I’ve just watched Peter Cochrane’s latest video blog about fibre in abundance across this nation. Peter has been a keynote speaker at several of my conferences for good reason.
Strikes me after this week’s multi-meeting jaunt to London that we have a massive problem in this country when it comes to joining the dots. The potential for a major #fail in getting true broadband to everyone ie ubiquitous seems to lurk behind every meeting and discussion I am now having. And it is really beginning to worry me now – it is causing immense frustration, hardship and loss/wastage of income for thousands, if not millions, of Britons.
So, what do we do?
1. Get the railways on board. Putting a £2M ‘ransom’ on the Settle-Carlisle line for wayleaves is not the way forward, Mr Network Rail. Ditto across the country. That fibre under Peter’s foot is hardly a novelty in Britain, so allow us affordable access, please.
2. Get the mobile operators on board. You need bandwidth, so do we in communities. Let’s buy the backhaul TOGETHER or let’s have our own network from which to buy reasonably priced bandwidth. (I proposed this to the CEO of O2 in 2004 whilst sitting next to an OpenReach Board exec. Let’s JFDI now please.)
3. Stop believing the telcos want to play the right game. Really, we need a community-owned national/regional Tier 1 infrastructure. We need BT et al to work with us all to get decent comms infrastructure nationwide. There is a piece of the pie for everyone. It just might not be as big a slice as you’ve been accustomed to, but you can no longer try to eat all the pie(s) as that modus operandi has been leaving this country in the Dark Ages.
4. Listen to the people at grassroots. We are the consumers, the customers, and having had to suffer this situation, and think about it for a decade (and more), we have solutions.
5. Spend the money wisely. What little we have can be considerably increased by adopting some new thinking – interest free money, charitable/community bonds, Big Society/community wisdom. Costs can be cut, and the money can be made to go further than some would have us believe.
6. Don’t rush. Whilst there is a need to make this happen asap, it needs to be right. It needs to be sustainable. It needs to learn from the lessons of the last 100 years to endure the next 100 years. Try new models, new solutions before leaping in feet first.
7. Co-operate. Work together. This is for the good of UK Plc, and our future generations. Be humble and accept advice from all quarters instead of assuming you know how to solve the problem.
8. Remember that there are millions of business interests at stake, not just the telcos. Where required, it is time to start regulating to ensure that ALL businesses and consumers are protected from practices which are slowing investment and roll-out. Evidence is mounting of unsavoury and uncompetitive actions which are stopping this country advancing in the right direction.
9. Investigate. Look beyond expensive ad campaigns and hype and find out what the real options are – whether you are an RDA, a council, a community or an individual. We all have a responsibility to develop the solution that our kids will need. Remember what the ultimate goal is and don’t accept second best, or interim measures.
10. Be wise. This is public money that is being spent in many cases. If you are involved in the decision making process, question every single one of the choices you are making. Do your research carefully. Do due diligence. Become a broadband expert so you are absolutely sure that the decisions you make are future-proofed, best practice, best value, and best for the people.
And if you are a business in this sector, be honourable in seeking your profits. We don’t begrudge you them, but we HATE when you put your profits and shareholders before the people of this country.