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 …
It's not all about 'need'...
Of course we don't 'need' fibre to the home (FTTH) connectivity but that's not the point. We don't 'need' bottled water in this country but people still buy it because it's what they want. The analogy between Fords and Ferrari's was also laughable. People buy Fords due to cost but want the Ferrari and if they could justify the additional expense, would also buy the Ferrari (or Aston Martin if they have any taste).
What's more annoying is that as a society we are moving back to the cottage industry culture of pre Victorian times where more and more people are working for themselves and, often, from home. Therefore, many micro-businesses will be hindered by BT's decision that homes don't need FTTH.
Add to this that as a nation we are far behind many others in the digital revolution because we simply don't have cost effective bandwidth availability. Until we have the infrastructure in place how can anybody possibly know what's 'needed'.
I think BT should get out of their ivory tower and start delivering what people want and not dictating what we can have (in my humble opinion).
Welcome to the 90's
Here in California, I had the choice between tv, internet and phone services provided by cable tv, copper (adsl)+sattelite, or fiber optic. Replacing everything with fiber to my house via Verizon FIOS provides me with digital hdtv with a huge range of on demand content, 4 pots lines, and internet bandwidth of 15Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. We are not charged on internet usage. There is absolutely no way I would go back to copper. Fiber rocks and the service offerings only get better over time.
Related, I have it on authority from Mr Jobs that no computer would ever need more than 512MB RAM?
The BT Chief is stuck in the 90's.
Here, here b166er!
Yep, Adam, you are indeed a numpty!!
If you would kindly remove your head from your arse for a second or two, you may find that it is actually more expensive to live in a rural area than in the good old south east.
My house is still quite expensive - on par with Edinburgh actually. We only have 1 supermarket in a 30 mile radius. It took me 2 years of hard campaigning to get ADSL. Yes, I have an acre of land and a log cabin in the garden and I love being at the end of a true 8Mbit/s line and being able to actually taste the water coming out of the tap.
However, you are right that the benefits far out-weigh the expense or hassle.
Now, if the government would just make car tax for 4x4's post code dependent such that those of us that actually need 4-wheel-drive can use the vehicles for what they are meant for rather than just running the kids to school!!!
Funny, I thought glass was cheaper than copper.
I don't need a Ferrari but something a little better than a 1901 Benz would be appreciated. If my "up to 8MB" meant what it says on the tim instead of barely enough to stream a 128kb radio station I might be a bit happier.
I thought one of the classic problems for telcos was "the last mile" where they had to change from all their nice fibre backbone digital tech to analogue & copper. Give me 100mb full duplex and QoS and there's a good chance I'll pay for the fibre termination hardware myself and ditch that copper link.
I think what he actually said was (loosely translated): How are we supposed to sell business links if we're providing fibre at residential prices? And there's no chance our backbone will cope with what people will want to do with that!
He's right to a degree. But I suspect that his motivation for making the statement is that BT don't want be landed with the cost of installing fibre to the home. Last thing they want is the government wanting to up broadband speeds and applying pressure to BT to replace the local loop cable, so I think he's looking after the selfish interests of his company BT.
However, the current broadband speeds are in many places a shambles, if you're lucky you can get 6Mbps or higher, and the wide range of speeds is caused by the local loop cables being a crappy, old and delapidated twisted pair that was never intended for high speed data transmission which was installed into the ground way before the internet even existed!
So if the plan is to solve this crap speed problem then that local loop cables need to be replaced, what are you going to replace it with? Coaxial cable, optical fibre?
May be the speeds of fibre aren't required or demanded at the moment, but if you're gonna lay new cables to solve the speed problem then you might as well use fibre over coaxial!
So effectively, what Livingstone is saying "we know broadband speeds are crap, we know it's caused by the crap quality copper cables in place, but we're not going to do SFA about it".
Because if they were going to do anything about it, they'd use fibre, and he's ruled that out.
But BT own the local loop cables to people's homes, it's their f**ng problem to solve..they're responsible for the crap broadband speeds. Unless they're prepared to sell of huge bundles of local loop and the conduits in which they run to third party companies and allow them to lay down their own cables, and there's no friggin way BT are going to allow that.
T**ts! It's our problem, we created it, we're not going to solve it, and we're not going to allow anyone else to solve it.
Shocked - but not surprised!
Comments like this from people who should know better still shock me, but I am no longer surprised. We have the potential in the UK to be a world beating nation as far as the interweb is concerned, but we are constantly told what we do and don't want!
At the moment I would just like a connection that is consistent and works 100% of the time - once that works, I would like it to go faster. The poppets who are responsible for my connection (not my ISP), have completely failed to find a fault - but then again I cannot actually get them to check the line when it refuses to connect!
I would love fibre to my house - NOW, and would be prepared to pay for it. Maybe the solution would be to purchase 3km of fibre and turn up at the local exchange asking where this can be plugged in!
Why do the leaders in the country consistently miss the mark completely! Then make us pay through the nose to live here!
BT don't have a monopoly? Depends on precisely what is being talked about!
BT own nearly all the entire local loop copper from people's homes to the exchanges where the network equipment is located! If that isn't a monopoly then I don't know what the f**k is.
It is precisely that monopoly that has stifled the internet in the UK for many years.
It's precisely those cables which determine and which limit the speeds people get on their ADSL connections!
If companies such as Be Broadband, they may install their own network equipment at the exchange buildings, but their ADSL signals still travel down over BTs monopolistic copper cables to people's homes.
Livingston is actually implying that a monoply is a bad thing, yeah you're right man, it is !! And don't we know it!
No sir, there's no monopoly here...move along now, nothing to see here.
Let's replace Livingston with a droid, because I think a droid could do a better job.
What age Ferrari?
Pretty sure my 2yo Ford would accelerate faster, corner harder and stop quicker than a Ferrari from the 50's. It's not TODAY'S network you need to worry about, Mr BT.
If virgin would only bother to come down my street, I'd switch in a shot.
What a marroon!
Here's an application that would greatly benefit from higher bandwidth:
The simple truth is that British ISPs have a failed business model. If you want to go into the internet business, you can be sure that it will be an unending round of system upgrades, so you simply MUST charge enough to make that feasible.
There must be a technical word in economics for the situation where sellers compete by lowering prices below the actual cost of goods or services, but let's just agree to call it an "implosion due to stupidity and lack of foresight."
And with the marroons in NuLabour, you can't expect govt to do a damned thing about this stupidity.
Don't choke the unknowns we don't know about
Who could have predicted what broadband would bring.Who would want dial-up YouTube?
I just hope that BT aren't stupid, abd the fibre they do install can be extended, both physically to the home and in the capacity of the connections between cabinet and the rest of the world.
We'll find a use for it.
I'm in a rural, off-cable, area. Will BT ever be able to provide the bandwidth for cable TV and good Internet? Or will they stick me with satellite, Freeview, and an internet the colour of a dead TV channel?
Oh well, the graphics are still better in ASCII.
If BT have been wandering around asking people if they want fibre to their home or if they want symetrical 1Gb/s to their home and here is how much it will cost, they are not going to get many possitive answers. If ,on the other hand, they ask people what services they want, they will get more useful answers. People buy services, not the technical means to deliver them.
The question should be, "here is a group of TV packages (lets say 50, 100 or 200 channels), here is a selection of phone services (local, long distance, overseas), Here is a selection of what you can do on the internet with your computer, here are some added extras like recording 4 TV programs whilst watching another one, controling the DVR from any computer or cell phone anywhere in the world, listing missed calls on the TV screen, placing caller ID on the TV or computer screen, etc etc." Now you know what people want to do, you can work out what speeds they need in each direction and what the latency requirements are. This is how you go about dimensioning the customer end link, the local network and the major backbone.
The customers don't care how it is done, only that hey can do what they want to do.
Now, living in Texas, I am just about to order my phone, internet connection and 200 TV channels from AT&T because they will give me more free stuff than Verizon (like the magic DVR that can be controled over the net and. It all uses IP and is delivered with fiber to the kerb or fiber to the premises (in my case to the kerb), they planted a new plastic box in the alley out back a few weeks ago. The kerb to house link is, I think, coax.
Iterative rather than breakthrough
Closed mind thinking. Lets be honest, there is more to concern ourselves with. With many financial vehicles constrained and almost at the yard, recomposing toxicity, delivering 'hardened' capitalist economies with separated risk without overt control is the main priority, never mind sticking some wires in the ground. Applaud Mandelson for his play at the table.
Wimax isn't the answer, but will provide some much needed innovation in tired and coralled industries. As for my significant innovations, I can't challenge alone, I and others try but the incumbents work in mysterious ways, not all of them gentlemanly.
Naive, no. Transcendent yes.
Back to Lilliput folks.
Technicolour, cos it fits!
Send him this page with your comments. It worked for the previous CEO email@example.com as I was in touch with him over some issues in the past and the problems were fixed promptly.
Be polite and you 'might' actually get a response or at the very least it might get to his personal secretary and passed along to him to look into. He may even change his opinion after reading this article and it's comments.
BT is a Plc
There are a lot of "He's a Luddite!" type comments, but most of them seem to miss the point. Mr Livingston is paid to make money for BT's shareholders. If he can't make the business case for the *massive* investment that would be Fibre-to-the-Home then he can't make it - largely because, unlike Virgin, he can't tie the customer into paying BT for the use of that fibre.
That's where his 'monopoly' comment was aimed - squarely at VirginMedia.
Much as I hate and dispise VM, I wish the fleas of thousand camel's arseholes infest them, you have to admit that fibre network hasn't done the beardy one's profits any harm!
The old cliches are out "who would need a computer in their home?", "who needs more than 640k memory?", etc. What with TPB going down no BT we won't be needing anything faster than dial-up for our email or weather maps! We we'll be scaling back our requirements a lot more now and poof goes your profits.
Fiber v Mobile
Rolling out more fibre would be a waste. It would be outdated by the time it is completed.
Mobile connections should be reaching 42Mps by 2009-10:
Mobile connections should reach 100Mps by 2012 with very little investment:
Mobile connections should reach 10Gps not long after:
Why roll out a FIXED-LINE network that will be outdated by the time it is finished? Why not invest in a faster MOBILE network?
can someone tell obama this?
We just blew how much taxpayer money into expanding broadband in the USA to areas that the industry has said are not economically feasible to service.
Whenever I can write blind checks from my checking account and not worry about having the money in my account to cover them, i'll join the bandwagon (let's have broadband everywhere) I just LOVE dealing with all the spam I get from the insecure third-world hi-jacked networks. Need more of that, kthx.
The poor misguided leading the poorly informed
It seems a bit like Barnes Wallis and swing wing jets?
"Great idea Barnes, but it isn't going to catch on you know. There's no future in it."
If the present mentality was manifest years ago there would probably be no cable at all - zilch (I think BT was against that too hence ntl, Tele-West, ... provided they were allowed to put it into areas that had a high income, high spend in order to make a return on private investment.
The sooner we face it that BT has no real interest in putting out high quality 'net the better.
BT wants low quality 'net (dial-up modems basically) and nought else.
That will probably be base level for the nation with cherry-picking faster stuff from the private sector receiving full government support. Why? Well, look at the projected Treasury returns of course.
Livingston isn't a worker
So of course he doesn't need fiber to the home, and extends that to mean no one else does either.
The c-suite and their lackey sycophant hanger on executive slacker flunkeys only need cash and a Blackberry. The rest of us need the fiber to work. Why should anyone listen to non-workers anyway?
Get tough on vision ......... and the causes of vision.
There is a piece of waste ground over there that no one is playing football on, therefore we don't need to build a football pitch. We also did a poll of one nearby tramp who dribbled on himself, farted and said 'What? Got any spare change Mr?" So from this we concluded that there really isn't a need for a foot ball pitch.
If you make the pitch, people will play on it.
It should not always be about what people want or need now, what it makes possible can be just as important.
It all comes down to vision.
An alternative view
A very unpopular view on this site but the comment was made that there isn't an economic case for spending £20bn on fibre to the home across the UK because there aren't the consumer applications that people will pay for. Remember, Hi Def TV will take sub 10Mps. BT have said they are doing 40% of UK with fibre (£1.5bn committed by Livingston within a month of becoming CEO).
I won't notice a difference.
Look. We are 7.2km from the exchange. We get 60kbs peek. Will fiber to the cabinet make a difference, if it still comes over copper for 7.2km? No. Wake up, we will not see any speed difference. And what if I want to upload something?
1 Mbps would be an improvement...
here in the colonies. For years, with ADSL we typically got 180 kbps and in the last year or so I've noticed that I get approximately 400 kbps download speeds with up to 680 kbps.
Living in a small Canadian province that has small, dispersed population has some advantages. Fiber to the home and high download speeds are not amongst them, though. When you're used to 180 kbps and start to get in the 500 kbps range that seems fast.
For my home use and the price I pay, 1 Mbps peak times included, would be great. If I lived in an area with a larger population density I could perhaps hope for Fiber to the home, but I'm not willing to pay a lot extra for it where I do live and sure as hell won't move just to get it.
It's all about balance and I'd sure love to balance Paris.
It would have been better to sell it as fibre to the cabinet gives the best benefit/cost to the consumer at the moment - naturally this will be evaluated on an ongoing basis as technology evolves. (who knows what is round the corner)
The limiting factor must be connectivity from the exchange up no way would this support 1000s of users using the full 100mbps - just look at the early bbc iplayer problems.
the world is run by morons at 300baud
the world is run by morons at 300baud
Oye - Stupid!!
I just left BT for BE. Why? Because they offer ADSL2+ service and BT don't. Its also cheaper than BT.
I have two kids at home, both have PC's. I WANT faster internet so that they can watch iPlayer, ITVPlayer, C4 On Demand, C5 On Demand etc etc etc.
Where does this person get his facts from? Fortune Cookies?
I love this excuse. "Not much demand". Of course, they don't keep track of who actually asks for it, so every request is a "new" request, so the number of requests is invariable "one". Nor do they offer any such thing, or if they do it's a trial to 3 households in the outer hebrides, so they can look at sales figures and honestly say "nope, nobody is buying it".
Lovely scam the "not much demand" excuse.
We'd still be on 56k if it was left to them.
I want the finest broadband available to humanity, I want it here & I want it now.
"Would he argue that we should have competing electricity grids or sewage networks?"
To which you should add the local loop for most telephone subscribers and the gas and water distribution network..
In point of fact all of these are single networks.
Electricity and gas are IIRC both now owned by Transco, a Centrica subsidiary. Its their core business and they seem to invest in both to maintain service. But users can change suppliers linked to them.
Water & sewage seem to be owned by the end companies. And you cannot change suppliers. High profits, ongoing leaking (Thames water leaks as much water as it delivers). And despite decades of talk no actual "National Grid" for water. NB the last national water survey (done in the mid 1970s!) showed we have plenty of water as a nation, but a lot is in Wales (which is where Birmingham's water supply comes from). Remember that when your water co issues another hose pipe ban but can't be bothered to fix a leak for 2 months and then whines it needs a new reservoir.
Local loop. Mostly owned by BT. not too keen on upgrading it and most suppliers seem to read "Up to xMbs" as "Whatever we damm well feel like."
This suggests that where a supplier owns its own infrastructure *directly* there is little incentive to upgrade it. Only when its split off into a separate company for which the infrastructure is its *core* asset does money get spent.
"Mobile connections should be reaching 42Mps by 2009-10:"
Possibly in a very few areas - but certainly not available throughout the majorty of the network.
"Mobile connections should reach 100Mps by 2012 with very little investment:"
Really? I would suggest that it will require a massive investment - plus my other comment above.
"Mobile connections should reach 10Gps not long after:"
Depends upon your definiton of "not long" - in terms of global existence, no not long. But I doubt I will see that in my lifetime. Plus there are limits to the available bandwidth that they struggle to cope with now.
"Why roll out a FIXED-LINE network that will be outdated by the time it is finished"
The speed of transmission over fibre is not determined by the fibre itself, but by the switching equipment. Once the fibre is in the ground, they can upgrade the switches to take advantage of any advances.
The only real changes likely at the moment is some work that is being done to create fibre from plastic instead of silica.
It's all true
What with traffic shaping, bottlenecks, caps and conention I don't need the 8Mb I'm paying for now.
If they start charging extra for additional tiers of service I won't be able to afford anything more than 512K.
So I'll never need fibre.
Do it now !
Fibre direct to the home may well be underused initially but new uses will soon evolve.
It will be a long term upgrade instead of a series of fudges.
If handled properly it will turn out to be a boost to the national economy.
Come on HMG give this BT goonbrain a kick up the butt!
I think we should apply the same principles to his and other excetutives' pay, and formally link them with laws and other legal constraints: "Your salary will be up to £600,000, though contention amongst other executives and company performance to its customers may mean the actual salary is lower." Then stick them on £18,000 as a perfectly adequate salary. If they argue about it, say "It is an adequate salary for a family to live on, and it does not contravene the advertised conditions of the job. We could make it larger, but there is no real call for it unless other changes are brought into play." I think we would see marked changes in pretty swift order to the broadband connections with little or no comeback, because, basically, if other countries can do it, there are few reasons why the UK cannot do it.
BT Vision (NOT)
Well been using BT vision for a while now and as you have to download HD content due to badnwith limitations I am amazed at this discolsure. Does this mean they are not interested in further expanding into the home entertainment industry?
How can someone heading a technology giant be so short sighted..?
"Livingstone said there weren't enough applications that needed such speeds"
Maybe true now, maybe not, but certainly won't be tomorrow...
Patronizing, ignorant, stupid and cynical?
"Of course a Ferrari is faster than a Ford," Livingstone said. "But most people are happy with a Ford"
1. Most people can choose to buy a (newish) Ford but not a (newish) Ferrari.
2. A Ford today is probably a faster car than a fifty years old Ferrari.
3. A new Ford today is reliable and its maximum speed is unregulated by Ford and is the same in the morning as in the afternoon and evening.
4. Ford comes in different sizes and types. A Ford GT may very well be faster than many new Ferraris.
5. Ford asks their customers what they would like and be happy with - Ford does not tell people what they are happy with.
Ocourse the Ford analogy is irrelevant - but then why mention it in the first place?
Had those bozos drop a BB offer through my letterbox
It might be an idea to dial 0800 345 7419 /1 /1 and explain without shouting or swearing, that You don't want Webwise, you don't want Phorm and you won't consider their package (which they claim has won Broadband Provider of the Year) untill they dump Webwise.
I'm happy enough, with downloads.
10mb download is fine, tends to do the job even after the cap kicks in. More often my download speed is limited by the server I'm connected to, a lot of them still can't deliver content at that speed.
Would prefer it if they worked on sorting out the mediocre upload speeds and telling Phorm to suck a fat one instead.
Arrgghh! Stop with the misquotes...
I'm far from a Microsoft fan but why do people still misquote Bill Gates about this "640k of memory being enough for anyone" quote? I thought it was common knowledge that he was misquoted - see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Gates for the genuine quote - and that it has just kinda stuck (like a custard pie to the face, eh, Bill?).
Even the most ardent Linux / OS X fans must be aware of this by now.
However, the other quotes about computers in the home, weighing 1½ tonnes, Fed Express, etc... are hilarious! I hope they're genuine.
/me dons flameproof jacket in preparation for the ratalliatory posts from the kids... and heads off to the-sps.org
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