back to article BT dismisses MPs' calls to snap off Openreach as 'wrong-headed'

BT has dismissed calls by more than 100 MPs to separate broadband arm Openreach as "wrong-headed", in response to a damning report that found that despite the telco having received £1.7bn in subsidies to get Britain online, 5.7 million people still cannot access the internet. The report, titled "Broadbad" was from a coalition …

  1. Richard Wharram

    Murdoch influence?

    Tying up a Sky competitor in legal wrangles?

    Shirley Knott?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Murdoch influence?

      Openreach is the supplier to Sky, so yes I can well believe that there is some Murdoch influence at work here but I doubt it has anything to do with stitching up BT in a legal battle since doing so would likely only disrupt the infrastructure upgrades which Sky needs. It might bring long term benefits for Sky if Openreach was independent of their competitor (BT) but in the short term the transition would hurt them just as much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Murdoch influence?

        "since doing so would likely only disrupt the infrastructure upgrades which Sky needs."

        I guess that depends on the output of a sum. The sum would weigh up the cost to Sky of having BT compete against it for the sport coverage, versus how much extra profit it could make from a better UK broadband network. Which business is most important to Sky - sports and satellite TV or Internet?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Murdoch influence?

          Remember that BT makes money from all phone lines regardless of the phone/internet provider, except Virgin.

          If Murdoch can get that revenue stream away from the company that makes the BT Sport-Vision-thingy then it's a big win for Sky. The calculation will be based on how much Virgin can gain while Sky and BT are squabbling.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Privatisation

    The gift that keeps on giving.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Privatisation

      The gift that keeps on giving.

      There speaks a boy not old enough to remember how expensive voice calls were under state ownership, how it took six months to even get a line installed, and how the state owned operator thought it acceptable to offer only "party lines".

      But don't let any inconvenient facts stand in the way of religious belief: Vote for Jezza and we will soon have a Venzuelan style workers' paradise here in the UK.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Privatisation

        > how expensive voice calls were under state ownership

        Have you tried roaming abroad? Until the EU put the boot into European charges, the very efficient and customer-friendly privatised mobile networks could gouge you almost all they wanted.

        > how it took six months to even get a line installed

        Now it takes six years to get broadband installed. And you have to pay for it twice - once in handouts to BT from your taxes, and again in monthly charges.

        >But don't let any inconvenient facts stand in the way of religious belief:

        Quite.

        1. EyePeaSea
          Thumb Down

          Re: Privatisation

          >> how it took six months to even get a line installed

          >Now it takes six years to get broadband installed. And you have to pay for it twice - once in handouts to BT from your taxes, and again in monthly charges.

          Years ago, it could take 6 months for everyone to get a new line installed. Yes, for some people, it might take 6 years now to get broadband now, but those people are in the, what, 5% of the population that live in 'remote' (geographically distant from central communication) areas.

          So - treat everyone equally and give everyone a shocking service? Is that really the way to go?

          Keep up pressure (and subsidise if appropriate) to ensure that as many people have access to the Internet as possible. But let's stay sensible and proportionate. I may well retire to the Highlands in a few years - if I do, I may have to accept a measly 1Mb connection whilst my family down south will be enjoying Gb to the door. But that is my choice...

          I'm not in the 'Privatise everything' camp. Nor in the 'It is private, so it must be better" camp. And FWIW, I'd bet that I've been on more picket lines sacrificing my salary to support others, than most people reading the Reg. But this rose tinted view of the history of state run enterprises (British Layland. British Rail. British Coal, GPO etc.) doesn't cut it and distracts from the real problems and challenges facing us today.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Privatisation

        I lived through privatisation in New Zealand.

        We _had_ similar problems to UK users, although the party lines were targetted ruthlessly for elimination.

        When the Post Office Telecoms department was turned into a State Owned Enterprise (and broken up into multiple operating companies under head office), the first thing they did was eliminate most of the middle management - end result usually being that when you applied for a phone line, you'd get home and find dialtone, or a man preparing to dig up the footpath to run a cable.

        It was also profitable.

        Everything went to pot when ideologically driven sales resulted in the SOE being sold off. All infrastructure projects got cancelled, plans to dump short-distance toll zones were axed along with plans to majorly drop LD charges(*) and all the operating companies were repaidly remerged into one body. what followed was 20 years of flagrant market abuse (which is why NZ is held up as the poster child for how not to private your telcos). Based around the telco being secure in its belief that as 40% of what traded on the NZSE, plus the single largest investment the NZ govt had in its pension schemes, they were too big to tangle with (and they were, effectively dictating telecommunications policy, despite a "hostile environment" being cited time and time again by external outfits which declined to set foot in NZ)

        One of the telling things when the NZ government finally couldn't ignore the problem any longer and moved to curb the telco was that TCNZ attempted to sell the BT/Openreach model, preemptively creating divisions.

        The NZ regulators studied what had happened in the UK, realised the extent of market abuse BT has been perpetrating and made any further broadband funding contingent on the breakup of the companies.

        The EXACT SAME ARGUMENTS were raised against breaking up TCNZ (Spark/Chorus) as BT is making now, down to the pension liabilities and Openreach not being viable. In the end it's the Openreach side which is robustly healthy(*), whilst the old dialtone company is in serious trouble.

        (*) And so is the market. Chorus (NZ's Openreach) sells copper/fibre/duct access to all comers at the same rate, actively seeks out customers instead of hiding and without the dead hand of head office dictating anticompetitive behaviour, things get fixed or installed quickly, no matter who the customer is.

        The real irony is that Spark (the old dialtone company) is loudly griping that Chorus charges too much for lines, despite the (govt regulated) figures being based on what was provided pre-breakup, substantially lower than what non-TCNZ customers were paying pre-breakup and the very same company was whining that the proposed line charge figures were too low, pre-breakup.

        One caveat though: The NZ regulator has been tough on line charges and may have recently pushed them too low to be sustainable, although it's more likely that they've pushed them out of being "comfortably profitable". They're also strongly encouraging move to fibre everywhere.

      3. Oh Homer Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "how expensive voice calls were under state ownership"

        Bollocks.

        I'm old enough to remember when you could make a call from a phone box using just a 2p piece.

        Today? I pay £40 just for the fucking "rental", without even making any calls.

        Greed may be "good" for the greedy, but it doesn't really do much for the rest of us.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Privatisation

      "The gift that keeps on giving."

      Yeah, because the GPO was such a proactive bastion of forward thinking and cutting edge tech. Oh, wait...

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Privatisation

        Actually part of the GPO really was. I sent some time working in Martlesham 25 years ago, and in between watching US training flights (how can you tell when one of the A38's has crashed - there's another one circling just above the crash site), got to see and participate in some rally interesting stuff.

        Now the GPO business units - I agree, they were another matter altogether. I fondly remember 5 years before, rewiring some US socketed phones to provide multiple phones at a reasonable cost in my own house.

        Now living in the Scottish Borders, I get a princely 1.5M land line from BT - on a dry day. I get 8M on my 4G mobile, which very conveniently is an unlimited data plan (a very nice offer from 3 a few years ago). Guess how the house network reconfigures when I am at home....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Privatisation

          "Now living in the Scottish Borders, I get a princely 1.5M land line from BT - on a dry day. I get 8M on my 4G mobile, which very conveniently is an unlimited data plan (a very nice offer from 3 a few years ago). Guess how the house network reconfigures when I am at home...."

          You mean you have a choice of provider? That can't be right, Shapps said BT has a monopoly.

          1. just another employee

            Re: Privatisation

            I live just outside a metropolis - Cambridge.

            I live in an area BT are allowed to colour 'green' as they have enabled us for superfast broadband.

            Guess how fast my broadband is.

            1.5Mb/s on a dry day. And no-one offers unlimited 4G anymore.

            Hey - Maybe BT can buy a mobile phone company and offer a fixed price 4G contract to all those customers otherwise stuffed by them when it comes to cabled Broadband.

            Now there's a thought....

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Privatisation

              And no-one offers unlimited 4G anymore.

              Well Three will transfer existing One Plan contracts with All-you-can-eat-data and Unlimited tethering (this is most important as not all All-you-can-eat-data plans included unlimited tethering) to a new subscriber. I would hope that owners of one of these SIMs/Plans would, rather than simply trade them in as part of upgrade, sell them on ebay etc.

          2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: Privatisation

            You mean you have a choice of provider? That can't be right, Shapps said BT has a monopoly.

            Quite right, I do have a choice - but not one that a lot of people have in the UK. I was lucky - really. Walking past a 3 store, I saw a big handwritten poster - a 'managers special offer', £15 per month for unlimited data, 5000 minutes a month and 5000 texts. Well I took it.

            Funnily enough, I get a call from 3 every couple of months or so (I have retained the contract for about 4 years) offering me a great new phone with a new contract - funny though, never with unlimited data. Now as a bear with little enough brain to like shiny things (even if I am a generation or two down on my iThingy), I know enough about marmalade to understand that buying something outright is often a little cheaper than paying on the never never, and just enough self restraint to be able to resist really expensive immediate gratification. So I disappoint them...

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Privatisation

        "Yeah, because the GPO was such a proactive bastion of forward thinking and cutting edge tech. Oh, wait..."

        Funnily enough in 1990 they had a microchip design that could have received and driven 2.4Gbs over 10Km of fibre for $5 and they were pulling the fibre at around £10 for the 10Km.

        So your house could have had 2.4Gb fibre installed 25years ago for massively less than the cost of the actual installation.

        And what stopped it? Privatisation!

        1. Fred Dibnah

          Re: Privatisation

          "Yeah, because the GPO was such a proactive bastion of forward thinking and cutting edge tech. Oh, wait..."

          It was a while ago, but Colossus was built by the GPO. Without that, this discussion might be moot.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_Office_Research_Station

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Privatisation

          @Tom 7: BT was privatised in 1984, so how that explains stopping a programme in 1990 is a little puzzling.

          1. Chris Fox

            Re: Privatisation

            @veti

            I believe this relates to the contracts for providing new local loop services in urban areas, which were offered to US cable companies to install coaxial (badly in many areas, requiring lots of remedial work to pavements etc.). This strange decision by Thatcher forced BT to abandon its cheaper and faster fibreoptic service, which was all ready to roll, and would have given us FTTH/P 25 years ago. The argument to go with an additional copper rather than fibre optic local loop was justified on the grounds of "competition". In retrospect it seems a strange competition when the winners were offering a poorer technology at a higher price, especially given that there are other mechanisms for allowing competition over local loop services. Compare and contrast with what other countries were doing at the time with their national telecoms companies.

            http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/how-the-uk-lost-the-broadband-race-in-1990-1224784

            Instead it looks like we will end up stuck with some Frankenstein's monster of power hungry technology that will spew ever increasing amounts of hash over the radio spectrum for many years to come (unnotched VDSL, and G.Fast, I'm looking at you).

          2. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Privatisation

            @Veti - because it took them that long to get round to destroying Martlesham Heath.

        3. Tim Warren

          Re: Privatisation

          [quote]

          Funnily enough in 1990 they had a microchip design that could have received and driven 2.4Gbs over 10Km of fibre for $5 and they were pulling the fibre at around £10 for the 10Km.

          So your house could have had 2.4Gb fibre installed 25years ago for massively less than the cost of the actual installation.

          And what stopped it? Privatisation!

          [/quote]

          I though that Thatcher blocked BT from rolling out Fibre as she wanted to provide some breathing room for the new cable TV networks to get a foot in the door.

          1. leexgx

            Re: Privatisation

            i believe BT was blocked from rolling out fiber in the 1990s (as it would of made them a bigger monopoly or somthing rubbish like that)

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Privatisation

          With claims like that I think we need to see evidence. Maybe, at a stretch I could believe the whole $5 chip thing even though that feels well ahead of the curve. Pulling in anything over 10km though is going to cost a lot of money, if it was cheap someone would have done it already.

    3. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Privatisation

      Yeah because British Telecom before privatization was such an awesome organisation.

  3. Cirdan
    Megaphone

    Roads. Electricity. Internet.

    If they won't do it, tax them into the ground and do it for yourself... THIS IS what governments are for, after maintaining a military to keep the peace from abroad and a police force to keep the peace within.

    ...Cirdan...

    (a very confused libertarian)

    [edit... Yeah, Zog, ya beat me to it]

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

      Yup, who needs schools, hospitals and other cool stuff :)

      I almost agree with you, though. The only problem is that nationally owned infrastructure is generally mismanaged by a committee. I've no idea why, as it should be able to operate as any other large business.

      In theory, you could re-nationalise Openreach, apply the charges set by Ofcom for the supply of circuits etc to non-BT ISPs to BT, and just shovel the govmt subsidies into Openreach rather than BT, and BT can then die off as it's a rather poor service provider.

      Openreach can then be given the remit to do stuff to get broadband available to everyone without having the conflict of interest tie-in to BT. No doubt some effort will have to be directed at working out what should drive a change to the infrastructure (e.g. coverage of houses, average achieved speed during peak hours, local demand).

      Perhaps BT just don't want to have to talk to the Indian call-centre Openreach uses as they know nothing will get done...

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

        "The only problem is that nationally owned infrastructure is generally mismanaged by a committee. I've no idea why"

        No incentives to do the job well since most of the boards of nationalised industries were in jobs for life given to them by mates in the government of the time. And this attitude trickled all the way down to the shop floor. Couple that with workers in a monopoly having the country over a barrel if they strike because one of their lazy arsed colleagues got fired or they don't like the colour of the bog rolls, and you have the perfect recipe for an inefficient mess. If you need a current example - the endless problems on London Underground (nationalised transport) with the bolshie RMT union.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

          As opposed to the private sector:

          No incentives to do the job well since most of the boards of private industries are in jobs for life given to them by mates in their London club.

      2. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

        Openreach can then be given the remit to do stuff to get broadband available to everyone without having the conflict of interest tie-in to BT.

        Sorry; that won't work. Openreach only operates the bits between local exchanges and customers. The main network is, and would have to remain, in BT's hands unless another operator came along and somehow offered a "spine" service that terminated on BT property.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

          "unless another operator came along and somehow offered a "spine" service that terminated on BT property."

          There are other national networks and they can be hooked into in BT exchanges. That's been the case since the days of Mercury. I buy services from KCOM that terminate in BT sites.

        2. zaax

          Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

          Sky has the only LLU kit in my local exchange, and they run / offer the spine service

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

            Sky has the only LLU kit in my local exchange, and they run / offer the spine service

            And have you dug a little deeper and found out who supplies Sky with it's backbone circuits...

            Whilst there are several providers of fibre circuits, I think you will find that many operators will still have contracts with BT for secondary circuits and even primary circuits...

      3. Bluenose

        Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

        I almost agree with you, though. The only problem is that nationally owned infrastructure is generally mismanaged by a committee. I've no idea why, as it should be able to operate as any other large business.

        I'll give you a clue. They're called politicians and they don't give you a chance to get the first project done before they have changed the requirements, pulled the funding and generally had a great time destroying what hasn't been built in the first place.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

          @Bluenose: while that's true, it's not the whole story.

          The politicians will change the requirements (etc.) because the requirements issued first time were pants. And everyone knew, back in the day, that they were pants and would need to be redone. But it was in no-one's interest to say so: the politicians would lose face, the contractors would lose money. So they went ahead anyway.

          "Getting the first project done" is an exercise in futility, it's aiming to achieve something that is, at best, completely useless. At worst, it's some combination of ruinously expensive, lethally dangerous and hilariously illegal.

        2. chaz5o

          Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

          You mean selfservatives, who we keep voting for.

  4. Efros

    Publicly owned business

    Utilities should be publicly owned, run as a business with the government as a silent owner. Profits to be ploughed back into infrastructure investment for the benefit of the tax-payer. I'm sure it will be a difficult balance to achieve, as politicians can't resist meddling, but it has to be more reasonable than the ripoff fest that is the current status quo.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Publicly owned business

      Such radical thinking will get you sectioned, as implementing this will require politicians & civil servants giving a toss about the rest of us.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Publicly owned business

      It's a sensible approach but the 'hands off' bit never works.

      When BT was publically owned it was starved of investment funds (hence the long delays for phone service) because the government took the revenue - all the revenue - and dispensed it as it saw fit. The postmaster general was given back an 'allowance' by the government to pay his staff and suppliers. BT was a source of income to the government rather than a subsidised entity.

      I don't get the rip off bit - UK Internet prices are below the EU average, there's a lot of choice in terms of ISP and the availability of broadband is better than average, though the speeds are below average (but not by a huge amount). That's all detailed here;

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/10/mixed-uk-results-in-eu-study-of-broadband-speeds-price-and-coverage.html

      1. Bluenose

        Re: Publicly owned business

        Some people may wish to read the article at the following site, http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/how-the-uk-lost-the-broadband-race-in-1990-1224784. Makes for interesting reading and shows once again how the party of business is more about the party of making money for its mates.

    3. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Publicly owned business

      As a counter to that suggestion, let me point you to the success story that is the railways under national ownership.

      The railways were actually nationalised three times. During WW1, the government took over all the railways and worked them in to the ground and failed to maintain them. Then at the end of WW1, when they were knackered, the government handed them back to the rail companies. Then it hiked wages for workers. Then it fixed ticket prices.

      As a result of that section of brilliant actions lines closed and the companies were merged in to the 'Big Four' rail companies. They pretty much got back on their feet and started doing well again by the time WW2 came around, when the government did exactly the same thing - taking them over, running them in to the ground and failing to maintain them properly.

      Finally, of course, it nationalised them after the war. It then chose to keep operating steam services when diesel was the way forward. Then it closed down two thirds of the rail network, stripping out the inter-city lines and designing a train network focused entirely on the needs of the capital. British Rail was a byword for incompetence and poor quality. They were still closing down rail lines right up to privatisation. Near where I lived they closed down a line and a set of stations by altering the timetable to ensure there weren't any connecting services, and then saying there 'wasn't any demand'.

      This is the nature of nationalised public services. They are uniformly awful. The socialist ideal is fine but when it hits the buffers of reality it all falls apart. Like every socialist ideal.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Publicly owned business

        "This is the nature of nationalised public services"

        Have you by any chance ever heard of the Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer?

        The state of Britain's railways is nothing to do with nationalisation per se, and everything to do with the long standing belief of Conservatives that anybody who has to use public transport outside Central London has failed in life. If you make getting around the place too easy, people might be able to find better jobs and provincial cities might develop, providing alternative power centres to London as happens with those appalling Froggies and Krauts, dontcherknow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Publicly owned business

          The state of Britain's railways is nothing to do with nationalisation per se, and everything to do with the long standing belief of Conservatives that anybody who has to use public transport outside Central London has failed in life

          I'll think you'll find the railways were just as shit under labour, if not worse as they were on strike every other week.

      2. A Known Coward

        Re: Publicly owned business

        "During WW1, the government took over all the railways and worked them in to the ground and failed to maintain them."

        "by the time WW2 came around, when the government did exactly the same thing - taking them over, running them in to the ground and failing to maintain them properly."

        You may, or may not have a point about government ownership, but you rather shoot yourself in the foot by citing these two examples. There was a reason why a lot of things, not just the railways, fell into disrepair during these periods and it had absolutely nothing to do with government ownership - the guys responsible for doing the work of maintaining things were all busy fighting.

      3. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Publicly owned business

        >Then it closed down two thirds of the rail network, stripping out the inter-city lines and designing a train network focused entirely on the needs of the capital.

        To correct your history - Beeching was Marples' pet rottweiller. Marples was a (Tory, of course...) minister who made a lot of money from road building.

        The whole fiasco was a result of his naked, cynical self-interest.

        >British Rail was a byword for incompetence and poor quality.

        BR had a brilliant engineering department, which produced the 125 - which is still one of the most popular and comfortable trains today. It also experimented with the APT, and would likely have got it right after another couple of iterations.

        But BR was consistently starved of funding. So instead of high speed rail competitive with the French TGV, and proper electrification (planned since the 1960s, but never invested in) BR had to make do with crappy hand-me down trains. And those 125s on a few premium routes.

        After privatisation, rail subsidies increased, and fares skyrocketed. But safety went down, so a lot of people died in disastrous accidents (Paddington, etc.)

        >This is the nature of nationalised public services

        But unlike privatised services, they don't routinely gouge their customers. Or sometimes kill them through negligence.

      4. Bluenose

        Re: Publicly owned business

        But Churchill was convinced we would all be flying around in helicopters as a quick cheap form of travel and so didn't need the train system.

      5. clanger9

        Re: Publicly owned business

        This is the nature of nationalised public services. They are uniformly awful. The socialist ideal is fine but when it hits the buffers of reality it all falls apart. Like every socialist ideal.

        Counter-example: Vienna's public transport system. Fully integrated tram/bus/rail. Cheap. Everything runs on time, regardless of the weather. The tube runs all night and there's a fill-in night bus service that can get you to more or less anywhere on the network at 4am if you don't mind waiting around. They regularly extend the network with major construction projects through densely populated areas and these projects seem to mostly run to time and budget. And it's state owned, using the 'silent owner' approach described above. Like in London, public transport is seen as a strategic asset for economic wellbeing of the city, not something to make a quick buck from.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiener_Linien

        I don't know how or why it works, but it does. Heck, it's not even inefficient: 900 million passenger journeys and 8,000 staff compares favourably with TFL's 2.4bn journeys with 28,000 staff!

      6. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Publicly owned business

        As a counter to that suggestion, let me point you to the success story that is the railways under national ownership.

        Although I'd like to draw your attention to the curious correlation between passenger numbers and ownership ;)

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Publicly owned business

          Although I'd like to draw your attention to the curious correlation between passenger numbers and ownership

          I suggest you do some more research, the industry experts are clear, there is no correlation between passenger numbers and ownership. However, there is a correlation between passenger numbers and (government) investment in the railways! Basically, without the investment in the network, it wouldn't of been able to support the massive increase in passenger numbers (which started before privatisation). Naturally what confuses things is that the government only made the investment, because it had to if it were to attract private companies to run it...

          [Aside: Apologies, there was a piece on this last year, but I've not bookmarked it and hence am unable to supply a URL.]

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Publicly owned business

      Utilities should be publicly owned, run as a business with the government as a silent owner.

      I'm not sure where you think the governance of an organisation comes from if the government are somehow a "silent owner". In practice it would be run by the management based on what they think best. Do you really think that if the management of a company are accountable essentially to themselves, that will lead to an efficient and effective, customer focused organisation?

      I'd have thought there were more than enough utterly ineffective, unaccountable quangos with obscenely over-paid management to give you an answer. Like, in this case, OFCOM.

      1. Bluenose

        Re: Publicly owned business

        We could always turn to the head of Marconi, he knew what he was doing. Or perhpaps the head of the recent state run East Coast rail line before it was passed back in to private hands based on some pretty crappy maths from the current Government.

        Both state and private industries have a reputation for massive cockups and failures, the media tend to focus more on the former than the latter because it often results in a loss of "tax payer" money whilst ignoring the far greater loss of "pensioners" money.

        A QUANGO is not a business and, as others have pointed out, BT prior to privatisation was a profitable business and focussed on improving its technology including upgrading its telephone network and exchanges.

        The issue with state industries in invariably the problems caused by politicians sticking their mates in to the leadership roles and having them work to support an unannounced agenda (for the Tories privatisation and for Labour a flawed sense of equality between management and workers). It is this hidden agenda that screws most state sector industry in the same way as companies get screwed by boards who are more interested in their short term easy to achieve bonuses based on share price increases than on the long term return to investors based on growing sales.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Publicly owned business

      "Utilities should be publicly owned"

      They were. Government was perennially reluctant to put in the required investment so they were years or decades behind where they should have been. Eventually they were privatised so the government could get its (under)investment back and the utilities could borrow at commercial rates although some (hello Railtrack) never quite got weaned.

      Next we have to remember cable. HMG let various telecoms companies have cable franchises. This, as a matter of policy, excluded BT because the competitors had to have a chance/had vacant directorships (delete as appropriate). Now, years and years later, BT is expected to step in and cable up all the parts of the country that the original franchises found too difficult/expensive (delete as appropriate and did somebody mention cherry picking?) in short order. And people are amazed that the task that the original franchises borked takes a lot of time and money.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't Zuck help? by my back of a fag packet maths that would be 570,000 people lifted out of poverty.

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Coat

      @ac

      "...fag packet maths..."

      This is a technical forum, not some place to discuss paraphilias!

      Oh, wait...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Zealand has done it.

    Surely this NZ model can be applied.

    Hell, they have even done it with National Rail. Why not BT Openreach?

    About time the Govt. pulled out its fingers from the corporate honchos and do something positive for real.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New Zealand has done it.

      " New Zealand has done it.

      Surely this NZ model can be applied."

      That only worked in New Zealand because the government also gave the new last mile provider a £1000 'gift' for every house in the country. I expect Openreach could make a fair crack at faster broadband if they were given £26.5Bn. (£1000 x number of UK households).

      Your example also ignores Virgin. They reach most UK homes. Turning Openreach into a public body with access to cheap government borrowing puts them out of business. If the government does propose a split the legal battle that follows will be led by Virgin I think (or their US parent) as they stand to lose most.

      From cable.co.uk;

      Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge, in his keynote at Broadband World Forum, said many of the submissions made to Ofcom calling for Openreach to be divested have amounted to “an attack on BT”.

      “That’s not something we agree with as an infrastructure investor,” he told the conference, which took place at ExCel London last week.

      Mr Mockridge said the government taking control of the Openreach network would be “frankly not a good message” to send to companies such as Virgin’s owner Liberty Global, which is investing billions in the UK.

      “BT was privatised 30 years ago with that network and the choices were there to be made then. But if the government has already made the decision to privatise it, to come back at it a second time, we would say that’s not reasonable."

      He said it would be better to set economic policy regulation to create a "competing network", instead of relying on "a single network which is regulated, or maybe over regulated, in order to get the outcomes you desire".

      1. Dominion

        Re: New Zealand has done it.

        "Most UK homes"

        I'd genuinely like to see the numbers of homes that have Virgin Media cable available. I'm in a reasonable sized town in the middle of the country with Virgin Media nowhere in sight.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New Zealand has done it.

          Virgin claimed to pass 12.6M homes a year ago when announcing their rollout to 4m additional homes. There are 26.4M homes in the UK.

          So, depending on the progress of that rollout, it was 47% and it's rising to 62%.

          1. Joe Montana

            Re: New Zealand has done it.

            99% of the homes Virgin serve are also served by BT, the problem is for people in areas where there is neither option available.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: New Zealand has done it.

            "Virgin claimed to pass 12.6M homes a year ago"

            Those homes are those that were cheapest to pass. The cable franchises go back to the '90s when BT weren't even to get involved. Now BT are being berated for not being able to instantly and cheaply cable up those that VM & their predecessors didn't get round to in all that time..

            1. Bluenose

              Re: New Zealand has done it.

              In Milton Keynes, BT were the incumbent cable supplier to the whole city, the Govt of the day decided that this wasn't fair so forced them to sell their cable to NTL or whoever was the massively indebted cable provider of the day.

              Some 20 years later, Milton Keynes does not have Virgin Media cable based broadband because Virgin Media didn't bother to upgrade the original copper cabling as it was too expensive to do so. The only fibre provider is BT and that is limited to the cabinet.

              So much for markets and competition.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New Zealand has done it.

        Virgin DO NOT reach most uk homes http://maps.thinkbroadband.com/#!lat=55.37805099893188&lng=-3.43597299999999&zoom=6&type=terrain&cable-coverage

        And virgins owners are not investing billions, they have barely laid any extra cable in 15years.

        of course, he's going to lobby against it, why would he want a fully working system, when he can charge stupid fees for doing f&^k all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: New Zealand has done it.

          "Virgin DO NOT reach most uk homes http://maps.thinkbroadband.com/#!lat=55.37805099893188&lng=-3.43597299999999&zoom=6&type=terrain&cable-coverage"

          Say what?

          How does a map prove anything? If there are X number of UK homes and Virgin pass at least (X/2)+1 then they cover most UK homes. It's simple arithmetic.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: New Zealand has done it.

        I expect Openreach could make a fair crack at faster broadband if they were given £26.5Bn. (£1000 x number of UK households).

        Agree, as if memory is correct, that is substantially more than BT guesstimated the cost of a nationwide FTTP deployment, prior to the government deciding to limit BDUK to FTTC and it's rather more pedestrian targets.

    2. TheManCalledStan

      Re: New Zealand has done it.

      Because NZ has an ideal situation and a proactive government...

      CHORUS the NZ equivalent of Openreach is an absolute monopoly

      Openreach, has VM as a network competitor (~50% coverage) with 20% of connections market, which VM has promised to expand to ~65-70%, so will have ~25% connections market.

      20-25% of market is a significant revenue stream that would help cover a lot of the capital investment required for an equivalent project from a nationalised OR.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New Zealand has done it.

      Hell, they have even done it with National Rail. Why not BT Openreach?

      Well, maybe because Network Rail have proved no better than Railtrack? So we have long delays in rail development schemes (despite the vast public subsidies), Network Rail has five directors earning £800-900k a year, we have project planning that is utterly incompetent, a regulator described as "unfit for purpose" by the Public Accounts Committee:

      http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/nov/20/network-rail-investment-plan-has-staggering-costs-report-finds

      Looks to me like state ownership marginally changes the appointment process for fat cats, without making much difference to their obscene pay packets, nor their performance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New Zealand has done it.

        "Well, maybe because Network Rail have proved no better than Railtrack?"

        They're much better in one respect - the number of folk getting killed as a result of shoddy outsourced maintenance has reduced to almost zero per year. The biggest change that occurred was the return of maintenance to being managed and mostly staffed internally with contractors employed to undertake specific tasks rather than "look after this line for £x per year".

    4. chaz5o

      Re: New Zealand has done it.

      Tories!

  7. Oh Matron!

    Investment.....

    So, these idiots believe that a separate company will be none profit and invest every single penny of profit back into investment in the company? Not sure that would sit well with Dave and his chums.

    It didn't work overly well with rail track, did it?

    1. zaax

      Re: Investment.....

      When the East Anglia line was in BR hands the intercity trains had a restaurant, they only have a buffet car now, and the 60 year old slam door trains are still being used.

    2. Mike Shepherd

      Re: Investment.....

      @Matron What concerns the people you call "idiots" is that BT as at present can inflate OpenReach prices, thereby raising costs for ISPs, while extra cost to its own ISPs (BT Openworld etc.) is offset (and more) by the extra profits at OpenReach, with no effective competition to that division of BT, because they were handed both the trunk and local services at privatisation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Investment.....

        @Mike

        Those prices are set by Ofcom so I don't see how that's BT's doing? There's a standard test for margin squeeze in privatised utilities and the remedy is an enforced reduction in wholesale prices.

  8. AndrueC Silver badge
    Stop

    5.7 million people still cannot access the internet

    To be fair the report didn't actually say that 5.7 million had no internet. It said that 5.7 million don't have an internet connection that meets Ofcom's standards. So they are saying that 9% of the population can't get a connection of at least 10Mb/s. That's actually pretty good. I'm not sure how many other countries could claim to offer at least 10Mb/s to 91% of the population. Per capita we are still amongst the highest users of the internet in the world so something is going right :)

    There's also the question of how many people actually want that speed. Last I heard FTTC take up was running at around 15% per cabinet. And of those most don't bother with the faster speeds if they are available.

    I'm also generally of the opinion that if a business has a need for a high speed internet connection it ought to be able to come up with a case for it and corresponding budget. I'll concede though that if 'business' includes those that are being run out of a converted barn, village shop or garden shed the financials are not going to make sense.

    As for getting the government to run things..no. F'gawd's sake no! I'm old enough to remember how the GPO ran things and that was infinitely worse. Let's not forget that BT was created because the government of the time realised just how badly run and underfunded the UK network was and decided to wash its hands of the whole thing.

    As for splitting Openreach off I'm not yet convinced. I can see some advantages but for that to happen will take time, a radical restructuring and I'm sceptical that a separate Openreach could raise the money it needs.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Well if the government wants you to file your accounts and tax returns online, they need to make sure there is an internet connection at a reasonable price in the same way that they make sure everyone has access to a postal service.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "they make sure everyone has access to a postal service"

        Making sure everyone has access to a postal service amounts to having enough people on the books to ensure there's someone able to drive/walk round there. It requires some capital to provide the buildings and vehicles. Ensuring everyone has a high speed internet connection involves a huge capital expenditure.

      2. BongoJoe

        Well if the government wants you to file your accounts and tax returns online, they need to make sure there is an internet connection at a reasonable price in the same way that they make sure everyone has access to a postal service.

        My farmer chum, Tom Jones (no, not that one) tells me that he constantly has no end of forms to fill in and they all have to be done on the web.

        And being a farmer up one of the more remote valleys of North Wales he doesn't get adequate internet access so in the end the government department responsible have to send someone out to help him put the data onto forms because the average Welsh upland farmer isn't that familiar with the level of IT required, have the equipment or connection.

        Actually, they have to send out two people. The first one usually can't speak Welsh.

      3. chris 17 Bronze badge

        @Jonathanb

        define internet connection and define reasonable price.

        i think dial up is still available and is relatively cheap.

        dual diverse leased lines with separate ISP's will give you great reliability but the cost would be prohibitive for a normal household but would be reasonable for a business that needed it like a bank.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "As for splitting Openreach off I'm not yet convinced. I can see some advantages but for that to happen will take time, a radical restructuring and I'm sceptical that a separate Openreach could raise the money it needs."

      Handing the keys of the biggest network to a new owner doesn't seem likely to change much, especially as BT would still be its biggest customer by a long shot. It still costs more to roll out broadband outside of cities and towns than people are willing to pay for it.

      There's also the issue of compensating the current owners - the pension companies and investment funds and so on - they'll want the full current market rate or there'll be hell to pay in the courts. If the remedy is just to split Openreach from BT then both entities will still have the same owners, but they'll have shares in BT and in Openreach (like happened with the BT / O2 split).

      I think the Virgin take on all this - that the best approach is to give new entrants an incentive is probably the right one. Generally service improvements and innovation are delivered by having multiple competitors battling it out.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "like happened with the BT / O2 split"

        And like O2 it's likely that someone would come along to buy out the new company. Be careful what you wish for.

    3. graeme leggett

      The report (page 12) conveniently* includes a map showing the "average download speeds" for areas of the UK. With the first band being 5 to 15.8 Mb.

      Now why in a report talking about sub-10Mb being the acceptable limit , you would put a map which doesn't actually illustrate that point, I leave to your imagination.

      One of the points in the report (No. 26, p 22) demands conversion to Fibre rather than use of Copper. Be interesting to see where the money for that comes from.

      And point 27

      "Therefore there should be no more delays, no more small

      incremental changes. A bold proactive decision is needed for the

      benefit of the UK economy and those of us who use the internet every

      day. Open up the market, separate Openreach from BT and reap the

      rewards."

      Not just me but that does read like a political speech doesn't it. I'd bet fair money that Shapps et al imagine delivering that but to the House of Commons with a glowy image of them sitting down to ringing cheers of "hear hear"

      *your definition may vary

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Happy

        Yeah I was in two minds about defending the report. Like others I question the real motivation behind it and suspect back-handers from the likes of Sky and/or simply political point scoring. I just felt that the the El Reg summation was compounding the report's inaccuracies a little too much. The number of UK properties that genuinely cannot have a usable fixed line internet connection must be pretty small.

        My view of BT is that it's not done too badly overall. We seem to have ended up with a voice and data network that do most of what most people want for a fairly low price(*). I wonder how given BT's various faults and idiocies but somehow it's managed it.

        (*)Although I do wonder where line rental is going these days but ironically that's the CPs not Openreach causing it.

  9. billat29
    WTF?

    This about the ISPs (or, rather, the big media company) increasing its profit. This has nothing to do with service to us, the customer, or better roll out of "fast" broadband.

    The crap service you get is due to callout prevention by your "service" "provider" who doesn't want to call out Openreach. That won't change.

    And instead of BT pocketing the broadband rollout money, it will be OpenReach plc taking the money and not delivering instead.

    And make it a nationalised company? Hahahahaha!

    I'm old enough to remember nationalised utilities.

    1. Alan Johnson

      My experience of Openreach is that they are abysmal constantly missing promised appointments, then when arriving not having the ability to fix the problem and needing to call someone else, then missing some more appointments and only after several months fixing a line problem. When I complained I did not get very good mobile reception and therefore had no fallback phone or data services and that I would be charge dto us ethe visible BT network they suggested that if I changed to BT broadband as my ISP I would be able get free access on the visible BT hotspots.

      They are a shockingly bad organisation who take unfair competition to new heights using their own poor performance to encourage transfer to BT as an ISP. It is difficult to imagine a successor organisation woudl nto be better.

  10. 2460 Something

    I have never understood why successive governments have been allowed to continue selling off our national assets. I have nothing against businesses providing a service, and I will even indulge in paying for said service where it meets my needs, but as has been clearly demonstrated time and time (and time) again in both this country and others, businesses are not charities. Their only concern is how much profit they make in a given financial year, how this relates to previous financial years, and subsequently their bonus for that year. They are not going to pay for something that doesn't give them a decent return on investment. If you want infrastructure development you cannot expect businesses to provide it for you.

    All national infrastructure should be owned and maintained by government. Such as road, rail, water, gas, electricity, telephony (wired and mobile), etc etc. Businesses could then pay a fee for usage. This may actually encourage proper competition.

    Every time they sell off a chunk of it, they massively undervalue it, offset it against borrowing and pretend they have had a good economic strategy that year (look we had £4billiion below what we estimated.. yes, but we have no post-office) and then it ends up costing the taxpayer more and more, both in terms of cost for usage and in subsidies to the company it was sold to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have never understood why successive governments have been allowed to continue selling off our national assets.

      Largely because they can't manage these industries themselves, but also because they need the money because they spend more than they raise in taxes. And the current lot are just the same - David Cameron is at heart a champagne socialist, who despite please to the contrary is committed to high levels of public spending, well ahead of the taxes paid.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        @Ledswinger

        "David Cameron is at heart a champagne socialist, who despite please to the contrary is committed to high levels of public spending, well ahead of the taxes paid."

        And according to you Corbyn is a Chavez lookalike. Is anybody right wing enough for you?

  11. myhandler

    Anything with the name "Grant Shapps" on is dodgy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I got a Christmas Card - photostatted signature - from him year before last. A result of helping my mother during the local elections.

      If it hasn't been binned, I shall locate and burn it. It's the only way to be sure.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Trollface

        A result of helping my mother during the local elections.

        A carefully anonymised posting :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What if it said Michael Green instead?

  12. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

    The real problem is that BT are still selling service over an ageing and outdated infrastructure. It's a 21st century necessity run over 19th century technology (copper cable).

    Part of the problem is that most people probably think they have fibre. The BT "home hub" (a sort of crippled router) even has a socket marked "Fibre". The ads say "fibre". Everywhere, it's "fibre-enabled". Except it isn't. It's copper. But both BT and Virgin, continue, disingenuously in my view, to advertise their fastest offerings as Fibre, and as long as they do that, people won't realise that what they've got is a bodge. A bodge to make fast internet work over an increasingly tired old infrastructure.

    In France, there is not FTTC, it's either ADSL or Fibre. Rather than investing money in the dead-end VDSL/FTTC, they're investing in real Fibre to the Premises.

    But then BT and BT OpenRetch never could get it right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "n France, there is not FTTC, it's either ADSL or Fibre. Rather than investing money in the dead-end VDSL/FTTC, they're investing in real Fibre to the Premises."

      France is some way behind the UK in terms of the availability of faster broadband; http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/10/mixed-uk-results-in-eu-study-of-broadband-speeds-price-and-coverage.html

      The FTTP rollout is only going to reach 40% of homes and at the moment isn't planned to go further than that. Your preferred approach leaves most French homes on plain old ADSL.

      If the choice is FTTP in six years or maybe never, or VDSL now - guess which option I'll take?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Of course France has FTTC/VDSL.. As well as copper and FTTP

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      In France, there is not FTTC, ... they're investing in real Fibre to the Premises.

      And how do you sensibly deploy FTTP? Give every house their own individual unbroken fibre directly to the exchange, some miles away, or only have individual fibre's for the last mile, joined to fibre's from the exchange in a street cabinet?

      The UK government with BDUK, deliberately went with FTTC because it gave the greatest return for the 'smallest' expenditure (ie. it was faster to deploy fibre to ten's of thousands of street cabinets which would mean that more properties would benefit from a speed improvement sooner) and provided the branch infrastructure necessary for a (much slower and costly) FTTP deployment.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Part of the problem is that most people probably think they have fibre

      You can blame VM for that as they started it (and coax is no more fibre than twisted pair is). BT only joined in after the ASA gave it the thumbs up.

  13. Mike Shepherd

    "Wrong-headed"

    Probably an unwise choice of words when dealing with the people who make laws.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One time

    my sister had to wait 6 weeks to be connected. Then, a year or so later, I had to wait 6 weeks to be connected. Both times the houses were already connected, but she'd just moved there - and was on the same ISP the previous owner was on - and I switched providers. And I just had to wait 31 days for a line fault to be fixed that took 10 minutes - and three visits. First visit they claimed they'd fixed it. Second visit - the first guy to come into the house - concluded the fault was 120 metres away, which put it underground. Third visit - the second guy to come into the house - quickly discovered the fault was 1.2 metres away and fixed it.

    Two properties ago, my neighbours moved away and BT disconnected me instead.

    Either OpenReach would improve markedly out from under BT. Or it should be taken outside and shot.

    1. Nifty

      Re: One time

      Today';s broadband new or moved subscriber experience seems spookily similar to 60s/70s phone lines when it was a nationalised industry. This proves to me that we do have a de facto state sponsored monopoly delivering the last mile/s to around half of UK households. For just once, a group of 100 MPs are RIGHT!

    2. Nifty

      Re: One time

      Todays broadband new or moved subscriber experience seems spookily similar to 60s/70s phone lines when it was a nationalised industry. This proves to me that we do have a de facto state sponsored monopoly delivering the last mile/s to around half of UK households. For just once, a group of 100 MPs are RIGHT!

      1. Roland6 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: One time

        @Nifty - seems you've got an echo on your connection...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

    This seems to be a dogmatic debate about bashing big corporate rather than any useful vehicle to ensure all the rurual farmsteads and villiages have a fiber terminating somewhere near them. If Openreach is no very good then simply spinning them off is hardly likely to drive improvements, it in fact will distract from this objective...

    What the nature of the provider is, hardly seems relevant.

    These MP's are the ones who dither beetween 95% population and 95% geophraphic coverage for a start. Any supplier in BT/Openreaches position would be in trouble there.

    Other providers have also backed out of even subsidised efforts to extend rural broadband - not much hope for change there except perhaps noone will bid to continue this work at all (regardless of what you percieves BT's effectiveness in this area to be)

    Not so long ago I could barely get a modem to work, let alone broadband in Scotland due to poorly installed electric livestock fences interfering with the lines. No enforcement on farmers, not even light touch as it can be impossible to determine which farm/fence is the cause between you and the exchange. Fiber is only answer to this one.

    As Openreach seem to be meeting gov'mint targets we should be renegotiating the targets before we ditch the one supplier making any effort at all. And specific supplier's aside some areas are technically difficult to reach, regardless of willingness to fund it. Some of these places dont have mains gas, sewage or electricity never mind fiber or copper broadband.

    This is adding more smoke to an already foggy debate and adds nothing that will help the not-spots or to provide any options other than replacing the country with fiber to premises which sounds nice, but must be subsidised... and why not provide other mains services at the same time?

    1. Disgruntled of TW
      FAIL

      Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

      @AC But you skipped over the essential point that the FTTC technology is DEAD END. It cannot be made to deliver what a fibre optic cable can, and will not provide internet to rural areas too far from cabinets. That was one of the primary goals of the BDUK fiasco. The BDUK framework was designed to make FTTC technology be the "only" realistic solution to the problem as formulated by the quango. This made Open Reach the only viable contender, with anyone else not owning last mile copper a competitor in name only.

      The only sensible stuff to be rolling out is a fibre optic cable to every household - FTTH not FTTC- but that would decimate the BT Group pension fund, leased line business and PSTN line rental business. There ... I said it out loud. The elephant on the table is flatulent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

        So, you actually agree with the post that says the situation is the Quango's own making and not Openreach then?

        Or is it Openreach's fault that they have been tasked to deliver inappropriate soltions?

        Seems to me based on your post that this is a way of blaming private industry to hide the poor policy decisions...

        1. Disgruntled of TW

          Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

          @AC "So, you actually agree with the post that says the situation is the Quango's own making and not Openreach then?"

          Yes. Absolutely. Openreach are doing what any self respecting private sector company with a monopoly position would do - maximise profit and retain market dominance.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

        "fiasco. The BDUK framework was designed to make FTTC technology be the "only" realistic solution to the problem as formulated by the quango. "

        The BDUK plan was to deliver faster broadband to as many people as possible for as little money as possible where it wouldn't otherwise be commercially viable.

        How else would you have the government spend public money? If FTTP costs more the BDUK cash would have helped fewer people. If you can afford the toys at home that would make full use of FTTP's bandwidth you can afford to pay the £2k a fibre install typically costs. Why expect the government to use my income tax to fund your entertainment?

        1. Disgruntled of TW
          Facepalm

          Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

          @AC - "deliver faster broadband to as many people as possible for as little money as possible".

          If you subscribe to "one chunk of chocolate today, rather than a whole bar tomorrow" then BDUK is what you want. Short sighted. I would have the government think strategically, beyond the next general election, in order to avoid wasting billions on dead end technology. OR owns and operates the network BDUK is funding - we are paying the BT shareholders to build their infrastructure. It has limitations no different to where we came from before FTTC. The fundamental limits of copper bearers have not been removed. FTTC has no future - it is a tactical option, with short term benefit. The technology deployed will not be reusable when inevitably we end up deploying FTTH in the future. Our government and BDUK is in denial by not realising this and thinking far enough ahead.

          Scrapping HS2 and using that money to fund FTTH would do it.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

        @Disgruntled of TW

        "But you skipped over the essential point that the FTTC technology is DEAD END. It cannot be made to deliver what a fibre optic cable can, and will not provide internet to rural areas too far from cabinets."

        You skip over the essential point that it is relatively straightforward to convert FTTC to FTTP, just need someone to pick up the bill for laying fibre from the cabinet to the premises - although that may not be necessary, since BT have been supplying cable with copper and fibre cores for new build for several years now.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

      There are so many sentences on this forum that I would like to quote but I will limit myself to one:

      Legislate: 6 months to provide fibre to the property boundary or the channels become open access to licensed companies.

      And who, exactly, is going to be willing to pay the price? I am retired, and IIRC I pay aound £20/month for FTTC that gives me 38 Mb/s (on test) that is more than enough for my needs. I fully accept that (many) others may not receive that speed or anything like it, but it is more than enough to meet my & Mrs Commswonk's needs. I cannot dispute that some users may require higher speeds (or less contention) but I am deeply unhappy that you are trying to force changes on to those of us for whom the current offering is sufficient.

      Those who persist in pushing FTTP as the only way ahead fail to realise that if that was the only option (are you planning to ditch all other methods?) then I would probably have to decide that the service was unaffordable. Much earlier in this thread someone noted that the overall uptake of FTTC was around 15%; I have no idea how accurate that figure is but I do not have any information on which I could base an argument one way or the other. It could just be that the other 85% have decided that their existing ADSL meets their needs. I bet that the 15% is not evenly distributed nationally; we have holidayed in a "remote" coastal village in Northumbria with nice shiny FTTC cabinets, but I would suspect that ADSL would be a non - starter there. I live about 4 miles (cable route) from my serving exchange, but had I lived only 2 miles away I might have decided that ADSL was enough.

      I suspect that OFCOM is having to work with what are effectively skewed figures; those with serious difficulties are likely to hammer on its door, but there is no obvious mechanism for those of us who are happy to say so. I have never been asked for my opinion; has anyone else?

      This whole matter is another instance of politics meeting technology, with potentially (certainly, more like) unhappy results. When this news came out over the weekend that excessively enthusiastic 4th Former (yes, you Shapps) was being credited with arguing that separating Openreach from BT would allow competition to flourish.

      I'd really , really like to know how. Yes Openreach does need sorting out (getting rid of the horrible speech recognition system on the hell desk would be a good start. if it's still "operating") but splitting it off is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and is unlikely to achieve the stated aim.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

        "but splitting it off is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and is unlikely to achieve the stated aim."

        Changing the ownership of a near monopoly doesn't make the new business not a near monopoly - so yes, I also fail to see how this is a remedy of any sort.

        In fact it's not even a change of ownership. Openreach, like all of BT, is owned by shareholders. If Openreach was split from BT it would still have the same owners and would still have BT as its largest customer.

        I can't envisage any situation where a conservative government forcibly takes a private enterprise from its owners and hands it to another lot, who - unbelievably - are somehow less concerned with profit and income than the existing lot. Even less likely is nationalisation of a profitable private enterprise. The whole thing is nuts.

        The remedies to the broadband problem are, I think, fairly straightforward;

        1-Ofcom defines an acceptable performance standard, backed with fines for non-compliance.

        2-UK gov gives rural infrastructure rollout some form of tax incventive to encourage competition.

        -3 If BT decline to serve an area and a competitor moves in, BT are barred from rolling out in the same area for 18 months.

        -4 To attract incentives and/or potential subsidy rural rollouts must comply with a set of technical standards that ensure the service is fit for purpose and can be adopted by another organisation if the ISP goes belly up through lack of demand.

        -5 A USO fund is established jointly funded by all ISPs with >5% of the market, according to their market share. If commercially viable provision of an acceptable bandwidth isn't possible, the fund is used.

        Point 3 gives a competitor a chance to get established without then sitting on a village without doing anything.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I somehow find myself siding with BT on this one

        The 15% figure was me and I think it may now be slightly out of date. The best update I can find is from this ISP Preview article which suggests that last summer it was running at about 20%.

        "This brings the total number of homes and businesses connected to their FTTC/P network to around 4.6 million or 20% of those passed, which BT says “means we have now achieved our original fibre business case take-up assumption“."

  16. WibbleMe

    http://point-topic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Point-Topic-Ofcom-total-broadband-take-up-including-superfast-by-UK-county.png

    Interesting that the home counties get preference yet even Birmingham the second largest city only gets averaged speed.

    Yet shafted if your first language is a Celtic variant rather than English

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That Point Topic data covers broadband take-up not availability or speeds - and is over 3 years old.

      Not sure what you are trying to demonstrate with it..

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Yet shafted if your first language is a Celtic variant rather than English

      The Internet runs on English, didn't you know? 0-127 ASCII should be enough for anybody.

  17. teacakes

    Legislate: 6 months to provide fibre to the property boundary or the channels become open access to licensed companies.

    Gov won't do it, of course, they are soft and lack any ambition for such infrastructure beyond huffing and puffing. Besides, the security agency wotsits are probably happy to have minimal companies to 'work' with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Anyone can lay fibre today. There's no restriction. The laws changed when the cable companies started up. If you're not inclined to dig, Openreach will even lease you duct and pole space.

  18. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Something needs to be done

    my local exchange went FTTC with a large dollop of public funds. My cabinet designation moved 4 miles back to the exchange in the process so I'm no better off <2Mb.

    I've approached other providers but they all say its pointless as the BT/Openreach basically means that BT has got the heads up about everything and can make offers the customer cannot refuse.

  19. BurnT'offering

    Grant Shapps?

    Isn't it time he was split off from the House of Commons?

  20. Clockworkseer

    There are other strands to the BT/OR issue, that aren't just to do with OR, and acccess to infrastructure.

    I'm willing to bet that at least 50% of most customers (by which we mean end users) complaints as regards Openreach are based on some variation of the following scenario "We'll tell OR that this needs [activating/repairing/doing.] We'll let you know when they decide to do something. They say it's delayed. We can't get any information as to why, when it''ll be sorted, how you get it sorted. they will only speak to us, not you, and we can't push the issue with them." The complete lack of any accountability from OR for delays, timescales, information, anything.

    Admittedly, this is at least somewhat down to the service providers, who seem to, as a general rule, be unwilling to try and hold OR accountable for their actions (convenient scapegoat ahoy) and hide behind the "we don't have any access to OR" rules, which leaves consumers feeling utterly powerless, when the company that's actually going to do the work isn't even contactable. At least with other utitlities where they subcontracted out, generally the contract means they actually have a measure of control. If the ISP's have any control, they mostly seem to be declining to exercise it, because it's no skin of their nose if OR screw up, as they can just go "not us, guv."

    Divesting BT of OR may or may not help with issues of infrastructure access, investment and upgrading, but it probably won't fix the other issues with the system.

  21. Mr. Abelazar Woozle

    I've recently told BT they can keep their 0.1mb "broadband" which was what they seem to think is an acceptable service for us bumpkins and we should be grateful to be getting that. We are fortunate in our area in that a local radio telecommunications company got into supplying wireless broadband over their networks and we signed up with them. All of a sudden, the internet works for us at home....

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without wishing to excuse BT for crap broadband speeds I went from 2Mb to 7Mb without moving house

    Here's what I did:

    1. Get all the extension sockets disconnected at the master socket - the wiring caused a huge amount of interference and speed reduction.

    2. Get a new master socket with built-in filtering fitted.

    3. Stop using the BT Home Hub to manage WiFi, instead using my Apple Time Capsule for this. That really helped stability and WiFi speeds no end.

    4. Because my master socket is in a inconvenient location, I used some powerline ethernet adaptors to connect the Home Hub and the Time Capsule. Amazingly they actually worked.

    All of this got me from 2Mb to 7-8Mb speeds. Even better because of point 4 above, if I ever have to phone up the idiot BT call centres, when they explain that I can't make voice calls because of too many devices connected to my router with WiFi (yes really, it's a new part of their script...) I can explain truthfully that I have a single device connected to my Home Hub by ethernet only - that's pages of script bypassed.

  23. John Crisp

    OpenThieves

    Don't even get me going on those f-ing incompetent bastards.

    Even at a very high level of BT support it has still taken 3 months to replace a cable and it's still not done yet.

    If OR were reachable so I could stick an axe through someones head perhaps they'd get a move on.

    Still, here in sunny Spain I get 4G in my village, population 2,700, compared to my UK home town in the UK which is 50 miles from London on flat ground and can barely get an SMS let alone make a call, and if I call Movistar/Telefonica for whatever reason I have an engineer on site usually next day. And I live 1/2 a mile up a dirt track as well.

    OpenThieves suck.

    Sack the friggin lot of them. Useless bastards. Then put the new lot at the point of a large gun and tell them to stop filling spreadsheets and start doing some bloody work.

    Have I said the f word ? Must be in a good mood then. C*nts.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Openreach split .... The grass isn't always greenet

    Openreach are having a hard time of it at the moment. The CMA the MPs , Ofcom etc etc , are all having something to say about Openreach, let's see what the recommendations are!! The grass isn't always greener if Openreach was to split from BT! What would the lives of the employees be like during the transition period _ what would the t&c be??? Openreach may needed stern training and re jigging but splitting away from such a company then having to run the gauntlet of take over would be awful.

  25. MJI Silver badge

    I would worry

    Would splitting BT and Openreach help Murdoch?

    If so, do not split.

    I do not see why everyone has to bow to walnut head.

  26. David Roberts Silver badge
    Facepalm

    TL;DR

    Openreach? Bunch of Bastards! Do you know what they did to my Gran?

    Beat them! Beat them with a stick! Beat them with a big stick! Beat them with a big shitty stick!!

    Who's going to pay for the new connections to all the places which don't have high speed Internet? Oh, Market Forces!

    Bollocks.

    Sell OR to TalkTalk - that'll bloody teach you!

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