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Lords Select Committee to collect Superfast broadband evidence
Wednesday 15 February 2012 12:06:26 by Andrew Ferguson

The plans for the UK to have the best broadband in Europe by 2015 are often criticised, but often it is difficult to tell genuine concern apart from the usual UK habit of complaining about everything.

The House of Lords it appears is trying to get to the bottom of the issue, with the Select Committee on Communications issuing a Call For Evidence as part of an inquiry into the Government's superfast broadband strategy. Written evidence (a maximum of six pages per submission) will be accepted by email or on old fashioned paper, but must be submitted by Tuesday 13th March 2012. Already the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) has indicated its intent to submit evidence.

Some examples of the questions asked are:

  • The Government have committed £530 million to help stimulate private investment – is this enough and is it being effectively applied to develop maximum social and economic benefit?
  • Will the Government’s targets be met and are they ambitious enough? What speed of broadband do we need and what drives demand for superfast broadband?
  • In fact, are there other targets the Government should set; are there other indicators which should be used to monitor the health of the digital economy? What communications infrastructure does the UK ultimately need to remain competitive and meet consumer demand over the next 20 years?
  • Will the UK's infrastructure provide effective, affordable access to the 'internet of things', and what new opportunities could this enable?
  • How might superfast broadband change the relationship between providers and consumers in other sectors such as content? What aspects of this relationship are key to enabling future innovations that will benefit society?

The Call For Evidence recognises that it is possible that by 2020 Gigabit solutions may be required, or even if not required, the lack of widespread availability may stifle innovation and economic growth, resulting in business setting up in countries where the infrastructure can support the speeds they require for a service.

The original BDUK format arose during the last years of the Labour Government, and while some parts changed with the new Government, overall ambitions changed little. The distinct danger is that the BDUK funded projects will simply become box ticking projects, and the 2015 metrics based measurement will involve enough weighting and fudging that an announcement of target met will be a foregone conclusion.

One area that needs addressing is that while the BDUK and local authorities have hidden behind a technology neutral fence, they have all failed to define key measurements for what is classed as superfast broadband, we have a range of download speeds from 20 Mbps to 30 Mbps that councils are using (BDUK defines superfast as 25 Mbps or faster), but no clear requirements on upstream or latency of services. Additionally the favoured solution so far appears to be VDSL2 via Fibre to the Cabinet solutions, which while giving good actual speeds of 35 Mbps to many, there are situations where a small percentage will see speeds below 20 Mbps, but we suspect that these properties will still be defined as receiving superfast broadband.


Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Given that 50% of the population have or could have access to high speeds from VM or others what are the applications using it?

Business have access to high speeds now, at a cost. How many move abroad because of a lack of access?

1G implies FTTP, just need to sort out the funding.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Business has access at a cost, but if other firms can do the same in EU for lower cost, then guess who will win a bidding war?

We have a history of under investing in industry, i.e. it does the job now, and then a new entrant leaps past and pulls new work away. Then one day we wake up with almost no ship building industry and other things.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Which would benefit the UK most - HS2 or 100% FTTP?
Posted by fibrebunny over 5 years ago
Given BT are rolling out FTTC and not laying rail track then I suspect the former. Assuming HS2 was abandoned in favour of FTTP with its costly implementation and numerous legal challenges. Rail would still require public money to be patched up. Significantly more so than is being spent patching up the superfast have nots. So the question is what else would you cut in favour of FTTP.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Fibrebunny - don't make it sound like you need to cut something to do FTTP. You have to look at it as an investment. The ROI on it would be for whoever built it but probably not as fast as they would like, granted.
The real ROI would be for the people and the businesses, estimated at many billions. We have to think ahead. Or like Andrew says we'll wake up one day and we'll be so far behind we'll never catch up. "Based on Ericsson's figures, if UK reached an average of 100mbps, it would add $230bn to UK GDP"
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
"The ROI on it would be for whoever built it but probably not as fast as they would like, granted." Sadly it is worse than that because if BT built it - it would have to be wholesaled meaning that it would take even longer to pay off.

For some of these rural locations we are probably looking at 50yrs+ for a ROI, not good really.

Instead of people complaining more B4RN's need to start up for rural locations, other telco's will take care of the rest
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Given that the public finances are a mess, and already fully allocated, you do have to cut something in order to free up the money if the govt wants to fund FTTP. Whether you view it as an investment or not is immaterial, you still have to find the money to pay for the deployment from somewhere.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
If FTTP is a good investment why isn't it happening everywhere...
Posted by camieabz over 5 years ago

Mostly because the returns are long-term, and those with the means and know-how want returns sooner. They don't consider the retail opportunities in tens of thousands across large areas, when there are hundreds of thousands in smaller areas.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
Let's hope that the enquiry doesn't just look for evidence for the demand for 1Gps services, but that it also considers evidence regarding the cost for providing such services and evidence of the willingness of people to pay an appropriate amount to receive the services too.

Without this there is a danger of it proving the equivalent of a demand for free money - plenty of demand, but no sustainable business model!
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
camieabz, what is it that FTTP can do that FTTC cannot in these areas?
Posted by AspieMum over 5 years ago
Inspite of the leaflets put through my door saying we are in a virgin media area would I like their fibre broadband I am actually not in an area that can get cable or any form of fibre and the companies are not even thinking of bringing it here. I am connecting at about 800KBs right now and haven't had over 1MBs for a while (and even then 1.7MBs was the highest). The slow speeds are causing problems.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
FTTC cannot serve the rural areas GMAN because there are no cabinets there, and even if there were a few the line lengths would be too great to reach everyone, so the answer is, a fibre can give them a robust connection that works. Either 2meg USC or a gigabit. Its there forever and can go at any speed, whereas copper can't deliver, and even if a bit could be squeezed out by bonding two pairs it can't be classed as nga or futureproof.
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