back to article March 2020: When you lucky, lucky Brits will have a legal right to a minimum of... 10Mbps

Brit comms regulator Ofcom has revealed that the universal broadband service – previously known as the universal service obligation – will come into effect in March 2020. Under its rules, eligible homes and businesses will have a legal right to demand at least 10Mbps download, and 1Mbps upload speeds from their ISPs – as long …

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    Unfair comparison

    Western Megabits are worth more than Asian Gigabits so rest easy, Parliament has your back.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Unfair comparison

      If London was allowed independence it might be a more reasonable comparison to a city state

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Unfair comparison

        This is a reasonable point, Singapore would fit inside the M25.

        Of course that makes it reasonable to compare London's broadband provision with Singapore's and say it's still unimpressive.

        1. plunet

          Re: Unfair comparison

          And significant parts of central London would fail the new pledge. Openreach cabling from some of the older central london exchanges is directly cabled so no green cabinets. And no green cabinets = no FTTC. So a ADSL connection at Oxford Circus will be around 8-12M down and under 1M up. So it's pony up for a proper circuit, consider using 4G or a WISP, or wait around on a sub-optimal ADSL2+ service

          1. Uplink

            Re: Unfair comparison

            Well, BT is leaving money on the table for the likes of G.Network and Hyperoptic who've been digging around central London for at a while now. Their prices aren't too bad (for London) either.

          2. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: Unfair comparison

            > And significant parts of central the UK would fail the new pledge.

            FTFY. Looking to move into moderately central oxford, so I check the "BT availability". It says:

            "Your download speed range: 8Mb - 16Mb. Your Stay Fast Guarantee 4Mb, Upload speed 1Mb"

            First time I've come across this "Stay Fast Guarantee" - A USwitch article implies a dedicated team will be monitoring this KPI on your line, tweaking it to make sure it's reliably this level. Unfortunately, it also states:" if BT's engineers aren't able to resolve any problems and get speeds back to where they should be within 30 days of a fault being identified, customers will be able to receive up to £20 off their bills, and will be able to claim this up to four times a year if any issues persist.", which seems a bit shit as (a) it assumes it's due to a fault, and (b) if the line is just shit they'll just shift the goalposts down. Also, (c) just £20? and just 4 times a year? and needs to be 30 days?

            I will miss my FTTP from Gigaclear, think I'll annoyingly have to move to Virgin Media (unless they unbundle???)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Unfair comparison

              > which seems a bit shit as (a) it assumes it's due to a fault,

              In other words a fault won't be declared until BT/OpenReach know for sure that they can fix it within 30 days.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Unfair comparison

              @JetSetJim

              What the fuck is "moderately central Oxford`?

              Just asking.

              Cheers... Ishy

              1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                Re: Unfair comparison

                lol - inside the ring road, but can't really walk to city centre shops (certainly not with the kids)

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Fibre loophole

    So all a telco has to do is show that it would cost more than £3400 and they don't have to abide by this?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Fibre loophole

      They just have to show that they can put the connection in place "as quickly as possible". In Civil Service Quantumspeak that means:

      "It is necessary to consider all the ramifications of extending the current network to include your village. In such a case we must investigate the genuine need for residents to want to download at speeds of or greater than 10Mbps where they should only need to access a recipe, check the weather or use the National Lottery. Accordingly we will allocate a network surveyor to check the area in order to access the requirements of local residents and we should be able to report back as soon as is possible .. in 2025"

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Fibre loophole

        I think it's more like an accountant looking down a hole "tut tut, looks like at least £8000. If you wish to pay us £4600 we'll gladly connect you up."

        Basically all this amounts to is a decent government subsidy for BT (or KCOM but that's unlikely) to connect a rural service. Is Ofcom's director related to "Pai" by any chance?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fibre loophole

          Exactly, I wrote similar on the thinkbroadband.com website, I used the £5k(+3.4K) figure. The figure quoted was based on contracts I'd seen for similar works on new housing.

          And Andrew Ferguson could only reply with "Where did you pull that figure from?" aka. shoot the messenger.

          The real test for the 10Mbps USO, is how many connections have been made 12 months after Ofcom rules come into force (so in March 2021), the speed the applicant received before, the average each applicant paid, along with the average minimum download speed/upload speed they received afterward. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

          I can't see anyone who receives 6Mbps+ (maybe even as low as 4Mbps+) paying anything towards a USO to receive a minimum of 10Mbps. It's an absolutely pointless piece of paper shuffling legislation, the money would have been better spent putting more fibre in the ground or money spent on devising new methods/co-ordinated systems to help lay more fibre quickly/cheaply.

          There are so many Caveats too, BT only have to state there are in the process of updating an area in the next 12 months, to avoid having to comply with the USO. There are examples under the Superfast Cymru programme of proposed dates being put back as much as 7 years, incrementally.

          So proposed 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 eventually being completed Dec 2017, the last week of the Superfast Cymru contract (Ceredigion). I kid you not.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Fibre loophole

      New connections to a house already have this much as subsidy - if you build a house and ask for a connection, up to this much money comes from the govmt (perhaps via BT, not entirely sure) and the rest has to come from your pocket. At present, this much money is used to subsidise the connection for the current level of universal service that's mandated to match (basically voice plus shit dsl)

      One would hope they default to deploying the fibre that's wrapped in copper, so that if/when the exchange it's connecting to ever gets upgraded it would be simple to upgrade to FTTP for these builds, but that might require a bit too much forward thinking

  3. karlkarl Bronze badge

    I am happy with a 1MB DL, 1MB UL so long as the package costs me £4.

    ... and lets be honest, I will get the same connection speed regardless of how much I spend ;)

    Plus I don't stream, I torrent and am usually happy to wait overnight for a standard movie. It is not hard to prepare for a day in advance.

    1. Muppet Boss

      Same as my backup symmetric 200Mbps fiber back home and nope, it is not subsidized. We are talking about monthly bill, correct? ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @karlkarl

      And so should you be happy to wait overnight for a download. From what you have posted you seem to be a pirate. Actually, I mean parasite. As in you depend on someone else to seed so you can have your stuff for free.

      Parasite is so much more preferable to pirate is it not?

      Cheers... Ishy

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Backing up photos.

        Downloading purchased content (a single game can be 5-20 GB, I'm not kidding! That's Byte, not bit.)

        Streaming HD (or 4K) video.

        Luckily I get 60Mbit, which is reasonable. Costs £30 a month however.

  4. bob, mon!
    Trollface

    Luxury!

    We used to DREAM of 10 Mbps! We had to scrape along at 5.6Kbps w/ a dial-up modem, and if wee wuz ba-ad we'd be downgraded to 300 Buad! Uphill, both ways!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Luxury!

      A true Yorkshireman would of course use pigeons

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Luxury!

        Fast pigeons, but low bandwidth. Never underestimate the bandwidth of a ferret with a rucksack!

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Luxury!

          Ever tried putting a backpack on a ferret? Wriggly little buggers.

          While IP over pigeon is an established standard

          1. Oliver Mayes

            Re: Luxury!

            Error 812: Packet eaten by fox.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Luxury!

              Error 813: connection roasted by firewall

          2. Timmy B Silver badge

            Re: Luxury!

            "Ever tried putting a backpack on a ferret?"

            Yep. I use a ferret locator when I'm rabbiting. They know it means a hunt so they don't mind too much.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Luxury!

          Never underestimate the bandwidth of the post!. Back in the good ol' days of BBS's, It was easier for me to remote into my friend's server cross country and load up a hard drive he connected up for me. When I was done, he'd post the drive and I'd send him a drive full of what I was able to find in other places. It also saved bandwidth on the server so people could U/D things without the pair of us hogging all of the bandwidth during primetime.

        3. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Luxury!

          Pigeons are high bandwidth. Shit latency, mind, but you can get high bandwidth.

      2. Nick Kew

        Re: Luxury!

        Hello? Moist von Lipwig? Is that you?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bribery at work

    No wonder Ofcom managers get absurd high pay from a telco puppet: This is something they were paying for.

    Here in North we get ~30Mbps (measured, not advertised) down and 10 up with 30e/month. And that's slow by local standards. 50 or 100Mbps is normal in town.

    10Mbps is an insult and any idiot calling that "broadband" in 2019 is a criminal who should be executed.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bribery at work

      10Mbps is an insult and any idiot calling that "broadband" in 2019 is a criminal who should be executed."

      An elderly relative recently complained to BT about slow BB. They fobbed him off with "we checked your line and can't see any problems". I'm current remoted into his PC and it's getting 0.2 to 0.5Mbps. In the middle of a large housing estate in the middle of a large urban conurbation. I've set him with a couple of online speed test shortcuts now for when he next calls them. Typical BT!

      1. My-Handle

        Re: Bribery at work

        I'm living out in the sticks in Northern Ireland, 2.5 miles from the nearest cabinet. 1.5Mbps is the normal rate for me, more's the pity.

        Under BT, this would regularly drop to 0.5Mbps (or die altogether) and their customer services (misnomer) team would try their absolute best to blame anything possible in order to not solve the problem.

        Since moving to Zen I've not had an issue, although I'm still stuck with a low data rate.

        1. vulture65537

          Re: Bribery at work

          At my recent problem (using Zen and BT) Openreach took two visits to my home to check the line. The first visit was only a phone line check (no serious fault found so charged £85) and the 2nd visit by their broadband guy found and fixed the fault. That's all after I've done a range of indoor tests including buying a new router.

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Bribery at work

            So naturally you were refunded the £85 charge of the first callout, right? Since the second callout proved there really was a fault.

            Wait. What am I thinking...?

            1. Snowy Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Bribery at work

              I like you thinking but I think it is more like dreaming. Have an upvote and a pint :)

            2. vulture65537

              Re: Bribery at work

              If you're not thinking it happened again 3 months later .. think a bit harder.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Bribery at work

      "10Mbps is an insult and any idiot calling that "broadband" in 2019 is a criminal who should be executed."

      Public executions? By ordeal?

      "Wolf nipple chips, get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What does it mean when they say "BT or KCOM"?

    Does that mean "provisioned over", or must you (e.g.) switch to BT before you can complain? If so, isn't that anti-competitive?

    1. AIBailey Silver badge

      Re: What does it mean when they say "BT or KCOM"?

      I'd understand BT in this instance to actually mean an internet connection over an Openreach network (i.e. not cable such as Virgin Media). Many (most?) ADSL connections via telephone will probably meet this criteria anyway, regardless of ISP.

      1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: What does it mean when they say "BT or KCOM"?

        While it is true most connections may be ADSL, the backbone does vary by ISP. Local Loop Unbundling means the bigger ISPs have their own kit in the exchange and operate their own backbone, with just the "last mile" to the property being Openreach.

        It's much the same as post in the UK. There are several companies you can engage to collect, sort and distribute mail to the local depots, it is only Royal Mail that has the Universal Service Obligation to deliver it to your property.

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: What does it mean when they say "BT or KCOM"?

      "If so, isn't that anti-competitive?"

      Definitely! In my case - if I want fibre instead of ADSL - I have to sign up to Virgin Media...

      Competition? What competition?

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: What does it mean when they say "BT or KCOM"?

      Does that mean "provisioned over", or must you (e.g.) switch to BT before you can complain? If so, isn't that anti-competitive?

      It means that only openreach and KCOM have signed up to the deal but in principal that covers every property in the country anyway, and most ISPs. So, no, there should be no need for anyone to change ISPs to take advantage of this.

      However I think they can consider other technologies when deciding whether to help you or not. If so then this won't apply to properties that have access to other CPs such as VM. Openreach can just tell you to sign up for their service instead.

  7. Pete 2

    Easy question, trickier answer

    > a legal right to demand at least 10Mbps download, and 1Mbps upload speeds from their ISPs ... package should cost no more than £45.

    Which do you want: fast or cheap? (you can't have both)

    1. SorenUK

      Re: Easy question, trickier answer

      It doesn't seem to be a choice between fast and cheap but rather having to settle for slow and expensive.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy question, trickier answer

      The B4RN model has shown you can have both, where there is a will, there is a way outwith BT/Ofcom. It's an utter embarrassment for the regulator that this model is flourishing.

      With B4RN, Ofcom only got involved when they see you're making a success of things and want a bit of the limelight. Ofcom only care about their own image, in wanting to be seen in a good light in terms of the current Government. The organisation is full of ex-BT folk and appears run in the interest of BT, irrespective of the endless blurb of 'nothingness' they produce.

      I'd break it up, have a regulator that is much more consumer orientated, that concentrates of issues that are affecting large numbers at once.

      The Ofcom complaint model is an absolute merry-go-round of time wasting that achieves nothing. The Ombudsman makes 10x more money per complaint, than the individual complaining and importantly the Ombudsman gets paid whether the complaint is successful or not. Raise an issue affecting large numbers of consumers at once, nothing is done, it's effectively buried to keep it quiet.

      Not a fan of Ofcom as you can tell, but let's not even mention the abomination that is Ofgem.

      Ofgem live up to the twitter tag #Fuseless, as in f'in useless.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: you can't have both

      I can and do...

      Sky fibre (last mile over phone lines) for domestic: 76Mb for about £20/month.

      Virgin business broadband (cable) for work: 100Mb £40/month.

      No comment on customer service of either. They were available and decent value for my needs. YMMV.

      Price cap for paltry 10MB down / 1MB up should be no more than a tenner.

      1. Gio Ciampa

        Re: you can't have both

        ...and if you don't want to be tied to one company for all eternity, because they can't/won't share their installs with others...?

  8. Ker Avon

    BT will always be the problem

    The fact we're constantly at the whim of the BT and Openretch turds will always hold us back in this country...

  9. BeachBoy

    Not just the Far East

    Same money will get you a symmetrical 600Mbps fibre to the home connection in Spain from several providers including Telefonica. So its not just the Far East

  10. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Our local Bell Telco...

    In many parts of Canada, there are two groups with communications cables: the old Telco and the Cable TV co.

    The Cable TV company can easily offer the Triple Play: TV, 'net, and phone. The Telco tried to offer TV over low Mbps DSL and it was a fiasco. So the only way to double their income (offer TV) was to roll out fiber. So they did.

    If you're having trouble getting your service providers roll out fiber, then make sure your regulations allow them to offer the Triple Play.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Semantics

    "Under its rules, eligible homes and businesses will have a legal right to demand at least 10Mbps download, and 1Mbps upload speeds from their ISPs – as long as their ISPs are either BT or KCOM."

    I was with BT. The FTTC rollout to my cabinet has been delayed, pushed back to design stage so we were on standard. BT said I could get up to 13Mbit down, when in reality it was 6 on a good day, 4 on a regular day and 1 when it was raining/windy (for some reason they couldn't fix). So are we guaranteed 10Mbit minimum on actual use as their own tool said 13 but that was bollocks.

    My VM cable link is 350Mbit and averages from that to around 200Mbit.

    1. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Semantics

      What does "design stage" mean? Surely they know how to install a piece of cable by now?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Semantics

        I used to know some of the Openreach engineers and my cabinet was being cabled - then there was to be some electrical work.

        It went back to "design stage" which I think is management speak for "ypu're in a Virgin Media cabled street and most of you are on Virgin Media, so we'll just not bother"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT should be forced to share their rural poles and ducts for free to the likes of B4RN if they can't do it for less than £3400.

  13. aheywood

    Pathetic

    Where BT/KCOM cannot make a profit, the government are covering their costs. These telcos seem to have gone from a monopoly to a state sponsored monopoly. The likes of BT and KCOM should be forced to provide a minimum service to all, this picking and choosing of what can be rolled out where is only going to create a digital divide, and ultimately over time impede the development of our skills and competitiveness globally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pathetic

      @aheywood.

      It is NOT the government covering their costs. It is the taxpayer.

      Cheers... Ishy

  14. Nick Kew
  15. Howard Hanek
    Linux

    Escargot

    Such a mouth watering snail. I saw such snails in Algeria and they were delicious. They formed the 'Labor' portion of the eco-system. You know, the part that couldn't get out of its own way. Yes, let's not waste bandwidth on them.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Always aiming high, here in this country.

    No university for you, peasants.

    Brexit for you, lowly Brit. Now doff your cap to the toffs who knows best what's good for you and for their money.

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