NGA - not on our watch!

Once again, Analysys Mason have produced a report for the BSG (Broadband Stakeholder group) – this time on the role of satellite and wireless in NGA. The report is here.

I am desperately trying to bite my tongue, but it is impossible. This is our industry group, the group which is supposed to represent ALL stakeholders in the broadband arena. And the definition of NGA within that report (p.16 1.4.2) defies belief. The failure to even understand what NGA is about means that the majority of the report becomes worthless.
In fact, I am struggling to see how the supposed requirement for households over the next decade can even be classed as present generation of broadband. 
The cynic in me (which is of course a fairly large chunk of Lindsey) thinks this report a) has been timed to precede the spectrum auctions because of its cost evaluations for certain lumps of spectrum, b) is to support the commercial purposes of its sponsors rather than the consumers and UK Plc c) is designed to hold the UK, particularly the Final Third, in the Dark Ages for the foreseeable and middle distant future and d) is destined to do the job that the report about the costs for FTTC and FTTH did all those years ago – become the damning figure that stopped all investment and misled the media, the politicians and the masses.
I wish I didn’t feel that way. I used to really enjoy the BSG meetings and meeting the people involved. Until the ridiculous personal and environmental cost of travelling from Cumbria to London at least twice a month made it impossible to continue attending. The BSG/Intellect failure to install even a £20 Argos webcam into the meeting rooms, despite my almost monthly requests over the last decade, to ensure inclusion for all stakeholders, is also a constant source of frustration.
It seems that the uses those of us who live in houses wish to put our broadband connection to is anathema to men in suits sitting in fat pipe connected offices writing reports about what we want. 
We want telehealth solutions to overcome our 94 mile round trips to hospital. 
We want remote education opportunities with experts around the world who know the subjects we wish to learn. 
We want to SHARE HD video with friends, family, colleagues and clients. 
We’d like to start making the most of fab experiences like Milo
We want to enjoy SuperHD which is just around the corner and needs a minimum of 400Mbps with 7-28Mbps just for the audio. Not just download it, but download it, edit it and upload the good bits. 
If the proof from elsewhere around the world is insufficient: that once high bandwidth is available to consumers, they consume more and more of it, then build one tiny 10 house network in the UK with 1gigabit per second on it, and see what they do with it when shown what is possible. (I’ll check with my neighbours but I think we’d all be agreeable to be that pilot).
I feel as though what many of us are trying to do online on a daily basis is invisible to the people who write reports like this. And worse, that when we try to make it clear what we want to be able to do but can’t even try yet, we are made out to be either liars or an insane minority.
OK, maybe we are slightly insane, but I want to be able to do what I could do in Lafayette, Lousiana, without even thinking about it. Ask the guys in Utopia, Utah – I was like a kid with a new toy on their 1gig fat pipe – it was truly awesome! I nearly stayed there much longer just so I could get my business back on track and able to do the things many of my global competitors can’t believe I am unable to do.
Before we go any further with all this funding, report writing etc, we must define NGA. And I remember, clearly, the problems we had at the outset of the BSG just trying to define “broadband”. Because of corporate business plans (e.g. ADSL rollout), we weren’t even allowed to use the definition from the 80s and 90s – the technology capable of transmitting and receiving simultaneously voice, video and data. (You’ll notice that most current broadband isn’t capable of that!)
We can talk about speed, we can talk about capacity, we can talk about consistency, latency and jitter. However, we define it, it must be NEXT GENERATION. Not what is available today, but what we strongly believe should be available tomorrow. And statements such as this below fail to grasp the importance of telehealth, education and all the other apps and services that require symmetry.
“Our modelling therefore assumes that fully symmetric services will not be required by more than a small minority of residential users”.
It is surely time that some of the people writing these reports go and visit the places where 100Mbps symmetrical is the norm and see what normal, everyday folk do with it before putting pen to paper any further, and trying to advise us that we should be happy to be able to email, surf and watch the odd movie – after all, what more could we possibly want to do?!

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UPDATE: Very interesting that the founder of AM, David Cleevely, also Chairman of CRFS, has just issued a press release re the cleanliness of the spectrum on which the AM report appears to be based, and hence its value to potential purchasers. CRFS press release
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Yeah just ran a story on this too. Heaven knows how they can call a Satellite solution NGA and put it up against fibre optic broadband, that's surely madness. I would love to know if the report's author actually bothered to try consumer UK satellite broadband solutions before he wrote that report. It's quite far from the rosey picture they paint. http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2010/10/29/bsg-claims-satellite-and-wireless-are-viable-nga-uk-rural-broadband-solutions.html
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