back to article BT chief: People don't need fibre to the home

BT chief executive Ian Livingstone defended his firm's limited plans for faster broadband today, arguing there is not enough demand for fibre to the home to justify its cost. He was appearing on a panel with his opposite numbers at Virgin Media and O2 at the Digital Britain summit this morning. "Of course a Ferrari is faster …

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"What we cannot do in the UK is go back to monopoly,"

BT want's to use the fibre to the home Virgin are installing perhaps?

Bollox to BT's Ford vs Ferrari argument I want instant downloads for iPlayer/Movie rental/torrents. ;)

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Pirate

Thoughts on Ferrari comment courtessy of twitter:

http://twitter.com/JimboGunn Fri 15 Apr 10:46

@rickwray Erm, but aren't Virgin Media already offering that Ferrari to a % of customers for the price of a Ford? #digitalbritain

http://twitter.com/rickwray Fri 15 Apr 10:49

@JimboGunn well it's red and temperamental I guess

Hats off to Mr Richard Wray (rickwray)

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History repeating?

Didn't they say the same thing about broadband? Look where that got them.

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!? Lack of Vision?

Well, this comes from the same company that claims their Business broadband router/ADSL broadband package is only intended for a single user. Seriously. We now use Virgin Fibre and we are enjoying it thoroughly, I've never had a positive experience with any ADSL provider, it's more the sub-standard technology than anything else.

A message to BT : Stick in some fibre ... to the house and People might start "Actually coming back to BT" rather than being forced to use a BT phone line for any Broadband service other than Virgin. Although this has changed slightly with unbundling, with telcos taking over phone lines, BT was criticised for overcharging customers who wished to return from their unbundled line to BT.

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Bah!

I dont give a castlemaine four x I want my Speedy Fibre connection in my little back water town now!!!!

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What!!!!

"Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds. "Ultimately it's about what people will pay for," he said. "The economic case is not great.""

The man is an idiot or is just trying to justify BT's slow rollout / lack of investment.

I vaguely remember a similar comment back in the 80s when someone asked why people would want to have a computer in their house.

It comes down to this; If they don't make the investment, this country will be relegated to the level of a third world country.

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History repeating - BURP!

As his Victorian predecessor said of the current technology "No, sir. The Americans have need of the telephone -- but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."

When modem companies competed - speeds doubled every two years till the theoretical maximum was reached. When BT took monopoly control with broadband it stagnated.

BT's interest isn't its customers. Why should Brits be content with a fraction of the resources of our competitors Mr BT?

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Dear Mr. Livingstone.

A Ford isn't something that one is happy with*, it's something that one puts up with, when forced, for want of anything better.

A fine analogy in this case, it's just your presentation of it that stank.

*Except the '56 Thunderbird of course. But he isn't going to give us all one of those by way of recompense I'm sure.

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Talk about missing the point!

We didn't need the internet, until we had it.

It's not a matter of need, it's a matter of progress and availability will fuel demand, providing it is priced appropriately.

In addittion, BT Can't afford NOT to do it, since someone else will, if they don't. It wouldn't cost Virgin much to extend their fibre to the home from the street cabinets.

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Linux

We pay. They dont deliver

The goverment is usng tax money to pay BT to roll this out. Yet their not going to deliver what we need. And buy the time they roll out to cabinet. Nearly every country in the world will have fiber to door.

What can we do to make them stop ripping us off!

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Alien

famously preceded by....

Tom Watson, then IBM chairman, who said in 1958: "I think there is a world market for about five computers."

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Anonymous Coward

So basically he is saying...

"High speed fibre to the end user? Nah, they won't want that.....what do you think we are trying to do here anyway? Lay the foundations of the UK's future high speed network infrastructure or something? Nah, you don't want that. 'sa load of rubbish."

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History

"Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds."

And, according to early predictions, how many computers would be needed to run everything?

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No demand for it..

Unless of course you mean the people that pay for X Mbps, unlimited and are then told it will be J-K Mbps and capped at ABC Gb/m

I thought everyone was pissing and moaning about iPlayer/BitTorrent being onlineageddon?

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We won't pay for fibre to the house?

Have they *asked*? Did they walk up to someone and say 'hundred megabits a second, unlimited downloads (none of your download caps, thank you), low contention ratio, fifty quid a month?

Because frankly I'd have bitten their hands off. To be honest I don't think that the PO has the first clue about what it would cost - but Virgin can provide most of that over their fibre networks at twenty to fifty meg for under forty quid.

I think they just don't want to do it, and they can't be arsed doing the sums.

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the guy is right

Not much point in having LAN-class connection bandwidth, with ugly latencies.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm happy with a ford...

.. but currently given the state of the internet as it is we don't even have a ford, we have a half dead horse and a cart.

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Paris Hilton

History?

640k is enough for anyone....

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Anonymous Coward

"What we cannot do in the UK is go back to monopoly,"

Wrong. We can and we should.

Would he argue that we should have competing electricity grids or sewage networks?

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and no boady should need

more than 1mb of ram

sound fimiler?

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Livingstone is right, but.....

ADSL is fine for most people but....

It is unacceptable to pay for "up to 8MB", be told your line will support 5MB, but only get 250KBps at peak times.

It is unacceptable to pay for 'unlimited' broadband, only to find there are limits and/or your traffic is profiled.

It is unacceptable for your ISP to spy on your traffic by doing deals with scum-sucking adware filth.

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What about uploads?

It's all very well saying that we could have 40Mbit/s downloads, but how about a decent bit of symmetry here. I'd like a more symmetrical service because I when I'm working from home, there's a noticeable bottleneck when accessing a VPN to upload files. If we're to become better at teleworking, this sort of thing needs to be taken into account so that video conferences (often N-way) are possible on a residential internet feed without running into capacity or bandwidth caps.

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OFI

Downstream?

All this talk about increasing download speeds (whilst also increasing caps!) What about increasing our feable upload speeds?

I forget how slow my upload speeds are up until the point I try to upload even small (<100MB) files to my web server then it feels like i've single handedly killed the internet.

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Unhappy

well 40mbit is a supercar...

If he's from NZ. I live in Wellington the capital city, 7.5 mins from the CBD and I'm on the fastest connection available to me..

Its less than 2mbit.....

consider yourselves lucky!

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More tech savvy than real experts

'I think there is a world market for maybe five computers'

Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

'There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in the home'

Ken Olson, President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

That is all.

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Gates Horns

One for the ages

Lets file this away along with "there is probably a world market for 5 or 6 mainframes" and "1MB ought to be enough for anybody" so we can dig it out and mock in the distant future.

Two years ought to do it.

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Coat

Damn, I'm not the first to have a go

or state the obvious..

Back to work.. sigh!

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Paris Hilton

"above my pay grade"

For some reason I read that as "above my gay pride"

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Gates Horns

Obligatory quote

"Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds."

And 640KB is enough for anyone...

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DR

loosers will always cry

"What we cannot do in the UK is go back to monopoly," he said. "Imagine that coming from BT."

yes, well they would say that when they are behind virgin already.

they'd got many years of expensive infrastructure to put into place before they come to the same level of speed that virgin already offer.

during this time with the same investment virgin can improve and expand their existing network.

BT don't want to see a monopoly because they can't see it being their monopoly...

And yes, Ferraris are faster than Fords, most people make do with Fords.

I think that a more accurate description would be that modern locomotives are faster than steam trains...

He's right of course, there aren't many applications that require 50Mbps download speed, but that's not to say that people don't want that.

especially with TV being provided by the internet, houses having more than one computer...

I think that the best advice that BT could be given is this.

Build it and they will come.

put the infrastructure in. make it over capacity.

then you can run adverts saying, virgin not the only fibre provider, BT provide fibre, we give you what we sell you, no slow down, no caps, no limits, pay for what you get and get what you pay for...

with a promise like that -that they actually could fulfil people will want to use BTs service.

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And more idiot observations

"We can't be guilty of interception - it's too difficult to explain"

- BT

"Phorm/Webwise is a good thing"

-BT

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."

- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."

- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"

- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

- Ken Olson, president, chairman & founder of Digital Equipment Co, 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."

- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The telephone will be used to inform people that a telegram has been sent."

- Alexander Graham Bell.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."

- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

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They want the moon on a stick!

If it's not profitable to put a hamlet on the next-gen network, why should a private company be obliged to make the investment? There are plenty of satellite-based broadband services out there, and plain-old half-meg ADSL is good enough for anything apart from streaming video and heavy-duty VPN use.

Rural living carries far more benefits than we townies get through our broadband. I would love to have a few acres out back, a vastly cheaper mortgage, a barn to build my projects in and the ability to have some peace and solitude from time to time.

Ah well, can't blame people for wanting everything.

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Unhappy

Missing the point

Livingstone is missing the point. The analogy is wrong. It's not about a Ford or Ferrari, but about the roads, ie the infrastructure.

You couldn't wait until cars were capable of going up and down motorways before building them. You don't know necessarily at this point in time what services can be developed for the future, but you don't wait until then to develop the infrastructure.

BT is supposed to be an industry leader. Livingstone should be leading. This is terrible if he's involved in this Think Tank and he thinks like this. Appalling.

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Bring back horse drawn carts!

It was good enough for people in the middle ages!

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Anonymous Coward

To quote Henry Ford himself...

It would seem that the world doesn't care who said what, or when they said it.

--Henry Ford, 2035

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Dissenting voice

Dot-com bubble fibre-mania anyone? While much of it did eventually get used, many of the firms that laid it lost their shirts. Assuming exponential growth is just as irresponsible as assuming little or no growth.

The history of "build it and they will come" has as many failures as sucesses, so you can understand BT's caution. Will an application with even greater bandwidth requirements than HD-on-demand, AND mass-market appeal come along? Possibly. In a reasonable timescale? No way of knowing.

You certainly can't build a business case for wiring the whole country based on the demands of the small segment of the population who post in this forum.

Flame away.

PS. Of course, this could merely be a negotiating tactic to get the government to spring for the costs.

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Government needs to invest in fibre to the home for rural/non metropolitan areas

My views on all this are firming up. The Government needs to make the strategic investment in a fibre network in areas that are otherwise uneconomic for BT/NTL et al (whoever al is). What's more they need to abandon the idea of a 2Mbps USO and aim for 1Gbps. Anything else isn't going to cut it - especially by the time they have finished the roll out.

http://www.trefor.net/2009/04/17/digital-britain-summit/

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Unhappy

@ Kenny Millar

"in addition, BT Can't afford NOT to do it, since someone else will, if they don't. It wouldn't cost Virgin much to extend their fibre to the home from the street cabinets"

NOBODY is going to build Telco / cable infrastructure on a large scale in the current climate (or even the foreseeable future) unless it is COMPLETLEY necessary. Do you see Virgin even trying to build out the franchise areas which they missed after going crying to OFCOM that they couldn’t afford it (after buying up the little franchises to form a monopoly cable company.

UNLESS there is a proven profit in it NOBODY will be build (residential) infrastructure, sorry, that's just the way it is.

You do not need fibre to the home. Fibre to the cabinet would be nice but then so would doing away with the wet string from the cabinet / exchange to the home would greatly improve thing (along with the installation of a xDSL socket separate from the telephone line)

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Paris Hilton

Idiot!!!

I agree with Tony. The man is an idiot living in the dark ages. We are being milked to death by being charged for something that we theoretically *could* have but will never get (8MB on 5MB lines). I will gladly pay £300 a month to get fibre to my door as long as I get the full throughput.

I don't think BT has ever done any sort of survey asking their users what they want. Maybe they should fire this guy's ass and use his salary to fund a survey. BT will be surprised at the findings.

Paris, because even she knows it pays to be quick.

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BT, the NHS, and national provider

Yet again BT proves themselves to be a bunch of incompetent bean-counting tossers. Not only are they capable of screwing up the NHS National Programme to the tune of £13billion+ to the UK taxpayer, they haven't even got the foresight or business sense to provide Britain with a national cutting-edge network. Why are they still endorsed by the Government as a level 1 supplier?

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Lol @ virgin comments

I do find it so funny how so many people think virgin have put fiber into homes when thats just not the case, before anyone gets on their high horse I have both an ADSL connection and Virgin 50mbit installed, it comes in over copper coax cable, it runs copper to the cabinate. Most cabinates have copper to the headend still so at very very best virgin have the lead on BT doing the Fiber to the cab. Luckily im in one of the FTTC trial area's so I will be getting that, not for the added download but for the fact the imply there will be a decent upload.

Ether way I pay for it because I want it, I dont NEED it but well I dont need a lot of things I pay for.

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Who cares?

The distinction between 40Mb/s and 100Mb/s is just a factor of 2-3. On a logarithmic scale, that's small beer if most urban populations currently make do with about one tenth of that and rural populations might have one hundredth. Now if FTTH could actually deliver 1Gb/s, it might be worth putting in, but I doubt the backbone could take it.

Also, I'm not sure the focus on download speed is helpful. Someone else has already mentioned upload speed and (in the past) still others have mentioned implementing decent routing support in local exchanges as ways of boosting the overall usefulness of the whole system. And then there's the IPv6 rollout. I'm sure BT are investing *at some level* in all of these, but the constant focus on download speeds surely tends to bias their decision making in favour of the music and video pirates rather than people trying to use the net in more creative ways. If this is considered *national* investment, should it really be driven by freetards?

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@ kenny millar

"It wouldn't cost Virgin much to extend their fibre to the home from the street cabinets."

Well they are still trying to service the debt that was run up putting the street lines in, plus local councils are unlikely to agree to all that additional diging up after the hassles the last time. If you ever listen to the complaints on cable orum you'll see lot of people who cannit get service to a house which should be ok because the original duct work has collapsed in the intervening years and they cannot make a business case to dig it up for repair.

As an example I live in a block of flats, council sent in some contractors two years ago to rewire the communal TV system. Speaking to the contractors and it appears that the costs of drilling lots of new cable runs through the reinforced concrete was a total pain, the original cable runs were built into the walls and are pretty much inaccesible.

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Ofcourse...

The key point that isn't made is that the provision of fibre to the home will drive new business and online technology.

There may not be the requirement *right now*, but you can bet your life that if the bandwidth were available, services would appear that utilise it.

As things stand all I see is a load of people wondering how they're going to make as much money as possible for a sub standard service. No-one is interested in "Digital Britain" unless they're going to leverage it to make them more money.

We really need a national cable network with fibre to the home, just like (as someone pointed out earlier), the electricity, gas & water grids..

Competition isn't working.

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Wrong priorities?

Actually, there's no point in having fibre beyond the national backbone links (without a mesh infrastructure, at least) while it labours under current load. Virgin's 50mb service will be rendered useless by the crippling caps they've had since 2006. I'd rather have my 'obsolete' 8/24mb connection running at those advertised speeds, constantly, before they misleadingly increase them again.

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Joke

People don't need fibre to the home

haha thats a joke right cause people do need fibre and they need it now how many internet connections on bts network struggle to get the speeds thats been advertised buy isps that say you get 10meg or 20 meg and only end up getten 3 meg or less. i think its time the government stepped in and shook bt up there a bunch of hippy lazy pricks who cant even do shit for us people who are struggling with the crapest speeds ever get ya finger out bt and install fibre to our homes. fibre to the cabinet isnt good enough because it still has to go down the aging crappy copper line to our house no point. although i have notcied somthing wierd in my street the green box which used to be at the end of my street has moved i hope that if fttc is deployed that this wont decrease my speed even more.

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Forward Thinking

Remember these are the people who believed that the introduction of a two colours phone was more than radical enough for that century, and that there was really no demand for it as the black chunky phones were more than adequate to meet all known requirements.

The only areas of innovation known within BT are creative billing and avoiding customers with legitimate complaints.

At all levels they have the souls of clerks.

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Anonymous Coward

Personally

All I want is something in the region of the supposed national average speed claimed by Ofcom. Even 50 percent of it would be an improvement for me at the moment.

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@Adam

One of the greatest benefits of living in a rural environment being the absence of numpties like yourself ;-p.

Yeah, we've all got acres out the back and barns and have names like Caractacus Potts! d(^O^)b

Wouldn't swap it now I'm here though, even if it means I'm only at the end of an 8Mb line.

This is just Bumbling Telecom at their finest.

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56k

If BT had got their way we all still be on dial up.

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