back to article UK.gov pushes ahead with legal right to 10Mbps

Folk will have a legal right to minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps by 2020, with the government having today rejected a voluntary proposal by dominant telco BT. Currently, just over a million premises in Blighty, or 4 per cent of properties, cannot get speeds of 10Mbps, according to Ofcom. After mulling its options, the …

  1. DRendar

    As much as I would want this to go through - It's very likely to get pushed back upon on the grounds that it's fundamentally impossible without billions in investment.

    In order to get at least 10Mbps to the most rural locations (such as where my parents live for example) would require digging up the roads to lay fiber to every cabinet - even ones with just 2 or 3 houses on them. It's just not economically feasible.

    That is unless they go the Indian route and string fiber over the existing telegraph poles... THAT could certainly work - although I hope they do a better job than they do in India... Some of the fiber runs we have out there are comical (Over trees, across roads, nailed to crumbling buildings...).

    1. Gio Ciampa

      "not economically feasible"

      And spending £100+ billion (and counting) saving a few minutes on a train journey from London to Birmingham is...?

      1. DRendar

        Re: "not economically feasible"

        "And spending £100+ billion (and counting) saving a few minutes on a train journey from London to Birmingham is...?"

        I have no clue what you're on about, but I'm pretty damn sure that BT haven't spent a penny making anyones train journeys shorter... so your point is...?

      2. Oddlegs

        Re: "not economically feasible"

        And spending £100+ billion (and counting) saving a few minutes on a train journey from London to Birmingham is...?

        While I don't disagree that the price of HS2 is excessive the purpose isn't only to make journeys between London and Birmingham a little faster. It will also free up capacity on the existing lines making for a far nicer experience on them.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "not economically feasible"

          It will also free up capacity on the existing lines making for a far nicer experience on them.

          That's the joke or lie!

          HS2 isn't due to be around until 2034 at the earliest, however, Network Rail et al are already taking decisions, such as implementing new timetables in 2018 that reduce capacity on the existing London-Birmingham and London-Nottingham lines...

          Additionally, where I live, it is currently under 1 hour into London, under the new timetable, the new 'fast' service will take 1 hour 15 minutes! Naturally, the price will also be increased.

        2. ukgnome

          @ Oddlegs

          You don't seem to understand how the rail network is strung together. The rail network has nothing to do with passengers and everything to do with freight.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Wet String,...

      "go the Indian route and string fiber over the existing telegraph poles"

      I think that's the only er,... well, it's more economic,.... it's not actually economic for a company, but it's less costly, so I think that's the only reasonable way to achieve it. Unless some way of using the power grid could be used, a several hundred Kilowatt version of Homeplug?

      Anyway, that fibre must be agnostic, there's no point hooking up a rural location and then telling the residents they cannot choose their provider. So the first thing the govt needs to do is to stump up some cash, and then also get Openreach and Virgin to agree a standard. Something the Govt should have done ages ago, we should have had a common network.

      1. Microchip

        Re: Wet String,...

        There were trials years ago for running broadband over the power lines ( http://www.silicon.co.uk/workspace/liverpool-to-trial-200-mbps-powerline-broadband-17089?inf_by=5a3a4b1f671db8d9668b4913 ), in a similar vein to how powerline ethernet works, with kit at the substations for sending it over the last mile. They could possibly revive the tech and put a bid in that way, though I'm not sure how viable it became in the end, though other countries have deployed it successfully. It's all about which is cheaper and causes less interference in the end I suppose.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Errr, no.

      You dont need to dig.

      I assume they have electricity.

      If it really is three houses, use LTE with format1 or 2, and thats it. No need to dig, and plenty of BW for everyone.

      this wont work if you have mountains or obstacles, but tends to be way cheaper than digging.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Errr, no.

        LTE? There have been similar stories to this one, bemoaning the lack of mobile coverage in various UK places, again, rural areas, but also along motorway corridors. It's the same problem, investment vs return, and who is going to pick up the bill. Just a few miles out the city, where I walk my dogs, I can't get a mobile data connection, but there are settlements near by. It is hilly, so line of sight is an issue. LTE isn't a panacea.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      As much as I would want this to go through - It's very likely to get pushed back upon on the grounds that it's fundamentally impossible without billions in investment.

      Maybe, maybe not. El Reg has neglected to mention is that there is a cost threshold. Above this amount, the customer has to chip in. The only cost to the taxpayer or other CPs will be whatever the basic cost is. The same scheme has been in place for voice lines for a long time. Openreach swallow the first £4k then the customer pays the rest (called excess construction charges).

      So the only difference is that when you demand high speed internet instead of being able to say 'No, sod off!' Openreach will have to say 'Certainly, that'll be £20,000 please'.

      What's going to matter is the base charge. I haven't seen any indication yet of what that's going to be. £4k is probably too low (leaving too much to the customer) but as you say, make it a reasonable amount and it becomes a burden on the CP.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "That is unless they go the Indian route and string fiber over the existing telegraph poles"

      .... seems to be the way they did things in Cupertino 15-20 years ago when I was there - phone, broadband, cable tv, electricity all came to the house via wires from a utility pole in the garden.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        "That is unless they go the Indian route and string fiber over the existing telegraph poles"

        That assumes there is space on the poles and that they can carry the extra weight. I honestly don't know how likely that is.

    6. Kevin Johnston

      Stringing Fibre

      If memory serves there have been two UK-wide projects to spread fibre. One rack along railway lines and the other wound the fibre around the ground line on pylons. I recall seeing an wonderful Heath Robinson device which pulled itself along the cable slowly rotating as it went feeding the fibre out like a spider.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Stringing Fibre

        wound the fibre around the ground line on pylons

        The name you are looking for is Energis. I remember back in my dial-up days with Demon, dialling-in via their Energis lines was slightly cheaper than via their BT lines.

        There is one run around here where the fibre wasn't strung along the protective earth line, but along one of the power wires. If you don't mind Google Street View, try here or here for two views of the same line.

        M.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or just use wireless Internet to cover rural areas

      Just install a 4G mast in rural areas and you can cover a large area of ground without running loads of cables (except to the mast)

      4G will give you more than 10Mb/s up and down

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (Over trees, across roads, nailed to crumbling buildings...)

      As per much of the Openreach infrastructure in rural wales!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The turn of the millenium called...

    I've heard that this will come with a 100GB cap a month, too.

    1. short

      Re: The turn of the millenium called...

      It's easy to mock, but some of us are stuck on glorified dial-up. The line here delivered a flaky 300kbps when I killed it. Fortunately I'm in a decent 4G area, so as long as I'm prepared to pay £1/G, I can have a usable service - which I need for both work, and reading ElReg...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The turn of the millenium called...

        I'd rather be stuck with my crappy speed and unlimited bandwidth than 10 Mbps at 100GB a month.

      2. DRendar

        Re: The turn of the millenium called...

        £1 per gig!?

        Christ dude - look up Three or Giffgaff. I pay about £18/month for unlimited 4G (including 30Gig hotspot use)

        1. Jim Willsher

          Re: The turn of the millenium called...

          Great if you have coverage from Three/Giffgaff. I have 4G coverage only from EE (and 8Mb from BT ADSL), so I pay £60/month for 100GB and I get about 70Mbps.

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: The turn of the millenium called...

            I think your mistake there is using BT ADSL. Pretty much any LLU ISP will give you a better deal. Even if you can’t get LLU you should be able to get a wholesale BT product from someone else for less.

            As for EE, look for special offers (which they pretty much have to give in order to compete) and move package.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: The turn of the millenium called...

              >I think your mistake there is using BT ADSL. -1 vote

              In the 'remote' parts of the UK don't expect third-party LLU equipment to be particularly performance or new, I've repeatedly seen this, even though my line is circa 20m longer than my neighbours, I got better speed off the BT LLU than they got off the Sky LLU - however it was still sub 512kbps... Basically, the numbers of subscribers doesn't justify regular tech refresh.

              >you should be able to get a wholesale BT product from someone else for less. +1 vote

              Generally, this also means you are likely to get a lower contention ratio and thus able to make better use of the limited available bandwidth.

              >As for EE, look for special offers +1 vote

              Agree, also do the online speed check using your full details a couple of times over a few days and then wait for them to call you, then you can negotiate a deal...

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: The turn of the millenium called...

            >I have 4G coverage only from EE (and 8Mb from BT ADSL), so I pay £60/month for 100GB and I get about 70Mbps.

            The problem with Three (and others) is getting a sensible data allowance and piece of equipment.

            For example: Three's HomeFi currently gives you 40GB pcm for £24, which if you want more than this (without incurring the 1p/MB out of bundle charge) you have to resort to SIM swapping with a 40GB SIM at £17 pcm. Whereas with EE you can get 100GB and 200GB data only plans. However, the Three HomeFi (a Huawei’s B310 Wireless Router) is better suited to the task of being the home network router than the EE dongles.

            Personally, I would purchase a router like the B310 (available from Amazon for around £100), add the external antenna and drop the EE SIM into it.

            Obviously, you can try putting a phone SIM into a mobile broadband dongle, but since Three will detect and block them, I've never really bothered, and accepted that the mobile networks don't really want high volumes of home/tethered traffic over their networks.

        2. short

          Re: The turn of the millenium called...

          I can only see 9G/Mo for £18 om Giffgaff - what am I missing?

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: The turn of the millenium called...

            >I can only see 9G/Mo for £18 om Giffgaff - what am I missing?

            Giffgaf have gone down hill. They do an “always on” plan for £20, but throttle you back to about 380k beyond 9GB of usage.

            If Three works in your area you can have 30GB of teathered or mobile data for £20,

          2. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: The turn of the millenium called...

            I can only see 9G/Mo for £18 om Giffgaff - what am I missing?

            Almost a decade.

            They did unlimited data when they started out, but stopped offering it about 8-ish years ago I believe - at least for phone plans.

            A 4G mobile internet connection might have better deals.

          3. DRendar

            Re: The turn of the millenium called...

            > I can only see 9G/Mo for £18 om Giffgaff - what am I missing?

            Ew looks like GG have gone downhill - I currently pay £18 to Three. Unlimited data, Unlimited Roaming (which for me is a lifesaver) and 30Gig hotspot.

            Remember you can always haggle.

            Might be worth trying ID (Carphone Warehouse) Which uses the EE network - last I checked they were OK for DataSIMs.

            --edit-- Looks like you can only get 15Gig for £25 quid now on ID... SMH

        3. handleoclast

          Re: The turn of the millenium called...

          @DRendar

          I'm on £15/month for 30G (but all hotspottable). Since most of the data gets used at home on a real computer with a real keyboard (phone k/b is too fiddly) the extra £3/month for unlimited (but all bar 30G of it only usable on the phone) wouldn't really be worth it.

          For those looking for the £15/month SIM, you're out of luck. Three no longer offer it, but if you already have that package you can continue with it.

          Oh yeah, I only get 200 minutes of talk time, but since I'm an antisocial bastard and never call anybody, the unlimited talk time for an extra £3/month isn't much use either.

      3. }{amis}{ Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: The turn of the millenium called...

        Come back ISDN all is forgiven ;->

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The turn of the millenium called...

      "I've heard that this will come with a 100GB cap a month, too."

      Lol, my last letter from Virgin Media said I had downloaded 17TB !

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The turn of the millenium called...

        17TB? Nice!

        Honestly, I don't see how anyone can used a capped connection in this day and age.

        People buy games from Steam, the PlayStation Network, not to mention the updates which can be somewhat large - FFXV being a good example of that which is now into 40GB+ of patches.

        Not sure how much bandwidth 4K streams use on Netflix, but I'm gussing they're into the 10GB range.

        I guess it won't matter in the long run since by the time 2020 rolls around this entire idea will be horribly outdated. (The fact it's outdated now notwithstanding.)

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: The turn of the millenium called...

          Not sure how much bandwidth 4K streams use on Netflix

          In another thread recently I had cause to look it up. Netflix recommends a 25Mbps connection for 4k viewing. Making some wild assumptions (it's certainly a variable rate, and the actual figure will therefore depend heavily on content), let's call the video stream 20Mbps.

          20Mbps is around 2MBps of real data, which is 120MB/min, which is 7,200MB/hr or approximately 7GiB per hour.

          If you watched all your television as 4k Netflix streams, and watched an average of - let's say - four hours a day (possibly an underestimate, particularly if there are children in the house), that would equate to well over 800GiB per month, just for TV.

          Whether you could actually find four hours a day of 4k to watch is another matter :-)

          M.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The turn of the millenium called...

        >Lol, my last letter from Virgin Media said I had downloaded 17TB !

        Big iCloud user are we? :)

        https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7344937?start=0&tstart=0

  3. short

    Other than 'grudgingly',

    How are BT going to deliver this?

    As few FTTC boxes as possible, and hope that advances in *DSL will allow them to keep up with any increase in obligated speed?

    Bite the bullet and overprovision, with some FTTP as well?

    Something wireless?

    Just ignore it, say they're working as hard as they possibly can, and swallow any fines that arrive?

    1. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Other than 'grudgingly',

      I'll wager the last one...

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Other than 'grudgingly',

      Just ignore it, say they're working as hard as they possibly can, and swallow any fines that arrive?

      No. As I pointed out in my earlier reply - this is not forcing BT to install a decent connection everywhere. It is only preventing them refusing point blank. If it goes through it just means they have to give a price.

      So instead of "No, don't want to" they can just say "Sure. That's going to cost £30,000 but don't worry we cover the first £4,000". Please make your cheque payable to...

    3. robidy

      Re: Other than 'grudgingly',

      Break up BT and let OpenReach keep its profits...worked for previous USO's just look at the NZ model.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "a cost of £600m – which it planned to recoup by hiking up bills"

      IIRC, they were proposing to put up wholesale bills by £7 per month (presumably forever).

      By my calculation, across 20m households, that works out at £1.68bn per year. Nice little earner??!

      Adding £2.50 per month per line, for one year only, would cover the £600m outright.

  4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

    How does 'regulation' of this market work exactly? It's a free market, with our illustrious govt selling off their interest in it to the private sector. Now they think they can make a private company spend it's cash at their command? Does Virgin Media have the same obligation? Kcom?

    Is it right to make a dominant provider more dominant by tying rural locations down to one supplier? Shouldn't the govt get telecoms companies to jointly own rural infrastructure, so they locals can choose who provide their service?

    This seems like so much stinky wind from govt officials, a declaration without any reasonable plan. But then Tony Blair proposed 'Broadband Britain' in 2001, then spent all the cash bombing Iraq instead.

    1. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

      Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

      It's not a free market except in some selected areas. Most of the country outside cities is dependent on BT's OpenReach infrastucture. That is what they inherited or were gifted. As this proposal is for a USO, it is not unreasonable that the effective monopoly supplier, for whatever reason that is, is obligated to provide a decent service.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

        I don't think any provider is 'obligated' to sell at a loss in a 'free market'.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

          Ah, the costs have been clarified, that BT can charge for the connection and are only liable for the first £4k, so this announcement isn't really any benefit to the rural customer, and BT aren't obliged to sell at a loss.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

        "That is what they inherited or were gifted."

        I think you're trying to say it's what the shareholders bought at privatisation from a government that didn't want to invest more in building up the infrastructure. And, of course, you're ignoring all the investment BT put into it in the intervening decades. Or do you think all that fibre was in the ground back in the '80s?

        1. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

          Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

          > Or do you think all that fibre was in the ground back in the '80s?

          What fibre? The proposed USO is for merely 10mb/s, so fibre is hardly needed. In areas where fibre has been rolled out, it's already exceeding this modest target. In the intervening 30+ years, BT have been getting line rental, from which one imagines they might just out of the goodness of the hearts do a touch of investment. No, BT's record on infrastructure at the national level really cannot be defended.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

            "What fibre?"

            The fibre that was used to roll out FTTC after BT were finally allowed to do that once the others had finished cherry picking the areas where they were prepared to lay cable.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: So Openreach get to pick up the bill?

      Is it right to make a dominant provider more dominant by tying rural locations down to one supplier?

      This proposed legislation doesn't actually do that. The legislation is only defining the USO framework, not who should provide it. Of course BT are certain to put their hat into the ring (or might be forced to) but in theory at least any CP could choose become a provider if they wanted to. Don't all rush at once :-/

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silly Idea...

      The wireless telcos are already doing this, sharing masts anyway because it’s cheaper...

      If I use your mast at x, you can stick your kit on our mast at y...

      Anon as ex Yodafone.. and still with them as a contractor..

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Silly Idea...

        "The wireless telcos are already doing this"

        But not as Shadmeister expressed it - one network forced to build the lot.

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Silly Idea...

      It's only not cost effective if each local install is costed individually.

      Economies of scale apply - cover the whole country, and the high cost of some (rural) areas is more than compensated for by those for city centres and the like.

      Putting my idealistic hat on - this should have been done from day one, but (at the risk of doing my broken record impression yet again) governments don't think beyond what will get them reelected.

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Silly Idea...

      "I do not see how BT can be forced to do this "

      Easily. The regulator tells them they need to do it and there would be penalties if they don't.

  6. Thoguht Silver badge

    No, no and no

    Even the BBC screwed this up (except for the Today program, thank $Deity).

    What is being legislated is that people will have the right to demand 10Mbps.

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: No, no and no

      Surely there's more to it than that?

      What is to stop BT replying "lol no FU" in response to the demand?

      (Or more realistically, a quote for £100 x the distance from the property to the exchange in metres.)

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: No, no and no

        What is to stop BT replying "lol no FU" in response to the demand?

        Or "Sorry, it's not technically possible to provide the legal minimum of 10Mbit/s, so you are deemed to be in area that can't be served, we'll have to take your 5Mbit/s line away"

  7. Mike Scott 1

    I'll still believe it when I see it.

    OFCOM must be getting new teeth for Christmas, because they'll need them rather the gums they have now.

  8. a_mu

    pay enough , and you can get any speed you want

    So what are the government promising ?

    You can ask for 10 Mb/s, then the supplier MUST present you with a bill for how they are going to do it...

    So the advantage is ?

    1. DRendar

      Re: pay enough , and you can get any speed you want

      Yeah, this sounds about right.

      Customer: "Hey I want 10Mbps!"

      BT: "Certainly Sir/Madam It will cost £200,000 to install a new fiber straight to your door, and you can then enjoy 160Mbps for £80/m"

      Customer: "Er, OK - I'll stick with 1.5Mbps on my shitty aluminium phoneline, thanks."

      1. Gavin Chester

        Re: pay enough , and you can get any speed you want

        - Customer: "Er, OK - I'll stick with 1.5Mbps on my shitty aluminium phoneline, thanks."

        Maybe (just maybe) it means people like my parents who live on an estate with Copper Clad Ali wiring that's no doubt bee drowned, snapped/fixed and generally abuse for the last 50 plus years, will be able to get BT to rip out the crap Ali and put in copper. That can't really be that expensive, especially if they were to do the estate at once, and not piecemeal.

        That alone would help my parents, who struggle to get 1Mb even through they are are less than three miles as the crow flies from the exchange (and yes I know the cable route will be longer)

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: pay enough , and you can get any speed you want

      It'll be more like leccy & water, you pay a standard connection charge and the local service is obliged to connect you. The cost gets spread across their business. (Currently it's more like gas or drainage, they'll only connect you at the standard rate if they already have a line nearby).

      The fun and games will all be in the way franchises are worked out.

      1. Steven Jones

        Re: pay enough , and you can get any speed you want

        "It'll be more like leccy & water, you pay a standard connection charge and the local service is obliged to connect you. "

        This is simply nonsense. Yes, there's a standard charge if the infrastructure is virtually adjacent to your property, but if it isn't then the sky is the limit as far as costs to connect to mains power is concerned. You can be looking at tens of thousands of pounds in some cases.

  9. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Other Options.......

    From what ive read here and on the beeb the cost is going to be capped for any given install, so for the farm in rural Scotland that is 10 miles from the nearest cabinet will still be stuck with satellite unless they are will to shell out mega bucks.

    If the government was serious about getting 100% coverage at a decent pace they should plow some money into one of the stratlite projects, though i loathe pork barrel politics Quintec does seem to be a leader in this stuff at the mo.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Other Options.......

      From what ive read here and on the beeb the cost is going to be capped for any given install, so for the farm in rural Scotland that is 10 miles from the nearest cabinet will still be stuck with satellite unless they are will to shell out mega bucks.

      That was (is?) the case for the basic phone service. Up to a certain point (IIRC it was '5 new poles') you paid the standard fee, after that you were expected to pay a portion of the extra costs,

    2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Other Options.......

      The farm should have LTE for a small fraction of the cost to put the cable...

    3. JaitcH
      WTF?

      Re: Other Options.......

      It is easier to run fibre optic than two conductor overhead cable.

      I ran fibre from a roadside access point to my summer hideaway is less than a day for a total run of about 1.8 kilometres.

  10. Hoppy

    Still Stuck on 448 up and 352 down Kbpc

    1 meg would be nice ( just inside Exmoor)

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Still Stuck on 448 up and 352 down Kbpc

      Airband?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still Stuck on 448 up and 352 down Kbpc

      This may be of interest

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

  11. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    I get about 9 Mb/s; I bet it's magically 10.01 when THEY measure it...

  12. Pete 2

    If the price is right?

    > a legal right to minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps

    But that does not imply that the customers would get that speed cheaply.

    If ISPs are forced to offer a 10 MBit/s product, there doesn't seem any sensible reason why they would be compelled to make a loss on it. So if it cost £1 million per mile to lay a cable out to a couple of houses in the middle of nowhere, who would pay for their "right" to high-speed porn?

    As it is, almost every premises in the country could install a 10 MBit/s satellite internet connection. It would only cost them £20-30 a month. So it would appear that people's "right" to 10 Mbps has already been met.

  13. AndrueC Silver badge
    Stop

    So much misunderstanding caused by an omission by El Reg. What is missing from the article (as of lunch time Wednesday) is that Openreach will only be expected to pay up to a certain amount. Same as is already the case for voice lines. If the cost goes above that amount the customer has to pay.

    So the cost to Openreach depends what is picked as the standard cost. For voice lines this is currently around £4,000. I assume it'll be a bit higher for data lines but there is going to be a cap of some kind. Hard to connect customers are going to have to reach into their own pockets to make up the difference.

    1. Adam Jarvis

      I'd say most on here already knew that (that there is an upper limit on the costs covered).

      As always - the devil is in the detail.

      Including how and when the "Incremental USO" (10Mbps is not fixed in the legislation, it's assumed to increase) will be re-evaluated, i.e. Yearly. You need a totally different design if BT errs cautiously and designs/implements for the next USO instead - 30Mbps, but guarantees 10Mbps, 2020.

      The "Incremental USO" is the crucial point, that very much determines how Openreach implements the USO, in terms of patching its copper, to just meet threshold targets (upgrading 0.5mm to 0.65/0.9mm copper etc) or biting the bullet, stating all lines requesting this over 500m will be full, pure FTTP via reinforced fibre cables via telegraph poles. Initially it will be a bit of both, but it would be better to have said, that each proposal should err towards full/pure FTTP, so the solution being paid for by the consumer is a long term one.

      Reinforced fibre cables via telegraph poles to eye-level green splitter boxes is the method being used in places like Ceredigion, West Wales as part of the Superfast Cymru Project. The only real problem with this method has been the time taken to avoid overhead power lines, due to the conductive metal reinforcement used in the cable, where high voltage Power/BT lines cross under each other.

      In fairness to the contractors, once the topology design has been done, much of the fibre is put in place very quickly, often so quick in fact, most have trouble telling you when it actually happened.

      Taking the pure fibre to a green fibre splitter box on the telegraph pole is a pretty good solution/half way house rurally, because BT then only have to do the ground works from there, for those that order, so if consumers were made to pay for the final works to the property, it's similar in cost for BT, to Pointless obfuscated, bamboozled "up to" copper carcass G.fast (in terms of the fibre install cost) with far more benefits for everyone involved.

      The green pure fibre splitter boxes at eye level are a good solution rurally, a few though, are in locations where they will get ripped off by tractors turning, it has to be said. 'London folk' (designing this topology) don't always understand the biggest thing (farm machinery) down a country lane, might not care whether it catches a few hedges along it's route, where these splitter boxes sit.

      In terms of pure fibre FTTP in cities; eye level green fibre splitter boxes in Birmingham? How long would those last?.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > You need a totally different design if BT errs cautiously and designs/implements for the next USO instead - 30Mbps, but guarantees 10Mbps, 2020.

        Any solution that BT can come up with today to provide 10M, will in most cases be able to provide 50M+ anyway.

        - for remote villages or clusters of properties, where all properties are within 500m of some central point X: fibre up to that point, and do VDSL/G.fast

        - for individual remote properties: fibre up to the property

        The 10M-30M range only applies to properties on copper lengths of 1 to 2.5km. If you're sticking a new cabinet somewhere that remote, then it will likely be prohibitively expensive to get power to it.

        https://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2013/chart-bt-fttc-vdsl2-speed-against-distance

        1. Adam Jarvis

          You're missing the point, this is an incremental USO. You have to assume each time the USO increases BT will have a maximum of 1-2 years to meet that or face fines.

          That's difficult to achieve in a 2 year timeframe if you don't roll out full/pure FTTP to every line over 500m, if the Government's current goal is ubiquious/blanket 100Mbps+ ultrafast broadband .

          As said, the devil is in the detail.

        2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          > The 10M-30M range only applies to properties on copper lengths

          > of 1 to 2.5km. If you're sticking a new cabinet somewhere that

          > remote, then it will likely be prohibitively expensive to get power to it.

          "That remote" ?!!! I'm on a cabinet that's about 2km from the exchange, in the middle of a major city. Max speed about 9 Mb/s. No fiber installed or planned, no alternative providers.

  14. Candy

    [They want] to get its first models into the hands of as many consumers as possible...

    As a teleworker and part of that 4%, I can only hope that this actually makes a difference to our situation.

  15. Joe Harrison

    Wimax

    Plenty of wireless internet providers. I think the technology is called Wimax, not sure, but you have a sort of microwave dish on the side of your house.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wimax

      Yes. You get maybe 20Mbit/s, shared with all the other people who also have 20Mbit/s from the same pole. Meets the 10Mbit/s figure but, like satellite, is far, far worse in reality than a copper DSL "up to" 20Mbit/s service.

  16. Jules 1

    I think the biggest effect this will have is to motivate rural communities to install fibre themselves. Once they ask for it from BT and are told, certainly just pay us x (massive number) thousand pounds they'll understand there is no point waiting in hope for openreach to upgrade their connection.

    The actual physical side is fairly simple - fibre cable isn't very expensive and digging trenches through fields is much easier than in cities where roads and pavements have to be relaid and there are dozens of other services to avoid. You just need community involvement to dig and give the easements for free. B4RN is installing 1Gbps FTTH in North Yorkshire and Lancashire with this approach to great success.

  17. BrownishMonstr

    Infrastructure should be owned by the state, including railway lines, telephone lines, gas pipes, water pipes, etc.

    To give that responsibility to companies means they'll do the minimum required by law and maximise ROI. Governments will have to do the minimum for votes, which may be better for consumers.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Infrastructure should be owned by the state, including railway lines, telephone lines, gas pipes, water pipes, etc.

      Like it was in the 70s you mean? Railways and telephony didn't fair too well under that arrangement. Successive governments ran both into the ground (cutting entire swathes away in the railway's case), putting the minimum funding in and allowing the service of both to deteriorate. And how about the UK's road network. That's always a very good analogy for explaining computer network problems to people. Do you want our telecoms network to be managed the same way?

      It never ceases to amaze and even sadden me how many people think that 'the state' is good at operate large, expensive and complicated operations. Are they just young and naive? Don't they notice what a bog hole all governments have made over the decades of running those kinds of things? And..the internet. Really? After RIPA you want to actually hand the network over to the government? Good God.

      1. Jules 1

        Just like SNCF or Deutsche Bahn run services vastly worse than our wonderful privatsed railways you mean? Public owned does not necessarily mean bad, you're an ideaologue.

        You're also making an incorrect comparison - no one here is suggesting a return to state monopoly of telecommunications. However properly manged infrastructure can lead to more competiton and better, cheaper services for all. Whether that's done through regulation as with LLU or the government taking full control of the infrastructure doesn't really matter.

      2. mrfill

        By the 70s the railway had already been decimated by Beeching, who was appointed by Marples (Minister of Transport and owner of Tarmac, a road building company) to shut down as much as possible to strengthen the case for road building. Phones were a bit of a mess but then, they are still. Water, gas and electric all seemed to work just fine. Fine enough to make them very saleable in the 80s.

        The railways now cost us at least double than it would because of the need to provide huge dividends. Without those, spending on the actual network could provide a vastly better service.

        Remember also that Lloyds bank group and BoS had been mostly state owned since the crash of 08. They seem to have thrived enough through to be very saleable which shows that a government can own a company and make it look attractive. Of course, if said government were interested in providing a good service instead of lining the pockets of their buddies, it would be a simple fix.

        Many other countries seem to be able to run things like trains quite successfully but then they probably don't have as many billionaires. I bet that really distresses them.

  18. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Ummm...

    So why is there similarly no legal entitlement to Gas or Electricity then, as I see these as being much more useful to people whom live remotely than Broadband. If I decided to move to deepest darkest Cornwall and want a gas connection to my property then it's universally accepted that I as the customer would need to pay for it. Also, I have no love for BT, but they have been given an absolute fuckton of cash already by the Public to solve this problem, yet they still want to hike bills?

    Satellite broadband is now very reliable and available up to around 30Mbps - why can't that be used more prevalently; other than the obvious problems when the weather is anything but sunny or marginally cloudy?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Ummm...

      Satellite broadband is now very reliable and available up to around 30Mbps - why can't that be used more prevalently; other than the obvious problems when the weather is anything but sunny or marginally cloudy?

      ..and the contention which requires high prices and low usage allowances.

      ..and the latency which renders it useless for gaming and pretty crap for VoIP.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ummm...

      You know a quick google would prevent you from looking like an idiot?

      from https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/87259/guideelectricitydistributionconnectionspolicy.pdf

      When a new customer wants to get connected, the network operator for that

      area must offer to connect them, and set a price for this. The requirement to

      make an offer of connection is outlined in the Electricity Act 1989 (the act)

      Gas is different in that domestically it's used for things you can already do with electricty and there are viable alternatives via tanker delivery intead of a mains connection.

      Satellite broadband is shit and will always be shit due to 1/2 second+ latency and miserly usage caps, again a web search easily reveals this.

      1. mrfill

        Re: Ummm...

        And water is different again. If I want to change my electricity supplier, privatisation means I can get my supply from a variety of companies. I live in Suffolk but if I want Scottish Power, it is no problem.

        If I want to change my water supplier, I can't. Where I am I have the choice of Essex & Suffolk water or no water at all. Drainage is done via Anglian Water and if I want to change, again, I can't. If I lived a couple of miles down the road in Norfolk, my water and drainage would be via Anglian.

        No competition, just a monopoly, And the advantages of privatising were....?

  19. FlossyThePig

    Look what the Kiwis are doing.

    A little extract from a document by the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

    To achieve these targets, the Government has allocated over $2 billion to roll out world-leading communications infrastructure through the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme, the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF).

    By the end of 2022, 87 per cent of New Zealanders in over 390 towns and cities will be able to access fibre-to-the-premises UFB broadband with speeds close to 1,000 Mbps. That’s fast enough to stream ultra-high definition movies to 40 different devices simultaneously.

    They looked at the UK model and then said "Do it once and do it right."

    1. Anonymous Noel Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: Look what the Kiwis are doing.

      More like the looked at the UK model and said "Don't be like that country."

  20. werdsmith Silver badge

    But 10Mb/s is shite. Really poor, it should be pitching at 100 or better.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >But 10Mb/s is shite. Really poor, it should be pitching at 100 or better.

      But think in the context of a USO. 10Mb/s at the end of a 1+km cabinet to home line?

      Effectively it means installing FTTC cabinets everywhere and then installing either FTTP or FTTCoE...

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Oops! FTTCoE should have been FTTPoD. Although given the prices attached to FTTPoD, don't see BT providing it at a 'normal' customer price.

  21. Paul

    I'd be Ok with paying a few thousand to get fibre in to my house, BUT, it's the fact I'd then be stuck with paying a bill of hundreds every month that I can't justify.

    Sure, I know that there's a big difference between domestic/contended and business/low-contention services, but the cost of fibre once deployed surely has the same price (to an order of magnitude)?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile in America.....

    ... they are removing regulation for the good of the people!

  23. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    Why is it Large and Small Western Countries Have Such SLOOOW InterNet?

    China has country-wide fibre optic communications network and residential service of upto 100 Mbytes; South Korea also has country-wide fibre optic comms with residential service upto 1000 Mbytes. 'Developing' VietNam boasts several northern border to southern coast multi-terrabyte back-bones (owned by competing domestic carriers) with upto 100 Mbyte residential service.

    The light levels in Ho Chi Minh City/SaiGon have increased city-wide as tons of overhead copper drops have been replaced by underground fibre optic cables.

    Yet in the Western sphere, the the LARGE USA has huge swathes of real estate that have NO terrestrial landline communications and one of the countries (Britain) with the SMALLER land masses in Europe has data-free areas.

    Britain, in promising "at least 10Mbps" by 2020, demonstrates how the government and a larger communications company has failed and neglected the countries needs.

    Britain has it made. Fibre optic cables can be run along railway rights-of-way or inder-sea cabling - no digging needed.

    There is absolutely no excuse for this. They are damaging the country's economy, and reducing the country's technical potential.

    Little wonder the cream of the UK's talent is pulling up stakes and moving overseas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is it Large and Small Western Countries Have Such SLOOOW InterNet?

      > Fibre optic cables can be run along railway rights-of-way

      Already done (BRT -> Racal -> Global Crossing -> Level3)

      > or inder-sea cabling - no digging needed.

      You've missed the point here. It's the "last mile" from the exchange (or cabinet) to the property which is the problem. The exchanges themselves are *already* fibre-connected, as are many of the PCP cabinets.

      Very few properties back out onto railway lines or the beach.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the great butter storm

    the gubbamint has done such a poor job on the things they should have been doing so they go after these little victories now and again to stop you wondering why butter seems 40% more expensive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the great butter storm

      wondering why butter seems 40% more expensive.

      Brexit?

      1. A Twig

        Re: the great butter storm

        Simples

        Wet summer reduced supply, coupled with a huge increase in demand from Asia as baking becomes more popular.

        Suddenly farmers realised they could tell European super markets with their low price own brands to stuff it, and coin it in from other buyers instead.

  25. unwarranted triumphalism

    Obey, Citizens

    You'll get your government regulated internet access and like it.

  26. Mike Scott 1

    USO watered down

    So I’ve read through the comments, and it seems - although to be confirmed when they clarify what they said today - that the USO has effectively been watered down, to yes you can have 10M big at a price we choose to quote. A few thoughts:

    Who is going to determine whether the quoted price is fair? In locations where BT is the only provider they can quote what they they like.

    A number of folks have commented, quite reasonably that come connections will be expensive to provide - on the other hand, lots and lots are cheap to provide.

    How long a timeframe do BT expect to pay for thier investment. Even if a connection costs £10k, billing of £50 per month gets that back (and I accept there are other costs to consider) in 16 years - for national infrastructure that doesn’t sound so bad to me.

  27. Ochib

    The conversation may go like this

    “Can I legally demand faster internet”

    “Yes, you can legally demand it"

    "OK then I demand of you, faster internet. Now"

    "Noted."

    "So when am I getting my faster internet?"

    "You're not."

    "I'm not?"

    "No sir."

    "But you said I can legally demand it?"

    “And you can"

    "So I did?"

    "Right you are sir"

    "So where is it?"

    "Well you see sir, we don't have to legally provide it."

    "Well that's not a lot of use is it?"

    "Absolutely not sir. Good day."

  28. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    how the USO will work

    The same as the voice one

    People under USO will have Market1 exchanges, so only be able to get BT

    BT will hike its standard price by £10/£20 a month to cover the costs involved

    BT will provide lower priced services in Market2+ areas via its PlusNet and EE brands

    this is why BT is ripoff priced....

    What needs to happen is BTWholsale and Openreach need to be split off as National Communication Networks, Probably throw in EEs mobile network too, and try to get o2, Vodaphone, and three to throw in theirs. (probably re-nationalised as asset cost is expensive)

    All operators are then Virtual, the network is owned by the state, and can make longer term investment decisions.

    This will put communications on a similar footing to Gas (Transco) and Electric (National Grid) and get round any rules on "Illegal State Aid"

    On The HS2 thing i found out today where all the money is going, they have 51 employees earning over £100kpa (av £240kpa) which is £1 billion a year, 2012 to 2032(phase 2 in service date) = 20 billion in exec pay

  29. Disgruntled of TW
    WTF?

    Same mistake again

    10Mbps *downstream* with nothing said about *upstream*. The Internet is a different place than it was when we started with banks of modems. Collaboration via video conferencing and backups to cloud storage mean bandwidth must now be bidirectional and not asynchronous.

    Our gubbermint is not understanding this, and continuing with a decision made by BT/Openreach more than a decade ago, to provide asynchronous internet access biased 5:1 at least, for download.

    Once they fix that they need to address contention and latency to prevent running the Shetland islands from a 2Mbps satellite feed with 700ms latency. Your 10Mbps to the local PoP is great, but not so much if the backhaul is 20 Mbps, shared by 200 people. Devil is in the detail. Just sayin'.

  30. Guardian2018

    About time

    About time telecom companies were forced to provide a decent, minimum speed everywhere. BT made around 2.5 Billion profit in 2017 so to say they cannot afford to roll out quality internet in rural areas is just nonsense. Also, other telco's 'rent' BT equipment so that negates the argument of paying for infrastructure for another company to use it. Besides all that, a couple of quid extra a month for all customers would still reap additional profit after any new infrastructure costs.

    No, you do not need to dig up roads. I have a local rural service (HeathNet) distributed by what is essentially an upgraded wireless network. The main feed is from 2x T1 fiber lines located about 20 miles away. The feed to my cottage is in excess of 220Gb/s (I saw the connection speed test) though this is capped at the receiver on my cottage at 30Mb/s and costs me £20 per month. Hardware cost I'm told by the provider is very low, so for BT or anyone else to claim costs are prohibitive, is complete nonsense. If a family run, local business can provide a better internet service than BT (and at a profit) at lower costs, I'll never be convinced about the 'prohibitive cost' argument. I should add that I also have a DSL (telephone line because the fiber box is over 1 mile away) connection provided by TalkTalk, which uses BT OpenReach infrastructure and I'm lucky to get 1Mb/s, when it is working.

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