back to article Ofcom to force a legal separation of Openreach

The regulator Ofcom has decided to force a legal separation of Openreach from BT, after the former broadband monopoly failed to offer voluntary proposals that addressed its competition concerns. Ofcom fell short of recommending a full structural separation earlier this year, citing pensions and properties costs as the main …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    At bloody last.

    Seriously, why has it taken so long to notice this blatant conflict of interest.

    There's a reason that we lag behind so many other countries who don't have this problem.

    Break them up and then tell OpenReach that they have to supply every house in the country, and charge the same for all lines, to everyone who asks.

    Then watch as BT die a death except with granny who wouldn't know who else to use, and has to start competing properly again, and lower their stupendous prices for what they offer.

    Then, you might even be able to charge bloke-in-London an extra quid a month over what he'd have paid before to give bloke-in-the-middle-of-nowhere some kind of usable connection for the same price.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      "Then watch as BT die a death except with granny who wouldn't know who else to use, and has to start competing properly again, and lower their stupendous prices for what they offer."

      I did some IT work for a company offering white label broadband. The business guys there told me that BT was actually officially barred from offering competitive prices due to its dominance in the market....

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "The business guys there told me that BT was actually officially barred from offering competitive prices due to its dominance in the market...."

        And barred from offering competitive customer service, because they simply don't have to.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        IIRC BT were barred from laying fibre down in the 90s due to its dominance also.

    2. Planty Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Will I be able to get a cheaper, data only line? I really don't like being forced to have a home phone number I don't need.

  2. Mark 110

    Probably not good enough

    I have worked in one of these supposedly legally separated environmments in the energy industry. And whilst us low level guys had all sort of strict ways of woorking to adhere to, and regulatory training to sign off on, I always had more than an inkling that in practise, at boardroom level, the supposedly separate legal entity got tonnes of preferential access to and influence from the group just by the general practicalitiess of sharing geographic locations and personal relationships between thee two boards.

    Its a start, but probably not good enough. Theres no good argument for not doing complete separation.

    1. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

      Re: Probably not good enough

      Or another example is the stupidities of the power regulation system. In our area, SSE PD have the monopoly on infrastructure, for which, apparently, they are capped at a profit of 4%. We are off grid, but the power poles run just 70m from the house, so we asked for a quote. They said they would need to add a pole near our house, get a connection from the main lines to our new pole, add a transformer, and we would be responsible for a trench for the last 25m. For that they quoted an estimate of £13k plus VAT. They still make 4%, but on hugely inflated numbers they can dream up out of thin air. Expect the same logic when BT's main board requires the OR board to make a bigger contribution to overall profit.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Probably not good enough

        We are off grid, but the power poles run just 70m from the house, so we asked for a quote. etc.

        Friends of mine were in that position with BT regarding a data line (ISDN, this was before broadband). Pole & trench needed, pretty much the same as you, with a ridiculous quote. What if we did the work ourselves and you just string the cables, they said. Err, umm, well OK, said BT. So they hired a digger and a post hole borer, and did everything for less than a quarter of the quote.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Probably not good enough

          To be honest, when you include union labour and health and safety, that's how much it all costs.

          Two guys for the day will cost you nearly a grand.

          Equipment to dig a hole, probably a grand again to hire.

          Wayleave etc. paperwork will cost you.

          Then you have safety equipment, a van to take them to site in, the digging itself, the ductwork, the cable, etc.

          Not saying you can't do it cheaper, but you won't find another COMPANY that will do it cheaper, officially.

          I work at a school that was going to be charged £20k+ to dig a trench the same. We got a local farmer to help do his half, and did the on-site stuff ourselves, and it wasn't cheap (we weren't doing it to save money, but to speed things up) for our part, and we still had to pay a load for their part, and that wasn't BT-related at all.

          As soon as you get into liability for the works, it gets incredibly expensive as everything has to be done by the book where you or I would just get a shovel and start digging until our backs hurt.

          That said, if it's only one pole away, I'd be paying a neighbour to stick a box on the side of their house and pay 50% of their monthly Internet bill for them, so they could upgrade it. Unlicensed spectrum is relatively cheap for Internet-access kind of speeds now, especially if you can have a directional antennae bolted to it.

        2. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Probably not good enough

          Pole & trench needed, pretty much the same as you, with a ridiculous quote. What if we did the work ourselves and you just string the cables, they said. Err, umm, well OK, said BT. So they hired a digger and a post hole borer, and did everything for less than a quarter of the quote.

          The main reaction has to be one of "good idea". However, there remains a likely long - term downside. Whilst BT may well have been happy to run the cables I suspect that they will not have assumed long term responsibility for the poles themselves or any trench work. So if anything happens to a pole (including falling over and injuring someone) then BT will simply shrug and say "not our problem chum". In addition any self - provided trench or duct may well not appear on anyone's maps (BT included!) so that if a U/G section is damaged then again BT will be able to say "don't expect us to open the trench", and the trench / duct "owners" may have trouble getting any damage done by a third party repaired at the third party's expense.

          I'm not saying "don't use this approach" but just pointing out that the initial saving may finish up being eroded by long - term maintenance costs.

          BT inspects its poles from time to time to make sure that they remain safe, and replace any that are showing signs of losing their structural integrity. I doubt if the company will undertake the same duty of care for privately installed poles.

          Self - help may well require long term commitment to the project, and not just be a source of instant and enduring happiness for a reduced capital outlay.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Probably not good enough

        "Expect the same logic when BT's main board requires the OR board to make a bigger contribution to overall profit."

        The problem at the moment is that OR _IS_ the cash cow. Creative accounting is used to make it look sick but what happened in New Zeland when separation was finally forced showed how much of a fiction "sick lines companies" would be.

        In particular one of the big things played upon was the pension liabilities (sound familiar) but in reality the separateed lines company has been going from strength to strength selling (regulated) service to all comers(*), whilst the old dialtone company is looking quite ill.

        (*) Including duct access and dark fibre to "competitors" who wouldn't have been allowed through the door in the old days or in a "Seperate business unit" operation. Imagine a world where Virgin can run its cables though BT ducts to get to tall the areas where it can't currently go without tearing up roads and where 10Gb/s fibre only costs about 50% more what 1Gb/s does.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Probably not good enough

      Theres no good argument for not doing complete separation.

      There is but it depends on your definition of 'good'. As the article says there are issues arising from the BT pension scheme and properties that the group currently own. The properties issues are probably not the big problem. Rent can be agreed or property ownership transferred as required. No the big problem is the BT pension scheme. That is already in enough trouble without trying to split it off or agree joint liability.

      "BT manages Britain’s biggest company pension fund, which has a £40bn war chest to pay employees past and present their retirement income"

      I would also add that I'm a bit sceptical about how a completely independent openreach would get the funding it needs. A lot of money is needed. Many tens of billions of pounds. It's a easier to get that if you're part of a huge group of companies with a track record operating in an established market.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Probably not good enough

      "Theres no good argument for not doing complete separation."

      This is exactly why New Zealand's regulators chose that option.

      And there's no need to go through court cases to force the issue - just make any further broadband funding rollouts conditional on the separation.

  3. Rimmergram

    Good! Perhaps El Reg could investigate how much of the UK doesn't even have broadband, let alone FTTP :-(

    In today's digital society, how can it be that I live 10 mins from Junc 8/9 of the M4 yet BT cannot provide me a regular broadband service - let alone anything 'superfast'? We live 11 km from the exchange and BT will not lay the infrastructure to provide broadband to my community as we're a small hamlet and are clearly not economically viable for them to do so. Perhaps we will get it now Openreach is to be split off..... here's hoping!

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Explanation please...

      We live 11 km from the exchange and BT will not lay the infrastructure to provide broadband to my community as we're a small hamlet and are clearly not economically viable for them to do so. Perhaps we will get it now Openreach is to be split off...

      And splitting off Openreach makes it economically viable how exactly?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Explanation please...

        They can roll out following other ISPs' criteria, not just BT's.

        Edit: Note that's ISPs in plural, i.e. the part of the market that isn't BT.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Explanation please...

          other ISPs' criteria

          Except that historically the other CP's criteria (leaving aside Altnets for now) has been more restrictive than BT's. The original LLU roll-out shows us that as does the size of VM's network. Has your exchange been unbundled yet? Have VM offered to cable your street yet?

          Alnets have shown great willingness and ability to go where few others (even BT) dare to go but they are relying on exclusive access to their network and in some cases free local labour, friendly wayleave agreements and not caring about making money. That doesn't scale very well and it's hard to see how openreach could get involved there in any shape or form.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Explanation please...

          "They can roll out following other ISPs' criteria, not just BT's."

          No. They would roll out - or not - according to their own criteria and their own financing. Their own financing would probably be a lot less than as part of the BT group, at least until some other company such as Deutsche Telekom* bought them out when you'd have a whole new set of problems to grouse about. And a separated Openreach would have similar requirements on ROI and prioritising one potential site against another.

          *DT already own a slice of BT so would automatically own the same percentage of a split-off Openreach.

        3. EastFinchleyite

          Re: Explanation please...

          "They can roll out following other ISPs' criteria, not just BT's."

          That will be fine if the "other ISPs" are prepared to pay for the investment.

          This is the nub of the whole argument. All the non-BT players in the market want to have access to wholesale network capacity when they want it without having to pony up the investment in the first place. Unused capacity goes on BT's books. Everyone wants a fibre to their village and only pay the same rates as high density customers in bigger towns.

          Once Openreach is separated from BT, it will still have to find its investment. If you don't force BT to continue as the cash cow, who will provide the money?

      2. Graham 25

        Re: Explanation please...

        Spot one - too many halfwits think that having Openreach as an independent body will suddenly mean it will fibre the entire country and defy the laws of economics and put in £100,000 of cables, dig up miles of roads to serve a dozen homes who only want to pay £7 a month for it.

        On its own, Openreach will have even less financial clout and won't be able to borrow much to invest because it will be seen as being easily dominated by Ofcom.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Explanation please...

          "On its own, Openreach will have even less financial clout and won't be able to borrow much to invest because it will be seen as being easily dominated by Ofcom."

          The funny thing about all these nay sayers is that they seem resolutely blind to the fact that this event has already happened - in a country which has 1/10 the population density of the UK (even in rural areas) and a LOT more rugged terrain.

          The experience of Chorus shows that an independent Openreach unconstrained by the handbrakes of BT head office is no longer prohibited from going out and hunting down customers - and it will do so.

          BT's REAL fear is that losing control of Openreach leaves them incredibly vulnerable and subject to market competition forces - which they're simply not equipped to handle even after 30 odd years of privatisation.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Unhappy

      how can it be that I live 10 mins from Junc 8/9 of the M4 yet BT cannot provide me a regular broadband service

      Hard to say. Looking at the map it doesn't seem all that rural but complications can arise from many causes. The issues are not just in rural areas. Ask the people living near Canary Wharf who struggle to get decent broadband. Have you tried contacting an independent CP? There's a fair of these 'altnets' around and if they haven't been making any overtures to you then your area must be particularly difficult to cater for.

      The trap to avoid is 'blaming' BT or seeing them as the enemy. BT would like to provide you with a better service but for some reason cannot do so. Most likely it comes down to money. For some reason they don't think the investment is going to yield an adequate return.

      And of course the fact that the M4 is relatively nearby isn't really relevant. Data doesn't travel along the roads so there is no particular reason to mention it.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Have you tried contacting an independent CP? There's a fair of these 'altnets' around and if they haven't been making any overtures to you then your area must be particularly difficult to cater for."

        Or they've gotten tired of almost making sales and having BT say "thanks for the marketing", announce that they can supply BB after all, then sending in teams of doorstoppers to sign up customers to broadband contracts when it may be 2 years before they can actually supply it.

        Yes, I've seen this happen and yes, I've seen the altnets driven out of business as a result.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Data doesn't travel along the roads so there is no particular reason to mention it."

        Many, if not all motorways do have data running along them. That's how smart motorways and the big matrix signs and CCTV cameras work. It's what is in that purple flexi-pipe you might have seen running along bridges etc.

        I've no idea if that is an entirely private network or if it's shared backbone or something else. But if government is genuine about building out fibre then maybe the various departments need to talk to each other about what resources they have in place and how it might be shared, either the capacity or just the space for others to run fibre.

    3. Locky Silver badge

      @Rimmergram

      Oh, are we playing Top Trumps?

      2miles from exchange as the crow files, but end of the line as it runs

      Suburbia of a digital city

      Openreach cabled up to cabinets on the same road 300m away in both directions, but didn't join up the dots

      No Virgin fibre to my house

      Listed building so no satellite

      1Mbps on a good day

      Do I win a prize?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Rimmergram

        Worth a look...

        http://www.shirenewton.org/broadband/

      2. Pangasinan Philippines

        Re: @Rimmergram

        'Listed building so no satellite'

        A dish can be mounted in a hole in the garden.

        Would that break planning rules?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Rimmergram - Pangasinan Philippines

          Are you alllowed a tv aerial (terrestrial). The system I linked to is line of site 2.4Ghz AFAIK

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      We live 11 km from the exchange and BT will not lay the infrastructure to provide broadband to my community as we're a small hamlet and are clearly not economically viable for them to do so.

      Presumably you live there from choice, so you've made the tradeoff. I also live in a rural area with slow broadband, but I'm not willing to put up with the inconvenience of living in a town just to get something faster, not do I expect the townies to pay for it for me. We don't have a regular bus service, or mains drainage either, but I still consider the tradeoff worthwhile.

      If enough people in your hamlet want broadband aren't there self-help schemes that you could try?

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        I know plenty of people who live in towns and can't get fast broadband. Fast broadband only works properly for a country when everyone can get it.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "I know plenty of people who live in towns and can't get fast broadband."

          Quite common in areas where fast broadband sales would cannabilise leased line sales.

          This is the kind of market abuse BT regularly engages in - and which an independent openreach can't, because they get the same income from a leased line as a voice line as a broadband line.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            This is the kind of market abuse BT regularly engages in - and which an independent openreach can't, because they get the same income from a leased line as a voice line as a broadband line.

            Is protecting the sales of one product range from being cannibalised by another market abuse? because BT aren't the only company guilty of this...

            I also see no reason why any company would charge the same for broadband as a leased line - they are very different products - and place differing demands on the infrastructure.

            I think many have been hoodwinked and simply parrot that BT=Bad without pausing to engage brain...

    5. Blotto Bronze badge

      @Rimmergram

      maybe sky, talktalk, Virgin or Vodafone can supply your hamlet instead?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At bloody last.

    Well, on the one hand be grateful that they've finally decided, but then be fearful that it is Ofcom, so the chances of this being botched or not even happening must be quite high.

    BT will go all the way to the Supreme Court to try and block this, so it isn't a done deal by any stretch of the imagination. And if new primary legislation is needed, that'll take years, given the other priority projects that the government have (Snooper's Charter, internet filtering, and all the rest of their genius ideas).

    1. localzuk

      The beauty of the Supreme Court is that they could also rule further - they could decide that Ofcom has erred and Openreach should be completely split, sold off and nothing to do with BT Group.

  5. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Mushroom

    OFGUM actually doing something?

    Surely this is the final sign of the apocalypse?

  6. Cynical Observer
    Childcatcher

    And in the course of time

    ... when Ofcom forces through full and complete separation, will Ofcom also move to prevent the then independent Openreach being taken over (hostile or friendly - doesn't matter.) Will there be howls of outrage as it's bought by a sovereign wealth fund? China? Saudia Arabia?

    10 years from now, when Openreach is owned by Sky, what will the solution be?

    Reads more and more like a policy that plays into the hands of Rupert.

    1. William 3 Bronze badge

      Re: And in the course of time

      So anyone but BT owning Openreach will be corrupt and evil?

      And what's to stop the Suadis or the Chinese buying both BT AND Openreach right now?

      It's not a lack of money.

      Do you even listen to yourself ever?

      10 Year from Now when were living in your Marxist Utopia, I'll expect a knock at my door after you've gone through the snoopers charter to find and silence those who disagree with you. Viva le Revolution

      Glory to the people, comrade.

      1. Cynical Observer
        Facepalm

        Re: And in the course of time

        @William 3

        And if you'd slow down before firing from the hip and reread my original post,

        I did not suggest that anyone but BT would be evil. I did not suggest that Openreach should remain in the ownership of BT.

        What I did question was whether or not it was appropriate for such a key element of national infrastructure to be in the hands of foreign ownership. Some people might feel concerned at that. The two sovereign wealth funds that I selected were picked because they easily have the ability to foot the bill and neither is held up as a paragon of civil or human rights.

        As to ownership by Rupert - if that doesn't fill people with dread, well -->

        Ultimately, my post questions whether or not the regulator will take a broader view.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: And in the course of time

        "10 Year from Now when were living in your Marxist Utopia, I'll expect a knock at my door after you've gone through the snoopers charter to find and silence those who disagree with you. Viva le Revolution"

        10'o clock in the morning and how many of these have you had already?

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: And in the course of time

      I assume that if Ofcom can force BT and OpenReach to split, they can also step into prevent it being bought by another company.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: And in the course of time

        "I assume...they can also step into prevent it being bought by another company."

        They didn't step in to stop, say O2 being bought by Telefónica or the various other mobile networks being bought by foreign overseas companies. Back in the days of the golden share HMG could have prevented it but those days are long gone. And remember Deutsche Telekom already owns 12% of BT as a consequence of the EE deal.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And in the course of time

          The argument about keeping BT ('British Telecom') British and worrying regarding a foreign investor is pretty pointless, there is nothing British about BT. Nearly all of its recent installations is made by Chinese built Huawei. It looks after itself. BT are just worried of being put in a weaker position, with less overall control. Again, BT looks after itself.

          What people forget here is BT will be one of those other ISPs fighting to make sure an independent Openreach works for an independent and separate BT too, post Split. It's in BT's interests to make sure a post Split Openreach system 'Works'.

          Why keep the status quo. BT certainly doesn't have UK Plc as its main focus, and neither should it, but Politicians still seem to think and talk of BT in previous times, "Oh BT will do the right thing". Er - no they won't.

          There seems to be a longing for nostalgia given how complicated things have got. In reality, the hard message to swalllow here is BT should have been split from Openreach many Moons ago. Ofcom's approach of toe-tipping, has been ineffective and useless upto now.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: And in the course of time

      "will Ofcom also move to prevent the then independent Openreach being taken over"

      This has already been thought through.

      Selling lines services should remain a highly regulated service (in particular the charges and ensuring that all comers get equal treatment.

      Rules should be put in place to ensure that no entity can hold more than 5% of the shares

      New Zealand's original privatisation of their telco was a postr child for how NOT to do it. The rules and laws put in place to prevent the broken up telcos (baby bell style) from recombining were inadequately thought out (The first step - moving to being state owned enterprises resulted in companies that played nice) and naively trusted that the newly privatised SoEs would continue playing nice.

      That lesson was very thoroughly learned over the ensuing 25 years and the structure placed on Chorus (NZ's equivalent to Openreach) is extremely well thought out to prevent any repeats of "rapacious telco holds the country to ransom".

      British regulators should look long and hard at what was done and why things were done that way - one of the driving reasons for splitting Spark/Chorus (which is what Telecom NZ was trying to sell the NZ govt on) was a study of the british market and the realisation of how easily British Telecom was able to continue its economy-damaging(*) anticompetitive practices despite the supposed "chinese wall" between the devisions.

      (*) As in, "acting as a a damaging agent to the UK economy" - with estimates of the damage running into billions of pounds per year in order to increase BT profits slightly and keep the market captive.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pension

    They cant split BT as they know they would go bust and the Govt has guaranteed the BT pension which has a huge hole in it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pension

      All the costs of privatisation, but none of the benefits? Tell Sid.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Pension

        "All the costs of privatisation, but none of the benefits? Tell Sid."

        Wrong advertising. Sid was gas. And would want to be in the queue for your rationed black telephone?

        BT was privatised because no government of any stripe had been prepared to put sufficient investment into BT for years, had no intention of doing so for more years and saw a chance of getting money back instead.

        1. Doc Ock

          Re: Pension

          >BT was privatised because no government...

          The Germans weren't that stupid to fully privatise Deutsch Telekom, they still own 30%. The UK Government (The Taxpayer) own nothing and is left holding the pensions liability baby:

          https://www.ft.com/content/59b0da16-347a-11e6-bda0-04585c31b153

          https://www.devere-group.com/news/deVere-Group-UK-government-BT-pensions.aspx

          >And would want to be in the queue for your rationed black telephone

          Get in the queue for your rationed BT broadband.

    2. William 3 Bronze badge

      Re: Pension

      Then they should start asset stripping BT's CEO and the rest of their bigwigs to plug that gap.

  8. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Transparency

    The key here, is that OpenReach not only have to be independent of BT, but have show they are independent. That can only be achieved by OpenReach being transparent in their work. There can't be any "commercially confidential" deals. It all has to be out in the open.

  9. DavCrav Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "fibre-to-the-premise"

    Why do people insist on thinking that the word 'premises' is plural? Fibre-to-the-premise would be laying fibre up to the previous statement about laying fibre to the premises, or something. El Reg isn't the only offender in this regard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      FTTP - Fibre to the Premises.

      Premises is the singular, a noun:

      a house or building, together with its land and outbuildings, occupied by a business or considered in an official context.

      Premise has a different meaning entirely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FTTP - Fibre to the Premises.

        A plural noun but can be treated as singular:

        https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/premises

        (vs https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/premise )

        Otherwise @AC, this AC agrees

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "El Reg isn't the only offender in this regard."

      If it's an offence my copy of the pocket edition of the OED is also an offender.

      Premise singular is a proposition from which...an inference may be drawn.( pl., Law) beginning of a deed giving the names of the parties and the nature of the grant, the property etc. (pl) any house or building...

  10. Ellis Birt 1

    Be careful what you wish for!

    FTTC and FTTP has required, and still requires significant investment.

    For all its faults, BT have a good credit rating and can borrow money far more cheaply than an independent Openreach could.

    Saddled with the debt incurred rolling out the superfast broadband infrastructure, Openreach will be beholden to shareholders and banks with a much shorter-term outlook than myopic BT. The result will be higher access costs for all customers and a reduced appetite for further investment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Be careful what you wish for!

      "The result will be higher access costs for all customers and a reduced appetite for further investment."

      You're forgetting (or stating after the fact), that we've had 7 years of BT increasing access costs (line rentals) with a reduced appetite for further investment, unless you 'give us further taxpayer handouts'.

      BT has been anything other than 'Pro Active' as regards to FTTP rollout, blantantly biasing their technical analysis in favour of technologies which suit BT and only BT. (using the biased technical view 'G.fast is cheap, pure/true FTTP is expensive line', without looking at the bigger picture) i.e. overhyping Pointless 'upto' G.fast as the solution for UK rollout of Ultrafast Broadband, 'forgetting' it requires massive exponential 'Carpet Bombing' of G.fast nodes to get anything like blanket coverage, each requiring an active grid-connected Power Supply (as of now).

      Pointless G.fast is not cheap and certainly not cheaper than true FTTP, in terms of more rural rollouts i.e. lines greater than 250m as the crow flies.

      BT's approach seems more about blocking access, protecting its turf, pushing for further handouts, obfuscating, bamboozling so that Broadband remains an 'upto' arfticially limited resource, controlled/limited by the final piece of copper between the premises and the FTTC/G.fast node, acting as the tap, so BT can charge / 'gouged' tiered structure form of pricing, going forward.

      The problem for BT, true FTTP removes that artificial restriction, removing the ability to gouge prices somewhat, hence BT are not in favour of true FTTP, along with the fact their infrastructure is mostly (worthless) Copper Asset Infrastructure (which they need to borrow against).

      Let's face it, there is only so much you can put up with as Regulator, before it makes the regulator look predictable and weak. If someone (BT) is effectively sitting on their hands, blocking the doorway, offering no solution to an inclusive blanket approach to Broadband for the UK.

      You have to side step them. This is the first stage, before the inevitable full separation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Be careful what you wish for!

        You're forgetting that it's BT retail that have increased the line rental costs - as have Sky, as have TalkTalk etc. The "access" cost for line rental is pretty much the same as it has been for a long time. This is nothing to do with Openreach.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Be careful what you wish for!

        And here we have the usual Pointless G.fast A/C plugging FTTP.

        It's been pointed out that Ofcom requires 999 to work in the event of a power cut to the premises. POTS does this by having the pairs powered from the switch. How do we manage this with FTTP? Presumably we have a choice of an adequate UPS with each fibre termination, a power supply run into the premises alongside the fibre or a a POTS link alongside the fibre.

        UPS in the premises is going to be expensive and raises maintenance issues.

        An external power link is a slightly less problematical version but has its own problems. There would be far too much loss to allow distant customers to be powered from the switch so there'd need to be power supplies distributed throughout the area. Just the arrangement that the A/C calls "carpet bombing" and why, if I follow the argument, renders G.Fast pointless. So how shall we describe this FTTP arrangement? Pointless FTTP?

        That leaves the FTTP and POTS duo. This also has a problem. Many existing POTS users will be satisfied with FTTC so the take-up of FTTP won't be that great. FTTP+POTS would be Even More Pointless FTTP.

        The only ways in which FTTP wouldn't be pointless is would be supplying it to people who want it in addition to POTS or doing away with Ofcom's 999 requirement.

        The fact is that FTTC, G.Fast and Pointless FTTP are compromises. None fits everyone's requirements, none is cheap to roll out and none is anything but a long haul to get rolled out from both a financial and logistical aspect. The network likely to be rolled out in the end is going to be a mixture of technologies which best - or at least approximately - match the requirements.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: Be careful what you wish for!

          Ofcom requires 999 to work in the event of a power cut to the premises. POTS does this by having the pairs powered from the switch. How do we manage this with FTTP?

          I have choice of BT FTTP or Hyperoptic FTTP, the BT FTTP has a battery backup unit attached to the optical modem.

          Hyperoptic aren't required to provide USO, so their "phone line" option is a VOIP router with no BBU.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Be careful what you wish for!

          "POTS does this by having the pairs powered from the switch. How do we manage this with FTTP?"

          Battery, or a battery supply from the cabinet. The energy requirements are low enough that a supercap might suffice.

          In the old days before central battery working, a pair of #6 cells used to be the norm at every house. Those cells normally lasted 20 years between changes.

        3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Be careful what you wish for!

          It's been pointed out that Ofcom requires 999 to work in the event of a power cut to the premises. ... How do we manage this with FTTP?

          Bt have already (IIRC) run trials where they've converted entire villages to fibre-only. The fibre is terminated into an NTE which includes optical interface, bridge to data service (presented as an ethernet port IIRC), and an analogue terminal adapter - plus backup battery. Being an integrated unit, it should be reasonably easy to remotely detect battery state - though I don't doubt that getting end users to swap the battery will have "some issues".

          If you just work on needing the service to make emergency calls, then the whole NTE could be powered down except for providing line voltage to the POTS port. If the user goes off-hook and dials an emergency umber then it can power up the required stuff to make the call.

          Thing is, these are all "solved problems" where solutions have been worked out years ago.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Be careful what you wish for!

        "Let's face it, there is only so much you can put up with as Regulator, before it makes the regulator look predictable and weak"

        Yup and this is all looking like a replay of New Zealand up to 2004 where the regulator was saying "no need to change" despite the mounting disquiet around it - and by 2005 was forced to agree that the situation was untenable

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/25/tnz_split/

        This is the real reason BT is scared of losing Openreach: "Telecom's long-term credit rating has been cut one notch by Standard & Poor's to reflect the demerger of the company's Chorus business and the loss of its network revenues." http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10765942

        And just like the New Zealand, the demerger case is being driven from _outside_ Ofcom, on competition grounds.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/13/telecom_nz/

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/03/telecom_inflatesassets/

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/26/tnz_vs_compwatchdog/

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/17/nz_rural_rollout_gets_chorus/

        One of the more ironic stories was Spark (former Telecom New Zealand) crying publicly about a year on from the split that the rate it was paying for lines access was far too high and it couldn't possibly afford this, give us a special deal, oh woe is us - when the (regulated) rate was based on figures TNZ had provided the ministry of commerce, the same for everyone, half the previous cost that everyone else had to pay - and all the competitors were happy at paying lower rates (which have since been revised downwards - unlike what BT keeps doing now).

        etc etc

        There's some argument that the regulated rate has been pushed too low now, but it will settle. The important thing is that all players are charged the same rates (no preferential access - but bulk discounts apply) and there's enough profit to keep reinvestment going. Regulations also prohibit any entity gaining a controlling interest in the lines company, which helps a lot.

    2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Be careful what you wish for!

      It will end up like Network Rail where the Government ploughs millions of pounds of taxpayers money into it to prop up the Chairman's salary, so the telecoms companies like BT don't get massively, but indirectly subsidised by the taxpayer ...

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Be careful what you wish for!

      "For all its faults, BT have a good credit rating and can borrow money far more cheaply than an independent Openreach could."

      BT's "good credit rating" is largely a consequence of having a near captive market.

      In the event of a split, it's Openreach which would get the decent credit rating, whilst BT would find itself in rather deep shit.

      Why are all the schills rolling out the same rhetoric about pensions and credit ratings and company stability which Telecom New Zealand used to try and stave off the inevitable, when history shows that the lie of those claims was shown within 6 months of the split occuring?

      Do they think that observers won't be looking at what happened in other markets where this was done to see what happened there? The banks most certainly are - and this is one of the reasons why BT is _terrified_ of losing Openreach.

  11. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    About time! As I work in the industry, I have seen many times the way that Openreach favours BT Retail.

  12. Doc Ock

    Watered down crap, force BT to fully split from Openreach. BT have been bleeding the network dry and underinvesting for decades and now they are blood sucking even more to support stupid bids for overpriced premiership games.

    BT was handed a national asset on a plate and all they did was watch it crumble while pocketing the cash.

    Cue the BT employees and pensioners to start downvoting the anti-BT comments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err.....

      "all they did was watch it crumble" - You're joking right? The infrastructure was in a dire state when it was privatised and took many many £bn to bring it up to an acceptable standard, then many £bn more to get to where we are now, which contrary to headline grabbing "local" speeds of urban networks where people live in dense high rise housing, is actually a lot better than many get in countries trumpeted as having better connectivity than us.

      Sky and TalkTalk have said all along they think the infrastructure costs too much for them to rent and they want lower prices. So where do you think the money is going to come from to invest in future upgrades if everyone pays less? If Sky & TalkTalk thought the investment could be made at the prices they want to pay per month, they'd have done it themselves. This isn't about them wanting a level playing field, this is about them wanting to cripple their biggest competitor going forwards in to the future whilst they cherry-pick the profitable areas for FTTP with their partners.

      1. Doc Ock

        Re: Err.....

        >You're joking right?

        No I'm not joking, they've done the bare minimum to please the regulator over the years. The cable companies laid brand new networks in a very short space of time. It's taken BT years attempting to catch up to their cable rivals for speed. BT also had the advantage of all their ducting and poles already in place.

        A shower of shit.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Err.....

          The cable companies laid brand new networks in a very short space of time.

          Only by cherry-pciking the places where they could lay it cheaply for large returns. How many small villages with three farms and a pub have Virgin cable? How many streets in 1000-year-old cities have they dug up to lay new fibre?

          BT also had the advantage of all their ducting and poles already in place.

          Ducting which, in may of those old cities, is already crammed full.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Err.....

            "Only by cherry-pciking the places where they could lay it cheaply for large returns. "

            In a world where Openreach is able to sell to all comers, how long would it take before they cut a deal with Virgin to provide duct and lines access to all those small villages with 3 farms without having to pay the ludicrous expenses of tearing up roads.

            The reason that there aren't "competitor" cables in BT ducts _now_ is because BT see them as rivals in selling retail services and won't let Openreach sell to "competitors". When Openreach is a pure lines access company, all those "competitors" are now valuable customers and WILL be courted for business.

        2. David Roberts Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Err.....

          The cable companies went bust.

          Virgin is the result of consolidation of bankrupt cable companies who were unable to cover the costs of their rollout from subscriber revenues.

          In what way is this a viable financial model for cabling up expensive locations?

          1) Raise money from investors.

          2) Roll out new infrastructure.

          3) Go bust so investors lose their money.

          4) Fire sale of assets

          5) Company without the capital cost overhead makes........

          6) Profit.

          As has been stated so many times, if there was money to be made by rolling out new networks then everyone would be doing it.

          If you want to fully split off OpenReach then make sure that it has a Univesrsal Service Provision charter, and the right to recover costs spread across the whole country. This means raising the access costs for everyone, plus a levy on other urban networks to prevent "cherry picking" so that the playing field is truly level. Share the pain for the common good. This should also solve the "bought out by foreign asset strippers" problem.

          Or renationalise it ; oops, that means any funding for expansion is on the Government books. Same problem with the Government setting up an organisation to build out fixed and mobile networks to the last 5%. The Government is desperately trying to get capital expenditure off the books through Public Private Partnerships which has already been shown to be a fine way to reduce long term costs.

          Hey, why not just demand cheap stuff because........

          Easy. Just be careful what you wish for.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Err.....

          You think Openreach or any other private company won't do the same? They'll do what investors will stomach and get a sensible return on.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Err.....

          "The cable companies laid brand new networks in a very short space of time. It's taken BT years attempting to catch up to their cable rivals for speed."

          You do realise, don't you, that BT wasn't allowed to compete with them. So what happened? The cable companies laid cable in the areas where they thought offered the biggest ROI and nowhere else. So now we endure all these eejits coming along and complaining that BT hasn't instantly cabled up the huge majority of the country without ever explaining how the resources are going to magically appear to do this.

          I suspect there's a huge correlation between those who think a separated OR will instantly cable up the country and Brexit won't mean unemployment because both sets appear to believe in magic.

          1. Doc Ock

            Re: Err.....

            >Brexit

            Oh FFS, you also forgot to throw Trump, Farage and eventually the Nazis in there as well.

            This debate has nothing to do with any of the above.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Err.....

        "The infrastructure was in a dire state when it was privatised and took many many £bn to bring it up to an acceptable standard, "

        And from there, BT has never kept investments up with depreciation on the kit. The many many £bn that were spent was repaid many times over a long time back and now BT keeps kicking the corpse to see if it will give off any more money, in between extorting a few billion off the broadband initiatiave that it can piss up a nearby wall.

        That's the thing about national networks. If you bring them up to speed and then ignore them for 15 years you're worse off than when you started. BT _might_ have put in mucho investment, but when that aged out and started falling over, all the remaining investment has been made with the assistance of HM Treasury.

        $orkplace has a 2Mb circuit installed. It popped a power supply a while back - and BT had to scramble to repair it - the PSU was over 30 years old. they don't have spares, or circuit diagrams (in the end it was "fixed" by bunging in a PSU from something that had been rescued from a skip). The have no intention of replacing the thing and we've been paying 5 figures per month on it for the last 30 years. Work out THAT return on investment.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "BT was handed a national asset on a plate and all they did was watch it crumble while pocketing the cash."

      The usual bollocks. When the telephone operation was split off from the rest of the GPO its new chairman, MD or whatever is supposed to have described what he took over as the black telephone rationing company. That's because your supposed national asset had lacked adequate investment from the taxpayer and wasn't in line to get it in the future. By selling it the govt. had a chance to get some money back and to enable it to get private investment in the future. Without the finance it's been able to raise in the private sector BT would be a fraction of what it is now. You might still be waiting for your internet connection so you could get onto el Reg to complain.

      1. Doc Ock

        >The usual bollocks. ...

        Bollocks to that, Thatcher & Co sold it for a number of reasons one being to reduce the power of the Unions another to line their friends in the Citys' pockets. You can still only get a land-line from basically two providers, BT and Virgin, we'll leave the niche minnows out of it.

        It's the kind of shit argument that has completely failed Britain's generating capacity. The free market isn't always that clever at delivering a national strategic result as it tends to look for short term gain unless underwritten by the Government of the day.

        By the way who underwrites BT's huge pension liabilities ?

        The Taxpayer.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "It's the kind of shit argument that has completely failed Britain's generating capacity."

          At risk of going OT the argument that's failed Britain's generating capacity has been "Nuclear No thanks" followed up by a realisation that shoving coal up power station chimneys isn't a good idea.

          1. Patrician

            .......""Nuclear No thanks".....

            A thumbs up for you on this; had their been decent investment in nuclear power generation in this country rather than listening to the irrational fears of the un-informed we could have been, almost, energy independent by now.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "had their been decent investment in nuclear power generation in this country rather than listening to the irrational fears of the un-informed we could have been, almost, energy independent by now."

              The main barrier to nuclear investment in the UK has been the vastly higher than anticipated costs.

              Which is what you'd expect when every single nuclear plant installed was a new, unproven design radically different from every other existing design - because that's what the british government and the electricity board used to do, instead of picking a design and standardising on it for long enough to amortise the R&D costs.

              This was all at the same time as the british civil service picked winners - like dumping the UK's orbital launch program because there was no commercial future in satellites.

              The vast majority of successful british businesses have become successful DESPITE uk government policy, not because of it - and a lot of formerly successful ones have been nobbled by misguided attempts to tell them what to do and who to merge with.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Thatcher & Co sold it for a number of reasons one being to reduce the power of the Unions another to line their friends in the Citys' pockets

          BT, and the GPO before it, was never a particularly militant union stronghold.

          You can still only get a land-line from basically two providers, BT and Virgin

          And you know why? Because it's almost impossible make any money out of doing it.

          By the way who underwrites BT's huge pension liabilities ?

          The shareholders. The Crown guarantee, which is the only part that affects taxpayers, would only step in if BT went bust.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    The challenge of course is to keep Openreach independent

    and not bought up by Rupert or Vermin.

    UK Telecoms and broadband backbone in the hands of The Dirty Digger (TM) or Mr Beardy (TM).

    1. William 3 Bronze badge

      Re: The challenge of course is to keep Openreach independent

      Yes, because everyone else is evil apart from BT itself.

  14. Dr Paul Taylor

    Granny's phone

    Rather than splitting Openreach from the BT Group they should split off incompetent BT Retail into ten bits according to the last digit of Granny's phone as independent companies. Let's call them the Ten Green Bottles.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Granny's phone

      Like "The Baby Bells" in the US? I like the name!

  15. tentimes

    Openreach to the installs & repairs - facours BT customers

    Anyone who has ever had a broadband fault and is not with BT know the response they get when it isn't fixed "It's with BT Openreach Engineers" and they favour BT and leave the other competitors to rot. A good tactic to get people back on BT's network and that is what I did. Any fault I have since is fixed almost instantly (presumably by the same people).

    So, it is WAY past time Openreach was separated.

    1. Graham 25

      Re: Openreach to the installs & repairs - facours BT customers

      "Anyone who has ................ know " is usually followed by an unsubstantiated claim.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Openreach to the installs & repairs - facours BT customers

        "Anyone who has ................ know " is usually followed by an unsubstantiated claim.

        Well I can only talk about myself but BT Openreach took more than 3 weeks to fix a fault after missing two appointments and twice suggested that if I changed to BT from my ISP I would be able to use the BT WiFi from my neighbours while they repaired the fault.

        I complained that using their own poor performance to encourage customers to switch from competitors to their own service was not an ethical business practice but was told that the conversations did not happen. I complained to Ofcom and perhaps in a small way that has helped contribute to this although I think full sepration is thd only way to go.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Openreach to the installs & repairs - facours BT customers

          "Well I can only talk about myself but BT Openreach took more than 3 weeks to fix a fault after missing two appointments and twice suggested that if I changed to BT from my ISP I would be able to use the BT WiFi from my neighbours while they repaired the fault."

          _If_ BT Openreach actually suggested that then there's a very serious breach that's happened from the outset and if you can substantiate that then I'm sure the competition commissioner would love to hear from you.

          The reality about the large alternative telcos is that they pay a discount rate to Openreach for a lower levels of service and don't bother telling their customers about this. If you go with a smaller one (I'm with http://phone.coop/) they're far more willing to ride herd on Openreach not showing up and ensure that not only are you actually compensated for the no show, but that Openreach will show up within 4 business hours of a missed appointment.

          They also don't close tickets about intermittent problems, unlike some telcos I can think of (where intermittent is "plays up when it's raining" - obviously a common fault cause but in BT or TalkTalkese, these are new, unrelated faults.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Openreach to the installs & repairs - facours BT customers

      Anyone who has ever had a broadband fault and is not with BT know the response they get when it isn't fixed "It's with BT Openreach Engineers"

      And of course your ISP simply has to be telling you the truth. It could simply be that with "political" axes to grind faults that have to be tackled by Openreach aren't passed on as quickly as you would hope or expect.

      On top of which Openreach's response time may be part of the contractual agreement with other ISPs. It may be that in order to maximise their profit the other ISPs have agreed with Openreach to have a longer response time for a reduced contract price; that saving is not passed on to the ISPs customers any more than they are told about that agreement in the first place.

      I would expect any attempt to clarify this would be met with the answer that it is "commercially confidential".

      Disclaimer; never been a BT employee in any shape or form.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Openreach to the installs & repairs - facours BT customers

        I seem to recall an article not long back that certain large budget ISPs were downgrading their SLAs on services with Openreach to keep their costs down - of course they won't tell customers that, they'll just say, "It's with OR, nothing we can do" whilst not mentioning OR are still well within the SLA.

    3. Dr Paul Taylor

      Re: Openreach to the installs & repairs - favours BT customers

      Au contraire. In 2009 BT Retail had my phone and ICUK my broadband. There was a fault on the phone line. BT Retail's reponse was to blame me. More faults. After 4 1/2 months the fault only affected ADSL so I got ICUK on to it. Within an hour or so they had got Openreach to "reset the line". My guess is that the DSLAM (or whatever it is called) was knocked out of place, but BT Retail was structurally incapable of fixing such a fault, because it would require insight or extended technical communication with the customer. Of course I switched my phone line to ICUK and there has been no similar problem since then. Lengthy discussion with BT "high level complaints" and the "ombudsman" was just a whitewash.

  16. Ethariel

    True Competition?

    In some way’s this will come back and bite the howling mob.

    If I remember correctly as BT is the ‘Monopoly’ it has to sell to resellers lines cheaper than it charges end users so the reseller can undercut them (BT) and make a profit.

    So if Openreach is spun off, BT will be able to sell its own product for as little as it wants as it technically no longer owns the lines and will be far more able to suck a loss for a few years as it undercut's everyone else

    As an aside, when is Virgin going to open up its cable network for other people to provide content over or do Ofcom have to get involved there too?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: True Competition?

      "If I remember correctly as BT is the ‘Monopoly’ it has to sell to resellers lines cheaper than it charges end users so the reseller can undercut them (BT) and make a profit."

      BT (and many other monopoly Telcos worldwide) is a practised artist in the noble pastime of "margin squeeze" - where the wholesale price is so high that retailers make almost no money.

      One of the ways they do this is by refusing to sell dark fibre or dry pairs. It's compulsary to have BT-owned NTUs on the ends of a leased circuit, never mind if the competing telco's NTUs are identical - so when a competitor sells service and the last mile involves a BT line, BT get the full cut of a leased circuit price at a few hundred to a few thousand pounds per month instead of a dry pair or dark fibre at a few tens of pounds per month.

      This also means that instead of upgrading from 1Gb to 10Gb on your fibre circuit being a doubling of the charges to pay for the new SFPs, BT will install a complete new set of NTUs and charge you 11 times as much for the privilege plus a 6 figure installation fee, which takes the cost-advantage of the competing telco completely away when if it's BT end to end, they'll "only" charge you 8 times as much.

  17. inmypjs Silver badge

    "and action is required now to deliver better outcomes for phone and broadband users"

    FFS the problem is not who owns or manages openreach the problem is their monopoly.

    They have zero incentive to produce better outcomes where there is no one else producing any outcome and that is most of the country.

    Ofcom's job is to control abuse of that monopoly and this crap is just another example of them not doing it.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "and action is required now to deliver better outcomes for phone and broadband users"

      "FFS the problem is not who owns or manages openreach the problem is their monopoly."

      A monopoly isn't necessary harmful. There are plenty of functional/natural monopolies which work well for everyone concerned.

      Leveraging a monopoly (lines) to gain advantage in another area (dialtone) most certainly is harmful and that's what BT do.

      BT are exponents of margin squeeze tactics and the only reason they're able to do this is because they hold the Wholesale monopoly (lines) and are therefore able to use income from the lines sales side (openreach) to subsidise the (supposedly) equal rates they're paying for lines access.

      The other tactics used are things like forcing customers to use (and pay for) BT NTUs when you take a circuit from a third party instead of just plugging the ends together or allowing use of 3rd party NTUs This drives the costs up dramatically for competing providers and means that BT makes a handsome profit on last-mile services even if they're not selling directly to the customer (and as noted, BTOR techs are known to make statements that customers wouldn't have so much trouble if they were with BT, despite that being illegal)

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: "and action is required now to deliver better outcomes for phone and broadband users"

        There are plenty of functional/natural monopolies which work well for everyone concerned

        Indeed.

        if someone suggested that a third party come along and dig up all the street to install a separate and competing electricity supply, or water supply, or drainage, or gas supply, or ... there would be outcries of "why on earth do such a flippin stupid thing. It just doesn't make any sense.

        And so it is with with telecoms cables - it just does not make sense to have multiple competing sets of cables - all that does is make everything more expensive.

        But what it does need is for the operator of the functionally monopoly network to deal with all customers on a fair and open basis = something which few people, including OfCom judging by this announcement, believe happens at the moment. it's been obvious for as long as I've been involved (as techie for various of their customers) that BT and OpenReach do stuff ina way that maximises protection of BT's expensive services.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: "and action is required now to deliver better outcomes for phone and broadband users"

      "Ofcom's job is to control abuse of that monopoly and this crap is just another example of them not doing it."

      Actually it's the competition and markets authority's job to do that. Leave Ofcom to regulate telecommunications technical matters.

      This very british clusterfuck is precisely caused by Ofcom being incompetent at competition issues and it should never have been allowed to lay claim to this area of regulation.

  18. JaitcH
    Happy

    Why is the High Tech West so Technically Challenged?

    It's sad to read about the InterNet deprived areas in the UK and the USA. Canada has an InterNet that connects even the North Coast of the country.

    Couldn't an equivalent to the electrical grid be put in place?

    Out here in Indochina fibre optics is revolutionising the place. In VietNam, in particular, the fibre optic tentacles are reaching the extremes of the country. In Ha Tien, on the border with Kampuchea/Cambodia they have announced there is enough backbone capacity for every household to have 50 Mbyte service. This is in addition to 200-channels of fibre optic TV.

    What gets me is whilst there is commercial competition, technically the three government-owned entities and the four commercial entities are cross-supporting each other. First company into a property gets to run the fibre optic cable - with the subscriber paying USD$50 (equivalent) for the installation and a modem (HuaWei HG8045A) that outputs LAN1-LAN4, WiFi, Telephone (2 lines), Cable TV, USB Storage, FAX. There is also an input for standby power!

    We can order InterNet from one provider, cable from another and telephone from a third. And no house calls.

    Good news! Our 25 Mbyte unlimited service (USD$30/month) has been replaced with 50 Mbyte unlimited service at USD$25/month!

    In Cambodia/Kampuchia in addition to cell service and cell InterNet there is live, streamed, wireless TV in the largest cities.

    Obviously the neanderthals that keep seats warm in BT are the problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is the High Tech West so Technically Challenged?

      Good news! Our 25 Mbyte unlimited service (USD$30/month) has been replaced with 50 Mbyte unlimited service at USD$25/month!

      Excellent. That's a week's average wage in Viet Nam. If only those pikers in the UK would agree to pay the equivalent $600/month we could all have fibre too.

      In Cambodia/Kampuchia in addition to cell service and cell InterNet there is live, streamed, wireless TV in the largest cities.

      Yes, and Mussolini made the trains all run on time. Wasn't that good.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Why is the High Tech West so Technically Challenged?

      "In Cambodia/Kampuchia in addition to cell service and cell InterNet there is live, streamed, wireless TV in the largest cities."

      Just over the border in Burma, it's a bigger mess than BT and the government's "opening up" of the market isn't making much different.

      If anything it's getting worse by the day as more and more people are connected out through the same bandwidth-limited circuits (and it's not the international circuits that are the problem. It's deliberate throttling between their gateways and the rest of the country).

  19. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    FTTP vs FTTC

    I keep seeing references to FTTP/FTTH, and there was something in a BBC article about this subject which said that FTTC is not good enough. In my experience, FTTC is plenty fast enough - on BT Infinity2 I get get >80meg down and c20 meg uplink.

    Why the obsession with the more costly solution of getting fibre to every home when, for a lot of people, FTTC should still deliver a fast enough service?

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: FTTP vs FTTC

      Well bully for you, but have you considered that not everyone lives as close to their cabinet as you do? My parents have suffered with less than 2 Mbps for years, but now are "blessed" enough now to get FTTC - they now get 9 Mbps.

      Obviously better than 2, but still not even what our new USO will be. Was it really worth spending money upgrading rural areas to FTTC when the "solution" is not actually solving anything?

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: FTTP vs FTTC

        Well bully for you, but have you considered that not everyone lives as close to their cabinet as you do?...

        I think you should perhaps read what Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese actually wrote: Why the obsession with the more costly solution of getting fibre to every home when, for a lot of people, FTTC should still deliver a fast enough service?

        He was not suggesting that everyone should be content with FTTC, merely stating that for many users (yours truly included!) FTTC provides a perfectly satisfactory service.

        Yes - there are clearly instances where FTTC does not provide a good enough service,and nobody would argue otherwise. But why argue that even those for whom FTTC is adequate should be forced to use FTTP when there will clearly be additional costs involved? To quote H N-B again Why the obsession with the more costly solution of getting fibre to every home...

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: FTTP vs FTTC

          BT are currently going through every possible avenue to rely solely on copper, because it is "good enough" for "enough" people. They are spending a lot of money on g.fast and FTTC, because that maximises their profits.

          The investment doesn't come from thin air; mostly it came from us, either as subscribers or taxpayers. Should our investment go to propping up BT's profitability, or should we be investing in a fit for purpose network that improves the productivity and efficiency of the country.

          It's like we are filling a lake by walking backwards and forwards to the river with a cup, and being pleased that we can now rent a larger cup, when we need to build an aqueduct. Building an aqueduct is not that appealing if you are the biggest cup rental company.

          1. Commswonk Silver badge

            Re: FTTP vs FTTC

            They are spending a lot of money on g.fast and FTTC, because that maximises their profits.

            The investment doesn't come from thin air; mostly it came from us, either as subscribers or taxpayers. Should our investment go to propping up BT's profitability, or should we be investing in a fit for purpose network that improves the productivity and efficiency of the country.

            Yes; OK; fine. An alternative scenario is that BT spends "someone's" money and invests heavily in FTTP. To get even a modest ROI that has to be sold on at a monthly cost (well) in excess of what customers are currently paying for ADSL or FTTC. What happens if the customers decide that the premium payment is more than they are willing to pay? Will BT shut down the existing services so that customers pay the higher cost or do without broadband completely?

            As a residential customer (who happens to be retired) what I pay now for what I get now meets my needs, and I would take a dim view of being forced to pay (much) more so that some people get the much greater speed that they (think they) need.

            I fully accept that there are users (and potential users) who genuinely need a better service than they can now get. Just stop trying to tell me that I need a faster service simply on the basis that some others do.

            There is also the point that business users will always cry for the moon, safe in the knowledge that whatever costs are incurred can be passed on to their customers anyway. Their expensive broadband costs them precisely nothing.

            1. Snafu1

              Re: FTTP vs FTTC

              Think of rural farmers (or instance). They are now /required/ by gvt remit to submit their subsistence grants online.. but many don't have BB access of any sort, or any training in how to use or protect themselves from the internet, or the time to learn..

              A thought occurs: perhaps they may be able to address some of these problems by hosting a Wifi AP aerial on some bit of unused land? They'd be paid for the land rental & gain (limited) BB access while providing it to 'local' residents too..

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: FTTP vs FTTC

                "Think of rural farmers (or instance). They are now /required/ by gvt remit to submit their subsistence grants online.. but many don't have BB access of any sort, or any training in how to use or protect themselves from the internet, or the time to learn."

                My neighbour is a farmer. As he's slightly nearer the cabinet than I am he'll get a perfectly adequate connection from FTTC.

                But then there are a few more scattered farms further out. They're not going to get as good a connection, if any. So the question is what is the most effective way of rolling out upgrades to them and to the others in the same situation? Can more be put on line with FTTP in a year by a given number of workers than by any other means? If so then fine. But if some other technology puts more on line then why would FTTP be chosen and if it is what would be the criteria for deciding who would go without so that the lucky few (relatively speaking) get their FTTP?

                Roll out of any technology is achieved by actual work and not by sprinkling some fairy dust that suddenly becomes available by separating Openreach from the rest of BT.

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Tom 38 , Well bully for you

        Think about broadband provision as being like electricity supply (and some would argue that BB access is as important a utility as the traditional heat & power services).

        My house, like yours, and like millions of others has an 80 amp supply from %POWER_COMPANY%. That's plenty enough to run my domestic appliances and various other bits & bobs. If I decided I wanted to do something really power-hungry, then I would negotiate with %POWER_COMPANY% and upgrade (at cost to me) the power supply to the premises.

        Now BB...standard BB provision through FTTC should be plenty enough for most people. If it's not, then the consumer could petition to get a better service....maybe at cost to them, maybe at a cost to %SOMEONE_IN_THE_BB_SUPPLY_CHAIN%.

        The point is that it seems overkill for *every* premises in the country to have fibre running into it because there are a (probably relatively small) percentage of premises where a higher capacity, that only FTTP can meet, is required.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: FTTP vs FTTC

      "In my experience, FTTC is plenty fast enough - on BT Infinity2 I get get >80meg down and c20 meg uplink."

      Just wait. The problem is that VDSL2 is interference-limited - so as more people get VDSL2 circuits you'll see your dl/ul speeds taper off.

      Mine started at 80/20 with the equipment reporting it was measuring the capability of 100/40

      4 years later it's down to 67/20 and the equipment is reporting a maximum of 68/21

      Fibre GPON is 1Gb down/up with any limiting being that imposed by the ISP - and again, with BT at the helm, you won't get it cheaply from Openreach as this will undercut their leased lines.

  20. PeterM42
    Facepalm

    Ofcom has no REAL guts

    They should have ordered a COMPLETE breakup

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