas.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
agree with you there MarkH, the final third has many urban notspots too. We campaign for them all, not just the rural ones. And to me a fibre connection isn't 'just' about speed, its about consistency and reliability. And fibre is the best and most futureproof way to deliver over long distance. Some of my family are in urban areas and their connections are worse than mine. I can video chat better with brother in USA than daughter in Manchester.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Are VM further ahead? Sure they offer higher headline speeds but AFAIK its all still contended on the street, so if everyone takes up their top package on your road/estate it grinds to a halt, hardly NGA. BT's FTTC is uncontended from the home to the exchange.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
ADSL is uncontended from home to the exchange as well...

cd - clearly fibre is better. The issue is how it is funded to be rolled out to everyone. Any ideas?
Posted by mattbibby over 4 years ago
@MarkHampshire

On reflection I would agree maybe the government needs to provide a pot of money and allow the key players such as BT or Virgin to take some. But it should be based on projects providing access to certain areas that don't duplicate service, will reduce the notspots, allow private investment to be viable in the long term!

I disagree FTTC is merely "patching BT's network" The only remaining equipment once deployed is the copper from the Cab to your home.
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 4 years ago
the differance between bt and virgin getting assistance is that bt has an open network that any service provider can use so would give choice to customers. if virgin are assisted, as they have a closed network no one can use it giving customers no choice
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
http://5tth.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-is-nga.html has ideas for maximising investment/funding/loans.
sounds a bit like mattbibby was saying. It makes a lot of sense.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
cd - it's lacking in detail and some costed examples. Says nothing about what investment is need and where it would come from.

What's the cost of a 'In the case of Gxxx if we could deliver a centrally funded fibre into the village with a 1/10GbE backhaul, charged at a nominal fee, linking back to an Internet exchange where you could get metro Internet Transit pricing you would have quite a bit of your isolation removed.'.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
Its part of a discussion about 'what is NGA' - the plan is part of a scheme to bring pipes to communities. Communities can then raise funding either by subscription or private investment, or via loans from parish councils, or County councils could help. There are all sorts of ways to build a network, the biggest stumbling block is the cost of getting the feed to the area. The idea is that 'funding' or support is for the main trunk of the network to the data centre, and not for anything that isn't futureproof.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
So what is the scheme to bring 'pipes' to communities?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
The scheme is what openreach should be doing. Getting fibre out to everywhere. bypassing all the bottlenecks. As I am not technical I won't try to explain how it is done, (I know my limits) but it is gonna happen. It has to. There are many groups all over the country working on their own solutions. One featured on this site last week has just dug across two roads right before they were resurfaced, a bit of joined up thinking by highways and lincs council working together with fibrestream. Game on.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
What do you mean what Openreach should be doing? Openreach are a business, if you want fibre delivered anywhere in the UK ring them up and they'll plan it and cost it. Please don't say it costs too much or they should be doing it for free?? If Openreach are too expensive, try another provider. Also re that blog. 10Gb backhaul and nominal fee never appear in the same sentence.
Posted by AspieMum over 4 years ago
I am 1.9 miles from my excahnge but I get 1.3mbs even on SKY's new so called 20MBs packages. IPlayer is affected by the speed problems on my line. The speed issue isn't just about stuff like IPlayer and fast downloads- its about being able to have your Wii access the internet and your computer at the same time without problems. If we had laptops instead of a desktop computer they would all crash if they tried to access the internet at once and we are not a large family. As it is they affect it each other, the Wii and the computer, and slow each other down.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Why would they crash?

Is your router on the master socket? Do you have an i-plate?
Posted by MarkHampshire over 4 years ago
@mattbibby

Of course one issue is that if a small player rolls out fibre to a community, Openreach can (perhaps will, given history) then target that area with their own fibre.

Great for competition and choice, but if you were the small player, would you bother?

Some certainty, some decisions, and as you say maybe zoning off areas and awarding contracts might well solve that - ordinarily I'd be dead against rigging a market like that, but it could work in the short term to incentivise new players.
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