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10Meg universal broadband for Cumbria by 2015
Friday 10 December 2010 11:05:01 by Andrew Ferguson

How you define superfast broadband is always open to interpretation, so to see Cumbria County Council talking of a minimum speed of 10Mbps being available across the county, one needs to look at what people in the area already get. 10Mbps is well below the fastest speed of 100Mbps already available in some parts of UK. This speed is expected to reach over half of UK households within a little over a year with speeds of between 30 to 40Mbps being available to 60% of homes. In the context of a county that traditionally has been know for poor broadband coverage outside of the larger towns, 10 meg will seem very fast.

So whilst it's easy to be negative, we have a council that is looking at aiming for something five times the proposed Universal Service Commitment of 2 meg by 2015 that the current Government is aiming for. This improvement on the basic USC is to happen under the umbrella name of Accessible Cumbria and follows on from selection as one of four pilot areas by the BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK body).

Tenders are expected to go out in early 2011 with work starting later in the year. Firms such as BT and Virgin are in the running apparently, but no detail on whether it will be a single county wide bid, or whether smaller initiatives will be able to bid for specific villages.

In line with the government's recent announcement of merging the procurement of next-gen infrastructure and the USC services where possible, we hope Accessible Cumbria will endeavour to get the best speed for the money, rather than simply settle for hitting the 10Mbps figure. We suspect the 10Mbps figure may have been chosen as it is possible to provide this connection speed over satellite broadband connection for the odd property/business that is so isolated that fibre/wireless/copper technologies would prove prohibitively expensive.


Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
Cumbria county council look like they have been suckered the same as Cornwall. I hope I am wrong, but if they hand the money over to the incumbent for cabinets then we will have the whole job to do again in a few years time. Cabinets are not digital village pumps. They are just a means of protecting the copper phone lines. Cabinets won't help the rurals, and satellites are too expensive for many. So all it means is that a larger digital divide opens up.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
If a cabinet is not a digital village pump - what is the pump going to be?

You say FTTC will not help rural areas? Why? 8km line, 0.5Meg at best now, drops to 2km to cabinet getting 10Meg - is that not a worthwhile improvement? Those closer to cabinet would see even better improvements.

Cornwall remember is to see around 30-40% FTTH coverage - no where else in the UK is this even planned, let alone at the start of implementation.
Posted by Legolash2o over 6 years ago
10Mbps minimum, thats brilliant... that's what the USO should be!

I'm sure FTTC will be good enough for the people of Cumbria if the minimum is 10Mbps.

Well done Cumbria County Council!
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
A positive article with negative comments as usual :)

Companies will tender for this work cd, if you are that bothered go to the meetings in Cumbria and rattle your copper saber! :)
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
It sounds like an excellent initiative - I wish them well. Oh and CB - get real. We can't run fibre to every last farm house, out house and hen house in the country. 10Mb minimum connection speed if it has a decent backhaul behind it should be adequate for anyone for the rest of the decade. That's longer than a lot of people have had their broadband.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
edit:Should be 'CD' not 'CB'. I don't know who'd be most offended by that typo :D
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
Surely the answer is to ask those tendering to include a chart of % people vs speed. For instance, Virgin Media might be 100% of people can get 20Mbps, BT might be 50% of people 10Mbps, 30% 5Mbps, 20% less than 1Mbps. The decide based on that. Pay the tender on x% upfront y% on completion. Leaflet drop the people in the area and ask anyone to report substandard speeds. When the tender has been fulfilled, and only then, make the last payment.
Posted by WalterWillcox over 6 years ago
A small positive point is that 10 Mbps will eliminate any proposals of BET type solutions.
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
Do Virgin even have a presence in Cumbria? I've put in around 5 or 6 CA postcodes in, CA1 and a few others at random and its all national broadband, no cable provision. That's them out of the tender then.
Posted by Aqualung over 6 years ago
I wont be holding my breath, in the not so rural area of Cumbria 21cn is still not here and is now 2 years over date, C&W were immanent in July and no matter what system is put in its all going to rely on a system with no redundancy and entry points 100's of miles away that are falling over far too frequently.Forgive me for not dancing for joy but cumbria county council are famous for how much talking they do and what they aim for and what we get are often far apart.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
cd - See what Rutland are charging in the other article to know what's involved in FTTPing. (New word)
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
What are you talking about CD? They are tendering next year,you don't know the contents of that tender nor do I.

Perhaps they are concerned about the affordability of the Rutland FTTP solution.

'A residential product offers 50meg broadband with a 5meg upload speed and 25GB usage allowance for £50 per month on a 12 month contract.'

'No setup fee is chargeable for those who signed up before the 1st of December although a minimum connection fee will apply of £1000+VAT subject to survey (costing a further £150) for any new orders.'

'advanced signup of over £250,000 of private investment'
Posted by FibreGuy over 6 years ago
@Posted by andrew ( staff member) about 10 hours ago If a cabinet is not a digital village pump - what is the pump going to be?

Andrew the Digital Village Pump is defined here

The Rutland model is certainly good news re alternatives emerging in the wake of the NextGenUs UK CIC Ashby FttH live deployment

CD does make a vital point re FttC - it is a Digital Deadend and missed opportunity to do telecoms differently ie put people first for a change!
Posted by GMAN99 over 6 years ago
At what cost Fibreguy? More cost than people are willing to pay.

FTTH is much better than FTTC no-one is denying that, but for the money people have got to invest & pay FTTC may well have to do
Posted by djay over 6 years ago
Wow 10mbit eh.... Great :( let's hope it is a minimum for people in rural areas, i myself live in the ca2 area and can get 3.4mbit's so to say i would be happy with 10mbit while the rest of the country sits on 25-50-100mb well it's just cumbria all over i.e pointless.

I was hoping for a min of 50mbit in the city but no doubt we will sign up for some terrible service which will be out dated in no time and still have to pay through the nose for it.

Posted by djay over 6 years ago
And no we dont have Virgin media here instead we have "Smallworld Cable" Which is a shoddy as can be, disgracefull backhaul is supplied via Deamon inet. Want 50+ms pings to anywhere in the uk ??? and a max speed only acievable by opening multiple streams ?? then Smallworld is the cable company you want to sign up to.

Check out there prices and notice this shambles company still don't even do hd tv streams... they are a complete joke.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

With a high-speed connection, you don't need cable.

£29 for 50Mbps is good...
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
*by cable I mean the TV bit.
Posted by chrysalis over 6 years ago
I wouldnt be negative, 10mbit is more than double the pre FTTC average of 4.5mbit.
Posted by Dixinormous over 6 years ago
Interesting link FibreGuy.

'Geographically Neutral Backhaul'

Or to put it another way ignoring the actual costs of providing the backhaul and having urban areas subsidise rural ones. Again.


Ridiculous, especially given the amount of exchanges that would need subsidy. Over 3000 exchanges account for less than 10% of the population, a few hundred account for over half the population.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
otester - you would need a true unlimited download limit for TV. 4 hours/day of HD is 360G/month.

Will come in time.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

Most LLU providers do already, well kinda.

Notice the unlimited 16Mbps packages, although they don't stop you from getting the full 24Mbps if you're lucky enough to be capable of it, they only dedicate you 16Mbps worth of usage, ~5.5TB.

When at uni I was bordering at 500GB a month, I was downloading more than I could watch (uni/work etc.).
Posted by ElBobbo over 6 years ago
They certainly don't "dedicate" anywhere near 5.5TB per customer per month, otester. They just hope most people will never do much beyond surfing and email, and for the most part they don't (yet).
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
IET Fibre to Britain 2010 event presentations -
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

It is actually displayed in the ICUK control panel for those that get their 16Mbps LLU package.

And the contracts for those LLU providers also says this (technically).

Probably a bluff like you said though.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@otester:"When at uni I was bordering at 500GB a month" - which is way above average and any service that can provide that will have correspondingly unpleasant pricing and availability issues.

I'm not trying to start another 'you shouldn't..' argument here. Just pointing out how extreme your usage is/was. Residential ISPs just aren't geared up for that kind of demand. Some of them can tolerate it from a few users but it's way off the normal curve.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
It'd be interesting to know what the typical usage is but I reckon anything above 10GB a month would still put you in the minority. 100GB a month I'd guess as being no more than 10% of users..if that.

I don't want to debate the rights and wrongs of it but from a financial point of view that's a problem. Any time you start to use a service in an unusual way you start to encounter limitations or additional costs.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

So it's unusual to use a product to its full potential within the terms in which it was sold?
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@otester:Pretty much any service is contended - they all assume that customers will only use a relatively small %ge of what's available. Hospitals don't have enough beds for everyone in their area. Restaurants don't have enough tables. Roads can't handle every vehicle simultaneously. Telephone exchanges can't handle every line being used to make or receive a call. Most houses have fewer bathrooms than bedrooms. I doubt the power grid could handle everyone demanding the full 13 amps at the same time.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
(cont'd) The only difference with residential broadband is the marketing that tries to gloss over this and for some reason a lot of people think that the Internet /should/ be a free lunch.

But the fact remains that the usage levels you quoted are unusual. Whether that means you're overusing the service or everyone else underusing it is largely irrelevant.

The fact is that if everyone else increases their usage to your levels it's going to kill the ISP's current business model. Obliterate it in fact.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
(cont'd) that could be a good thing - have some honesty in the marketing of BB. Unfortunately price-wise I think a lot of people will scream. At those kind of usage levels I'd guess monthly charges will triple. Or worse.

But I don't think that will really happen. Most things in life can be plotted on a bell curve. Your usage is simply at the far right of the curve at represents a minority. I think it always will.

Your only problem is that providers often chop off the two remote ends of the curve because there tends to be far less profit out there :)
Posted by ElBobbo over 6 years ago
Have you actually thought about the "excessive" usage you're talking about? Do you know that 100GB a month on a 50Mbit line is only 9 minutes of use a day? At 16Mbit it's 27 minutes a day.

Are you seriously telling us that keeping our lights on for half an hour a day or taking a shower longer than 9 minutes is unreasonable?

ISPs are selling a product they have no ability to provide.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@ElBobbo:Where did I ever say it was unreasonable?

I merely pointed out that his usage is unusually high and that businesses often have issues dealing with customers whose usage patterns are significantly different from the majority.

I don't think either of those two statements can be challenged.

I'm also pretty sure that if the majority of ISP customers started using 500GB a month it would have an obvious impact on their business model.

About the only time I made a judgement was to imply that ISPs are mis-selling the service - something everyone agrees on.
Posted by ElBobbo over 6 years ago
Well, we absolutely agree on that.

However, your examples were excessive; comparing it to everyone being in hospital at once? Everyone going to the same restaurant? All telephone lines being used at the same time? Not really reasonable comparisons.

Also, 500GB may be unusually high, but I don't see why it's unreasonable. If they've got problems with people that are using that kind of bandwidth, sell it with a cap.
Posted by ElBobbo over 6 years ago
Also, 500GB/month is only 45 minutes a day on a 50Mbit connection, which is why VM's "unlimited (but no more than ~250GB)" informal policy really frustrates me.

Imagine if the phone company said you had unlimited calls, but you could only use the phone for 45 minutes a day!
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@ElBobby:They sort of do. At least BT requires you to redial if the call is going to last longer than an hour. Mobile calls can certainly suffer congestion problems. Try making an outgoing call from a concert or busy shopping centre some time.

As for the analogies I think they are fair. It's the same problem - just a different perception.

And again - I didn't say 500GB was unreasonable. I just wrote that it was unusual. You're the only one in this conversation who keeps referring to unreasonable behaviour.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Well..sorta. I do think the way most ISPs market their produce is unreasonable. But usage levels - that's for a different discussion and I'd rather not cloud things with that argument here :)
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

I am fully entitled to use a product to its full potential to within it was sold, if we all did, the system would be much more honest.

And I hope that last comment was a correction and not an addition to the previous regarding being "unreasonable".
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
@otester:No-one here has suggested you can't use it the way you want. Anyway you're either deliberately misunderstanding what I write or just have some bee in your bonnet about your usage levels.

I see no point in continuing the discussion.
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