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Evidence from Inquiry into superfast broadband released
Wednesday 18 April 2012 15:11:58 by Andrew Ferguson

If there is anyone out there who likes a good book for bedtime reading, transfer the 385 page PDF that is the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry Into Superfast Broadband Written Evidence to your e-reader.

There are no conclusions drawn at this stage, simply a book comprising the many submissions, which range from Aardman Animations to Wispa Limited. We resisted printing the document to save a few trees, which is the normal way to manage large Ofcom documents, and have reproduced a few interesting sections below, for those looking for a taster of what the evidence contains.

"The phrase super fast broadband is misleading. No government report has adequately explained why 24Mb is necessary. Fibre provides this kind of peak speed, but only in urban areas, so why promote this as a national target?

But one could alternatively choose to prioritise a technology which provides 100% geographic coverage at 10Mb as satellite does. The Broadband Stakeholder Group, in its work leading up to the Carter Report did NOT recommend a 24mb standard. We believe that government has got carried away promoting a technical standard which is unnecessary, impractical and not at all analysed or clearly understood. 24Mb would only be necessary if multiple occupants of a dwelling were simultaneously watching streaming high definition television. Is this an objective worthy of government subsidy, when HD television is universally available at lower cost with BSkyB?"

Written evidence from Avanti Communications

"BT’s fibre network is available to all communications providers to access on an open wholesale basis – providing consumer choice in service provider and choice wherever BT deploys its network. BT’s is the only fibre network deployment in the world that proactively seeks to offer wholesale access to encourage plurality and competition in retail provision of superfast broadband."

Written evidence from BT

"Demand for superfast broadband at present is driven predominantly by the multiple-user household; at this point there is no ‘killer app’. It is worth noting that the major innovations in first generation broadband began to occur when take-up had achieved 30-40%. It is possible that innovative services that require superfast broadband will be developed only once penetration has reach a level that provides a large enough audience; this may be penetration within the UK for UK-specific services, or it could be global penetration/penetration across the English-speaking markets for international services."

Written evidence from the Broadband Stakeholder Group

"The UK Government’s broadband strategy “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future”171 does not offer a clear definition of broadband, it simply notes a target download speed for broadband services in the UK. The same is true of the Call for Evidence. The first point of business for an inquiry into the government’s broadband strategy must be to develop a full understanding of the characteristics of next generation172 broadband connectivity, and to develop a specific definition of the type(s) of broadband connectivity needed to achieve the government’s strategic objectives in encouraging the rollout and take-up of broadband across the UK. Consideration of network attributes in addition to download speed is essential."

Written evidence from Dr Catherine A. Middleton

"Each part of the UK has a completely different economic and geographical landscape when it comes to superfast broadband needs. As a result of this it is our belief that superfast broadband will not be delivered by fibre alone, but through what we have termed ‘mixed use’ Internet access. The government cannot and should not pay for fibre delivery of broadband. Instead fibre and copper broadband access along with mobile (2G, 3G and 4G/LTE) and satellite will make up the options that all individuals who wish to access the Internet will have in the near future in a competitive environment which is full of choice, but only if the government allows."

Written evidence from the Taxpayers' Alliance

While there are some that evangelise about full fibre solutions, the impression one gets is that many parties who submitted evidence see this as something that can happen in the future. Given the stimulus money from the Government that is pretty much the case, but there is nothing wrong with people pushing the envelope and trying to ensure that when 2020 arrives that the UK is not left patching up old solutions. Some comments also reflect vested interests, which is ok given the large amount of contributors, but shows the endemic lack of vision in UK business.


Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
<joke>385 pages? Don't they have any idea of the state of broadband in this country?</joke>
Posted by TheGuv over 5 years ago
I find it somewhat crazy that discussions on minimum speed are still around.

The landscape has changed time and time again - I get rural people are shafted frequently so rather than bandwidth throughput I'd rather see them discuss technology deployment.

Basically - The minimum should be fibre cabs for all. The throughput can be tuned by ISPs depending on the service they provide.
Posted by Kushan over 5 years ago
Fibre cabs for all would be too costly. Why fibre up an entire cab for just 2 or 3 people when you can blanket the area in 4G for less cost and help out 30 or 40 people?
Posted by ahockings over 5 years ago
Arrrgghhhh Nooooooooo.... Oh my god, these people are worse than the Government!! The shear short sighedness of it. Idiots. At the very least EVERY cab should be fibred with enough capacity to then upgrade to FTTH later. Can't anyone see this. It's common bloody sense. This country is truly doomed.
Posted by camieabz over 5 years ago
Question for the staff. Have they or have any of their peers (no pun intended) been consulted in this process, or is it a case of the government listening to the woes of the punters and the dreams of the moneymakers, and having no knowledge in such things, they have come to a non-decision?

Why are such forward thinking ideas being left to those who probably do not use it, nor will some see the benefit of it in their lifetime?
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
Fibre for all isnt too costly, but it requires political motivation which is lacking.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
chrysalis - numbers please.
Posted by ahockings over 5 years ago
About 30 Billion is the cost of FTTH/P for all.
A lot I admit in the current climate. But do it over say 3-4 years, start at lands end and work up or John O’Groats and work down, BT, SKY, TALKTALK etc. all contribute together with private investment it could easily be done. The result? Totally future proofed UK for 100 years!! Massive economic growth (get money back in 4 years), huge foreign investment in UK, FTTC cab removal=massive reduction in electricity requirement, quieter roads (eventually)… I could go on… Dear Mr Cameron, Why oh why oh why????????............ HELLO!! Anyone???
Posted by ahockings over 5 years ago
Sorry, did I sound frustrated just then? :-)
Posted by KarlAustin over 5 years ago
@ahockings - AFAIK the £30bn figure was for BT to do it i.e. it would have used a lot of existing infrastructure. There's no way Sky/Talktalk are going to chip in a chunk of change for that. It'd have to be a completely separate entity, so it would cost more.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The figures vary greatly but £20bn to £30bn is the usual range for FTTP to all.

Though reckon this is really 98 to 99%
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
The costs of national fibre to the home could be greatly reduced. Instead of paying fit healthy people to be unemployed they could be given paid work laying fibre. = no extra cost.
Chain gangs?
The fibre itself is cheap as chips, the copper can be recycled and bring money back in. It just needs some joined up thinking. Depends really on how important the government think it is for the country to be digital.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
cd - put some numbers together to show how this would work. What's the breakdown of the £30bn? After this they can build HS2.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@cyberdoyle while a noble idea, the fact there are not 100,000's picking litter from roadsides suggest that is not a popular idea in policy circles.

The expensive bit is the trench, then ducting, the fibre blowing and jointing needs a little more care and training, but not masses.

UK is one of the most digital countries in the world. Prove otherwise, as digital is a daft word.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
What's the costing of installing FTTC to a property compared with the value of eg. 3km of recovered copper?
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
Oops, should say FTTP.
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
Posted by Kushan 2 days ago
Fibre cabs for all would be too costly. Why fibre up an entire cab for just 2 or 3 people when you can blanket the area in 4G for less cost and help out 30 or 40 people?

4g? wireless pants connection spped with bad latency. and severe packet loss.
Posted by JohnAlt2 over 5 years ago
"Consideration of network attributes in addition to download speed is essential."
Dr Catherine A. Middleton

Like most users my equivelant duplex ADSL speed is 0.3mbs which is pathetic. Both business and domestic internet content creation is restricted by the extremely slow upload speeds of the current and incomming so called fast and superfast internet technology services.

A revolution of how the internet is used will occur when we have true affordable internet broadband rather than the download only internet that the the ISPs and the Government talk about.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
20mbps upload is slow ? People will always want to download more than upload
Posted by ryster over 5 years ago
creakycopperline... I presume you haven't seen the 4G/LTE demos on shows like The Gadget Show then? 4G/LTE has proved to be faster than most people's home broadband connections. Don't compare it to the crappy 3G networks out there now.
Posted by Alex121 over 5 years ago
@ryster 3G internet is much faster than my phone line based internet!
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