Dear Santa

Please, please, can we rewrite the superfast broadband strategy before it is too late? I don’t think that the many of us who have spent the last decade campaigning for rural broadband and NGA had a very happy Sunday reading the docs which were embargoed until today. It has been hard work biting our tongues – after all, press embargoes are so last century now – but it is your turn to listen to us, today.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m very sorry Jeremy et al, I think you have missed the point. Points. Not necessarily every one of them but too many to give us confidence in BIS etc. I know you are all new, but catch up, please, before it is too late.
We don’t want fibre to a privately owned street cab or exchange. Because that would a) imply that we want to extend a 100 year old monopoly yet further and b) are building onto an obsolete network. And that would all be ….um…pointless.
We do not want community (owned, run, managed, maintained, operated or commissioned) networks dismissed as some sort of ‘fluffy’ unmentionables. After all, who has actually put gigabit FTTH in? Not a telco….[NextGenUs] Who actually did FTTC with an upgrade path first? Not a telco.[Rutland] Who has been providing communities with usable solutions rather than skewed surveys with improbable names? Not the incumbent. [Vtesse]
We don’t need a quango to solve the issues that communities purportedly face. We need the highly skilled and experienced designers of the networks, who are putting the incumbent to shame, to be recognised, acknowledged, and employed, not driven underground by the lobbyists in Portcullis House etc.
There are some very serious network builds ongoing in rural areas, who could prove a best spend of that £830M, especially with private capital already being spent from non-BT coffers, and yet you, the Minister, fall once again for the tosh in Westminster about the incumbent network.
Why oh why would we want to build fibre to our homes from a BT street cab? Have you thought this through?
It seems not. 
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We do NOT want you to spend a single penny of PUBLIC MONEY on any of the following:
*BT’s (Liv Garfield) FTTC crap with no upgrade path to FTTH (within this decade or probably the next). Do NOT repeat Cornwallgate.
*FTTC without financially legal justification for it as a solution unless it is community owned
*BET – ever
*Satellite (except as a stopgap, unless you can prove that FTTH will never be viable, ever, to that home)
*Public money, OUR money, being wasted building on top of an obsolete network
*Publicly funded middle mile solutions that then belong to an incumbent or telco without damned good reasons for that ownership which will stand up in an EU court
*Any more pilots. There is nothing left to test, except how good BT are at extracting money through the public procurement process.
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We do want:
*Community owned DVPs (Digital Village Pumps) that are connected to community owned fibre, connected to community owned, local peering points.
*Taxes on new build fibre that are equitable across the board for all deployments from Jan 1st 2011. Or waived.
*FTTH everywhere it can be done, FiWi as the interim measure
*Councils to understand and play their part in reducing civils and also in ensuring that new build homes are fit for purpose
*All copper to be pulled out and recycled as an ongoing process to free the ducts, and BT to log which ducts are now clear of unnecessary obstructions as part of their 21st century network mapping
*Qualified engineers etc to be permitted to install on existing infrastructure without hindrance. (Often, the self-same people are employed by the infrastructure owners anyway)
*Extension of mobile broadband, where it makes sense. Community-owned femto cells may prove a far better option for all.
*Symmetrical broadband that is fit for purpose
*Government understanding of why the bandwidth scarcity model (telco-friendly) needs to be replaced by abundance (consumer-friendly). And regulation to promote abundance.
*Joined up thinking and a realisation that millions of pounds of private money have already been put into resolving Britain’s Digital Divide. You may not see this money flashed about, or hear about it on the 6 o’clock news, or spot the flashy ads, but for over a decade, thousands of people and companies across this country have spent their own money and untold hours trying to prevent one company distorting the broadband landscape and holding UK PLC to ransom. 
STOP wasting our money supporting a single company against the citizens and businesses of this country.

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I think there are two key messages from today's press release which need addressing. 1. If the funding goes to BT this effectively stops anyone else getting it and enables BT to protect their investment in copper, which means innovation is throttled and capped in the same way our internet access is. 2. Councils should be the enabler for funding streams, but currently they are taken in with the hype of infinity. Public money has not to be used for obsolete technology no matter how many boxes it ticks. Anyone responsible for allocating tenders should have compulsory physics lessons. Don't tell us that tendering is open and transparent when it is loaded towards the incumbent, and educate councils and RDAs to the potential of next generation community infrastructure run on fibre, with no copper in the equation at all. If it goes through copper it isn't next generation access. The people can build the networks if the digital village pumps are provided by government. Its time to JFDI. Before it is too late. The future is fibre. Get it right now and stop patching up a phone network. FTTC is not the future. FTTC is not a digital village pump. Its a throttle point and will open up an even larger digital divide. When we were all on dial up we were all equal. ADSL opened up the divide because many still can't get it. Many are on sub meg connections. With FTTC this will get even worse. Many more will be disenfranchised. Give us the pumps and we will use them. Give us the poles and ducts the incumbent says are unviable and we will make them viable. Save your funding and instead legislate for a level playing field to give us a break and let market forces deliver. C'mon Jeremy, light my fibre. chris
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It's easy to say fibre should be everywhere when you can put it through fields in rural areas. It's not the same in towns and villages where pavements and roads have to be dug up. Why did VM give up??? Come up with some good reasons why there is a requirement for >40M (video, matter transfer etc.) and than we can campaign for a solution. Until then the £29b cost remains. Is it significant in the scale of things, if not, let's do it.
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So we have what three, or five communities connected up by this magic alternative ? It was 7 years from the widespread arrival of ADSL in the UK before NextGenUs connected up Ashby, without any public subsidy. What timescale are you offering other communities ? Is this blog just the product of an unhealthy obsession with knocking BT, or a credible proposal for real world solutions that fit into the prevailing economic and societal model. How many more tax breaks, how much access to other peoples property and free labour from unemployed people are needed to deliver this vision ?
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If the government provides the £26b we can have FTTP everywhere. If it does not then perhaps cyberdoyle can come up with a realistic plan for the 'people' to do it. Funding a community project to dig up roads and pavement is very expensive. Don't say go through gardens etc. Just needs one awkward person and that's the end of it. To achieve a solution for home and business needs more than a design round a kitchen table.
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£29b for FTTP everywhere, I'm OK with that but who else is? Please identify why 60M is a throttle point. Find some facts rather than emotion. Cost of installation in existing poles and ducts using recognised contractors?
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Gradually catching up with Lindsey :) which may prove impossible. Let me start with agreeing that FTTH is a good technology. Even as someone who has been using wireless techs since BBC came in 625 lines and the 8086 was a pretty neat idea, it's clear that a proper fixed wire or fibre connection is better (all other things being equal) than a wireless one. However, to fibre the entire country will cost (allegedly) £28 billion or so. That was a figure I saw a few years ago and was repeated this am by Jeremy Hunt on the Today prog. Where's that going to come from? Costs have got to drop or technology improve or some new tech may come along in a few years. Given that, satellite is a pretty useful stopgap in certain areas so why shouldn't it get a contribution while the big incumbents get their act together? I'll bet you that by the time some homes and communities finally realise that no-one can afford a sustainable fibre model for them, our service will be in the 10s of Mbps. So why wait when you can have at least something this side of Xmas? Plus it isn't giving all our money to copper!
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Interesting comment last week - switch off terrestial TV and sell the bandwidth to pay for FTTP. Pump TV down broadband,
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See this – http://tv.theiet.org/technology/communications/index.cfm – Fibre to Britain 2010, interesting discussions.
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Great blog post and one correction, NextGenUs is a telco, just not an incumbent :) There really is no justification for pilots and testing, where public subsidy can help is to quicken the pace and scope of network building so that more people get the choice to reap the benefits of future-proof Digital Services earlier. The pure glass full fibre optical path is the only future-proof way to create the globally competitive 4th utility the UK requires and taxpayer funding must take that into account. Technology Neutrality is often spoken of as "good thing" and so it is, when appropriately applied. Certainly neutrality makes sense about the fittings and connectors and lights and cameras that use the pure glass path. The basic future-proof physics of heat pulses transmitted through fibre optic filaments of glass are clearly (sic) best value for public money. No subsidy or matched funding must be eligible other than for network building activities that extend the pure glass path
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