back to article UK.gov to plough £67m into gigabit broadband for all and sundry

The UK government has unveiled its £67m broadband voucher scheme, flinging £3,000 at SMEs to set up gigabit connections and handing £500 ones to regular folk*. After that users have to stump up the rest in ongoing rental fees. The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) will start dishing out the subsidies from the …

  1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Why?

    Is not min throughput better than a few having max?

    What use is 1gb when most services use just 50mbps?

    It's great to have, but strange they are aiming for such a high bar. A bit like the push for 5g, when at a min 4g everywhere is preferred.

    1. FlossyThePig

      Re: Why?

      I was going to say that the UK.gov don't know their arse from their elbow then realised they must do because they don't speak through their elbow.

      (I'm sure someone has said that before me.)

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Why not just hand the £67m over to B4RN to implement? At least they seem to know what they are doing. Based upon their investment record UK Gov might even get some cash back,

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Why the push for 5G?

      Because (sic) 5G is the promised land of free milk and honey, roads paved with gold and Gov Ministers will be able to walk on water.

      Well, that's what the kit makers are telling governments all over the world.

      Then it will be 6G, 7G etg

      sceptic? you bet.

      As you say, it would be better to get proper 4G everywhere and with enough capacity to handle the load.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      What use is 1gb when most services use just 50mbps?

      Hardly matters, when all that's up for grabs is £67m. Given the challenges of UK communications, that's not going to go very far at all. And normally with the crappy, complicated voucher schemes, a proportion will never get presented and paid, so government are probably expecting to pony up about £55m.

      Given the billions government wastes on crap nobody asked for like HS2, or the bloated and ineffectual foreign aid programme,even £67m is nothing. In terms of blundering MoD mis-procurement, its still next to nothing (5% of a failed Watchkeeper programme, for example).

    4. Brush

      Re: Why?

      50mbps - In my dreams.... try living in ruralistan where a result is anything north of 1mbps. The money would be better invested in forcing the telcos to roll out fttp to all premises in the country.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Why?

        The money would be better invested in forcing the telcos to roll out fttp to all premises in the country.

        I don't follow what you're suggesting there. There have been various estimates for the cost of rolling out FTTP to all premises in the country and prior to VDSL they were coming in at around £30 billion. BT's work rolling out VDSL will have reduced that slightly by doing some of the work as they've installed fibre aggregation nodes at various places ready for expansion. Unfortunately that's the cheapest bit to do. The expensive bit is actually running individual fibres from the ag nodes to each premise. Looking at other FTTP projects around the UK (KCOM being a great example) a figure of around £300 per property passed is looking likely. The figures for truly rural roll-out (villages and hamlets) are harder to find and likely a lot higher than that due to low density of housing.

        So you're likely looking at a cost considerably in excess of £20b. How do you propose to use £67m to force private companies to spend £20b between them?

    5. donk1

      Re: Why?

      Downloading Software, I have 330Mb and get around that when downloading Microsoft SQL Server or Windows 10 related preview updates which seem to appear every few days.

      Regards,

      David.

  2. Solarflare

    For those wondering

    This seems to be just about enough to bump up averages. £67,000,000 at £3k a connection gives 22k connections.

    If the average speed for the UK is 5mbps, adding another 22k connections that can be marketed as 1000mbps will bump up the average for a pittance of what it would cost to actually improve the service to the masses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For those wondering

      Can they not just do one ludicrous speed connection then? That will still up the averages and cost less...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "ludicrous speed"

        shades of Mel Brooks' SpaceBalls ?

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: For those wondering

      If the average speed for the UK is 5mbps,

      It isn't, and hasn't been for many years, quite possibly not for a decade. Estimates vary but even the most pessimistic put us well into double digits now. Ofcom's latest figure (2017) is 36Mb/s.

      I'm actually a little surprised that it's that high given that so many people only opt for the lowest spec package but Ofcom are using Samknows data so it's probably not far out.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "up to" 1gbps

    pehaps more likely ?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: "up to" 1gbps

      It always will be 'up to'. Anyone that gets a 1Gb/s connection installed and thinks they are going to see 1Gb/s 24/7 is always going to be disappointed. Yes, it should at least connect at the agreed speed but actual throughput is another matter. Even if you can find a remote host that can serve you data at that speed domestic connections are always going to be contended and you're always going to see some kind of peak time slow down unless you pay leased line prices.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: "up to" 1gbps

        Nah, you've just got to live in the right place. 'Right place' being a small village that's just got FTTP, and hasn't had much take-up yet. I installed 300Mbps a few weeks ago, and my first speed test came out at 304.98 down and 29.75Mbps up.

        As others have noted, decent FTTC offers more than enough oomph for the vast majority of domestic users - 76Mbps? Even if it's 'up to' and actually drops to 50. But in the rural wilds, FTTC isn't rteally an option - you can run the fibre to the cabinet, but if the 'copper' is then actually dodgy bits of fencing wire with manky junctions, then you're still going to be lucky to get 5Mbps. So what to do? Replace the copper? Might as well go for fibre even if it's more expensive. Basically it's no win, because BT/GPO installed low-quality cable many years ago - but it was fine for a voice service. They couldn't predict 30 years ahead!

        Mobile anyone? Makes sense in low population density areas.

  4. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Price...

    I'd rather they just cut the price, bandwidth is surely the only thing in tech that gets more expensive every year.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Price...

      Nope. I used to have bonded 2x64K ISDN. I seem to remember it was not exactly cheap. I'm sure that 100Mbps fibre costs less in real terms than ISDN did.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Is there an economist in the house?

    What happens in a monopoly market if the government hands out £3k vouchers for new customers?

    a, £3k was all BT needed to finally decide the internet was here to stay

    b, Business that would be the next Facebook if only they had £3k are now created

    c, BT increases their installation charge by £3k

    d, BT increases their installation charge by £4k

    1. Chronos Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Is there an economist in the house?

      Yep, d, every single time. Taking a butcher's at the shareholder list only confirms that this is nothing more than a cynical marketing exercise.

      I, personally, don't need fibre. Although it seems at first glance to be more idiot-proof than twisted pair, I'm sure they'll employ a better idiot or two who will crimp, bend, stand on or otherwise mangle a perfectly good fibre bundle.

      What I really want is the ability to buy the last mile copper from the cab to my house, the right to remove digits from the hands of anyone who breaks it while "working" on installing someone else's line into a line card, get rid of this bloody extortionate line rental crap and simply have a twisted pair from the concentrator to the modem and no copper back to the exchange. I'll do my own landline over battery-backed IP and Asterisk, thanks. At least I then get to flip marketers and people with withheld numbers the tri-tonal bird without having to pay for the privilege.

      I would also like the right to shove those jelly crimps¹ that they keep adding to lines up the CEO's arse and force them to replace the cable instead, but that'll never happen while the pole monkeys couldn't learn 25 pair colour codes (CW1308 or even schedule zero for those of us with more years behind than in front) and identify the correct pair if their lives depended on it.

      "Oh, balls, wrong binder. Crimp 'em quick and hope nobody notices." There goes another couple of dB off the SNR.

      ¹ Bridge taps, the bane of anyone expecting a balanced differential pair after OpenWoe have been in there with cutters, silly pliers, fists of boiled bacon and multiple left thumbs. How hard can it be to maintain the twist and at least a nod towards equal and opposite current?

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Is there an economist in the house?

        but that'll never happen while the pole monkeys couldn't learn 25 pair colour codes

        Blue / Orange / Green / Brown / Slate primary

        White / Red / Black / Yellow / Violet secondary

        if memory serves.

        And I never worked for BT or the GPO before it, but in another environment where wiring colours were the same.

        Fortunately I never had to climb poles.

        1. Chronos Silver badge

          Re: Is there an economist in the house?

          Fortunately I never had to climb poles.

          Luckily, nor did I. I was once hoisted aloft on a pallet on a forklift truck to string a cable across a loading-bay door when I was a PFY but Elfin Safety would have a field day with such antics nowadays.

          Besides, it would be a couple of grand of point-to-point wireless kit, three experts and a load of standing around drinking Marmoset-arse coffee or some other damned thing that tastes god-awful but is stylish to be seen drinking to do the same job, so no need for the ~£10 worth of cable and slim chance of yoof turned into gibbering crunchy strawberry jam.

  6. Nolveys Silver badge
    Windows

    £67m Allocation

    So that's £66.4m to pay for The Royal Office Of Broadband Voucher Administration and £0.6m to pay out on the actual vouchers?

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