Thursday, January 07, 2010

UK Government consults on NGA FTTC access

As you'll all know by now, the UK government's 'flagship' (sic) regressive 50p/line tax on fixed telecoms (i.e. BT lines) is forecast to raise £1billion by 2017 - and it now wants to know how to spend the money. I'd have thought there are four principles:
1. not to cross-subsidise mobile any more - so the money must go back into BT's network and other fixed telecoms.
2. to ensure it doesn't interfere with commercial roll-out, so it should be in places where there is not the slightest possibility of BT actually rolling out VDSL, i.e. where loop lengths and other factors make it impossible to achieve speeds over 50Mbps.
3. not to fund second home owners, lairds of the manor and far-flung farms (they can use satellite, on a case-by-case subsidy basis if necessary) in remote locations, but actual communities.
4. I would suggest that means the fourth is that such connectivity be shared as widely and freely as possible inside the community via local WiFi-sharing and microwave from the link. Of course, that might involve, shock horror, some anonymous file-sharing slips through the net, so UKGov is planning to outlaw that in their ludicrous Digital Economy Bill.
P.S. A warning from history: remember a decade ago, the predictions that ADSL could not reach 99% of the country (and ISDN 5-7 years before that?), and the villages having to club together to persuade BT to upgrade their exchange. That proved that there was demand for basic broadband - I bet the same happens to NGA so that BT's '40% by 2012' and the NGA Fund's '90%+ by 2017' are only separated by the bureaucratic waste of collecting this tax from Bt customers and then giving it back via the fund...here's a snippet from 2 November 1999:
David Harrington, director general of the Telecoms Managers Association (TMA) emailed Silicon.com saying: "If ecommerce is to roll-out across the UK we must have universal broadband access. Oftel must take urgent action to consider and upgrade the basic Universal Service Obligation on the dominant operator (defined as basic, affordable, analogue voice) to provide affordable broadband of at least 2Mbps to every customer who requests it."

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