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Think tank calls for broadband policy rethink
Monday 07 January 2013 10:43:26 by Andrew Ferguson

2015 now feels frighteningly close and the think tank group Policy Exchange is suggesting that those in control of UK broadband policies should re-think their plans for 2015 and onwards.

"Successive governments have been right to invest public money in basic broadband connectivity. The government's current spending plans will extend fast broadband to the vast majority of people. Any further public money should be spent on making sure we are putting this to good use. It's far from clear that your taxes should help to pay for me to have an even faster connection."

Chris Yiu, Head of Digital Government, Policy Exchange

The policy group is calling for any spending post 2015 to be concentrated on getting the around 10 million people in the UK who do not use the Internet to actually start using it. This appears to ignore the number of councils who with their BDUK projects are actually intending to carry on through into 2016 and 2017, and the previously announced EU Digital Agenda goals of all households across the EU having access to a 30 Mbps connection by 2020.

While we can see the benefit to reining in the constant mantra that faster is better no matter the cost type projects, if one took this to its full conclusion and focused on pure 100% coverage only, then the delivery of broadband across the UK could be done in a matter of months and make satellite broadband providers very rich.

The task of getting the last few million people in the UK to actually use the Internet productively and for things like interaction with Government is a complex one, that crosses many boundaries including education and cost for individuals. The biggest hurdle may actually be trust both of technology and people concerned about why they are being forced online.


Posted by michaels_perry over 4 years ago
I think they need a bot of a rethink. That many will not have fibre/cable broadband by 2015 means they need to continue investment until all telephony and data services (Internet, etc) are delivered to every home and business location in the UK. Why should village and rural dwellers be left out yet again? Many don't get mains gas simply because providers will not lay the pipes. I see this as an opportunity for all utilities to work together and get ALL modern services provided to everyone. Only then should be consider 'What Next'.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Pretty daft. If people are not using it it is probably because thet do not want to do so.
THey could just send a mailshot out and maybe a £10 voucher to encorage them to take it up but that is as far as it goes

I suspect that this is more about quangos trying to find something to do now that the BDUK programe is moving into the implimentation phase
Posted by Mince1978 over 4 years ago
Excellent proposal.... I agree whole heartedly with the above post... ISP's have been given too much leeway in the past and make money hand over fist anyway. My personal view is Broadband should be as fast as possible with out limits or caps...I live with me parents who have BT option 1, which only gives 10gb allowance per month...Its diabolical.. 10Gb, really! Arent we in the 21st century now! What with the option of film/ tv and music downloads plus the hail of email jokes and video links 10gb is a ridiculously low amount..Its time the money grabbers gave something back!!
Posted by Mince1978 over 4 years ago
Bob you beat me to it lol...But I agree with your post too! :-)
Posted by Mince1978 over 4 years ago
There must be some 'PC' do gooders in the government who obviously feel that enough has been done already and want to move spending somewhere else altogether..Its in plain sight now that the politicians and there silly think tanks dont live in the real world at all, and dont care a tinkus cus for ordinary folk, who struggle to see what thier actually getting for thier hard earned money!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
shame think tanks don't think.
or talk to ordinary sensible people instead of quangos and consultants with hidden agenda.
If we want everyone to be digital we have to make it easy.
Reliable, affordable connectivity, without putting public money into stop gap solutions as is presently being done and will leave millions with rubbish connections like last time. That is why so many aren't online.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
One thing that could be sensibly be done is better marketting of FTTC particularly when exchanges go live.

Why do they not send out targeted mailshots to say it is available.

By Targeted I mean they dont send it out to everyone on the exchange. Only those cabinets enabled. It should also leave out EO lines

I should imagine such a mail shot would gain at least 2% more users
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@bob_s2 Mailshot by who? If done by Openreach very likely many will assume its BT Retail who is the only option.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago

I read them, as do many 1000's of others, including many in the industry. I often don't agree, but do take on board what people say and when discussing these issues with people do voice concerns people have.

In this case given that the think tank is at odds with 2020 goals, it is not likely to result in any chance.

By the way, calling people names is likely to mean they switch off and miss anything useful you may say.
Posted by saladisfun over 4 years ago
Agree with Michaels. Rural communities largely forgotten about. As he says, no mains gas, no public transport and broadband 600kb on a good day. No realistic access to BBC iplayer etc. People will say "move" but this not always possible and rural business needs support. We all pay as much taxes and rates as urban dwellers. More resources need to focus on the provision of 2Mb minimum across UK as stated in recent Select Committee.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
I can think of two people in my immediate family who could care less for broadband. One has access via work, and the other has no interest whatsoever.

The latter has plenty use for it, but will not make the move. There's not even a PC in that house. Some people prefer other interests, and the thinktank should appreciate this.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Clearly any mailshot needs to be ISP neutral. It could be BT OPENREACH but even that might make people assume BT. Perhaps BDUK could do it. It just saay FTTC is now available etc etc and it can be obtained from any of the ISP's below in your area
Posted by cyberdoyle over 4 years ago
Problem with that Bob_s2 is that many connected to the cabs will only get 5meg and some wont get a service at all. Just because a cab is enabled doesn't mean all of those lines from the old cab next to it will get a decent service. FTTC is only a stopgap. It is making the divide even wider between the haves and have nots. It is not much use past a kilometre.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
cd - what do you mean by 'many'? Why do you say FTTC is a stop gap when no one else does? FOD for those that need it. Find out the distribution of line lengths.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
cd is only focussed on the empty part of the glass, the full part is of no interest.
Posted by mdar5 over 4 years ago
Gas is not available in villages as it is not economic to put in the pipelines. This was true when it was publically owned and is equally true now Transco is private hands.
State ownership does not lead to universal access for all.
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
According to Ofcom, the current average download speed on FTTC is > 60Mb. Also 90% of us live within 1km of a cabinet, so could get speeds of 40Mb+ if vectoring is implemented.

So yes a minority (and certainly not "many") will not see such good performance, but why not use a combination of FTTP, wireless and satellite for them depending on economics?

To coin a phrase, don't make good the enemy of perfect in constantly saying FTTP is the only answer.
Posted by mdar5 over 4 years ago
Then there is the unintended consequence of faster broadband for all. If you could work 100% from home, then home could be in India rather than the UK - and it'd be a lot cheaper if you were in India.
In fact virtually every job in the UK that does not need to be physically based at a customer could then be offshored.......
Posted by alwall over 4 years ago
Policy Exchange: An unelected, undemocratic right wing "think tank" that dictates Conservative policy whilst being given charitable status.
It's so called "research" is no more than opinion. You may wish to check its sources of funding.
Posted by csimon over 4 years ago
What's the point in spending public money to try to get people online who don't necessarily want to go online, when it would be better spent on people who do want to do things online but can't because of poor infrastructure.
Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
mdar5 your point is scary but true to an extenct, it might be a reason why working from home is so limited in this country, although having uk employees working from home still has several advantages to india such as been under uk laws.
Posted by anoldie over 4 years ago
Thank you for making very sensible points.

Also putting superfast connections everywhere is like putting in 3 phase power supplys whether wanted or not.

Amused to see complaint about limits on your parents BT Option 1. You could always offer to give them monthly difference and get unlimited option 3!

Personally think that there should be no unlimited services. Think of the chaos and overloading if electricity sold that way.

If users need a lot of bandwidth and are willing to pay for all they use, it would help the business case for expanding the network.
Posted by AspieMum over 4 years ago
Without proper (as in capable of actually doing what you need to using it not so slow or unreliable as to be useless), affordable internet access being possible where they live even those who would use the internet won't.
Posted by AspieMum over 4 years ago
The government want benefit claimants, including working ones, to claim online with UC & update their claim online. Many of these people are having to get food from Food Banks to survive so computers & internet connections are far too expensive especially satellite ones. They need to get more money or get these things free as food comes first.
Posted by bsg017 over 4 years ago
AspieMum, in many places you can get free access to the Internet at your local library. However, the internet is a pain if you are not computer literate. Beginners struggle if they do not have ready and frequent access to someone who is experienced. Buying a laptop for home use is not the end of the problems - I sorted out one friend when I realised she had cut herself off from the Internet by accidentally pressing the button on her laptop which toggled the wifi to the router on and off and she was off-line for several weeks as a result.
Posted by wbjb over 4 years ago
From Office of Nat. Statistics: "Q3 2012: 7.6 million adults (15%) had never used the Internet. 2% lower than Q2 2012, 9% lower than Q3 2011.
42.79 million adults (85%) have now used the Internet."

So, with little focus, there's a steady increase in the number able to use the internet.

Having said that, getting more people to use the Internet should be a national goal as it empowers them, and enables both business and public sector to operate more efficiently. I agree precedence for funding should be given to wider reach at a reasonable speed rather than faster speeds for the few.
Posted by Airidh over 4 years ago
What is the point of trying to get everybody onto broadband, if broadband can't be provided even for those who actually do want it?
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