back to article MPs tell BT: Lay more fibre or face split with Openreach

BT has "significantly under-invested" in IT infrastructure subsidiary Openreach and a full split should go ahead if it fails to offer "appropriate reforms and investment assurances", according to a report by MPs. The report (PDF) published by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee concluded the shortfall in investment …

  1. Kaltern

    BT - the caring company.

    And somehow, they seem to think that the problem is more of servce - "...'while it agreed service levels have to improve, it was making progress in tackling the problem. "Thousands of engineers have been recruited and we are fixing repairs and installing new lines quicker than before.," it said.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36832505

    Typical attempt at translating the issue of investment into what they already 'provide'.

    It's an utter embarrassment living in the UK. I'm one of the incredibly fortunate ones - 80mb fibre in Scotland. But I want to move from here to somewhere a little more rural. I can do that - provided I am happy with a 1.5mb line. And I'm not even moving that far from a main town, which has at least 21CN.

    Until less emphasis is put on 'potential profit' and more on the 'service' bit, nothing will change. The EU '100mbps' minimum is something BT will be very happy to get out of once we leave...

    1. Ragarath

      Re: BT - the caring company.

      "80mb fibre in Scotland"

      Fibre? No, copper. They just moved the exchange closer to you. If you had fibre you could be offered far more than that 80mbps.

      1. Kaltern

        Re: BT - the caring company.

        FTTC is still fibre in some manner. FTTP is a rarity outside of main English cities.

        1. Matthew Taylor

          Re: BT - the caring company.

          Fibre broadband is something of a rarity in main English cities as well. I live in West London, no fibre for us,and no-one can tell me when it might get installed. A pox on BT+OpenReach. I yearn to see them split asunder.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: BT - the caring company.

            "I yearn to see them split asunder."

            And exactly how do expect this to benefit you?

        2. Ragarath

          Re: BT - the caring company.

          FTTC is still fibre in some manner. FTTP is a rarity outside of main English cities.

          So was fibre to the Exchange before this. Still, this does not detract from the fact that you still have a DSL connection for the final leg. Copper, not fibre, now you just have a closer run of fibre. It is still not a fibre service.

          1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

            Re: BT - the caring company.

            To my mind it is totally disingenuous of BT (and indeed Virgin) to keep banging on about their "fibre" broadband. Yes, there's fibre sort of involved, but there always has been. Many people know that "fibre" broadband isn't really fibre broadband, but it sounds better. People are more likely to say "what's the problem with BT's fibre rollout? Loads of people have fibre!" when the actual truth is that there's a massive problem with fibre rollout, and not many people have fibre.

            Sticking with VDSL, G.FAST, ADSL etc is just a bodge - trying to make 21st century technology work on 19th century infrastructure. Proponents of these technologies are just trying to cling on to them, when we should stop dicking around and just go for proper fibre to each premises. It's more important (and cheaper) than HS2, and we could be way ahead of other countries if only we could get our act together.

          2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: BT - the caring company.

            "Copper, not fibre, ... "

            Ooh, you were lucky, all we 'ad was Aluminium.

        3. qualeboy

          Re: BT - the caring company.

          So is ADSL from exchange or even dial-up using your logic

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: BT - the caring company.

      @Kaltern - do you realize that you are quite lucky, being offered 1.5Mbps in your rural Scottish location? Down here, not 30 miles from Coventry, I know of places that can get only 0.5Mbps ... and it stops working altogether whenever it rains hard.

      1. Kaltern

        Re: BT - the caring company.

        Yes, I do. It's almost enough to get satellite broadband.....

        1. Ragarath

          Re: BT - the caring company.

          Yes, I do. It's almost enough to get satellite broadband.....

          Depending on your usage I would do that as a last resort. First see if there are any WISPs in the area.

  2. Anonymous Blowhard

    "In 2015/16, Openreach revenue was equivalent to 27 per cent of total BT Group revenue."

    "Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, were £2.664bn."

    Revenue is not profit; potentially Openreach has the most assets to pay for, so the depreciation and amortization costs could completely wipe out any profit for them.

    Splitting Openreach out of BT may be a good move, it's a similar move to separating Railtrack (now Network Rail) from the Train Operating Companies, but in that case it should be operated as a not-for-profit company in order to service the requirements of the various stakeholders (Government, Consumers and the Retail Services companies who sell the services to consumers).

    Regulation will be key here as there aren't many competitors providing physical infrastructure for "the last mile" and for many consumers there's no alternative to BT/Openreach.

    1. Kaltern

      " it should be operated as a not-for-profit company in order to service the requirements of the various stakeholders (Government, Consumers and the Retail Services companies who sell the services to consumers)."

      And this is the prime reason it will very likely never happen.

      There is something to be said for nationalisation, but it is usually a bad word. Besides, people don't actually mind paying for their internet service. It's just that the initial cost outlay is scary for BT; it might eat into more important things, like making sure those with superfast broadband can get it a little bit faster on the same bit of wire that's serviced people since the war...

      1. Nigel 11

        Nationalization not needed.

        It doesn't need to be nationalized. It does need to be placed under a universal service obligation.

        Once it is the law that it is obliged to provide a broadband service of defined minimum performance within defined maximum time of a request, to anywhere in the UK (or to some subset of anywhere including all residences and businesses), at a cost that's not out of reach of a household if modest means, then it will happen. Otherwise the fines that will be levied if it does not will simply get bigger and bigger, with thhe ultimate threat of break-up.

        At present it is becoming ever more obvious that OpenReach's priority is to install ever faster fibre in places where Virgin or some other provider already offers a fibre service. It ignores rural communities where there is no competition and where the cost of providing a service for a small number of customers will exceed the amount of money it can bill them for.

        Can you imagine a country where 5% of the population are told that they cannot have a mains water supply because it is not cost-effective to provide it? "You have a pond. What are you complaining about?"

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Nationalization not needed.

          "Once it is the law that it is obliged to provide a broadband service of defined minimum performance within defined maximum time of a request, to anywhere in the UK (or to some subset of anywhere including all residences and businesses), at a cost that's not out of reach of a household if modest means, then it will happen. Otherwise the fines that will be levied if it does not will simply get bigger and bigger, with the ultimate threat of break-up."

          Technically, one of two things happens: 1) it happens because the cost is still low enough the the company is profitable, or 2) the company goes bankrupt, because it cannot be done at the price you want. This is why the cost of posting letters is skyrocketing: the USO, combined with fewer letters being posted, means that the cost has to keep going up exponentially. When broadband is £50-60 a month, as it is in the States, will you be happy about the USO then?

          "It ignores rural communities where there is no competition and where the cost of providing a service for a small number of customers will exceed the amount of money it can bill them for."

          All the USO is is a transfer of money from city dwellers to rural citizens. Since almost everyone lives in the city, it's more-or-less equivalent to funding it out of general taxation, except this is more like the poll tax than income tax.

          "Can you imagine a country where 5% of the population are told that they cannot have a mains water supply because it is not cost-effective to provide it? "You have a pond. What are you complaining about?" "

          If we now had to resupply the whole country with water it would be horrifically expensive and wouldn't be done for many rural places, which would use water butts. The reason it's possible is that it is laid while the houses are being built, and not retro-fitted. New rural developments could have fibre very cheaply.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Nationalization not needed.

          "At present it is becoming ever more obvious that OpenReach's priority is to install ever faster fibre in places where Virgin or some other provider already offers a fibre service. It ignores rural communities where there is no competition"

          I live in a rural community. I have FTTC with a cabinet at the end of the lane. What is this Virgin of which you write?

          1. Vince

            Re: Nationalization not needed.

            I imagine that that FTTC you have in that rural location was paid for by a BDUK fund and thus not really by BT. They're just getting the lions share of the retail business because way too many people still think that you have to have BT as the provider. STILL.

            However where there is competition BT find the money down the back of the sofa and pay for it direct.

          2. Nigel 11

            Re: Nationalization not needed.

            Well, I know that some rural communities do have fast fiber. I also know of some that cannot obtain even 1Mbps down their telephone wires. And this is not in the wilds of Dartmoor or the Scottish Highlands. This is about six miles from a fiber-equipped town along a main road, and less than thirty miles from Coventry. To add insult to injury, there's no mobile service either!

            A USO should compel BT to raise the standards of those telephone wires and/or install booster amplifiers along the route, so that a reliable 8Mbps is attainable. I don't believe that the cost, spread across the country, would be huge.

            1. James Wilson

              Re: Nationalization not needed.

              Likewise I believe BT should be put under a legal obligation to provide a gigabit connection to my house, without charging me any more. I don't believe that the cost, spread across the country, would be huge.

            2. Jess--

              Re: Nationalization not needed.

              Sounds almost like Onley with it's aluminium phone cables.

              it became a habit there that if you saw a BT / Openreach van you checked that your lines were still operational (around 20% of the time they had been killed)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nationalization not needed.

            "At present it is becoming ever more obvious that OpenReach's priority is to install ever faster fibre in places where Virgin or some other provider already offers a fibre service. It ignores rural communities where there is no competition"

            Nope - I was told by the OpenReach engineer that the reason we didn't have fibre to the BT cabinet (been waiting 4 years now) is that the street had a high concentration of Virgin connections so opposite of that statement. We've been given a date of March 2017 but I won't hold my breath... So much for choice - may as well just get Virgin Fibre Broadband.

        3. unbender

          Re: Nationalization not needed.

          Except for the fact that there is no obligation to provide mains electricity, gas, or water, nor unless it is residential, a telephone you got all that right.

          I built a house in 8KM west of Dumfries - no water, electricity at cost (£4000 in 1985), no sewage, no gas, and the telephone I only got because I dug a trench for 500M. The rule of thumb used to be that universal obligation only included one telegraph pole.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "There is something to be said for nationalisation"

        Not much of it would be complimentary.

        You need to remember, assuming you're old enough, just how under-invested the POTS network was prior to separation from the GPO and privatisation.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "separating Railtrack (now Network Rail) from the Train Operating Companies"

      It always seemed to me that that was a bad idea. It ensures that the objectives of the single company providing the infrastructure can never be aligned with those of all the various companies using it.

      It's a fair comment that as part of the BT group OpenReach's objectives are going to be more aligned with those of BT than of any of the other companies. But as an independent company they could well be a choice of 1. Make less investment and just collect rent from what's there. 2. Respond to the requirements of the largest customer which is going to be...who?..oh, the rest of BT.

      Really, if the likes of TalkTalk want to investment in infrastructure to match their own objectives they need to make that investment themselves, rather than complaining that somebody else isn't making it for them. Or are they too cash strapped by the huge investment they've made over the years to provide themselves with such world-beatingly secure systems?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It always seemed to me that that was a bad idea."

        Do you also hold the view it is a bad idea that the National Grid infrastructure is not owned by any individual company? It's hard to argue against the success of National Grid in comparison to its previous independently owned infrastructure.

        The NG is a much better comparison to a fibre network than Rail Track, as fibre should, in a modern technological society, be in all the places that power is.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "potentially Openreach has the most assets to pay for, so the depreciation and amortization costs could completely wipe out any profit for them."

      Surely most of these assets have been fully written down since about 1950 ?

  3. Simon Ward

    Meanwhile, this from Di(l)do Harding:

    "This report puts beyond doubt the need for radical reform of Openreach. MPs have concluded that Openreach is not fit for purpose and is letting Britain down. As Ofcom considers how to improve Britain’s broadband, it should feel emboldened to know it has cross-party political support to be radical. BT’s broken promises risk creating a two-tier digital Britain, with millions of homes and businesses denied fast, reliable broadband. Britain needs an independent Openreach, freed from the shackles of BT and able to invest in world-class technology for the whole country, not just parts of it. After years of suffering, customers deserve nothing less."

    SRSLY?! Someone get in touch with the pot 'cos the kettle would like a chat ...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "able to invest in world-class technology for the whole country"

      And just how far into her pocket is she prepared to reach to contribute to that investment?

  4. Sampler

    Do I have this wrong:

    Over the last 10 years, BT has invested £10.5bn in its digital infrastructure, committing over £3bn in its superfast broadband network development.

    Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, were £2.664bn
    they invested £3bn but only got £2.664bn back (and not even that because of the aforementioned deductibles)?

    I mean, I'm all for showing up BT abusing its position, but that seems like a weak argument, that they invested more in a division than it was reasonably likely to return yet they should've invested more?

    1. MatthewSt

      The £10.5bn and £3bn are over the past 10 years. The £2.664bn is just last year.

    2. Steve Todd

      Apples vs Oranges

      £10bn over 10 years (of which £3bn was in broadband) works out at about £1bn per year. They made £2.664bn in ONE year, so they are investing 37% of their income, not making a loss.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Apples vs Oranges

        "They made £2.664bn in ONE year, so they are investing 37% of their income, not making a loss."

        It also says an investment of £6b over the next 3 years. Remember that the £2.64b is EBITDA Depending on what the IDTA amount to it looks as if the plan is to invest almost all, if not more than the whole of the net earnings.

        The question remains, if OpenReach were to be split off and investment were to rise considerably, where's the money going to come from? Especially given that the split-off part would inherit part of BT's pension deficit and, presumably, the commitment to fill that share.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Apples vs Oranges

          In the same way that you (normally) don't have enough cash to pay for a new house or car. The company borrows money for capital projects that will be repaid over 10 or more years. That way we get our shiney new network/house/car now and it is paid down over its expected life span.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Apples vs Oranges

            "The company borrows money for capital projects that will be repaid over 10 or more years."

            And do you think that isn't happening at BT?

            There are a few considerations.

            One is how much money can be borrowed at any one time? We'll come back to that.

            The next is how fast can it be spent productively? Building infrastructure requires a skilled workforce. Training that workforce is an investment in itself. What's more, as more infrastructure is built some of that workforce has to be redirected into maintaining it. If you go for a very rapid roll-out you have to spend a lot of money training a large workforce, then pay them to do the job over a short period of time, then you have to retain a proportion of that workforce and pay off the rest as redundancies. It's not a very productive way to spend money. Who hasn't either told their management - or wanted to tell them - "good, cheap, quick, pick any two"?

            The third is what return can be made? My observation is that some years after the local FTTC network has been rolled out users are still being connected. It's taking time to get to that return.

            The value for money vs speed of roll out and the rate at which returns can be realised determine how much can be borrowed. Nobody is going to want to lend BT or a separate OR money if they're going to have difficulty in paying interest and repaying capital.

            And while nobody could be less keen than I on having BT proposing that I want to pay to watch football, presumably they think that it's an offer that's going to improve ROI.

            1. Aitor 1

              Re: Apples vs Oranges

              FTTP would last 75 years, FTTC lasts 37 at best, and only if there are no cuts in the cable. It is prone to galvanic corrosion.

              Also, FTTC needs further investment that the FTTP soes not require.

        2. Alby

          Re: Apples vs Oranges

          "it looks as if the plan is to invest almost all, if not more than the whole of the net earnings"

          Nope - EBITDA would already take into account the amount that they have spent on things such as infrastructure investment. Without the investment, EBITDA would be £2bn higher. It's massive under-investment no matter how you look at it.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Get the facts right

      While I think that OpenReach (And BT in general) need a kicking , Openreach do have other things to invest in other than just superfast broadband. They do have the rest of the Telephone network to maintain and upgrade. The likes of Talk-talk and Sky are only too willing to piggback on the work that OR do.

      IF they'd stump up a decent wad of cash I'm sure that BT would be only too glad to spend it.

      Openread do need to sort of inner city Broadband. The business that is a minutes walk from Oxford Circus that can't get more than 1Mb upload is just as deprived as the people out in the shires.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        @Steve Davies 3 - Re: Get the facts right

        [Openreach] do have the rest of the Telephone network to maintain and upgrade.

        Er, no, they don't. Openreach are only responsible for the cabling from the exchange to the customer. The exchange equipment (Phone, data, broadband, etc) is the responsibility of someone else.

  5. Bruno de Florence
    Mushroom

    What would have happened if BT had been in charge of the moon landing?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "What would have happened if BT had been in charge of the moon landing?"

      At the time of the moon landings BT did not exist. Instead there was the telephone arm of the GPO, AKA The Black Telephone Rationing Company.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    So a bit over £1Bn/pa is generating c£2.5Bn/pa

    In normal world low risk == low profit margin but in BT land low risk== high margin?

    Think of BT like the Treasury when they owned things like British Steel and the British Rail.

    Any profit you make we keep. We may reinvest in you, if nothing more important shows up.

    Those decisions are no longer the Treasury's to make, but they are BT Groups to make.

    The nearest model would be Railtrack (or whatever it's called now) combined with Lessons Learned from their relations with the companies who used their infrastructure regarding scheduling repair and maintenance.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: So a bit over £1Bn/pa is generating c£2.5Bn/pa

      BT Group, 2015 total revenue: £17,851bn. 2015 operating profit: £2.135bn. That's a profit margin of about 12%. You are dividing profit by investment, rather than profit by all costs. These people don't pay themselves, you know.

  7. Chris King Silver badge

    "It arises because BT appears to be deliberately investing in higher-risk, higher-return assets such as media properties, and not investing in profitable lower risk infrastructure and services through Openreach," said the report.

    tl;dr version - Less Footy, More Fibre !

  8. adam payne Silver badge

    It said there is "compelling evidence" that BT Group is exploiting the position of vertical integration to make "strategic decisions that favour the Group’s priorities and interests, at the expense of its access infrastructure business".

    We didn't need a report to tell us that BT exploit their position as the main infrastructure provider. They have a monopoly as we do anything that can to milk it for profits.

    BT's spokesperson told us: “We are disappointed to be criticised for having invested more than £1bn a year in infrastructure when the UK was emerging from recession and rival companies invested little. As the report acknowledges BT’s investment has made the UK a broadband leader among the major economies in Europe."

    What did you spend it on? copper by any chance?

  9. John Sanders
    Windows

    >>BT's spokesperson told us: “We are disappointed to be criticised for having invested more than £1bn a year in infrastructure when the UK was emerging from recession and rival companies invested little.

    I am disappointed with BT because:

    * They force expensive line rentals. (Which they hike up every now and then)

    * When they made fibre available in my neighborhood they only made available 20 fibre connections for 100 states.

    * They are lowering everybody's upstream unless you go for a more expensive package.

    Etc.

  10. Vince

    You mean like the sort of imbalance when BT Group own EE and Openreach and thus the cost to EE of those expensive fibre links to various base stations became cost + paper pushing only as they're only moving the rest of those costs on a balance sheet and not with real money.

    Yeah, if only that sort of thing had been thought of when waving that deal through by the CMA.

  11. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    "Fibre to the home"

    "Fibre to the home" was a notion from the 1970s :

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

    Over 35 (thirty-five) years later, how many homes have it?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: "Fibre to the home"

      For once Rory Cellan-Jones may also be pointing his finger in the right direction:

      "The focus of their report is on BT's Openreach division and its alleged failure to invest in fast fibre. But there are others with questions to answer - notably the government, the regulator, and the broadband users.

      Because if, as the report says, "the UK is not adequately investing in critical telecoms infrastructure", and is "a laggard by international standards in providing fibre connectivity", that cannot be entirely BT's fault.

      The structure of our telecoms industry and the direction of our broadband strategy are, to a large extent, determined by the regulator Ofcom and by government ministers."

      [source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36833231 ]

      So whilst the government is now calling for BT to deploy better broadband, you can be sure that if BT actually announced a full-blown programme to do just that, the government, Ofcom and others would be calling foul, on the basis that BT was abusing it's monopoly position...

      Hence why we get the current situation where BT is deploying better infrastructure, but at a pace that government et al can't claim to be anti-competitive (although the way the BDUK project was managed by both government and BT was highly anti-competitive - which shows that by following EU rules you can be anti-competitive!).

      I suspect one of the main reasons for Ofcom blocking the Three/O2 deal, wasn't because of the mobile space but because if there really was another company capable of facing down BT, Ofcom and the government would no longer be able to beat up BT and would have to start making decisions that really were in the national interest...

  12. s. pam
    Facepalm

    Off(al)Com needs to grow a pair!

    Go into iPlayer and see all the Watchdog episodes of ineptitude @ OpenReich and then look at the NPS scores (some of the worst, ever) and it is no mystery why they MUST be split...

    If only we had a government agency with a pair.....of bells!

    Fat chance this'll ever happen!

  13. SamTyler

    If only BT would stop investing so much money in paying "celebrities" to advertise their products and spend the money on more and better technical support staff. Every problem you have with BT or BT Openreach seema to take days to resolve and usually involves several attempts before they can fix it. You would never guess that this was the 21st Century!

  14. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Is BT Over-Engineering, Again/Still?

    Way, way, back in time, around the 1960's, the then version of BT was burying overhead POTS wiring with breakouts every hundred yards or so for a 'hub' telephone pole from which the house drops originated. I lived to one side on a fairly substantial 'dip' as the road crossed a narrow and reasonably deep valley.

    This valley, only about 300 yards from ridge to ridge, took months to complete to meet telco's specs. The cable ducts were of vitreous china with 4 or 6 conduits for the cables. As you might expect there were four 'bends' - two where the ducts crossed from the level to the down grade and two in the bottom of the dip where the descending cable crossed the level valley floor.

    Ducts were like sewer pipes - just plug a male end into a female end and cement.

    Testing was simple. The P.O. Tel techs had standard wooden dowels which were dragged through each duct and if the bend was too extreme, the dowel would become stuck.

    I now watch VietNam Post & Tel techs stringing fibre these days and wonder why BT is so slow. In HaNoi, a terrible city for infrastructure, the VNPT have erected regular wooden telephone poles outside many apartments - one each in the front and rear.

    To these poles the techs run fibre optic drops from apartments, drop being the operative word for the cable motion, and then the drop is connected to a pole-mounted fibre junction box. They manage to do 2 to 4 apartment buildings per day.

    Out in the boonies, where I live, they often use lamp posts and even trees as cable bearers. For my feeds I rented a small Bob-Cat and dragged in three 2" water main continuous pipes. The techs said it was overkill. The techs use motorcycles for all transportation needs!

    So if fibre can be dropped in place in basic conditions, just what is holding up BT? Perhaps D-I-Y fibre installations should be considered?

  15. Adam Jarvis

    G.fast is an ''obfuscation plan' of the largest order.

    Force anyone that works for Ofcom and MPs/BT's senior Management to eat their own dog food, if they think the fudged max 10Mbps 'voluntary' universal service obligation is acceptable for the masses, going forward, let's see 'these people of influence', have this as their only Broadband option, and even better halve it. Force them onto packages with a max 5Mbps till 2020, or until they change their spots.

    Mobile networks should be banned from charging for 2G/Edge Data, between the base station and consumer mobiles too, this should become free, 2G is completely useless for consumer mobiles in 2016.

    BT astroturfing types on here, keep sprouting how wonderful G.fast will be, but fail to mention the vast amount of G.fast equipment locations, power requirements and compatibility issues (firmware issues, crap, damp, windy, poor aka. aluminium cabling issues that need to be resolved etc) needed to give blanket ultrafast coverage. It not a cheap solution, its a bloody expensive one and a potential can of worms to fix. It completely favours BT's current legacy copper.

    G.fast is an 'obfuscation plan' of the largest order.

    It will set Britain back for a decade, because (I'm already seeing it) apathy sets in, as its impossible for consumers to work out what level of actual service (once live) will be achieved with FTTC/G.fast from (the above) technical issues + Network management, local and regional bottlenecks, crosstalk.

    Worse, its a completely manufactured situation by BT/(acceptable too, to Ofcom, as it reinforces their role) to make Broadband seem like a 'finite resource' and charge tiered banded rates for usage + per MB prices for mobile, where, actual laid fibres to the premises would mean most of the regulatory infrastructure in place , Ofcom etc, wouldn't be needed (well certainly not the same scale), because in effect, copper speed/bandwidth limiting factors on the final mile, no longer apply to the same extent.

    So much politics involved in what should really just come down to what is the best technical implementation going forward for the UK as a whole, irrespective of the incumbent BT operator's legacy copper network. Instead, technical solutions (garnered from BT 'expertise') have clearly been favoured towards BT's current infrastructure.

    Its seen worst in remote rural locations ('notspots' forming a two tier Britain) because FTTC is an inferior solution for these types of locations-small hamlets of 5-10 houses and certainly not as cost effective as BT make it appear, compared to a true optical fibre based rollout of FTTP for all properties at least 500m from the exchange.

    FTTC/G.fast costs rise exponentially for properties at least 500m, to get blanket ultrafast rollout.

  16. Baldie
    Unhappy

    FTTNF...

    ...is what I have, living about 500m from the centre of a county town of a home county. It stands for Fibre To The Nearest Farm, because BT got government hand outs for laying that (well, really to the cabinet nearest the nearest farm). Us people on the edges of the town have to wait for local government to stump up for fibre to our cabinet. Makes sense to me... not. We are currently down for Fibre to our cabinet in early 2018.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: If you REALLY want change...

      > Make it clear that monopolies will not be supported with taxpayer funds

      The problem is that telecoms (at least the "last mile" is a natural monopoly - just like roads, water, gas , drainage, ...

      Our house has just one road in front of it, not several competing roads. It has one water main down it, not competing water mains. It has one gas main down it, not competing water mains. And the natural state of affairs is to have one infrastructure for getting telecoms/broadband to us.

      There simply is no business case for multiple competing sets of infrastructure - as all those cable companies found out when they borrowed huge amounts of money to lay competing services, and then went bust. The main reason Virgin has the size of cable network it has now is because it let all those other companies build it and then bought them for a pittance in the liquidation sale. It's notable to read all the complaints about how Virgin doesn't expand it much - except perhaps when a developer pays for it to cable a new estate.

      .

      So the sensible way to do it is to have one outfit that manages the local delivery infrastructure - like the DNOs for lecky, water companies (water and drainage), National Grid for gas, and OpenRetch for phone & broadband. But what it does need is proper regulation, but that cannot come as long as that monopoly provider is in a position where the books can be suitably cooked to hide the true financial position, and where it is owned by it's biggest customer - leading to the obvious situation that the company is going to do what is strategically best for that owner rather than what is best for all it's customers and/or the end users.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: If you REALLY want change...

          Replying a bit late - the effective and natural monopoly isn't for the fibre or copper cable, its' for the infrastructure (ducts, manholes, poles, ...) they run in.

          But even then, there is also a huge cost advantage to the incumbent (BT OR) who already has the cable in place.

  18. Just another badger

    BT and Openreach are regulated. Ofcom is culpable in this state of affairs, possibly more so than BT.

  19. SamTyler

    Just thought why nobody in authority wants to take on BT .....their phone lines would probably mysteriously stop working???

  20. Ion Castro

    Whatever happened to British Rail's telecom proposals of over 20 years ago with fibre optic using the trackside ducting and making every station etc (including the Underground) an exchange and providing REAL competition to BT?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The old BR Telecoms became part of Racal, and then part of Global Crossing. Oddly enough, in one of those "small world" situations, I was at a nephew's wedding a while ago and found out that his new father in law works for them.

      I think the chap was a little impressed that I had both heard of them and knew their history !

      But that's an aside.

      It failed for the same reason that the Norweb project to run fibre along the HV transmission grid also failed - the "last mile". In our office we actually have an internet connection which is part of that project - when the area was redeveloped, what was then Norweb Telecoms put ducting in and we have Norweb Telecoms manhole covers in the street. So we have a 100% non-BT fibre to their POP across town.

      But this model does not work. Unless you get economy of scale, it costs more to do than it costs to buy services from the incumbent.Add in tax issues, and the issues of having legacy network products in the system, and our provider is cutting us off in a few months. Simply put, they see no commercial value in it and will be simply abandoning it.

      Electricity NorthWest (our local DNO) do still have fibre along the 132kV lines - but I suspect that's also getting phased out for the simple reason that it doesn't go to BT's Exchanges which is where all the last mile connections will go to.

      TL;DR version.

      Longhaul services are easy - just string some fibre along you lecky cables or rail track. The problem is that people don't want the service to start from somewhere they aren't (next to the railway or lecky line) and go to somewhere they don't want to end up (next to a lecky line or railway). Getting that service to the two endpoints where they are wanted is where the hard and expensive bit lies.

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