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Why universal broadband is important
Tuesday 12 October 2010 10:05:12 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Many of us in towns and cities often take broadband for granted, not realising how reliant we all are on this vital communications service. Our lives are often so connected, that a significant part of society arranges their social lives online. Others use the Internet for work, something the government is keen to promote. As of this year, most businesses, including all new businesses, are required to submit VAT returns online.

Whilst many of us are waiting for Openreach to bring fibre to our doorstep, some people living in rural areas are taking matters into their own hands and making sure that they are not forgotten in the digital revolution.

One of the people behind the campaign to get the 'final third' connected quickly is Christine who lives in Lancashire. She has worked with neighbours to bring broadband to people within the community who have been unable to get online, by running their own fibre. She has produced a video showing how broadband has changed her life: 

Broadband has enabled her to not only file paperwork related to her farm online, but also to have Skype video calls with grandchildren.

A video on the original fibre project in the area is also available on YouTube.

Comments

Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
thank you for posting this! If everyone watching it would comment on the youtube site or here it will build a case for the video to win the #digitalrevolutions award which will help to lay some more fibre in the area...
bit of blatent promotion. soz.
chris
Posted by awoodland over 6 years ago
I see that more as an arugment against Defra and overly complicated tax regimes than an argument for rural broadband subsidies!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Defra can save £40 million a year when all the farmers are online. Makes sense to help them get online by removing pointless obstacles. Planning, VOA tax etc. It isn't a case of subsidies. Its a case of common sense really. If the gov wants the ROI from getting us online it should make a level playing field then we can JFDI.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
If this is about business benefits (that's what I mainly got from the vid) wouldn't all of the businesses in your area be better off clubbing together and getting a business grade broadband provision that you can all use instead of laying your own fibre?
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
Getting "business grade broadband" in would be hugely expensive in an area like this. And how many businesses do you expect in a rural area with each farm having 200+ acres? I think the video showed they got all the businesses together in the area and linked them using fibre. Much cheaper than getting a big company in to do it for you.

Just a pity the other end is served by WiFi.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Sure Sheepfarmer, I know where you are coming from and that is the main problem the uplink is not fibre, so its not really next gen its just a cheaper way to share what is available.

What I'm saying is that some people turn their nose up at people who use home broadband for business purposes and then complain about speeds/availability etc.
Posted by awoodland over 6 years ago
Playing devil's advocate here:
1) Defra could save 100% of their budget if they didn't exist. So if Defra (and the paperwork they push) didn't exist would farms also cease to exist? Or just spend less time filling in (online) forms?

2) What exactly would prevent any government department from designing online services that work reasonably well on 28.8k modems? It's not like HTML pages have to be in the hundreds of kilobytes range!
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
GMAN What makes you think they're using home broadband for business purposes? I must've missed that bit.

I don't think the farms in question can get *any* broadband, domestic or business. I pay for business broadband, but I still get slower speeds than most domestic users in the UK. I sometimes wonder why I'm paying more for less, but then the view from my window is priceless :)
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
What is the wi-fi link then at the backend a residential provision or business?

Oh I bet is it... I'm just glad they didn't bring in that stupid window tax they were talking about at one point :)
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
This is probably a bad question but what was preventing use of satellite or point to point wireless?

Other than that a great video and a pleasing example of why some form of connectivity is important - regardless of how it's achieved.

To me though wireless connectivity of some kind would seem to make far more sense with properties so spread out.
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
Even government sponsored projects in South Korea and Australia which are concentrating on supplying 100Mbit or Gigabit to 90 of population aren't attempting to run fibre to areas like this but are using wireless solutions.

Can't blame any commercial company for not wanting to do this there's no way in hell they'll make their money back on it.

Regarding level playing fields, the same rules apply to everyone, the field is not level due to the extremely low density of population. As per the 'level playing field' actually refers to tilting the field to compensate for that.
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 6 years ago
I think I remember you saying your comunity project shares a 2 meg up/down wifi.
i'm sure the other farmers love it when they are trying to do their important work online and it runs slow because you are chewing up a lot of the bandwidth watching bad queen impressions on youtube for your dogs pleasure.
your reasons are a bit conflicting, or am i being a bit cinical?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
That's the bit that people in these areas don't seem to grasp Dixi (no offence), that running anything new to each home whether its copper or fibre is just not viable for the supplier. Better to get something delivered as central as possible and then wi-fi out. Or if that isn't possible wi-fi or Satellite for the whole area.
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
Dixi Wireless only works when you've got good line of sight. Good for flat countryside, but there isn't too much of that round here. Satellite could work, but is going to be more expensive longterm.

Shared usage of the broadband connection can work well if you've got a decent router. One person's streaming of YouTube shouldn't block everybody else. It might do at home because normal ADSL modems aren't very smart here.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Thanks all for your comments. Just to put the record straight a business connection from openreach for us to wifi out was quoted at £76k plust £64k a year for 3 yr contract last year. For 23 properties it was a bit too much. The current feed is business from an arqiva mast. it is from telewest. 2megabit symmetrical. This is wifi'd round the valley, apart from the fibre run to properties we couldn't 'see'. None of us watch youtube vids for long periods but we allow ourselves a few at weekends and out of office hours. ;)
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Dixie, Regarding level playing fields BT already have the poles, ducts and wayleaves to do the job. Outside investors don't have that luxury and they have to pay extra tax. BT don't. That is why we need a level playing field to compete. That is why BT scooped the Cornwall pot. They already have most of the job done, they will fob the rest off with satellite or BET. We had satellite for 3 years, but it just couldn't cut it. It is enough for one or two to share but not adequate for a network, and the upload is dire. A few people in this area do use it. Very expensive though.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Captain, we have all learned to share our connection. None of us hog it for long periods, and we are patient when it slows down. Our main problem is the kids, their demands grow daily. That is why we need more backhaul and more powerful wireless kit. We're workin on it. Sometimes we are finding its cheaper to lay fibre. At least we know if we do that its futureproof and our money hasn't been wasted.
chris
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - is the issue that BT won't see a return from Sky, TalkTalk, O2 etc. on installing to remote areas?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cd, who else did you get a quote from? BT aren't the only people that supply business connections. Even when BT open up their ducts/poles I'd still be surprised to see anyone putting in fibre to homes in rural areas its still very expensive even after the ducting is sorted. You might get someone willing to fibre to a central point but I'm just not sure that you are going to be willing to pay these costs, if you think satellite is too costly I would imagine a single shared fibre backhaul would be very very expensive.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
GMAN99 that quote was for a 30meg fibre connection. But that is the only connection that is fit for purpose. Copper can't deliver over distance.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Oh I know it can't, those prices sound right for a business connection of that type
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - what do you pay Telewest (who they?) and how much for a faster connection?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Somerset, I don't know why it is so expensive to get a decent feed. When you say BT do you mean openreach? I don't think I understand your question.
Re Telewest feed, we buy it from LUNS. Lancaster University Network services, which is a business and nothing to do with the university. It costs £3,400 a year for a 2meg symmetrical feed. We each pay £25 a month and we run it ourselves as volunteers in a CIC. When we have a surplus we buy fibre. Or repair wifi kit.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
"I don't know why it is so expensive to get a decent feed." - The prices you've posted look market rate to me, a big chunk to install it and then rental, that's what you pay in business its a million miles away from home broadband costs. Ask for a quote from other providers you will see similar prices.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - but Telewest don't exist.

What speed and product was the BT quote and was it really Openreach who only supply Communications Providers?
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Oops, just read it was 30M. Does not matter if it was fibre, copper or wet string.

What would LUNS charge for a 30M link?
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
Regarding wireless Telefonica in Spain, Australia, S Korea, etc, have masts here and there repeating signals, not just at each premises,

Regardless of how/where/why there are scale and cost issues. There's no scale and it costs a fortune per home passed.

The 30Mbps Openreach backhaul quoted is about average - seems quite disingenuous comparing the cost of 2M versus 30.
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
The cost of the installation of the fibre initially gives some idea of the cost of the 'community pumps' that are often discussed. If you were unable to afford the cost of a 30Mbps circuit where would the money have come from for one of the 1Gbps community pumps you discuss?

To me here in London 30Mbps is still nearly 26k/year with just under 5k install fee, probably a bit much too for 23 properties.

A gig is a mere 276k/year with 19k install.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Spot on Dixi, it won't be any cheaper for a single feed, obviously more people can contribute to that cost rather than everyone pay for their own but that cost still stands, its going to be very expensive which I think cd is having a hard time swallowing.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
£22.7K pa for 30Mbps, constant not burst, plus £3.3k for install here.

So if in Central London I would be expecting less, in fact going to Purley drops it to £16k and same setup fee.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cd - Have you approached Rutland/Vtesse etc about a price for a single fibre bearer you can share out?
Posted by kjmacisaac over 6 years ago
What an inspiring video! Fibre is the way forward and it should be as easy as possible for people to DIY it themselves - instead of waiting for Openreach.
My home line is connected to an Infinity updated exchange - however my green street box hasn't been connected - as openreach don't feel they'll make their money back! My home is in Glasgow - as stones throw from the Common Wealth Games village - a site that will house 1400 new homes (probably with a FTTH connection). This lack of future planning is why this countries infrastructure is in the state it's in!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
ah. just done a traceroute. we are supplied by virgin. think they bought out the company we used to be with? So luns are buying our feed off them. Re asking others, don't they still have to buy from openreach? won't we just be getting a middleman again? I have asked Luns if we can have an upgrade, but we can't, cos our feed comes from a mast. or three. Re install of the fibre, it is already in a grid in the village. BT want £7.5k to take it 4 metres into the community hall, and £14k a year for transit, plus backhaul charges.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
Telewest was the named used by Virgin Media for its business arm, they changed to adopt Virgin Media properly earlier this year.

Fibre does not always come with Openreach involved, firms like C&W have a lot in the ground, all depends on who has a POP closest to you.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cd - Maybe, maybe not, if you went BT your service would probably be provided by BT Wholesale, if you went elsewhere they might use Openreach to provide the wires but you would be buying the service from someone else who might be cheaper. Then of course there is another option as andrew says where it might not be BT for any of the solution, cable & wireless certainly do have a lot of their own infrastructure around the country. But again... I wouldn't expect you'll see a massive amount of difference in price its still going to be a fair whack to share between 23 properties.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Geo is 6 miles away. Virgin about 10. openreach is 4 metres from the door. Considering the fibre is already there, and it doesn't cost anything extra to send the signal down it, why is it so much more expensive in a rural area? I understand the equipment costs are also on top of the install, transit and backhaul figures i quoted earlier. Why should distance matter?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Who's fibre is it that is 4 metres away? You can't just "jack in" to someone elses fibre you have to pay for your own.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
By who I don't mean "its Openreaches" I mean, who's is that actual fibre, does it belong to a business, a university? You can't just splice yourself onto another piece. Its not a free for all. This fibre your talking about will be a dedicated paid for circuit for someone else, you can't use it.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
It's more expensive in rural areas because it is based on distance.

Love the cd idea that if electricity passes your house you should have it cheaper...

I have explained to cd before that a fibre may be used for a particular service, eg. mobile provider, but she does not get it.

There is a new fibre going past here going to the TV/mobile mast. Can I have link into it?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Hmmmm you really need to understand how its provided cd it might help realise the costs, these fibres aren't shared media and as somerset says part of the cost is distance, to the nearest point of presence.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - do you know there is an unused fibre that you should have for free? Where does it go?

You say why is it expensive if the fibre is there, what if there is no fibre?

gman means who is renting the fibre.

cd - again and again, fibre does not automatically mean internet.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
People seem to think BT can go cable the land 'willy-nilly', but don't forget the government forces them to be 'competitive', meaning that where ever BT goes, they have to compete still, even a farm 10km from the exchange.

Don't complain, you voted for it!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
the unlit fibre belongs to openreach.the install cost to get it 4 metres into the institute is over £7k. the rent for transit is £14k a year back to the pop. The backhaul is on top of that figure. The lighting equipment is also on top of that figure... That is the current cost to get a connection to the village. The figure quoted last year was £76k install and £64k recurring annually for 30meg on 60meg bearer.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
Unlit fibre from where to where? Openreach may be mad, but tends not to install dark fibre for speculative reasons. It is likely to be a spare fibre for a lit cable in the same ducting.

If Openreach has laid the fibre in the past, it will be looking to recover costs etc. Do builders give you a house for free if it does not sell for a year?
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - do you understand netwoks and business? The spare fibre is not there to be virtually given away to another user, it is part the whole network and has to be paid for.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
In general the cost of laying fibre has not come down in the UK at all.

Openreach is not cheap, because it carries large legacy pension debts, the layers of management that deal with Ofcom/government/competition comission etc
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
And cd - you are not buying/renting fibre. You are renting a xMb connection.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cd, I can sympathise with you thinking these costs are crazy but its just down to the fact you don't understand how they are provided. Fibre in ground aren't shared data pipes you can just hook up to. Fibre cables go from Point A to Point B and are put in place for a single purpose and single customer/rental.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
For example, should you go this route of having a fibre provision to your village, if it ran past 5 other villages on its way to the PoP that would also like access to the internet as well, they can't use that fibre you've bought, its A to B only. This is how these networks are provisioned, the difference with FTTC being that you would have many customers sharing the same fibre(s) to the exchange
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
I don't understand a lot of stuff. I do realise that and I don't pretend to be an expert. All I know is that the fibre is there in the duct, and we can have a connection to it for £x. Seeing as how lighting it will give them a ROI it might as well be used. Just don't understand why it has to be so expensive for rurals. Water doesn't cost urban people more, yet it comes from rural reservoirs and rivers?
light blue touch paper...
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
I wasn't wanting to sound off or rude either, there just more to it than the simple view of its 4metres away so lets go :)
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Yes, it might as well be used if someone pays the going rate.

You will not be getting a connection to 'it'. You will paying for a connection to an end point. What do you think is on the end of this spare fibre and where is it?

Telecomms is point to point, unlike gas and water. Hence distance affects cost.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
And should this fibre go back to where you want anyway it will have an associated cost to put in the ground to start with and that cost needs to be recovered
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
"Lancaster University Network services, which is a business and nothing to do with the university" - apart from preferential access rates, no need to turn a return, cross subsidy and public funding. How else can they massively undercut a competitive market ?

To correct an omission, cyberdoyle could have ADSL but has never tried "Our test also indicates that your line currently supports an estimated ADSL Max broadband line speed of 1.5Mbps."
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
:o is this right cyberdoyle
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - you said 'Re Telewest feed, we buy it from LUNS. Lancaster University Network services, which is a business and nothing to do with the university.'.

Strange - The company employs over 30 full-time and/or part-time staff and is a fully owned subsidiary company of Lancaster University.

http://www.luns.net.uk/about-us/environmental-policy.html
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
er, herdwick I have tried. I have a very flaky backup adsl feed at my house, mostly runs at quarter meg despite engineers visits, new faceplates etc.and a good ISP charging £20 a month. I need this in case the wireless goes down and I need to get into the mesh to diagnose the problem. The houses I feed from the farm with the network wifi cannot get any adsl, and yes they have had many engineers visits too. They are on a different exchange to me. I am the end of our line.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
herdwick, we all know and trust the tests don't we?
Also LUNS charges us the market rates. I haven't investigated them fully. I wonder why you did? It isn't important. If its a subsidiary company it is still a company isn't it? what difference does it make? we don't get anything for free from them. If they get preferential rates for the cleo network I don't think they pass them on to us? Unless I am missing something? and it isn't telewest feed any more, further on you will see i checked and virgin bought them out.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
somerset, the end point is the pop closest to the university research dept. They are getting a connection to the p2pnext project servers. the project needs a 100meg feed, and that is what £14k a year transit costs is for. (It is nothing to do with the wennet project. I am just using that as a cost exercise to try to answer the questions raised on this post). If we want internet access on the pipe we are renting transit on that is extra.I don't know what LUNS will charge them for that yet. £7k to dig 4 metres to join the fibre... what ROI is there on it laying dark gman?
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cyberdoyle, if its really unused its waiting for a paying customer, not one that wants the install costs waived as its already in the ground :) You get nowt for nowt especially in the world of comms
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
£7k covers your installation, connecting the other end and recovers part of the initial fibre installation.

Nobody gives away spare capacity.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
As for ROI are you saying the 23 property owners are willing to pay the £231 a month rental?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
somerset, isn't the £14k a year for transit a ROI for the fibre owner?
That price doesn't include the backhaul or install costs.

GMAM I don't understand your figures. The quotes were for a village connection not for our little network. There are 200+ homes in the village.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
cd - "Thanks all for your comments. Just to put the record straight a business connection from openreach for us to wifi out was quoted at £76k plust £64k a year for 3 yr contract last year. For 23 properties it was a bit too much."

£64k / 23props / 12months = £231
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
o, that figure. Yup, that was what was quoted to us last year.That is why we are still on a 2meg symmetrical feed. I am sorry, I thought you were talking about the other quote for the village feed. I am easily confused. just don't understand why we have to pay extra to join something which is already there just because of distance. People a long way from reservoirs or electric generators don't. Internet access is a utility. The quantity used should be the price point. not the distance.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - What exactly is 'there'? There will be spare fibre and copper lines everywhere. If I want a phone line there will be unused copper pairs right back to the exchange. Should I get free installation?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
hi somerset. no, not free, just a reasonable charge not dependent on distance. same as you would pay for connection to any other utility. Do you pay thousands to connect to mains water or do you live next to a reservoir?
There is no such thing as free. But charges should be fair.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
But cd, it cost openreach to put that cable in from A to B (where ever that maybe do you even know if the B end goes to where you want)? Your basically saying that Openreach should pay the x amount of miles to destination B and you pay the 4 metres how is that fair? You should pay the entire install cost if your going to use it, just as somerset says, you the installation cost of a copper telephone line whether there's a spare copper cable or not. OR have either done the work upfront or not, the cost to them (and you) is the same
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
you the - "you pay the" :)
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - in this case you are not buying a utility, you are paying for a dedicated circuit from A to B which could be 5 or 500 miles in length.

Again, as explained before, fibre does not mean interent.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
fair enough boys. You pay the full install charges for a water pipe and I will pay for a fibre one.
I totally disagree with you, internet access is a utility. and openreach didn't pay for all the infrastructure, it was signed over years ago and they haven't done enough to maintain it, that is why we are now struggling to get decent connections in this country unless we live on top of an exchange or a cabinet.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Its not a utility and when the PO signed "it" over to BT there wasn't a fibre cable in the ground all of the investment has come from BT in this area.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - you are not talking about buying internet access from this spare fibre, it's a circuit from A to B.

What maintenence have Openreach failed to do?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Gman99 all the ducting was there. They only had to pull a fibre through it. The whole country's infrastructure is in their hands. Fibre is really cheap. It is cheaper to run and to repair. They are just hanging on to as much legacy copper as they can because it makes them money. It is only natural. But to keep a golden goose you have to look after it. And the golden goose is more copper than gold now. it isn't going to lay many more eggs. Somerset we should now all have a broadband connection in this country that is fit for purpose. A full third of us don't.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Ducting is just one part of it. Fibre isn't really cheap, not to supply a proper end to end wholesale service. They've been supplying fibre for years to businesses its just outside your price range that's all (nothing wrong with that). The only thing BT had to do when they took over was to maintain a phone service there was no data network to maintain over phone lines back then. Comments like "all they have to do is pull a fibre through" again shows your lack of understanding of what is behind the scenes and how much it all costs. Copper makes them money fibre makes them money.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - you don't understand the set up and running of a real telecomms network.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - BT do more than copper, read this and comment:

http://www.openreach-communications.co.uk/ethernet/about-ethernet/
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
thanks Somerset. i read all that. then I investigated a bit more. It sounds like ethernet, or etherline is the name for a fibre capable of 10 gigs which is throttled by a router and software to only deliver 100 meg. The router would be part of the construction charges? so a WES customer ends up paying for the equipment which constricts their pipe. I wondered why it cost £7k to dig 4 metres. I didn't understand the earlier comments. Now I do. A bit. I live and learn. thank you. you certainly stretch my brain.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
A local fibre is just the way of getting the service paid for (eg. 100M) into the core network where your dedicated 100M is carried on the infrastructure.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
there is not spots as well as poor spots in urban areas.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
hi Chrysalis, yes, there are many notspots in urban areas as well as countless crap spots. The final third first represents anyone further than 3km from an exchange or 300 metres from a cabinet. They are the ones who will never get a fit for purpose connection. Its not just the rurals who suffer limited connectivity, but they tend to be in clusters. The poor urban people will find their signal degrades faster over the coming years. They will have to move next door to a cab?
Posted by camieabz over 6 years ago
Excellent vid. Well done to Christine for showing plenty of reasons why the rural areas need (not want) broadband. People forget just how remote these places can be through the winter and if family are far away.

I myself moved a hundred miles from my parents and was glad to hook up with my Dad once or twice a week on the webcam, just to make the 'hallo' a little more personal. I keep trying to convince my Mum to get a laptop and some Broadband so she can chat to her great aunt in Australia on a weblink.

Great to see the coes coming out after winter. They jump as if being reborn.
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