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Government thinks opening up public sector networks will help broadband
Tuesday 03 February 2015 13:39:38 by Andrew Ferguson

We seem to have a big focus on rural this week, and the next bit of news is a push by the Government to use public sector networks (PSN) to help with improving broadband and mobile coverage in the UK.

Basically a set of maps showing where fibre networks already paid for by public money are available has been published, but if anyone cares to look at them they will see that by and large these already replicate the footprint of the various commercial fibre backbones and is probably a lot less available to the rural parts of the UK than the fibre footprint into exchanges and commercial mobile mast sites that BT Wholesale, TalkTalk, Sky and other less well known names already have.

In short if this had been made available back in 2008/2009 then it might have made a difference. The vast majority of the broadband improvement programmes are down to the cost of getting connectivity to the actual business and home, and while locating a new mobile mast on top of a public building might help in some areas.

The Government might even find itself clashing with industry again, public networks have the scope to undercut the many fibre backbones that exist or are being built. Even just the idea might be enough to make firms pause plans just at the point when private network expansion was looking to make Gigabit fibre more widely available in UK cities. In effect, they may just wait to see what the final plans deliver rather than risk investment.


Posted by ian72 over 2 years ago
Most of the public networks are probably just rented from the telecoms companies anyway.
And, if they are to be shared then you need to sort out segregation of secure data transfer and use by others.
It also assumes that they are running with lots of spare capacity.
I don't know how much fibre is owned by the gov for gov networks? I suspect it is much less than would be useful
Posted by burble over 2 years ago
Our local junior school just 100yds down the road has FTTP, and has had for years, when installing this how much extra would it have cost for a FTTC set up I wonder?
Posted by CaptainHulaHoop over 2 years ago
no idea but probably not as cheap as many would think. cost of dslam alone and everything that goes with it.
Posted by ian72 over 2 years ago
@burble The school almost certainly doesn't have FTTP. What they have is a fibre leased line. This is not the same technology design and is a point to point connection. Theoretically the school/Council could provide services but the complexities both technically and through state aid of doing this make it difficult.
Posted by ian72 over 2 years ago
cont - it also would mean the school / council having to set up as an ISP which adds all sorts of overheads around managing bills, supporting end users, logging to meet government requirements, etc
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@ian72 which is where CityFibre has been winning, by taking over expensive to run PSN networks in cities, giving council connectivity cheaper and dark fibre services to business.

So actual PSN may already be in commercial hands in some areas.
Posted by ian72 over 2 years ago
Thanks Andrew. That is much more likely in big urban councils than in shires and larger geographic areas. The cost of providing dark fibre for large shires is astronomical and generally can't be funded and so they end up using standard leased line services. Good that some are doing it but suspect it is specific use cases
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@ian72 and that is why I think this PSN push is a waste of time, the areas that need the real help are NOT those next to council offices which by their nature are in the larger towns or on a modern 'industrial estate', not next to the last 5% of the UK in terms of broadband speeds.
Posted by kijoma over 2 years ago
well it wouldn't be a waste of time of it meant Fixed Wireless operators could have sensible backhaul from this that can be linked out to where it is needed. But then it seems everybody is thinking fibre and cables still.. sadly..
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
@kijoma While I understand that more locations will be available, in terms of backhaul look at the actual map and the areas that most need help are often the least covered by the data points.

Without going through numerous providers maps, so from memory the fibre locations shown look pretty much the same as existing backbones like Geo, C&W, CityFibre, Virgin Media and of course BT.

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