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New e-petition calls for legal right to 2 Mbps at a fair price
Monday 15 October 2012 18:33:22 by Andrew Ferguson

Making broadband a legal right with an enforceable Universal Service Obligation is back on the agenda again. A resident on the Mull of Kintyre has started a new e-petition that runs until 17th February 2013 (currently with 132 signatures), where those signing are showing their support for 'The Legal Right to 2Mbps Fairly Priced, Minimum Broadband Speed in the UK'.

Three weeks ago the Country Land and Business Association made similar calls, the difference with an e-petition is that the Government is meant to consider for debate any petition that exceeds 100,000 signatures.

There is a Universal Service Commitment at 2 Mbps due for 2015, but this carries no legal weight like an obligation, though even with obligations there can be issues like excess costs that utility firms can charge. The more interesting aspect of the petition is the call for the speed a customer receives to be reflected in the price they pay, with a 2 Mbps service costing only one eighth of the monthly fee. Charging for speed received is not simple, as there will be people close to the exchange who do not want to pay the higher fee, and thus providers would need to also introduce speed throttling systems, otherwise many millions could see their price wise.

In fact price is the big problem and why speed based pricing was dropped in 2004 by BT Wholesale, and none of the LLU providers have been keen to implement it. The theory goes that if Openreach and the providers got paid less for slow connections they would be encouraged to increase speeds so that those who want more speed can upgrade. Unfortunately if one looks at the distribution of people on services with speed/price tiers the great majority opt for the lowest priced tier that lets them just about do what they want. Also if a speed tier system is not implemented with strong regulation, we may see the faster products rapidly increase in price, so that the slower products can be sold without impacting the overall revenue.

Comments

Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
Nice idea but flawed. Saying 2M on a 16M package should be 1/8th shows a lack of understanding of how broadband works.

Do we have a 'legal right' to mains electricity, gas and drainage?

And there is always satellite...
Posted by adslmax about 1 year ago
The price is nothing to do with the speed. It to do with usage allowance bandwidth charge that paid to BT. No matter if u only got 256K, 512K, 1Mb or 2Mb, or 8Mb or even 21Mb.
Posted by fibrebunny about 1 year ago
Sounds rather petty to me, they want the cost of providing the service to be heavily subsidised along with the subscription costs on the grounds that they feel hard done by.

This coming winter there will be homes without mains gas, with people struggling to afford adequate heating. Many will default to trying to heat one room only. Is faster internet really more important than a warm home?
Posted by vicdupreez about 1 year ago
This is the issue in the UK as far as I can see it... A lot of people is now demanding broadband at a "fair" price, but what they do not understand is that we are already way way under the fair price. If we stuck to the top speed at 50 quid, maybe BT would have had some money to fibre the entire country... Maybe then we would not be in this freakin mess...
Posted by New_Londoner about 1 year ago
If there is a USO of some description, how will it be funded? Also, as the petitioner is in Scotland, which I believe has devolved powers on this, presumably the petition will go to Edinburgh rather than London anyway?
Posted by New_Londoner about 1 year ago
If those in rural areas want to petition for the legal right to services enjoyed in more urban areas, with the funding unclear by probably paid for by someone else, should the rest of us petition for the reverse. How about a petition demanding the right for those of us in urban areas to enjoy congestion free roads, lower rents, access to huge EU subsidies to maintain our businesses, low air pollution and so on?

Or do we accept the pros and cons of where we live and either get on with it, or move if we're not happy? Just saying.
Posted by Spectre_01 about 1 year ago
e-petitions... not worth the paper their written on.
Posted by Michael_Chare about 1 year ago
It is not just rural areas that have no or poor broadband. There is a Univeral Service Obligation for telephone services. Why not broadband? Why should some people suffer because of the vagaries of the way telephone lines were installed.
Posted by greenglide about 1 year ago
"Why not broadband? Why should some people suffer because of the vagaries of the way telephone lines were installed."

Why not mains gas, terrestrial TV etc etc?

The USO for telephones etc works because the infrastructure was put in place by a nationalised industry without competition.

Competition doesnt does sit well with a USO. Someone, somewhere has to pay!
Posted by vicdupreez about 1 year ago
If you Build a house in a rural area, the Electricity company with give you an option on single phase power, or 3 phase power. They will also quote a REASONABLE price. I chose single phase, because 3 phase was too far away and was costing a lot more. The water board will quote you an outrageous price, I drilled a hole and fitted it with a pump for less than 10% of their quote. BT gave me no options. I had a choice between a copper line, or no line, at whatever money it was. No choices at all.
Posted by vicdupreez about 1 year ago
This is what needs to be fixed. If I am willing to pay for the fibre install at the build stage, why is that option not available to me? They had to put some more copper in the ground for me specifically, because there was none. Why not replace this with fibre?
Posted by New_Londoner about 1 year ago
@Vic
You do have options! What about satellite for broadband? And you can get fibre installed at the build stage if you want Ethernet, no point for broadband though unless your exchange has been enabled for FTTP already, as otherwise what will it connect with?
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
"Unfortunately if one looks at the distribution of people on services with speed/price tiers the great majority opt for the lowest priced tier that lets them just about do what they want.". That's perfectly reasonable as far as I'm concerned, why should the consumer have to pay for a package that's over the top for what they need? (although it's what Sky does, telecomms companies etc, bundling services that you don't need). But it's incompatible with the idea of a privatised service out to make money for shareholders. You buy the lot or you buy none at all. Apparently, that's choice!
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
Vic - because there is not yet a standard fibre only product?
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
That might be wrong...

Because FTTP needs a certain number of properties to cost in.
Posted by warweezil about 1 year ago
"How about a petition demanding the right for those of us in urban areas to enjoy congestion free roads, lower rents, access to huge EU subsidies to maintain our businesses, low air pollution and so on?" Yeah you can also have the low wages Huge travel costs and lack of infrastructure that go with it. The cheap country fallacy is so tired now...
Posted by otester about 1 year ago
Looks like some people have entitlement issues.
Posted by DrewR about 1 year ago
I think a charge based on the line capability is probably more equitable. I believe many ISPs offer different price structures for levels of provision which presumably factor in the wholesale charge? A few years ago there was a 1MB BTW product which, for some reason, BTW discontinued, forcing marginal locations to pay for a higher speed option which they could not get, or settle on a half meg capped service which struck me then as unfair and I wonder if 2MB is the new 1MB so far as a reasonable threshold for running a useful service is concerned.
Posted by DrewR about 1 year ago
Although we are on a half meg connection in Scotland I am not suffering from fibre envy nor begrudge people having high speed connections where it is easy to achieve. However, please do not assume everyone in Scotland is living in a black house on a rock in the Atlantic. Some, like us, are less than an hour from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Development of communities outside the cities in Scotland and probably much of northern England has tended to be more dispersed than in the south of Britain, which means more wire and poles per capita and all that entails.
Posted by DrewR about 1 year ago
The USO is a good thing if it lowers the bar far enough to be reasonably inclusive for the whole nation.
Posted by pfvincent about 1 year ago
What nobody has commented on so far is the phrase in the petition text "with a commitment to 50Mbps minimum by 2015 for all". That strikes me as far more contentious! Even in major cities most areas do not have that speed unless Virgin cable is available.
Posted by machanch about 1 year ago
[Posted by vicdupreez 9 days ago
If we stuck to the top speed at 50 quid, maybe BT would have had some money to fibre the entire country... Maybe then we would not be in this freakin mess..]
I for on would consider a lower speed if my price increase. I am sure lot of people would look at what they pay and receive. So there is no gain here for service providers.
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