Ofcom has blown the horn on the long march towards a modern internet infrastructure for the UK. Today marks the start of its powwow on who should pay for the next generation telecoms network that regulators and government believe is essential to our economic and social future. A consultation document (pdf) released by the …
It looks like the running of fibre from LLU exchanges to the door (or at least the green box) will have to be done at the cost of the tax payer. You aren't going to get any of the existing telcos paying for this, especially if they would maybe have to let other telcos use the link. Maybe we are looking at the time to create a nationalised British telecomms infrastructure company to supply this kind of infrastructure to the other telcos. You could call it, err, British Telecom, then sell it off to the tax payer, who already own it for £££s.
Ofcom needs to get its finger out
While its finally great that BT is giving all of this talk about rolling out fibre to home, they have been saying stuff like this for years... without any luck. Having said that, it is a little unfair that BT is expected to foot the bill for rolling out fibre to everyone at their expense.
If BT or anyone else thinks that trying to keep the existing copper in the ground needs to be shot. Fibre is the only way forward, otherwise in 5-10 years time, as the rest of the world (including africa) will have nice 100mbps connections and we'll still have 10mbps (only in cities).
If BT was clever, it would roll out fibre and chuck its BT fusion product (in full HD) over fibre and be able to pump out all its channels in full HD, give everyone a landline, broadband and about 100 other services...
I think its time BT had their network split from the organisation and had to spin it off to another company which has to sell 51% of its shares to other organisations and to the government to make it truely open access to other network. That way the government would be able to subsidise the independent network organisation and this way no-one can accuse anyone else of getting an unfair boost from the government and the people of Great Britain.
Maybe Ofcom should have thought about this before forcing BT to create OpenReach under the Telecomms Strategic Review, the company which now owns the copper and fibre in the ground.
Because OpenReach has to treat each telco equally (BT Wholesale/Retail included), it is renting the "last mile" copper at a competitive price which turns virtually no profit, hence generating nothing to re-invest into the network.
It's public subsidy, heavy borrowing and debt or no fibre to the home/kerb I'm afraid.
I'd be happy for some of my taxes to go towards this, personally.
Crystal ball time ...
I suppose the real difficulty is guessing how long fibre will be the dominant comms technology. The water outfits can invest in expensive replacement of Victorian mains and pipes because essentially they have a guaranteed revenue stream for at least the next 150 years (and if that fails, everybody's got problems anyway) so they can raise money against that. Doesn't stop 'em charging us all now, but that's a different issue. If an enterprise could be guaranteed anything like the same sort of deal for fibre, it ought to be able to raise the dosh in the same way. Trouble is, no-one knows if wireless or some other (quantum?, witchcraft?) technology will become more feasible or when this might happen.
Sounds like an opportunity for a mass bet of some sort: set up a market, that sort of thing...
El Reg, any chance of a review of the document?
Thanks Chris for raising awareness of this process.
I for one, would like to reply, but in reality reading 115 pages is not going to happen.
I basically want to say to ofcom, put pressure on the Government to take control of the UK fibre to home, pay for it out of our taxes, and give a pledge that everyone in the UK who wants it can have fibre to their home -- almost a god given right, whatever the cost, where ever the person lives.
I reckon charging suppliers for the access to the fibre to the home will generate enough revenues to pay for itself one day, and keep up the maintainence on the network to keep it future proof. I know this seems an obvious solution as most people commenting are saying the same thing, and have been for decades. Lets see if we can raise enough awareness to try to make this happen?
Any how, how does this type of comment fit in with the 5 questions?
Seventh Heaven ...Missionary Position #42
"Do you consider there to be a role of direct regulatory or public policy intervention to create artificial incentives for earlier investment in next generation access?"
Isn't that what 21CNetworking InterNetworking is all about? Open Secured Communications.
Not so much keeping Top Secrets more a Game of Sharing them for the UltiMate in Control.
BT has held the country back so much with new technology, If more choice was available for telephone systems and less a monopoly by BT in the UK BT would not excist and we would be in the forefront of technology.
Spreading the cost
Fibre is going to be the dominant Internet connection for a number of years. Wireless technologies like WiMax aren't approaching the potential speed of fibre for a good while yet. So whoever sticks the fibre replacement into the conduits currently stuffed full of copper has to be allowed to charge a sensible wholesale cost to the people who will want to provide services (and be kept separate from those very same people) in order to recoup its costs (and make a profit for someone as an incentive to do it) in the anticipated window during which fibre will be the golden goose.
Summary document is here
We need a cartel!
Can't we just get all the major players to chip in some cash? The businesses/ISPs which will benefit from laying fibre can pay for it.
Or, we allow openreach to do what the government did with 3G licences. If they can sell access to the new fibre, they have an incentive to invest. They could even sell the access before they start work to provide the working capital.
What ITs All About...
Wireless and Fibre are Hand in Glove Technologies to Allow for Alien Flight Movements?
Which will be a Boon?
..... via Turing NeuReal Bombe Boom/Big Bang Root Sourcing? New IntelAIgents to make Beta Use of Emerging Technologies.
Why dont the goverment stump up the cost with our tax money build the infrustructure of the last mile as a public owned service and rent it out to the ISP at a cost (include profit to pay back the tax).
Then do what everyone else does and outsource the maintaince of the last mile to a company probably BT to maintain and enhance the service.
Or they could rent the who line to BT who can then sell it on to their punters with there profit on top!
Back to the 80s...
Before BT was privatised, we (the taxpayer, via government) dictated what development of the telecoms network took place - or rather we didn't and it was very slow and unresponsive. Privatisation and competition were supposed to deliver choice, service and investment, which they did to a degree, but mainly in short-term price arbitrage, and you cannot say that 25 years on we have a thriving and competitive marketplace - just BT, the mobile operators and a few struggling and ever-consolidating fixed line operators.
Unfortunately the strategic asset, which is BT's local loop and duct network, was given away at BT's privatisation and we have been dancing around the handbags since then, trying to get it back. Openreach is just another fig-leaf in the long process of prising BT's fingers off the local loop.
There is no incentive for BT to invest in fibre in the short-term oriented market which pervades the industry. The only way to get fibre investment is to remove the local access network from BT's ownership and to place it in a form of common ownership - perhaps like that suggested below. Yes taxpayers will pay, but perhaps we're just returning the money we took out of the industry in selling our BT shares....
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