back to article UK.gov commits to rip-and-replacing Blighty's wheezing internet pipes

The Ministry of Fun* is wheeling out a new national telecoms strategy (PDF) that aims to slather the UK in healthy full-fat broadband fibre by 2033. Under the plans, the whole of Blighty's copper network will be ripped out and replaced by fibre-optic cables to enhance broadband speeds, as was suggested by a recent survey. New …

  1. Adam Jarvis

    Not wanting to state the obvious

    How about we turn off Digital TV transmitters simultaneously and use fixed full fibre broadband for streaming HDTV channels and use the redundant frequencies to provide further mobile data bandwidth as part of the rollout of full fibre as each area comes online?

    You could enforce the BBC licence fee 100% too, giving the choice of offering subscription, in funding the BBC, as opposed to the licence fee.

    There, I've raised the BBC funding hot potato and about time.

    Just a thought Ofcom. 10 years too late too, in starting this. Both BT and Ofcom knew this was the outcome in 2009, but kicked the inevitable funding can with FTTC.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      AJ on, "...streaming HDTV..."

      Eventually, H.269.99 will encode movies down to just a kilobyte. The transmitted data would be something like this: "Movie Action, 2h3m, starring Steven Seagal. 7 fist fights, 2 car chases Bentley Turbo R and Jeep YJ, set in Vienna, Mongolia and Cleveland, character development optional, plot not the slightest bit critical. ..." They'd send this lengthy ASCII string to the next generation of Set Top Box, and a perfectly acceptable movie would come out of the HDMI socket.

      With this, the fight for bandwidth will end.

      1. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        @JeffeyPoooh

        Just put the reply in plain English, what you're attempting to say.

        Netflix already streams content to several million customers in UK. By the time Ofcom and Openreach ever get this plan off the ground, pretty much everything will be on-demand/streamed. Those watching scheduled TV will be a very small minority.

        Scheduled TV is pretty much "dead Jim". Pretty stupid to waste the airwaves broadcasting Digital TV, duplicating what can be done by fibre, when hardly anyone will be watching Digital TV broadcasts.

        Remember we're talking a fair few years.

        It's called planning ahead, making the best use of resources.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          Of course with streaming you can only receive what your supplier provides - expect the market to keep fragmenting until you're paying for individual channels.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

            " with streaming you can only receive what your supplier provides"

            Assuming net neutrality has been kicked to the curb, yes.

            In a competitive environment (unlike the US markets), any provider who actually filtered 3rd party streams would find they'd cut their own throats.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          > Scheduled TV is pretty much "dead Jim"

          And for those who want to continue with it, there's always the 12GHz signal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      Why not just scrap the BBC licence fee and let them behave and compete like every other company?

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Because you shouldn't have to be rich to be informed.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          Informed?

          BBC news is entertainment for the liberal left.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Why not just scrap the BBC licence fee and let them behave and compete like every other company?

        Because ITV.

        Look at the ITV of the 1960s and 1970s and compare with the ITV of today. Without the licence fee, that is what the BBC will turn into.

        M.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          "Look at the ITV of the 1960s and 1970s and compare with the ITV of today. Without the licence fee, that is what the BBC will turn into."

          I grew up in New Zealand. We had license fees AND commercial paid advertising - 22 minutes per hour of it.

          In the end there was a mass revolt, only 1/3 of viewers were paying their license and it had to be abolished - it had been known since around 1970 that on a technical level that the advent of transistorisation meant that TV licenses were unenforceable anyway, just as radio ones had become (which is why they were abolished here and across most of the commonwealth in the 1950s-60s).

          the BBC isn't "advertising free" - those endless "promotional spots" (self-advertising) are used in other regions for commercial content inserted by local rebroadcasters. They insert as many of those as they can get away with. There's a lot of weasel wording going on.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

            Commercial TV is a wasteland, Political interference firstly robbed the ITV network of a major producer of quality - Thames, This allowed the trojan horse of Carlton, the name was a clue this was never intended to be a regional company but was designed to consolidate the "Independent" areas into one mess of low buck low brow TV. For all its many faults, the BBC does provide a small backstop against the crud broadcast by Sky/ITV.

            There is no benefit to going full fibre if we then fill that up with 20 million people all streaming various output steams at the same time because there is no longer a broadcast network, like everything else in UKPLC, the fibre net is lileky to be built to a minimal cost (+ profit margin) rather than up to a quality (+redundancy)

            Dont kid yourself that nutrality is guaranteed, once the providers lock us in they will nickle and dime us on content, a captive market awaits whoever buys the neccessary regulatory structure, just because the UK Govt. isnt quite as blatantly corrupt as other countries, dont assume that the strteaming utopia of which you speak can or will happen, commecial interests will see that we pay for all the output. so its lose-lose for many.

            1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

              Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

              Almost everyone told BT that this is what they should do 10 years ago. Instead, they've flogged the dead horse (copper/aluminium) as far as it will go, and will continue to resist a full FTTP rollout as long as they can.

              1. jason 7

                Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

                No BT were canny.

                You get big Govt money to roll out a compromise solution.

                You then get more Govt money to roll out yet another compromise solution.

                You then get massive amounts of Govt money to rollout the solution they should have rolled out originally.

                But you got three big bites of the cherry rather than one.

                If nothing had been thrown at BT over the years they would still be happy to push ISDN to every home.

              2. onefang Silver badge

                Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

                "Instead, they've flogged the dead horse (copper/aluminium) as far as it will go, and will continue to resist a full FTTP rollout as long as they can."

                Sounds like what the Aussie NBN, er sorry nbn, became after the Liberals came into government. The original was supposed to be FTTP everywhere (almost). If I recall correctly the nbn kept claiming they where following best in the world practice, with BT as a shining example. Will BT now follow nbn in a race to the bottom? The Kiwis are laughing at us.

              3. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

                >Almost everyone told BT that this is what they should do 10 years ago.

                However, the ones that didn't, namely Ofcom and the government, who wanted to "create a market", were the ones who had the clout to make things happen or not as is the case...

                Remember Ofcom is still debating whether to allow BT to replace the POTS over copper provision with fibre. I expect them to fudge it and to come up with some formula that only permits them to roll out FTTP to those areas with a competitive 'fibre' service, just as they did with broadband.

        2. Pangasinan Philippines

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          Haven't seen any UK broadcasts for 3 years.

          Back then ITV were ALL about pushing premium rate phone-ins.

          Plus the commercials.

          But at least it was provided for free.

          Sky customers pay through the nose to be abused.

        3. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          I see your 1960s and 70s different world ITV and raise you Channel4 a public Comercially funded network with quality public intrest programming and a thriving film finance division.

          1. jason 7

            Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

            "I see your 1960s and 70s different world ITV and raise you Channel4 a public Comercially funded network with quality public intrest programming and a thriving film finance division."

            But we still don't watch it though...

          2. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

            raise you Channel4

            Hmmm... I'll grant you that C4 is these days in a better position than ITV as a whole, but it has come from a completely different place (always a "national" broadcaster rather than many "local" ones), and you only have to look at the absolute dross it produced in the 1980s and 1990s (when it was part-funded by the ITV companies) to see how far it has come as (now) a self-funding, non-profit concern.

            I'd still contend it doesn't have the breadth of content that the BBC does, particularly when it comes to commercially difficult stuff like children's TV. News is now a lot better than it once was though.

            M.

          3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Not wanting to state the obvious @EnviableOne

            Your argument falls down, because Channel 4 take a slice of the license fee.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Re: Not wanting to state the obvious @EnviableOne

              C4 is completely self funded.

            2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Not wanting to state the obvious @EnviableOne

              C4 and the license fee.

              I see my mistake. There was a plan 10 years ago for C4 to receive some TV license money, but it was never carried out.

              S4C, which is not C4 does receive license payers money, though.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        They already “compete” like every other company... when it comes to paying themselves fat-cat salaries

      4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Why not just scrap the BBC licence fee and let them behave and compete like every other company?

        Because by having at least one large producer of content that doesn't have to watch the viewing figures quite so tightly, they are able to make some darned good stuff. Commercial TV is effectively forced to produce an endless stream of "ad income fodder" - never mind the quality, feel the width" as the saying went.

        Even if you never watch any BBC content at all, you benefit from it being there. By having some high quality content, it shows up the dross and means that the rest have to at least keep up some pretence at caring about quality.

        If you want to see what an all-commercial TV setup looks like, try going to the USA. I haven't seen it myself, but you can see the effect if you watch an imported show. You can tell from the (at first) illogical "coming up"/scene cut/"now happening" comments where they would have had commercial breaks even before you've got to the opening titles. The "cold entry" mode is annoying, but just think, instead of (for say an 1 hour program) of having :

        cold entry/titles/10 minutes action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        action/denouement/credits

        You would have :

        cold entry

        ad break

        titles

        ad break

        action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        further action

        ad break

        denouement

        ad break

        credits

    3. JDeaux

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      Why should I have to pay for a BBC licence fee when I don't watch any TV, I do stream Netflix, but I shouldn't have to pay for a defunct and corrupt corporation to survive.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Indeed. The BBC just isn't value for money for what I watch on it a year. I watch maybe 6 hours of BBC live programming a year. Not enough quality.

        Hence Why I have cancelled my license. Removed the old Topfield and removed iPlayer from my FireTV box.

      2. Fiddler on the roof

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Totally agree, I don't want fund anyone else's viewing habits. If you don't watch you shouldn't be obliged to pay.

      3. Adam Jarvis

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        "You can't go forcing the TV license on everyone. It's probably true that the current model isn't sustainable, but forcing it on everyone isn't the way to go."

        You don't force it on everyone. That's the whole point. FTTP could make enforcement, via subscription very effective if you removed the free to air broadcasts simultaneously as switching off copper and rolling out pure fibre FTTP, in each transmitter area.

        If you want to watch, you pay the BBC Netflix style subscription, if you don't, you don't.

        It's about time the BBC stood by the (mostly dross celeb based) content it produced and stood on its own two feet. The problem is their senior management don't believe in the content they produce, quite obviously.

        Not against the BBC, maybe it needs a 7-10-year safety net during the transition, but I think the BBC should be told subscription enforcement is coming with the rollout of pure FTTP across the UK.

      4. LessAnonymousCoward

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        "Why should I have to pay for a BBC licence fee when I don't watch any TV, I do stream Netflix, but I shouldn't have to pay for a defunct and corrupt corporation to survive."

        You don't? If you don't watch TV (i.e. watching any live programme) and you don't use iPlayer, then you don't have to pay for a licence fee..

        1. shaunhw

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          LessAnonymousCoward wrote:

          "You don't? If you don't watch TV (i.e. watching any live programme) and you don't use iPlayer, then you don't have to pay for a licence fee"

          You should only have to pay the BBC if you WATCH the BBC.

          Of course if you we all that option hardly anybody would watch it. But WHY should those who don't, have to subsidise those that do ? If someone wants advert free so called "quality" television, and it's precious to them why don't they simply pay for it themselves ?

          Oh, because there won't be enough people willing to pay would there ? So we all have to, if we watch any normal "television" (whatever that means these days) at all. Well I am sorry to say that this simple ISN'T FAIR or equitable.

          Assuming you are gainfully employed then should I pay towards your water use, energy use, and everything else YOU use too ?

          There should be a place for a broadcaster like the BBC. But paid for by those who want to watch its programmes. I actually love the BBC. I watch BBC4 most of all. But I wouldn't expect other people to pay for it, regardless of the cost. If I can't afford it, I'd do without, just like I've done without that Bentley I've always wanted.

          Personally I wouldn't really care if the BBC went off the air tomorrow, if it meant the end of the repressive past its "sell by date" telly tax.

      5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious @JDeaux

        I'm pretty certain that you do not need a TV license to watch Netflix. You only need one to watch broadcast TV.

        There is a concise wording of what broadcast means in the TV license, but I can't be bothered to dig it out, but it's basically along the lines of watching a program at the same time as it is being broadcast, whatever transmission media you're using.

        So, for example, if you watch something that is being served out using one of the catch-up services before it's finished in it's broadcast (it has to overlap the broadcast), then you need a TV license. If you wait until it's finished, and then watch it on a catch-up service, then a TV license is not needed (but remember the +1 TV channels).

        They've also broadened the scope, as they've defined computers and other devices as TVs for the purpose of watching broadcast programmes.

        As far as I am aware, Netflix do not broadcast any content, so it is all on-demand. No TV license needed. If Netflix were to start carrying 'Live' programs, sent to multiple users simultaneously, you may need one, however.

        NowTV, which carries channels that are broadcast along side their catch-up content does require a license.

        BBC iPlayer is a bit of an exception though, as they have added a specific requirement to have a TV license in order to use any aspect of iPlayer. This is actually more like a no-fee commercial contract. They justify this because you can watch programs on iPlayer at the same time as they are broadcast, but I actually object quite strongly to what the BBC is doing in this area.

        I can see the nature of 'broadcast' being changed or challenged again in the near future, because of the nature of multicast services on the Internet. For example, many road traffic cameras provide real-time video to whoever wants to see them. Does this count as a 'broadcast'? And of course, as the technology gets cheaper, we are beginning to see small live TV stations being run out of bedrooms using cloud services, in the same way that we get small Internet radio stations. Will these count? Who knows.

      6. jantill

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Perhaps you have not seen TV abroad. e.g. view New Zealand TV and you come to appreciate the BBC.

    4. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      How about we turn off Digital TV transmitters simultaneously and use fixed full fibre broadband for streaming HDTV channels and use the redundant frequencies to provide further mobile data bandwidth as part of the rollout of full fibre as each area comes online?

      Because we've already sold off (or are about to sell off) around a half of the UHF TV spectrum that we originally had and the remaining bit is useful for more than just TV (I have 24MHz of licences for radio microphones at work, for example).

      Because "broadcast" is far, far more efficient than streaming and although people are gradually watching more on-demand and less "linear", it's not something that'll disappear any time soon.

      M.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        "Because "broadcast" is far, far more efficient than streaming"

        A single transmitter 36,000km up that virtually everyone has line of sight to is far more efficient that thousands of little ones dotted all over the countryside where terrain gets in the way most of the time anyway.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

          "is far more efficient that thousands of little ones dotted all over the countryside where terrain gets in the way most of the time anyway."

          Far more efficient in what way? If you want to cover a large area with homogeneous programming, you're right. If you want to address smaller areas independently then it's not so good.

          To take a terrestrial example, when TV broadcasting started Holme Moss (band I) covered both sides of the Pennines and was picked up and relayed to the Isle of Man; in fact I think the Manx transmitter was in turn picked up at Divis and relayed to NI. When ITV came along their band III transmitters were Emley Moor & Winter Hill, east & west of the Pennines respectively so that they could have different franchises. When UHF came along the Beeb's transmitters were colocated with ITV which allowed the Beeb to have some regional broadcasting, Holme Moss band I was closed; these days it's FM on band II. Try to do the same thing with satellite and you end up using a lot of bandwidth to provide different channels instead of the regional separation that a terrestrial network provides naturally.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

            Try to do the same thing with satellite and you end up using a lot of bandwidth to provide different channels instead of the regional separation that a terrestrial network provides naturally.

            Of course, that is already the way it works. I believe the BBC now broadcasts every regional opt-out on satellite so that the receiver can give you your local news (etc.) when you give it your postcode. Certainly there's a lot of BBC1 choice in the 900-range on Freesat, though I can't be definite that everything is there. Not sure about Sky since we don't have it - presumably as well as paying for the bandwidth they would have to pay Sky listing fees?

            M.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Not wanting to state the obvious @Martin an gof

              That's true for standard definition, but BBC HD channels do not carry any local content. It's national, with local content slots showing a message saying that the content is not available in your region.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: Not wanting to state the obvious @Martin an gof

                BBC HD channels do not carry any local content

                That's true, but for the benefit of our non-local readers I feel I must point out that what the BBC counts as "national" and "local" may not be obvious. For example, BBC1 Wales, BBC1 Scotland and BBC1 Northern Ireland are "national" stations and are available in HD, so I can watch channel 101 on Freesat and after the Six O'clock News, I get Wales Today. If I were watching BBC1 West Midlands I'd have to tune into the SD version to get Midlands Today (or whatever it's called).

                The situation's not quite the same on BBC2; Wales does do BBC2 Wales in HD with (usually, but not always) the same programming as BBC2 Wales SD, but I don't think Scotland and NI do.

                Is it a broadcast bandwidth problem (not enough space on HD multiplexes, or simply too expensive for a couple of hours opt-out a day) or is it simply that it's not worth it as very few regional studios are HD-capable?

                M.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        > although people are gradually watching more on-demand and less "linear"

        How about we get footy games to kick off when I feel like watching them too.

      3. Stuart Castle

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        "Because "broadcast" is far, far more efficient than streaming and although people are gradually watching more on-demand and less "linear", it's not something that'll disappear any time soon.

        "

        It is. A program on a linear channel takes up the same bandwidth on the transmission channel whether one person watches it, or 20 million people watch it. The likes of Netflix use unicast, so each viewer has their own bandwidth. The can reduce the bandwidth requirement on certain parts of the connection by ensuring at least the popular stuff is locally cached, but programs on any on demand service still use a *lot* more bandwidth than broadcast.

      4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

        Mag noted, "...we've already sold off (or are about to sell off) around a half of the UHF TV spectrum..."

        Do *NOT* sell spectrum. Governments should retain ownership and *lease* it to those that require it.

        The terms can be lengthy and endlessly renewable (required for their investment security and ROI) upon meeting conditions, but the threat of eventual eviction in the long term can be used to assist with enforcing good behaviour, as well as ensuring long term PICON (Public Interest, COnvenience, and Necessity).

        Selling spectrum is insanity. You'd end up with exactly the sort of poor customer service and overly high prices that you're seeing from many mobile telcos. They seem to think that they own the joint....oh - they do.

        Lease, do not sell.

        Renationalise the spectrum if required to correct this policy error.

    5. aTree

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      You can't go forcing the TV license on everyone. It's probably true that the current model isn't sustainable, but forcing it on everyone isn't the way to go.

      I don't know what the solution is, but that definitely isn't it.

    6. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      Alternatively, make DVB-S support mandatory on new TVs and eventually sell off the freeview airspace altogether.

    7. Mark2410

      Re: Not wanting to state the obvious

      The reason, Blue Planet.

      commercial tv doesnt fund stuff that takes years to make, is expensive and may be a total flop economically speaking. It dosent care if it generates views and money for the next 20 years, it needs to be almost immediately financially viable or the go bust.

      licence fee means BBC can go fund things that are works of art rather than prostitute themselves to The Sun reading classes.

  2. DougS Silver badge

    15 years from now?

    That's a pretty long timeline, and easy to add further delays and blame previous governments for them.

    The US went to the Moon is less time than that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 15 years from now?

      The US went to the Moon is less time than that...

      But by some margin, not every US household went to the moon. You win the Spurious Comparison of the Week Award, and the prize would be a raspberry icon (as in thplssssst!, not pi), but we still have the same miserable undersupply of icons we've always had.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: 15 years from now?

        It is not the goal but is there a real commitment to see the goal through. In the 60's there was a real commitment by the US government to put a man on the moon. And they did it quite successfully. So the question with this plan, is there a real commitment to see it through or is another in a long line of babblings that produce a few sound bites and quickly are forgotten. Given governments everywhere rarely have the will to see anything through, which makes the Apollo project an anomaly, this sounds like nice babblings that will be forgotten in a couple on news cycles. We have plenty of the same over here and I have seen it done many times by America's 'native criminal class' and the minor leagues (Congress and the state legislatures).

  3. robidy

    scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

    Why don't we -

    1. Scrap HS2 and the others in its collection.

    2. Take the money and FORCE BT Open Reach to take it as a loan.

    3. Charge a decent interest rate like ventre capitalists do.

    4. Require BTOpenReach to deliver 1GBps connections to anyone that orders it for the same price as current FTTP.

    5. Also require them to upgrade all exchanges and active lines to FTTP starting with rural areas slowly working into the cities to reduce rural brain drain.

    If BT object, take back the national network and cancel the BAD sale and lease back deal(s) on all the exchanges and other bits then properly open access the network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

      You can't scrap HS2, there are wealthy people in Wilmslow that don't wan't to pay London house prices. Funny that out of all the places a train to London can stop Wilmslow is one that's currently used and also I might add direct bar Milton Keynes.

    2. Rasczak

      Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

      So your great plan is to in effect give a tenner to someone, tell them to use it to fill their car with fuel, drive people on a 1000 mile round trip, allowing them to charge the passenger a fiver to cover their costs, and then pay back 11 quid for the privilege. Yeah that will work.

      And who are BTOpenreach anyway? Haven't heard of them in the large scale comms business.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

      Why don't we -

      ...

      2. Take the money and FORCE BT Open Reach to take it as a loan.

      3. Charge a decent interest rate like ventre capitalists do.

      Well, if you want to bankrupt Openreach that's fine, but for any other outcome your solution doesn't work. If there were the economic return on low density FTTP that would support a commercial return, fair enough. But if you work out the full costs of a commercial and universal FTTP roll out (see note 1) then it makes as much sense as HS2, smart meters, Hinkley Point, or any other misbegotten government plan. Too many of the claimed "benefits" are anecdotal, and would never cover the investment, no matter how much the proponents argue to the contrary.

      Notye 1: Replace copper with fibre as part of a MODEST accelerated replacement plan, so only bringing forward work you'd be doing anyway, that would make sense. But a universal FTTP plan for the sake of it, that's just daft.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

        Hinkley Point

        And don't forget Wylfa Newydd.

        I've often wondered why we're concentrating on huge nuclear power plants in the several GW range when the existing 800MW (ish) units we have were horribly difficult and costly to build, even back in the 1960s when everyone believed in them.

        Why don't we look at deploying the sort of smallish (100MW-class) "sealed units" that are found on nuclear powered submarines or aircraft carriers? I'd imagine that the planning would be much simpler, and the technology seems to be fairly well proven.

        I understand that they are looking at a much smaller-scale installation for the old Trawsfynydd site. It strikes me as an ideal candidate for a half dozen of these things...

        M.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

          Why don't we look at deploying the sort of smallish (100MW-class) "sealed units" that are found on nuclear powered submarines or aircraft carriers?

          Well there are groups doing just that - look up "Small Modular Reactors". The idea being that you can produce the reactors in a factory and road transport them to site - sending them back to the factory (while swapping in a replacement) for "refurbishment" when they need refuelling.

          The problem is, current mainstream nuclear ideology (and safety rules etc) are geared up to "big sites, big security, big safety systems" - and particularly for safety systems, there is a HUGE economy of scale for what are very expensive bits. As a result, economies of scale mean that only big reactors are going to be built, big ticket prices, big projects, big risks if it goes titsup. The price tag alone effectively means that they cannot be built without government support - there is no corporation in the world with the sort of "spare cash" to invest is such long term, high risk schemes on their own.

          I'm been to a number of talks locally - hints, see if you have any engineering institutions giving public talks nearby - on the topic. On the SMR route, there ARE consortiums working on systems - basically working on passively* safe reactors that you can site in the middle of an industrial area without raising eyebrows**. The cost/unit of lecky will almost certainly be higher, but the vastly reduced capital cost, and the ability to build the civils and slot reactors in as you can afford them, ought to make them a more viable option.

          * meaning either inherently or intrinsically safe - can "plug the plug" and walk away without the reactor being capable of generating conditions that might cause the containment to be breached etc.

          ** Of course, there will always be the "no nukular whatever" brigade that won't ever be reasoned with.

        2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

          There is talk of making mini-reactors and mass producing them. If it works, it'll be brilliant.

      2. robidy

        Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

        BT already have their pound of flesh from OpenReach...why not use it to fund a loan to build a national fibre network to every home and work place with a phone line?

        Whay should it go to BT's "profits" as opposed to accelerating a fibre to the home rollout?

        It will benefit BT in the long run just like the national copper/aluminimum network has in the past - companies need to focus longer term not short term hand to mouth when it comes to national infrastructure.

        Not to mention solve the problem of us having worse internet connecticity than much of the world including some 3rd world countries. I had better 3G coverage in the remote Atlas mountains over a decade ago than I get NOW in rural England!

        The UK didn't get where it is today on thinking small....Stephenson...Brunel...Whittle...Baird...let's do something amazinglets make FTTP a reality!

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

          The UK didn't get where it is today on thinking small....Stephenson...Brunel...Whittle...Baird...let's do something amazinglets make FTTP a reality!

          Forgive me for playing devil's advocate, but while Stephenson (George) did some great work, the railway system he is most famous for founding (standardising) was an utter mess in its early years. Nearly all of the early railway companies raised several fortunes from private investors to build their track and their stations and their engines, and then went bust. It was the forced amalgamation into the "big four" which saved the railways from being completely bankrupt in the early 20th Century. Nationalisation (i.e. a great injection of public money) stopped those four going bankrupt a few decades later. More recent privatisation could be said to have only been successful due to debts being written off. Take the ongoing debacle on the East Coast as an example.

          Brunel made a decent fist of most things, but again lost pots and pots of other people's money on failed ventures such as the atmospheric railway, the ships, the forced change from broad to standard gauge.

          Whittle had great ideas, but made very little money from them, having to be bailed out several times by public money. It helped that it was wartime. His company was amalgamated several times (IIRC) and it wasn't his particular technology that won in the end. I can highly recommend Midland Air Museum, by the way, great Whittle history and a Vulcan you can climb into most days.

          Baird? Again, more enthusiasm than nous. Technological dead-end, which maybe wasn't obvious when he started playing about (electronics being in its very infancy) but could surely be seen by the time BBC Television launched with both his and Marconi's systems.

          As I said, bit of a devil's advocate, but British entrepreneurs do seem to have a habit of spending lots of other people's money and creating something which either isn't quite all it is cracked up to be or is eventually commercialised by someone else who now doesn't have all the development costs to carry.

          :-)

          M.

    4. rg287 Bronze badge

      Re: scrap HS2 use the "savings" to get BT's fibre network up to scratch

      1. Scrap HS2 and the others in its collection.

      Only if we also scrap CrossRail Phase 2 in favour of Northern/Trans-Pennine upgrades.

      What's good for the goose...

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Basic marketing

    If your product is good, sell it to people. If your product is poor, sell it to businesses so they can 'add value' to their product by bundling yours. If your product is completely fubar and will soon be redundant, get it mandated by government.

    Starlink OneWeb

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ROFL

    Sorry, it won't happen in my lifetime.

    To do this, it would take :-

    - Organisation

    - A long term view

    - No interference from Westminster

    - Ability (through a change in the law if needed) to dig and lay fibre wherever needed.

    None of the above can happen in the UK.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: ROFL

      Openreach are installing fibre up the walls of the tenements in my street as we speak, so I’m alright

  6. Barrie Shepherd

    Others have tried

    The accountants and economists will get in and scupper the plan.

    I suggest people look to the disaster that is the Australian NBN which started life with a similar 'optic fibre to every home' mantra. As soon as costs were on the table the cost cutters crept in. Now it's a mixture of fibre, re-use of pay TV coax, satellite and fibre to the basement-copper to the user. User costs have gone up, speed in some cases is no better than ADSL2. People expecting a cabled connection are on satellites and the boxes in homes that allow phone service have life expired batteries - which users have to replace.

    Service providers are mean in the capacity they buy from NBN making speed more restricted at busy periods as data gets divided around. The whole scheme is horrendously over budget and years behind schedule.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Others have tried

      "look to the disaster that is the Australian NBN "

      There's no way it will go as well as that.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Standard government project

    No idea how it will be realised.

    No idea of actual timeline.

    No idea of real cost.

    In fact, just... No idea.

  8. abedarts

    Fibre?

    Won't we all be on 5G (6G, 7G, whatever) by then? Stringing cables around will be history.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Adam Jarvis

      Re: Fibre?

      "Won't we all be on 5G (6G, 7G, whatever) by then? Stringing cables around will be history."

      Do you think there is some sort of magical ubiquitous continuous 4G/5G signal in the sky, that somehow makes the rollout of a national fibre backhaul redundant to all areas of the UK?

      As simple as I can...

      The mobile 3G/4G signal strength shown on your device is just signal transmission protocol between the device and the nearest cell tower/mobile mast.

      From there, the data is either sent via microwave then fibre backhaul or sent directly via a fibre backhaul or an older, slower data protocol if rural, in a non-fibre area.

      An important point, crucially, Ofcom offers no guarantee/verification process that a mast stating 4G/5G has the necessary required bandwidth backhaul capability to actually transmit/receive data at speeds offered by 4G/5G for multiple concurrent users at once.

      Ofcom should regulate this but don't, well not as far as I'm aware. (If you're an MP reading this, please force them to).

      5G will work by offloading signal processing to the cloud (to make the local cell hardware cheaper) so uses a fibre backhaul for both signal processing/handover between cells and data.

      Every 5G cell will require a fibre backhaul (via a commercial contract, but potentially within Openreach's local loop), hence why Openreach local loop fibre rollout is so damn important, in order to piggyback these fibre connections.

      If there is no rollout of fibre, there won't be much (blanket) useful coverage of 5G, because the cost to provide the fibre backhaul for just 5G cells, rather than "piggybacking" fixed fibre broadband wouldn't make blanket mobile 5G coverage cost effective.

      The way 5G generally (depending on the frequency) works is cheaper cell hardware (offloading the signal processing to the cloud), smaller cells and more densely populated, in order to offer an order of magnitude higher download speeds to more users concurrently.

      Higher frequency 5G 3.4Ghz frequency range doesn't easily penetrate metalised glass or modern foil insulated buildings so can only really be used for street light style 5G cells densely populated, close by, with limited range, but potentially high throughput within a very localised area. (like Wifi).

  9. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Yawn...

    How many times have we heard these statements?

    I remember talking with a network engineer in the early 80's who was telling me that my new 1200 baud modem would soon be obsolete as they were going to move to fiber ... yawn.

    1. rg287 Bronze badge

      Re: Yawn...

      I remember talking with a network engineer in the early 80's who was telling me that my new 1200 baud modem would soon be obsolete as they were going to move to fiber ... yawn.

      To be fair they actually were - BT were spinning up fibre production lines and planning mass rollouts. Then Maggie decided to scotch that (bad), privatise BT (eh), force LLU (good) and opened the market on the premise that market forces would dictate what was needed. The market forces dictated that we'd be told what we wanted - which was the cheapest thing the market could be bothered to provide (i.e. incremental upgrades on existing infrastructure).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah right, in the year 2525 if man is still alive .......and so on

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Live streaming a film you like - sensible

    Live streaming your entire TV feed - so stupid someone should be fired.

    1. Adam Jarvis

      Re: Live streaming a film you like - sensible

      "Live streaming your entire TV feed - so stupid someone should be fired."

      You by the sound of it.

      You're ignoring the subtle change an unlimited pure fibre FTTP connection brings to the table, even the ability to have multiple ISPs at once if you wanted.

      This is about planning for 15 years ahead. Broadcasting TV over airwaves isn't efficient if everyone has changed their habits and stopped watching TV schedules on the whole.

      Burying your head in the sand isn't going to stop the way people view content changing fundamentally to self-selection / on-demand to fill time gaps in their schedule.

      TV scheduling is "dead Jim" to anyone under 35, (50-year-olds in 15 years, by the time this happens). The BBC has pretty much lost a generation because they aren't relevant to the way young adults consume content via streaming services.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Live streaming a film you like - sensible

        > TV scheduling is "dead Jim" to anyone under 35

        Errr, I don't know where you've been for the last month or so, but lots of young people have been regularly glued to the TV to see what's going on in Russia.OK, some have live streamed it but as others have pointed out that's a ****ing dumb way to all consume the same data at the same time.

        Things happen in the world that people seem to want to know about now.

        1. Adam Jarvis

          Re: Live streaming a film you like - sensible

          You seem to be misunderstanding what a TV schedule is. Live streams of World cup football matches don't suddenly stop because it's not part of a daily drip-fed TV schedule, with programmes either side of it and gambling adverts all the way through.

          Live TV doesn't have to be part of TV schedule, it can be a standalone product, ordered on demand, but live, set amongst other on-demand content, to choose from, through an App, for example.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Live streaming a film you like - sensible

        "an unlimited pure fibre FTTP connection"

        ROFLMAO

        There's always a limit somewhere. Remove one bottleneck and you just discover where the next one is.

        1. Adam Jarvis

          Re: Live streaming a film you like - sensible

          True, but you're being pedantic. OK, if it's meeting the specification of the product you purchased, specifically at peak times, so the subscriber perceives it as meeting the "unlimited product type" they purchased.

          Most of the bottlenecks are probably because we have lacklustre BT running the backbone for the majority of the UK, who use their "sit on hand approach" to their advantage to gain subsidies for upgrading their network.

  12. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    New build first?

    It seems that the priority is that all new builds will get FTTP early on.

    How does that work? Village with FTTC. Someone gets permission to build a new house in someone's garden next to the cabinet. Does Openreach convert the exchange to FTTP and string fibre to that one house as a priority over converting the village next door completely to FTTP?

    1. rg287 Bronze badge

      Re: New build first?

      How does that work? Village with FTTC. Someone gets permission to build a new house in someone's garden next to the cabinet.

      Bit of a straw man. These things all come with caveats and conditions.

      One house? You get what's available.

      A 100 house estate with it's own new cabinet? Make it FTTP. Why wouldn't you? The money is in paying for engineers to dig holes and install it. Whether they're installing fibre or copper makes no odds (though there's a strong argument they should be installing duct rather than direct-bury for future upgrades, so ducted fibre it is).

      The government should be mandating two things on all new estates right now:

      1. FTTP

      2. High-current electrical connections to support EVs / Plugin Hybrids that will be extremely common in 10 years. It's ludicrous that builders are installing entire estates (with 20/40/60 year lifespans) with 60amp connections which will be unable to support faster charging. But building for the future costs money so they pitch up the cheapest rubbish they can get away with today.

  13. Dunstan Vavasour

    Backhaul

    How often is it the copper final mile that's the limiting factor on domestic BB?

    As long as we have ISPs racing to the bottom of the "unlimited 80Mb/s for just £XX per month" we'll have congestion, packet loss, latency, not to mention crap service when faults develop from ISPs who get the runaround from BTOR and just pass it on to their customers.

    FTTP may be a nice totemic aspiration, but is a waste of time if the ISPs can't up their game.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Backhaul

      Assume you're 'talking' about that double-barrelled ISP. If you want to pay 'cattle class' prices what do you expect?

    2. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: Backhaul

      "As long as we have ISPs racing to the bottom of the "unlimited 80Mb/s for just £XX per month" we'll have congestion, packet loss, latency, not to mention crap service when faults develop from ISPs who get the runaround from BTOR and just pass it on to their customers."

      You could be describing the Australian NBN !!!!

  14. Eclectic Man

    One advantage of copper ...

    ... is that the telephone service can (and does) provide power over the connection, so that in the event of a mains power cut, people can still call the emergency services if the phone system is still operating. Okay, so 'everyone' has a mobile phone these days, but it is something that should be considered.

    1. IHateWearingATie

      Re: One advantage of copper ...

      Not sure about current designs, but previous ones included a battery in the box on the customer's wall to power a conventional telephone in the advent of a power cut. The problem is so few people (even those without mobiles) use conventional phones that can be powered by the copper telephone network, instead using cordless phones that die when the power dies.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: One advantage of copper ...

        " included a battery in the box on the customer's wall to power a conventional telephone in the advent of a power cut."

        A battery you're likely to find is dead when you need it.

        "The problem is so few people (even those without mobiles) use conventional phones that can be powered by the copper telephone network"

        I assume you mean almost everybody has a DECT phone. That doesn't preclude having a POTS phone plugged in as well.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One advantage of copper ...

          "A battery you're likely to find is dead when you need it."

          That's your problem though isn't it?, not an inherent problem of FTTP or BT.

          We can't all hold your hand every minute of the day, so you remain in the Jurassic period because you can't be bothered to maintain a battery.

  15. Graham 32

    Devil's in the detail

    When the govt sets up a deal like this they usually give in to some stupid demands from the private sector. I'm expecting these homes will initially be limited to just BT as their ISP. After a few years some regulation changes will allow other ISPs in but BT will charge a lot for access to the last mile making it difficult to compete. BT's pricing will be "special" for these new homes, they'll say the new tech is more expensive to run, so the monthly ISP bill will be lots more than copper connected homes.

    Yet another thing to consider when buying a home: is it one of the new-build FTTP properties where you get fleeced every month for internet access?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Mike Scott 1

    Who will remember this in 15 years?

    So the NIC suggested 6 years, the government 15... Not exactly ambitious. Leaving it to market forces that will not fill in the gaps.

    Another an successfully kicked down the road and out of sight.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who will remember this in 15 years?

      We'll be back in the EU by then.

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Re: Who will remember this in 15 years?

        not likley, we'd have to settle the Gibralter situation with spain first

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who will remember this in 15 years?

          Why won't they remember it in Ilkley?

  17. Crisp Silver badge

    In 15 years we should be getting the broadband speeds we should have had 10 years ago.

    And I'd be willing to bet that even in 2033 we'll still be lagging behind our friends on the continent.

  18. Any mouse Cow turd

    Efficient??

    It might seem more efficient to broadcast rather than have everyone stream independently but has anyone done the calculations on power usage?

    Considering the big transmitters are using electricity in the 1MW region and that peoples viewing habits have changed significantly I could imagine that there is a huge energy saving to be had by switching everyone to streaming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Efficient??

      Data collected by say, Samsung Smart TVs, there must some statistical figures on this, where you could get an idea of the electricity consumed per viewer contrasting broadcasting content via a transmitter tower v streaming via pure fibre FTTP.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Efficient??

      Considering the big transmitters are using electricity in the 1MW region ...

      Err, no they aren't, not any more - they use considerably less than when transmitting analogue.

      Taking my main transmitter, WInter Hill, it transmits 6 full muxes at 100kW each - vs the four main analogue channels at 500kW each (plus C5 with less power) before digital.

      OK, 600kW is heading up to megawatt territory, but overall transmit powers have dropped considerably with going digital. But then look at the catchment area served by Winter Hill, and it's not a lot of watts/person. OK, there will be times when there a lot of transmitted power and few watching, but conversely, there will be times when many millions are watching.

      Compare with streaming where vast (whole bit barns) amounts of kit is needed - and on top of that the power used for the extra transmissions all through the network. Add in the "bigger pipes" put in to cope with the extra bandwidth - in general, faster pipes use more power - and you have a situation where streaming takes extra power. No I can't quantify it (I bet no-one could) but streaming is far from being a low power operation.

      So yes, for a large proportion of "TV", broadcast is almost certainly the most efficient way of doing it - both power and spectrum wise.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Efficient??

        "6 full muxes at 100kW each - vs the four main analogue channels at 500kW each"

        It will be less still. All those figures will be ERP. As it's not broadcasting up into the sky and down to the ground below the mast the actual power will be a good deal less.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Efficient??

        Taking my main transmitter, WInter Hill, it transmits 6 full muxes at 100kW each - vs the four main analogue channels at 500kW each (plus C5 with less power) before digital.

        Before they switched off the analogue transmitters, the digital transmitters were using even less power.

        Back in 2011 the Waltham transmitter was using 10Kw on Mux 1 (BBC) now its 50Kw, with the other mux's on even less power - some on 5Kw (now on 25Kw) - which did suffer from atmospheric induced picture dropouts. Obviously, the greater the transmitter power output the poorer/smaller the receiving aerial needs to be.

  19. CJatCTi

    Why so long? & BT is toast

    Living in a Cotswold village BT gave up on FTTC for us so Gigaclear cabled us and I now pay £70 per montth for 1Gb up & down. Considering the villages in the middle of nowhere that now have this service which has come from BT saying F-You to FTTP in under 3 years, why so long for you city folk to catch up?

    BT is now toast their hosted service is 3 times that of others, they wont let you connect to their SIP trunks unless you buy their overpriced hadware, now the Internet backbone is going to be provided by others, what will they do?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BTGroup have today announced a reduction in prices of 'up to' 80Mbps wholesale product.

      BTGroup have today announced a reduction in wholesale prices for its 'up to ' 80Mbps BTWholesale product that is resold to other ISPs.

      So basically, that are 'dumping' their FTTC product on the market, in an attempt to scale back (put a spanner in the works of) Vodafone's / Cityfibre and Gigaclear fibre FTTP investments, to maintain their monopoly in terms of the 21cn network backbone.

      Note too, that BTRetail Broadband have put up their prices recently, so reducing these wholesale prices, means BT themselves also have a bigger wholesale margin to offset the loss of reducing the prices of the 80Mbps BTWholesale product across the board, across the BT Group.

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: BTGroup have today announced a reduction in prices of 'up to' 80Mbps wholesale product.

        ahh but you forget BT Retail with the USO, charge an arm and two legs, but for the price of just 1 leg you can get an EE or PlusNet connection if you're in the right area (and who owns them .....)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BTGroup have today announced a reduction in prices of 'up to' 80Mbps wholesale product.

          And on that note, let remind everyone that the CMA (Competiton Markets Authority) said BT and EE operate in "distinct and separate markets", thus fast-tracking BT's purchase of EE as a non-issue.

          Still can't get my head around how anyhow at that level in the CMA can make that decision without silver crossing palms. aka. Bribery.

  20. IHateWearingATie

    Why has no one mentioned Virgin and the companies that have already hooked up premises to Fibre? While I applaud the idea of moving from copper to fibre for the final mile, how does that leave the network investment made by others? Will it be fair competition, or will the government and taxpayers' cash be used to snuff out BT's rivals?

    If BT spend their own cash running fibre to a house that has a Virgin Media connection or from someone like City Fibre, then there are questions about fair competition with a monopoly provider, but it could be fine when you dig into the details.

    If BT are given taxpayers' cash to connect a house to fibre that already has Virgin or something like City Fibre then that's a different deal. Broadband subsidies given out by BDUK previously specifically excluded houses that could already get 'superfast' broadband from a provider like Virgin or City Fibre. However, that would mean that there are a bunch (remember Virgin covers more than 50% of premises) of Virgin connected premises that will be without Fibre far beyond the deadline, and a bunch of places that have fibre but are hugely restricted in their choice of ISP.

    No solutions at this point, but it certainly isn't as easy as it would seem.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Why has no one mentioned Virgin and the companies that have already hooked up premises to Fibre?

      That would be the Virgin that a) didn't build most of it's network, and b) doesn't connect users with fibre ?

      Virgin "built" it's network by letting others do it, wait for them to go bust, and then step in and buy the network for peanuts. Since then, they've done relatively little network expansion as that costs real money. The "last mile" really is a natural monopoly in the same way as electricity, gas, water, drainage, and roads - it really doesn't make sense (logically or business wise) for multiple outfits to dig up the road and put cables in.

      AIUI most of Virgin's network is FTTC just like OpenRetch's - it's just that they use coax to the premises which supports vastly higher bandwidths than the lightly twisted pairs with many poorly done joints that OpenRetch have.

      1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Virgin are expanding the network and a considerable part of it is Fibre, including all the new bits, Liberty Global have pushed the expansion since they took over.

        And Virgin media didnt wait for the existing networks to go bust, NTL and Telewest merged, bring with them their networks, then NTL:Telewest merged with Virgin Mobile to form Virgin Media (which gives them a quadruple play Package)

        yeah some of their network is Fibre/Coax FTTC, but as you say that combo is far better than the Fibre/(Copper/Alu) that Openreach supply and a lot more resilient.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Full FiOS UK by 2033, huh?

    So in other words, never.

  22. YARR
    Stop

    More needless government interfering...

    What reason is there that new builds must have FTTP installed? Why not adopt the norms of a free market, let those who want something pay for it? FTTP is hardly a necessity when there are alternative ways of getting internet access.

    If I build a new house and intend to live there for many years, I'm forced to pay for an FTTP installation that I already know I wont use? Anyone building a house has many more important priorities on which to spend their limited budget.

    If there is a specific issue with rented accommodation not having FTTP connections, then pass legislation that landlords must permit the installation of FTTP if tenants want it.

  23. Smoking Gun

    "The plan is for 15 million premises to have FTTP by 2025"

    "As the national provider, we're ambitious and want to build full-fibre broadband to 10 million premises and beyond"

    ROFL so even before the article finishes they have downgraded their forecast by 33%.

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