back to article UK.gov abandons 2012 rural broadband pledge

The government has dumped a commitment to deliver universal access to 2Mbit/s broadband by 2012. The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said this morning that the previous government had failed to allocate enough funding to meet the schedule. Instead, he pledged that all households will have access to a 2Mbit/s downstream service …

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  1. Martin 19
    Megaphone

    We would be far better off

    getting 200Mbps in the cities than 2Meg in the sticks.

    Why should I subsidise the internet of people who want to live in picturesque cottages? What next, should we build socking great motorways to Covent Garden so that Stobart can locate a big warehouse there? If internet access is that important to you, go where it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But why...

      ...should I subsidise your 200Mbps broadband just because you want to live in the big rat race?

      There are quite a lot in London that don't know/care that anything exists outside London.

    2. Wheaty73
      Grenade

      Martin, you Cock(ney) Tw*t.

      See title.

      "Rural" in a lot of cases could also mean large market towns, where "broadband" can sometimes exceed a whopping 1Mbs if the wind is in the right direction. Also even in large towns / cities there are broadband dead spots, where new estates get built without proper infrastructure being considered. I expect even in your miracle city of wonder, with its shining lights and fluffy pigeons, there are similar places in existence.

      The sooner London disappears up its own arse the better off the rest of the country will be. Except you will all move up North and ruin it for the rest of us.

      Apologies to the Londoners who aren't wankers.

      1. Locky Silver badge

        Apologies to the Londoners...

        What, both of them?

    3. Richard 45
      FAIL

      Ignorant townie

      I was wondering just how long it would take before a comment like this got posted, sadly. Ceauşescu had the right idea, didn't he? Force everyone to move from rural areas into big cities. Look what happened to him. First question, where do you think your food and dairy products come from?

      1. NRT

        Um....

        The supermarket?

        Nick.

    4. karl 15
      Boffin

      The world outside London.

      F.U Martin

      You don't know much about the UK outside London m8.

      1. some vaguely opinionated bloke
        Joke

        @karl 15

        Aye, and M8 is a Manchester post code.

        1. Matthew Malthouse

          Or...

          A Scottish motorway.

    5. peter 5 Silver badge

      @You might be better off

      Well you are already subside postal and telecommunication services to these places. (BT and the Royal Mail have Universal Service Requirements. And even if you don't pay BT directly, your operator will be paying them on your behalf.)

      And secondly, because once there is universal broadband, the government can provide on-line only services, with appropriate "savings".

      Disclaimer: I don't live in a town and have >2Meg broadband if I want it.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In vague defence...

      A 200Meg network in a city costs less than 2Meg in the country and by shear dint of population density reaches far more people. On the purely mathmatical grounds of most good to the most people, it's better value for money.

      However this ignores the argument that a truely national network opens up more opportunities not just for country dwellers but for everybody. (I might never use any road leading to a farm but I benifit from being able to get fresh milk delivered to me.)

      Personally I think if we just go for 2meg in the country we will have to do all this again in 15 years. Since its really digging up the road that costs the money and the actual cables are a small % of the cost, I say take a bit longer but require a minimum of 200Meg capacity everywhere.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      socking great motorways

      like the M1, M2, M3, M4 and M40 which all connect London to the world outside, not to mention the famous ring motorway. Londoners paid for these themselves, did they?

    8. Martin 19
      FAIL

      1) I don't want anyone's broadband to be subsidised by anyone else

      2) I aint in or from London. There are other big cities, dont'ya know.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just not economical

    Add ("high-speed") broadband to the list of utilities rural locations don't enjoy:

    * Mains sewage

    * Mains gas

    Not really news though, is it?

    1. JaitcH
      Pint

      The answer is ...

      to put the sewage in a sealed concrete tank with a pipe coming from the top and connect the pipe to the gas appliances.

      Works in China. I understand that pig poo is not conducive to gas production but cow dung is, along with that of humans.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        @JaitcH

        Seems to work fairly well in India as well.

        Not a bad idea anywhere really.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    hey Farmer Giles

    I've got an email attachment for you.

    It's a 20MB bitmap.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Funniest thing ...

    All y'all HAVE no rural! Seriously ... The British Isles are one big lump of suburbia, at least when it comes to the ins & outs of modern connectivity.

    But don't let reality get in the way of political grandstanding.

  5. Subliteratus
    Badgers

    Aw boo hoo

    Given that people go to live in the country to get away from all the bustle and crowding in cities, they just have to accept there's consequences too. One is that it's a lot more expensive to install and maintain telecoms to fewer houses that are further apart. Same reason no-one's built a metro system to get them to the local shop (for local people). Which they'll want next.

    If they want half-decent broadband they can pay the extra it'll cost or get on their bikes to civilisation. If they don't like it, then resilient areolas to the lot of em. Bumpkins.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Have you ever been to "the country"?

      Fair enough that people who "go to live in the country to get away from the bustle" suffer problems, but what about the ones who already live there, can't afford to move, or provide essential f*cking services to twats in the cities like you who think we all live in farms in the middle of a big field. It isn't fucking Emmerdale you know.

      Oh, and OK, lets all move to the city, where there isn't actually space to put us all without building massive Mega Cities everywhere. Then watch us all starve.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Food for Broadband

    If you townies don't want to subsidise our broadband then why should we subsidise your food?

    It's more expensive to ship food into the big cities yet you don't pay more.

    And yet by the arguments above for not subsidising our broadband cos you think anyone who wants fast broadband should move to a city the same applies to food if you want it move to where it is! ie the countryside.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Erm...

      "It's more expensive to ship food into the big cities yet you don't pay more."

      We pay the distribution costs in our shopping bills. The farmers don't pay it, we pay it in the mark-ups the supermarkets charge. The only reason a farmer *would* pay is if it cost less to buy from a supermaket than their local shop. In that case, blame economies of scale, don't blurt out ridiculous "we subsidise your food" garbage!

  7. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    What a hunt !

    Jeremy Hunt that is.

  8. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    The UK will comfortably sink in Lake Superior ...

    yet Canada, which includes the aforementioned lake, can provide ADSL to remote Arctic villages as well as communities in remote locations?

    Even VietNam gets ADSL to the smallest communities by fibre optic, and in the mountainous areas they have deployed WiMax.

    Maybe if they pulled the troops out of Blair's wars the government could afford the investment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nope...

      I have family in Canada and they complain they can only get dialup where they are. (Somewhere on a farm in Ontario, not particular isolated )

      The problem connecting up the UK is that it costs significantly more to dig up the bits of green space we do have than probably anywhere else on earth Plus nobody wants microwave relay towers near them ('Cancer causing! Think of the children!') . Plus it needs a minimum of three months to get planning permission for anything in each local area which is then appealed by the NIMBY's. Buying twenty thousand miles of optical cable is the least of the problems.

  9. 0laf Silver badge
    Pint

    I bet

    "Access" to 2Mb will include the local library.

    Might it actually be cheaper to launch a Blighty built satellite to cover all these areas?

    1. Tim #3

      Er

      Presumably that's the mobile library that you're referring to. Well I guess it could unreel a lot of Cat 5 behind it connected back to the nearby bright-lights city.

      Anyway, can't someone just make the mobile providers improve their 3g? Presently we have several providers who all overlap & all cover the same little bits of the country, which kinda seems out of line with what is required here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Olaf

      No on both counts. Definition of 2Mb is to the premise, not access via the library and it wouldn't be cheaper to launch our own satellite.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Welcome to the post nu-labour era...

    We have no money to do anything at the moment, sooner people get that idea installed their heads the better. Maybe things will improve in the long term, but in the short term dont expect any help for anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      well,

      we could re-assign some of the 23 billion we are spending to upgrade the nukes in our subs....you know, the ones we will never use ?

      As for long-term improvement....not much chance.

      Look about you, especially in Europe.

  11. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    They CAN

    The fact is they CAN get high-speed broadband already. The problem is that it COSTS them a hell of a lot.

    There was a recent article on here where a rural council paid towards the cost of getting FTTC installed to a village. This shows it can be done, the question is funding.

    I do not see why I should pay for it, it's them who want it, let 'em pay! The councils could pay the initial costs, then whack it on their council tax bills, or else a group of them could get together and chip in for it. If they want it they can get it themselves. If they aren't prepared to pay for it, they don't get it.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
      Pint

      One Little Secret...

      ...for town administrators.

      In the late 90's, our little town in Arizona got some federal money to extend the water mains to a federal prison^H^H^H^H^H^Hcorrection facility way outside.

      I stood up at the meeting and suggested, "Conduit is cheap, opening a 7 mile long trench is not."

      So when a private company brought fiber to the edge of town, they were able to cheaply lease conduit space to get real broadband (tm) to our bandwidth-starved paradise.

      This should apply to Ruralburbia in the UK as well, conduit is very cheap.

  12. Bassey

    Strange folk

    I know it's difficult to imagine if you've never seen the horizon but some people are actually BORN in the country side. They didn't move there. They didn't choose to "live in a picturesque cottage". The countryside is our home. Some families have been there for generations. And, without us, you wouldn't have food. Just imagine, no pizza to shove down your throats during endless frag-fests in your £1200/month hell-holes?

    Not that I give a shit. I'm on ADSL 2+ and get about 11MB and yet I'm rural enough to see the sea out one window and the mountains out the other. But then, I'm great.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to avoid a digital divide

    Simple. Legislate to cap all internet connections at 2Mbit/s until such time as ALL internet connections (except perhaps for 1% of genuinely remote refusemiks) can reliably deliver that rate.

    Raise cap to 8Mbit/s and repeat. The 20Mbit/s, then 50Mbit/s, etc.

    Market forces (i.e. those people fortunate enough to live in areas with faster infrastucture) will force the telcos to upgrade the not-spots. The telcos will be happy to oblige since it will allow then to charge more when the next cap comes off.

    Everybody happy. Especially us deprived urbanites who have neither rural tranquility nor broadband above half-meg.

    1. some vaguely opinionated bloke

      Hear hear!

      That is all.

  14. Mike Richards

    This is disastrous news

    It keeps MLF in a job for five more years.

  15. Michael 82
    WTF?

    Best being honest!

    Brown wanted to put this and his other big ideas on the Government credit card which was fast approaching its limit and possibly past it..

    The new boys have found this out and knocked it on the head. I live in Norfolk and get 8mb ADSL. If rural communities want it then pay up.. I and everyone else should'nt have to fork out out for posh toffs to have bb, when they could probably pay for it themselves!

  16. MinionZero
    Unhappy

    UK broadband

    Our Internet speeds are pitiful compared with many other countries. We have a few isolated pockets of high speed broadband that allow the powers to be to say, hey look they have fast broadband when the reality is many of us are still floundering around 2Mbits if lucky. Yet it still looks like we have years more to suffer before this is fixed. :(

  17. MinionZero
    Unhappy

    UK broadband in cities and in the countryside...

    Our Internet speeds are pitiful (just about everywhere in the UK) compared with many other countries. We have a few isolated pockets of high speed broadband that allow the powers to be to say, hey look they have fast broadband when the reality is many of us (in cities and in the countryside) are still floundering around 2Mbits if lucky. Yet it still looks like we have years more to suffer before this is fixed. :(

  18. bluesxman
    WTF?

    Erm...

    "planning to use a large proportion of the £130m annual surplus from the television licence created by the switch off of analogue transmitters"

    Heaven forfend they should use the surplus TV license money to improve the quality of the BBC's broadcasting -- referring to the content rather than the RF transmissions.

  19. Citizen Kaned

    oh i see the londoners are out again

    and you wonder why everyone outside of london hates londoners and london?

    i grew up in a village, its not like people move to these rural areas en-masse from cities, people are born and brought up there.... why do you find it so hard to grasp?

    maybe not everyone wants to hear cars 24/7 and the smell of a city. im waiting to get enough cash to move out of the chav infested area i live in so that i can get some nice clean air.

    i do wonder WHY rural areas NEED 2mb+? in cities remember that our ~10mb line is often shared with many others meaning we often only get a small fraction of what we pay for.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  20. Dazed and Confused

    Sound more like

    The government making promises with bothering to ask anyone whether it was technically feasible with the available infrastructure. It is easy of politician and managers to make promises they don't have to actually do the work. Making good broadband available to 100% of the population means laying a lot of fibre. Are we even at 100% for mains electricity?

    If you try and dig up rural valleys to lay this lot, or to build towers for mobile connectivity then environmentalist will start to scream and demand public enquiries which will always take years and the lawyers will spend your money faster than you can print it.

  21. Marcus Aurelius
    Unhappy

    The problem is

    ..that the majority of the population lives in the South East, where most of the wealth is generated, and therefore more money gets spent on the infrastructure there, which allows more people and wealth to live be generated there.....

    In order to break out of this, and to ensure you don't need to concrete over everything south of Watford, you're going to have to make it more attractive to stay out of the South East, and one factor will be ensuring that the whole country has access to good broadband, not just inside the M25.

    1. John Murgatroyd

      Another

      of "their" big ideas is to make it less attractive to move North, by outlawing large pay deals negotiated country-wide.

      So the North will get lower pay because it costs less to "live" there.

      Then there is the "on yer bike" attitude to getting people working by making it impossible for them to stay where they live and get them to move elsewhere to look for work...like the North....

      The beeb had "Wales" on the news this morning....no broadband in the village/s...except the pub landlord said one guy had a sat link installed and had great broadband.

      The technology is there, the will to pay isn't.

      1. Ragarath Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Sat links

        Are not the be all and end all. Yes they are great for services that are not dependant on latency like WWW but there are a load of services that are.

  22. JP19

    It isn't simple town vs. rural

    I live in a suburb about 3km from the exchange with decent phone lines and get 12M. A friend lives in a similar suburb about 6km from his exchange with grotty lines and gets a flaky 1M. Another friend moved from a couple of streets away to a village. About 200yds away from their own little exchange he gets a rock solid 8M, he also has no mains gas and crap TV reception.

    If people were prepared to pay a premium for higher speeds then maybe there would be some funds for the required infrastructure but I assume mostly they are not which is why most deals are the same price for whatever you can get from an up to xxM service.

  23. heyrick Silver badge
    FAIL

    Epic f**king fail, everything (UK and commentards alike)

    I pay for "up to 20 megabit". I wouldn't be surprised if the UK wasn't fairly similar, so city guys would do to STFU when they understand that a subscriber paying "up to X" and getting maybe half a megabit with a tailwind is actually subsidising THEM.

    Oh, wait. What about those places where ADSL is simply not possible. That's an excuse? Really? I won't give away my location, but it is a part of France not unlike countrified Wales. Sure, there are "cities" nearby, but is it a scale thing. Nearby meaning 35-odd miles for a "city" of 200,000 inhabitants; same pop. size as Portsmouth. Our nearest town of any size is six miles away (a one-supermarket town, and by that I mean "like a Spar", pop. 2,500). Our hamlet (bunch of houses around a church and a bar that is usually closed) is two miles away. Our nearest neighbours, all 3,500 little pink oinkers, are a mile away. You get the point, right? Well, my ADSL is 2 megabit. This isn't to say France is wired. There are many places with poor coverage (some for political reasons, some because... well... side of the mountain type settings). I had a year with one megabit max. and a month or two ago it went up to two megabit.

    Face it. The UK infrastructure is crap and nobody wants to spend on doing anything about it. Remember that when it comes to defining the quarterly profits of the companies involved. Here, now, I have the two megabit you guys in the British country might get, maybe, in 2015. By then, what will I have? Already many rural towns (circa 2000+ inhab.) can pull at least 16 megabit, with very low contention. Oh, and most of our internet access is *uncapped*. With mine, it makes no mention of either a cap or an FUP. That sort of thing was deemed unpopular, and the intrastructure is sufficient to not need such a crutch. Hey - did you know that up until the almighty credit cockup, they wanted to roll out 100 megabit across the country (including rural), with an "all homes connected" policy, by the end of 2012? It has been shelved... for now. But good advances are being made using current technology.

    If the UK doesn't pull its finger out of its ass pretty damn soon, it will find itself relegated to a has-been runner-up left to play catch-up. You might have complete 2 megabit coverage by 2015 (though I won't hold my breath). Fine. And by then the rest of us will have...?

    1. Matthew Malthouse

      Thinking ahead

      Back in the early nineties France Telecom decided that all new phone connections would be wired with solid copper suitable for ISDN and old ones replaced - this on the back of an earlier improvement program dating from the 1981 start of Minitel. It turned out that those wires were also very good for ADSL. I a bit of serendipity.

      The UK still has masses of poor exchange or street box to consumer cabling - some of it 50 year old aluminium pairs - that is the most significant limitation for ADSL.

      What we should have is fibre to the box + UTP to the home (leaving scope for fibre all the way later) which should future-proof us for any reasonable speed. But of course no on wants to pay for it.

  24. Joe Burmeister

    Maybe give up on the market and goverment?

    The market isn't going to do it, not enough profit margin (which is what it's about, not service).

    The government isn't going to do it because they believe the market will do it, and they have no money now.

    But it is possible for the community to do it themselves, if they have the money.

    http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/how-to-start-your-own-isp-699959

    Problem is of course despite what some have said, rural doesn't mean rich.

  25. pctechxp
    Flame

    @ Martin 19

    Why should broadband even factor into a decision about where you want to live, like the phone it should be everywhere.

    I take it you've never visited these places or had a holiday there? DSL or other flavours of broadband are also used to carry credit card authorisation requests for businesses so you aren't left standing around when you pay for something.

    Don't be so damn ignorant.

  26. Dave 120
    FAIL

    Why no WiMax?

    Why is I can get 8mb wireless broadand including VOIP phone service in rural Spain for less per month than my BT PHONE line rental on which I can only get < 1mb ADSL despite being 4 miles from an exchange.

    My own fault for picking this place to live before ADSL had been invented I guess.

  27. Anonymous John

    Whatever happened to

    the proposal to run cables through the sewers and network all the toilets?

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2008/01/24/h20_sewer_rollout/

    1. NoDosh
      Unhappy

      @AnonJohn

      All very well if you have sewers in your part of the world ......

  28. Paul 77
    Linux

    US has problems too...

    Some of my inlaws live in Rindge, New Hampshire. Wired broadband stops approximately a mile from their house. The only options are slow dialup or slightly faster satellite broadband - which they have recently gone for, but even that has not been perfect, probably because they're in the middle of forest and the wet leaves attenuate the satellite signals.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
      Pint

      Solution...

      ...only a mile? Take a broadband connection to the edge of service.

      Buy some inexpensive WI-FI gear and beam the internet out to your neighborhood.

      Get the neighbors to chip in. The hardware is cheap. You could do it informally, or form a small business|coop.

  29. CaptainBlue
    FAIL

    I live in Rotherhithe...

    ...and my broadband speed is a heady 700kbps. w00t

  30. Richard Morris
    Flame

    What's wrong with dialup or ISDN?

    Whilst life is getting more difficult without good internet access, streaming media is still a luxury rather than essential to life as we know it.

    Wouldn’t a thin client at home connected by dialup or isdn accessing a desktop in a datacentre provide suitable access to the internet for other purposes?

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