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Computer Weekly readers' give their views

Why can't we join the sheep on broadband?

The members of the Communications Management Association (CMA) have got it right (Computer Weekly, 7 February) - broadband is neither ubiquitous nor reasonably priced.

On the Isle of Mull, it seems almost every sheep has broadband. But here in the Thames Valley - the English silicon corridor - broadband is still not available to all homes and businesses.

Not only that, but many of us suffer flaky 512 connections but pay the same as those who get a solid 2Mbytes.

Kevin Fiske


Why price is not the key to broadband take-up

Regarding Antony Savvas' piece "Broadband is too pricey, say users" (Computer Weekly, 7 February), I was surprised to hear that such a high percentage of businesses are concerned by price, because in our experience, high levels of service and customer support rate as far more important. The main requirements we come across include high quality, reliable connections and responsiveness to any problems.

According to BT, coverage for broadband connections to UK homes and businesses is over 99%, which begs the question: where and why can't the 54% of businesses quoted get the service?

Expectations of the quality of broadband services have increased dramatically in recent years, and broadband has now achieved commodity status among UK businesses.

Most businesses are now focused on the next step up, namely voice over IP and convergence, both of which require significant increases in bandwidth, which standard broadband connections cannot always provide.

Conleth McCallan, Datanet


Mobilised workforce raises security concern

The news that by 2008 there will be over 500 mobile phone and PDA models on offer (Computer Weekly, 7 February) comes as no surprise, as the demand for mobile devices goes from strength to strength.

However, CIOs must also consider and address the risks of mobilising their workforce. An increasing number of stories are circulating about data theft in organisations being an "inside job" and devices such as high-capacity PDAs or other portable devices make stealing data from the network easier than ever, not to mention virtually untraceable.

With the inevitable increase in the movement of corporate files to and from portable devices, it is vital that firms invest in implementing safeguards to avoid data leaks. CIOs must ensure flexible working does not lead to lax IT security standards.

Matt Fisher, Centennial Software


The lessons of IT history are still being ignored

One hope that many of us had when Y2K hit the headlines was that the industry would start to learn some important lessons from history. Two major stories published in Computer Weekly (7 February) show it hasn't.

The first was the failure of Lloyd's of London to get end-user buy-in for Kinnect. I suspect the real reason was the same as when the Stock Exchange's real-time system went belly up a couple of days after Big Bang in 1985: the overworked IT people had got it right but couldn't persuade the big shots who run the Square Mile to devote sufficient resources to correct sizing and parallel running.

Perhaps there was a similar lack of commitment among the top management at Lloyd's.

The second story was about using water to cool equipment. In theory, great. But does HP think that all sites have free or low-cost electricity? I wouldn't be surprised if this doubles the power bill.

Chris Youett


Remote working not just an emergency measure

Mark Hanvey highlighted some interesting points in his article "Are you ready for a crisis?" (Computer Weekly, 7 February). I found his assertion - that businesses considering staff working from home in the event of a disaster would benefit from a cheaper and more flexible method of business continuity - absolutely on the mark.

However, it overlooks a key point - that the benefits of remote working go far beyond making provision for times of crisis. 

Business continuity plans have become increasingly sophisticated and with complex arrangements designed to re-house critical staff and provide rapid access to data and telephony systems offsite, considering the real viability of flexible staff working will indeed be key to maintaining "business as usual" in the event of business disruption.

Yet, if businesses are prepared to put in place facilities that enable staff to work from home in times of disaster or crisis, there is no reason why such technology can't be deployed day to day.

There needs to be a shift in management's mindset towards flexible working. As more staff begin to request the ability to work remotely, and with the increasing importance to roll out cost-effective business continuity strategies, organisations can begin to explore the value of flexible working in day-to-day business as well as crisis planning.

Graham Chick, GemaTech


It's time to consign the spreadsheet to history

It came as no surprise to hear that the Chartered Management Institute's survey revealed an over-reliance on spreadsheets for compliance monitoring (Computer Weekly, 7 February).

People have become emotionally attached to spreadsheets - they come bundled in standard desktop software, appear to do the job, and users feel proud of the macros and special functions they can build into them, no matter how unreliable they are.

What's more worrying is the fact that many respondents felt there is no real alternative. In fact, modern business intelligence tools - which make it easy to import data from multiple sources and provide a much more accurate view of a business' performance than the dreaded spreadsheet - would enable businesses to banish Excel for good.

Kevin Prone, ZEDA


Where can I find an electronic green box?

I am a long-standing reader of the electronic version of Computer Weekly. I was about to archive some of my older copies when I saw the entreaty to recycle after use.

Can you, or any reader, point me towards suppliers of electronic green boxes? Or is this a new venture possibility?

Peter Monk


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