"Best in Europe" or "what BT can deliver under the business model imposed on them by Ofcom"

My blog on the new BDUK framework and qualifying questionnaire has triggered an interesting e-mail correspondence. One sent me an article from ten years ago. He suggested a “2020 vision” campaign would show that the current (DSL-dependent) copper path is going to run out of steam about 2015 and we have no hope of reaching Europe’s objectives for 2020. Another said it was interesting to remind ourselves how far we’ve come in 10 years.


I replied that my initial 512K service (as a very early adopter) was faster than my current “up to 8 mbps” for most transactions and suggested this was partly because I was the first in the street and partly because there was less bloatware attached to every e-mail/website.

One of those who agreed with me added:

  • there was not so much contention on the line – meaning the line did not drop out on an hourly basis
  • call centres were in the UK – so you got better service (unless you were with :ntl)
  • people didn’t think broadband should be free – so there was enough money in the pot for reinvestment

  • He thought “best in Europe” needs to be redefined as “better than we had ten years ago!”

    His comments reminded me that ten years ago a knowledgable engineer

    would call to fix my problems, checking the rack connections as well as the line and the wiring in my house – and tell my what to order, and how, if I needed work that BT could do for me. I will not lightly forgive Ofcom for forcing BT to disintegrate that level of service. I paid for it. But I got it. Today I cannot have it.  


    Another respondent said of the BDUK framework


    BT won’t consider enabling a cabinet for VDSL unless it supports 15meg, so a band of 15 to 50 ensures they fit the PQQ, but setting at at 24 meg as it should have been would mean BT’s form of FttC would be very painful to deploy.  BT can’t deliver the Lisbon 2020 targets so BDUK have tilted their ambitions to meet BT rather than EU goals.


    I also received much technical material on why the small print of the framework is as it is – i.e. to fit the technical constraints of the legacy BT networks that currently serve many rural and depressed inner city areas.


    My personal question remains “Why not set BT free to install world-class networks where it can make money and inter-operate with others, to international standards, where it cannot?”.


    I feel sure the result would be better for BT shareholders (I confess an interest), BT pensioners (and most of those who know what they are talking about learned their skills with BT and/or its suppliers), BT customers (most of us, even if the service is resold to us under a different name) and even BT’s competitors – who will know where they can reasonably expect to make money, whether as competitors or partners or as both, in which parts of the country – without a regulator or department “changing the laws of economics”.


    The fundamental politics of regulation have not really changed since the days of the Aediles. who regulated the markets and utilities of ancient Rome. “Even the decadence of the Emperors rarely surpassed that of the Aediles under the Republic, as could have been seen during Julius Caear’s Aedileship”.


    It is a moot point as to whether intellectual arrogance is more or less dangerous than other forms of decadence but “plus ca change”, “quis custodiet ipsos custodes” and “all that jazz”.