Who stole our broadband?

With copper at $3,300 per tonne how much will be left in the networks by the time the 58.75p  (50p plus VAT) per month tax is implemented? One criminal family is said to got very angry, as well as badly burned, when the circuits they spent much effort digging out of the ground turned out to be not only live but mainly aluminium. Meanwhile a major trunk network was recently put out of action when thieves stole fibre running through a sewer, thinking it was copper. 

Part of any programme to improve critical national infrastructure protection should be to label cables as to whether they are copper or fibre and educate illiterate criminals so that they too can tell the difference.

Meanwhile I have been drilling down below the surface of some of the statements made while I was checking the material summarised in the Information Society Alliance (EURIM) guide on local access for candidates. One of these was to so with the incidence of “excess construction costs” when the demand of an individual user necessites an equipment or network upgrade. These are supposedly not charged when that upgrade is to provide a shared service. I have been told that schools are being charged an average of over £30,000 in “excess construction costs” to get their fibre pipes. One excuse is to do with “CESG requirements that mean that fibre to schools cannot be shared”. This would appear to be the exact opposite of the US policy where it looks as though rural access will be pulled through via specail funding for gbps pipes to  schools and other community hubs.

I have also just read the BSG report “Broadband Infrastructure: The Service and Applcation Providers’ View“.  Press summaries say this said that upgrading the “last mile broadband speed” is not that important. The responses actually said that this is not the only problem that needs to be address in order to deliver the quality of services that end-users want. More-over from a services providers view it may not be the most significant constraint in dleveiring quality of service to paying customers.

The others include:

  • out-of-date browsers on user PCs
  • in home wiring
  • peering capacity
  • connections to hosting facilities
  • contention in the network 

“The reality of the multiple pinch points in today’s broadband infrastructure is that most service providers have to adapt their offer to work within uncertain end-to-end delivery conditions”.

The respondents to the study saw two emerging trends:

  • competition for bandwidth at the choke points in the infrastructure (my summary)
  • demand for a guaranteed customer experience  

The next meeting of the EURIM Comms group is due to start looking at updating its briefing material for after the election – when the successful candidates begin to sit on select committees monitoring the implementation of the promises their leaders are currently making.

If recent trends on the topics on which voters write to their MP are a good predictor, we will see a flow of pointed questions on delivered quality of service – especially on public sector on-line services. If 100 mbps (whatever that means) is the answer – what was the question?

100 mbps, symmetric, (as in the pipes the RBCs are delivering to give to schools), does appear to be a reasonable proxy for the couple of HDTV channels that would deliver what most consumers and businesses currently want. But it is only one step on a journey in which gbps pipes to the community centre will be commonplace across most of the world – and to the most homes by 2020.   

More-over it is the delivered end-over-end service, not the performance of the “last mile” that counts, 



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Point of clarification: Schools do not themselves pay the installation costs. These are funded through the harnessing technology (capital) grant. More-over schools use of broadband is not unidirectional it is bi directional with central hosting for a long list of beneficial vfm and green issues as well as two way communication for school management, buildings management and surveillance and voice communications as well as the obvious support for teaching and learning. The issue that exists is about LAs being able to afford getting broadband (not ADSL) in to remote schools. Any school without this level of connectivity is increasingly disadvantaged.

I am trying to check whether the allegations about problems with CESG guidance are another case of different interpretations as to how local authorities and others could, let alone should, comply with the mandatory "Codes of Connection" for those at risk of substantial harm (Level 3 as for connection to the DWP and HMRC master databases).

Arguably all of us, not just our children are at more risk with regard to our on-line banking access and/or "over-enthusiastic" use of social networks - but that is a debate for the Class of 2010: the new MPs who will have been elected in a campaign that some expect to be full of on-line durty tricks ? political cyberwarfare.