There's none so deaf as those that will not hear

“It’s more about presentation than dialogue.”

That judgment, reported to the annual Apcomms conference last week by Nominet chairman Baroness Rennie Fritchie, referred to the young peoples’ delegation view of the Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius last September. But it could just as well have been the entire UK next generation broadband debate so far.

And some of the subliminal messages that are slipping through are really important. Take for instance the maps of not spots and slow spots shown by Independent Networks Cooperative Association (Inca) director Malcolm Corbett. These were based on SamKnows’s records, he said. But these are based on BT’s records.

As was pointed out by Tim Snape, firstly to the Cornish County Council, then to the Devon County Council, then at Rory Stewart’s Cumbria conference, the maps ignore wireless  broadband access. So while the maps may accurately reflect the absence of fibre and decent copper links, they do not reflect accurately the availability of broadband access.

Which is fine, if your intention is to skew the debate towards fibre investment rather than broadband access.

Not that we don’t want fibre; it’s just that most of us, according to a YouGov survey for Sky Broadband, would prefer a reliable and consistent connection to an erratic 30Mbps.

Unless the government starts listening a little smarter, the debate about next generation broadband could become a dialogue of the deaf.