Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

High Cost of Converting UK To High-Speed Broadband

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the at-least-the're-doing-the-math dept.

Networking 268

Smivs notes a BBC report on a government study toting up the high cost of converting the UK to high speed broadband, which could exceed £28.8 B ($52.5 B). The options examined range from fiber to the neighborhood, providing 30-100 Mbps connections for a total cost of £5.1 B ($9.3 B), up to individual fiber to the home offering 1 Gbps to each household at a cost of £28.8 B. England's rural areas could pose tough choices. In the lowest-cost, fiber-to-the-neighborhood scenario, "The [group] estimates that getting fiber to the cabinets near the first 58% of households could cost about £1.9 B. The next 26% would cost about £1.4 B and the final 16% would cost £1.8 B."

cancel ×

268 comments

Just do it, already. (3, Insightful)

AccUser (191555) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930463)

I'm getting 160kbps on my ADSL connection, and it sucks. Roll me out some fibre, please...

It's an island, how hard can it be ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930801)

It's just an island. Take about greedy motherfuckers! I can run a war for a month on that amount of money.

Re:Just do it, already. (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930823)

You think you got it bad. Out in Dibley the Vicar can barely get 56K and that's only if the local sheep herder is not out shagging his sheep and wankering with the lines.

Re:Just do it, already. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930911)

Hello, American.

Re:Just do it, already. (3, Insightful)

khakipuce (625944) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931067)

They should spend the money that they are spending on rolling out Digital TV on this. By the time they get Digital TV rolled out every where a lot of people will be watching TV over the internet anyway.

Re:Just do it, already. (4, Informative)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931129)

BT are too busy spending £12bn converting the core network to IP (dubbed "21CN" - 21st Century network). None of the current core networks are up to the growing load of existing broadband, never mind stuff 10x or 100x faster.

e pluribus unim (1, Flamebait)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930465)

Ouch. I wonder how britain electrified, did they pass the cost of the few onto the many?
--
Blackshot [blackshotfps.com]

Re:e pluribus unim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931005)

kinda..
out in ye olde sticks we have low quality lekky.
normally floating arround 220v rather than 240v and it cuts out a bit more than normal :(

Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil loss (5, Insightful)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930477)

Providing this level of internet infrastructure will be a viable investment for the future. Realistically this level of investment will keep them ahead of the pack for the next 10 years and during that time it will open the doors for businesses that typically operated on sneaker net to operate online. Faster transfer speeds mean more business gets done. More business means a better economy, which through taxes will easily recoup this initial loss.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (0, Troll)

pzs (857406) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930545)

Really? Does business really suffer from slow broadband speeds? Occasionally, I have to wait an extra 30 seconds for a file download but it's hardly impacting my productivity. What kind of business needs a really fat pipe to prosper?

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930563)

porn.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (3, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930609)

Businesses that use online software, for one

Then there are distributed systems that have pieces all over the place. I once worked on a system that had printers in all of their local offices and sent out batch jobs all over the World. Even with today's fast everything, things would bog down.

But yeah, for just internet surfing, I agree with you.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (4, Insightful)

Nuskrad (740518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930613)

What kind of business needs a really fat pipe to prosper?

Businesses involved in delivery of digital content? A lot of the big TV names in the UK are offering on demand streaming video via the internet (BBCi, 4OD, ITV, Sky and Virgin). They're now starting to trial streaming of HD content, but with the lack of high speed connection it's not really a viable option for most people, and with HD devices starting to become more popular, pretty soon most people are going to want it.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

pzs (857406) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930631)

Businesses involved in delivery of digital content?

Right, so what you're saying is that existing business may not benefit that much from fatter pipes, but new businesses can spring up (or existing business can diversify) that use them to deliver content that was previously impossible.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930683)

I think he was just giving a single example off the top of his head, at no point did he ever say that it was the ONLY business type that could take advantage of faster connections.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (2, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931113)

Not just those businesses. The company I work for has a distributed workforce, but only has a thin pipe to the main server because that's all that's available at realistic cost (it's only been about a year that broadband has been available there at all). Waiting 30 seconds to download a file? Pah! At busy times I can wait a couple of minutes just to open a folder. That means that instead of working live on the server, I work on local copies of all files and up- and download them in batches, which leads to backup and configuration management headaches. Most of our customers are abroad, so in our little way we are boosting the UK economy. I suspect this is an issue for a lot of small- to medium-sized enterprises.

Remember - It's a download, not a loss. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930733)

"Businesses involved in delivery of digital content?"

Pfft! Outsource it to Piratebay. You can trust Piratebay. This ad brought to you by Piratebay.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (3, Funny)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930745)

The BBC iPlayer already offers TV shows in HD and my "measily" 4mb ADSL connection handles it absolutely fine, even when others in the house are also browsing the web etc.

I'd love to brag about having a 100mb connection as much as anyone else who reads slashdot, but I can't really say my life suffers much from not having one.

Some of us can't even get 2mbps. (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930795)

Out in the sticks a friend only gets 1mbps. BBC iPlayer can't quite cope with that - and unfortuately unlike YouTube won't stream the entire file when paused, just the first few minutes, then stops downloading. Watch 3 minutes, wait to buffer for 5, then repeat.

Which kinda makes using BBC iPlayer there impossible. For me on 2mbps though, its fine.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (2, Insightful)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930917)

It's not just individual line rates that are the issue - there is contention to take into account too. You can bet that if everyone that is contending for your bandwidth all streamed HD video simultaneously everything would grind to a halt.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

denominateur (194939) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931037)

what the bbc iplayer offers is not HD... it's a highly artifacted h264 stream at a ~512 resolution, try watching it on a large HDTV and you'll see.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931089)

I think this is great, because until recently I had an account with Virgin. This was supposed to be 20Mb, which is roughly equivalent to 2.5MB, of which - if we were lucky - we got maybe 1MB of connection, on a really good day. So, by my calculations, 100Mb in actual terms means roughly 5MB connectivity to the internet. Doesn't sound so shocking now, does it?

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930753)

Except that if ISPs like Virgin Media get their way [slashdot.org] , only the big boys will be able to deliver content at acceptable speed anyway.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930627)

What kind of business needs a really fat pipe to prosper?

First thing that came to mind was Pr0n.

and as we are often told, Tis better to GIVE than RECEIVE!!

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930705)

I work in a UK satellite office, for a US based organisation. We have a VPN to the US servers, tunnelled over the internet. A faster internet connection could halve the time it takes me to do an Subversion update. It could halve the time it takes me to get a large trace file needed to solve a customer's problem. And it would make me less frustrated. All of these mean more productivity.

However, TFA is talking about household internet.

I can think of two ways businesses can benefit.

Firstly, employers of home workers, for the same reasons as office workers benefit.

Secondly, businesses that stand to gain from this are ones that are feeding rich content to home Internet users. Whether it's ad-supported Flash games, e-commerce sites with lots of supporting movies/sounds/images, or retailers of online content (e.g. iTunes), the faster your customer's pipe, the more enjoyable their experience becomes, and the more they're likely to spend (or gain you in ad revenue).

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (2)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930809)

Third, all that money will go into the pockets of the companies that will deploy those pipes (buy their shares!), minus what occasionally will make its way back to who signed the bills ;-)

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930955)

Firstly, employers of home workers, for the same reasons as office workers benefit.

In my experience in IT here in the UK, if most/all of your work can be done from home then it will likely be outsourced to India, in which case the speed of household Internet connections in the UK is of little importance.

Secondly, businesses that stand to gain from this are ones that are feeding rich content to home Internet users. Whether it's ad-supported Flash games, e-commerce sites with lots of supporting movies/sounds/images, or retailers of online content (e.g. iTunes), the faster your customer's pipe, the more enjoyable their experience becomes, and the more they're likely to spend (or gain you in ad revenue).

Online distribution of rich content kinds of entertainment (such as movies and TV series) could really take off with this. However the main things holding back an explosion of high quality Net-based digital media are:

  • Content owners are wrapping their content in proprietary/incompatible DRM-heavy formats (or worse, not making the content available at all online).
  • Internet access providers are themselves trying to become content distributors, creating fenced and proprietary solutions (setup-box + own DRM) so as to add a higher margin business (overcharged Pay-per-view and content distribution) to the increasingly commoditised business of providing Interned access and to increase customer lock in.

This is hindering the spread of simple, cheap net-connected PVRs and similar devices that connect directly to the TV.

Until people can buy a generic £30 online digital media box at Tesco (like they buy a PVR or DVD player) which works with any ISP and lets them play most movies and TV series on their TV directly from the Net, there will be no real consumer market for 100Mbs plus Internet access.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931011)

In my experience in IT here in the UK, if most/all of your work can be done from home then it will likely be outsourced to India, in which case the speed of household Internet connections in the UK is of little importance.

I appreciate that we're just trading in anecdotal evidence here, but while I myself am office based, a significant number of my UK colleagues are home workers, and yet more split their week between home working and coming to the office.

The IBM location in my town reduced its desk count, introduced mandatory hot-desking, and encouraged people to work from home some of the time.

the internet can replace a lot of human travel (5, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930785)

How about better real time teleconferencing as opposed to sending humans on expensive jet airplanes all over to meetings, or for workers who can work at home instead of physically commuting daily to the office?

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (2, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930817)

How about online backup services for small businesses that generate more data daily than could be pushed over a T1 during the backup cycle?

And why not streaming HD content at a minimum of 20 Mbit/s? Why not 1 Gbit/s? We always know the connection will never be fast enough... but for god's sake... all we ever seem to do here is talk about it. If we just sit here and bitch about how slow it is, and the super wealthy assholes that own stake in the current infrastructure bitch about how fiber rollout will prevent them from buying their third airliner, nothing will ever get done.

It's about time the phone company spent some money for once, instead of just absorbing tax credits and making more money doing the same thing.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930857)

Spam, Porn, Illegal downloads, Mafia....

Oh the legitimate ones, Remote tech support, daytrading, Online Security analyst.

If you have a online business, you're mental not having it at a central hosting location. It's not worth being able to walk over and touch the server for the price difference of the broadband and support that needs to go with it.

Honestly you can very easily support an online Store over 128K line. I have a friend that supports his 6 figure online income via a cellular connection.

If you ae dealing with high bandwidth content, then what is wrong with your executives being located in a place where you dont already have very high bandwidth availability? You need to physically beat to death your advisors that told you to build 64 miles away from the nearest optical node the telcos have.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (4, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930865)

The spying business ?

How else are they going to install the spy cams inside the TV's and stream all that data back to Big Brother (and no, I'm NOT talking about the one with the confessional etc.) ?

What better way to ensure that single parents are not cohabiting, or that everyone is segregating their rubbish ... and just along the way, perhaps one time in 10 million, we might actually catch someone making coke bottle bombs out of hydrogen peroxide ... so it must be worth the price.

And just think about all the employment we can create, paying people 12 pence about minimum wage so they can watch other people. No more pesky unemployment figures to worry about.

China might have talked about doing it years ago, but only the nanny state of UK could actually pull it off, in the name of "security".

Posted by a cynical ex-brit who left blighty 12 years ago, and never looked back.

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930915)

The most obvious example would be high street video game and movie retailers. They'd probably still keep a few high street shops just for a bit of presence, but there wouldn't really be a need to have them anymore.

Storage Area Networks would also start making a lot more sense. Online backup services for both business and home use would be able to flourish.

Then there are things like making more use of thin clients, people hooking into their home machines and playing games on them etc. A lot of that will come down to latency, but bandwidth can be important too for transferring a lot of sound and colour information. There are probably plenty things that would suddenly become possible that we just never even previously considered because it would have been far too slow.

I agree that there are many businesses that don't really need more bandwidth, but it certainly wouldn't hurt. Our own business has users in other offices and out on the road that connect via VPN. Having a faster line would make transferring encrypted traffic a less painful experience (though again some connection speed issues just come down to latency).

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930937)

A business like mine that has 30 sites all interlinked and sharing data, with nightly transfers to headoffice for management reporting, intra-site backups using rsync and a VoIP network.

Don't specifically need 'FAT' but a full sync of all our data (only needed occasionally) takes 10 hours over 8Mbit DSL.

We've looked at fibre: 5K (GBP) install and then 7K year to operate - per site. having to consider it for our new HQ where the projected copper DSL speed is 1.5Mbit/sec

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931007)

it's hardly impacting my productivity.

It's hardly affecting [slashdot.org] your productivity. This is Slashdot, not a marketing department or a boardroom. Let's use English instead of Marketese. Further reading [mtholyoke.edu] .

Re:Remember - It's an investment, not a $50bil los (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931099)

The company I work for surveys powerlines for utility companies. We cannot transfer 1000 x 15MB still images in anything like reasonable time and cost. And don't even think about hte video surveys we do.

So yes. Business is being held back.

overtaken by new technologies (5, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930481)

They're talking about digging up streets to lay fibre to provide households with 1GB/S internet connections.

Apart from retaining the bottlenecks present at the sites people visit (what point is 1GB to the home, when the site you're downloading from is limited to 300KBit/S) isn't this simply the last throes of "old" technology?

Countries are already starting to use WiMax and no doubt when the problems around scaling it are fixed, this will be a much more cost effective (and far less disruptive) approach than cutting more trenches just to lay fibre to the home).

The biggest part fo the problem is providing a service in rural areas - where the low population density makes the cost of each circuit disproportionately high. Even if the decision is made (on purely financial grounds) to "fibre" urban areas, there's still need to be a different solution for areas where this isn't economically viable.

Re:overtaken by new technologies (5, Interesting)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930527)

They're talking about digging up streets to lay fibre

They don't HAVE to though. Check out http://www.fibrecity.eu/fibrecity-england.htm [fibrecity.eu]

They're doing this near me at the moment, unfortunately I'm *just* outside the catchment area. Googles April Fools joke comes true...

Re:overtaken by new technologies (2, Funny)

ipX (197591) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930575)

Googles April Fools joke comes true...

Damn. You were serious...

Q: When will work start and will this mean digging up roads in the area?

A: Work is scheduled to start in September. The sewer will be used where possible...

Source [fibrecity.eu]

Re:overtaken by new technologies (2)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930789)

Oh no, not another one of these "Once we've solved the problems with interference and the shared bandwidth nature of wireless it's gonna be teh awesomes cos I likes has a wireless-g rooter n its awesomes".

Seriously, wireless access to the internet should be regarded as a low-bandwidth, low-reliability and mobile solution, not something that you try to sell to unsuspecting customers because you're too cheap to lay down fibre (or even copper in some places).

It's like ADSL here in .se, around 1997-1998 it was stated by politicians that the plan was to provide fibre or equivalent connections to most of Sweden but that this might take a few years and in the meantime DSL would be quite common, especially in rural areas. Well, it's ten years later, ISPs are generally touting ADSL2+ Annex.M as the coolest thing available (24/3 Mbps) and there are a few test customers with VDSL2. The 100/100 fibre connections for everyone? Yeah, like that's gonna happen, they blew all the money they got for that on buying DSLAMs....

/Mikael

Re:overtaken by new technologies (2, Informative)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930843)

"the last throes of "old" technology?"

Whilst WiMax offers some great oppurtunities, wired solutions offer several inherent advantages over wireless solutions, including:

1) Data privacy & security can be better ensured using wired connections.

2) Wired bandwidth can always be scaled up massively by laying more/bigger cables. Available bandwidth for WiMax has limitations (unless we can utilize "subspace" of course!).

3) Wired connections have better ping times, quite important for many of the things requiring super-fast broadband (e.g. online software & distributed computing). As optical routing & computing develops, fibre optic networks will incur even less latency; down to levels simply wireless will never be able to acheive (again, neglecting "subspace" connections).

Re:overtaken by new technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930945)

NTL bought up Cablevision, I think they're now Virgin. Cablevision laid fibre all the way to the roadside box, and then coax up to the door 10 years ago. Let's not take any crap about this, it's already there, they're just up to a ruse to get more govt handouts.

Re:overtaken by new technologies (1)

[000000] (130723) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930999)

This is true, its called Dark Fibre and ISP's often lease out this unused fiber to other smaller ISP's. The problem is down to finance. Who is running this project, the government. The dark fiber is owned bu ISP's. If they hand over to the government the loose the investment (Even if its not used at the moment).

Re:overtaken by new technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931039)

95% of the UK population live in urban centres. The UK is the most urbanised nation on Earth. Of the 5% that do live in the country, only about 1% are involved in the rural economy. The other 4% are a bunch of yuppies who want to have "a very big house in the country" yet keep their pushy big city jobs. I feel for the farmers, but the rest of the twonks need to accept that they can't have their cake and eat it. If they want services, move to where the services are. I don't see why the UK population should subsidise luxuries for a segment of the population that's already got more disposable income than most to start with.

Re:overtaken by new technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931061)

Fibre overtaken by WiMax? Are you for real? Fiber will always be able to deliver /far/ more bandwidth than WiMax ever will. Bandwidth from your premises to the base station will be contended with all of your WiMax-using neighbours. Fibre plugged into a switch will give you a dedicated [say] 1Gbps link to to the switch, and lower latency to boot. The cost of WiMax spectrum to provide 1000 urban premises with the same kind of bandwidth that can be delivered with fibre will make the cost of running fibre through sewers [or even digging up the roads] look like pocket change.

Re:overtaken by new technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931109)

WiMax cannot not deliver the 1GB/s this project is aiming for. First of all, the spectrum is limited, and shared. And prone to noise and interference. Have you ever tried to use a LAN interconnected by wireless, and then tried to use the same LAN connected by a switch? It is like night and day. For a given level of technology, wired (and I'm including 'fiber' with 'wired') will always be faster than wireless.

Now in rural areas, I'll grant you, that wireless may be more practical. Working in its favor is that there's fewer people competing for the same spectrum. Working against wired's favor is the long distances to reach a small number of connections.

Re:overtaken by new technologies (2, Informative)

leathered (780018) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931157)

Countries are already starting to use WiMax and no doubt when the problems around scaling it are fixed...

Unfortunately, that involves fixing those pesky laws of physics.

Why not roll it out in reverse order? (5, Interesting)

AccUser (191555) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930489)

I am presuming that the cost of rolling out fibre to the final 16% is based on the previous 84% having already been done, but why not start with the customers with the most need?

End users in towns and cities tend to have the higher rate ADSL services, some now achieving 24Mbps, which seems more than adequate for the time being. Get the rural customers that have the greatest need served first...

Re:Why not roll it out in reverse order? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930639)

this should be in school books next to topic The most Uneconomic thinking ever

Re:Why not roll it out in reverse order? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930657)

Yeah, in the "Now for some good ideas" section.

Lets measure quality not only quantity (4, Interesting)

what about (730877) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930523)

I have and ADSL connection that is supposedly at 1.5Mbps downstream, 320kbps upstream. It was working well until July, that means having basically zero lost packets on the first visible IP hop good minimum latency 54ms and reasonable max roundtrip (about 100ms) on the usual five minutes MRTG

After July Telecom Italia probablly channeled my ATM stream into a busy trunk since I now have about 2% lost packets, extreme jitter on roundtrip (not uncomon to have one second roundtrip on my first IP hop) and so basically my conncetion is BAD for voip and annoying for http

To measure all of this I use a modified MRTG [engidea.com]

So, it is good to have a high speed phisical link, but do not forget to check the rest of the infrastructure, othervise the first high speed link is just to make you pay more but give NO additional benefit at all

The cost is peanuts (4, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930537)

One major UK problem is the Government's feeble approach to infrastructure. When the Conservatives complain that privatising it has been too expensive, you know a supposedly Labour government has got it wrong. However, the quoted cost for neighbourhood fibre is less than the cost of just making the railway line between London and Glasgow work, or of staging that ultimate willy-waggling folly the Olympics. Which do you want the UK to be in 20 years - South Korea or Portugal?

Disclaimer: here where we are in the UK we have cable. And HSDPA. And we get much more bandwidth to Marin County or Cupertino, CA than we do to North London, UK, or to the non-cable equipped BT supplied town eight miles away. It isn't just rural areas; the whole BT infrastructure badly needs fixing, and there is no way that the company that until recently said the Internet would be a passing fad is going to do the job properly.

Re:The cost is peanuts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930669)

Of course the management at BT will drag their feet on the chance of a handout from the government, just like our "public" transport operators. Blame the WTO! When we had public utilities we were all shareholders, now they've all been privatised yet the public still "subsidises" (funds) them through taxation. How do I get a job like that, one where I'm rewarded for failure?

I recall trying to get ADSL in '97, our exchange was eventually enabled in 2001; an eternity in tech years. By failing to roll-out DSL when it was current generation tech, BT cut their ROI and now the technology is rapidly approaching obselescence. Instead of FTTH, BT are hard at work on rolling out network level malware known as Phorm. The free market wouldn't tolerate such follies so the only conclusion you can draw from all this is that the incumbent is still very much a government sanctioned monopoly.

Re:The cost is peanuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930835)

I don't understand the comparison to Portugal... Could you explain please?

Re:The cost is peanuts (1)

LEMONedIScream (1111839) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930847)

Our university horror story involved 80kb/s download speeds in Aberystwyth for a household of 8. With at least 3 wanting to use torrents/rapidshare, another using VOIP willy nilly and the rest demanding YouTube to actually play smoothly 24/7. When that 80kb/s is hit, the rest of the Internet hits the dirt, all other subsequent connections are lucky to get 1kb/s.

Anyway, looking into this we found that BT own all of the major household infrastructure in the UK (aside from separate networks like JANET) and that most other broadband sellers are simply reselling their infrastructure.

So, despite exchanges in our area being completely overloaded (it was apparently the same for everyone), BT refused to do nothing. Fortunately they do have a plan: 21cn [btplc.com] (that would be 21st Century Networks ~ took me a while) that is essentially upgrading everything to fast (can't remember how fast) while reducing maintenance costs etcetc. Sounds brilliant, except that it's due to finish in 2011 with Aberystwyth being one of the last places to upgrade iirc.

Somehow, our university can hand us 10mb (shared down/up -- it has a particular name that I can't remember) connections without seeing the speeds drop at all across the year.

Re:The cost is peanuts (1)

shin0r (208259) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930853)

We've been conditioned in the UK to expect the moon on a stick for nothing - sure I'd like to have 100mbps to my house, but would I be willing to pay £100 a month for my broadband connection? No chance.

BT are a private company; why would they want to foot the entire bill for this? If FTTP is going to happen properly it needs proper government backing.

BT are already rolling out fibre: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7506742.stm [bbc.co.uk]

It's easy to knock BT but seemingly difficult for many people to understand the reasons we don't already have FTTP.

Re:The cost is peanuts (1)

mrrudge (1120279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930973)

Nah, in the UK we've been conditioned to expect ineptitude, in the last two months alone:

- It took me a week to start the process of reactivating a BT phone line to my new apartment, as *the system is down*.
- The phone line to my workplace was disconnected, for no reason, taking a ( No internet. We're a mainly web based graphics company ) week to re-connect.

The trains don't work, the airports don't work...

If you are in the UK, however, I can heartily recommend Be ( bethere.co.uk [bethere.co.uk] ) 24 meg for £18 pcm. ( No affiliation, just a happy customer. )

Re:The cost is peanuts (3, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931143)

Which do you want the UK to be in 20 years - South Korea or Portugal?

As Portugal is already ahead of the UK in any broadband ranking [itif.org] and is already deploying a nation-wide fiber optic network that will offer 100Mbit/s connectivity in any domestic connection [diarioeconomico.sapo.pt] then maybe, just maybe, you could not only get your facts straight but also avoid sounding like an idiot with all those racist remarks.

By the way, I'm Portuguese and I already pay 19 euros a month for an unlimited, 8Mbit/s connection.

Fishy (3, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930547)

In the early-ish days of ADSL in Britain, it was quite common to check for availability, only to be told "Oh sorry, there's fibre running to your property - ADSL needs copper".

So unless they were really stupid and removed it, there's already an awful lot of fibre under people's streets.

I never understood the problem. Surely nobody cares whether they have ADSL or some other technology, as long as the bytes get to their TCP stack. Either market some fibre-based endpoint, or mass-produce fibre-ADSL media convertors and install them at the appropriate point.

Re:Fishy (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930591)

agreed, NTL and telewest (now Virgin Media) have laid down a great deal of this fibre network already.

The cost to finish laying to the entire country is probably included in the 5.1B (fibre to the street)

Re:Fishy (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930831)

Wasn't it the wonder known as ISDN that stopped people getting ADSL? I'm not sure what cabling that's based on, but it could be fibre.

My parents had to make the choice with ISDN:
ISDN now, 128kbps symmetrical internet connection that allows phone and internet to be used together. Connection cost to switch. Different wiring so that adsl won't be available unless a cost is paid to reconnect the old line. Fairly expensive contract as well.
Keep ~48kbps dialup for a few years but not be able to use the phones while me and my brothers are online, get adsl when it finally arrives
Get the phone line split, downgrade to 28kbps dialup but allowing the phones and the internet (or in theory two phones and no internet) at once, get adsl when it finally arrives.

They went for the latter. It was sensibly cheap compared to ISDN, and gave all the advantages of broadband (with anytime unlimited dialup) except internet speed and ping times. Anything larger than 10MB or so had to be downloaded with a download manager running overnight. Of course they gave up the "phone at the same time as the internet" advantage by giving my sister a phone in her room. After a few months they bought her a mobile and removed it :P
Even better, me and my brothers were sharing that wonderful internet connection 3-ways with a LAN...

The village had its own exchange, and for most of the ADSL rollout there wasn't enough people [i]connected to it[/i] to fill the "number of people who must be interested before we'll upgrade the exchange" quota. Now that they finally have upgraded it, my parents get full 8Mbps ADSL. It's a bit difficult for me to use from 250 miles away, but my younger brother enjoys being able to actually play online games instead of getting the 2000ms pings I "enjoyed".

I suspect it will take them just as long to finally roll out fibre to that exchange as it did ADSL.

Re:Fishy (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930943)

ISDN2/2e is very definitely not fibre, it's delivered over exactly the same pair of wires as your normal phone line or your ADSL line for that matter.

The issues with connection are that the ISDN equipment is physically in a different place in the telephone exchange than your phone line, or the ADSL equipment, so an engineer must physically go to the exchange, pull out the wiring for your line and re-jumper it on the MDF (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_frame).

Before some eagle-eyed pedant points it out, ISDN30 (for PABX) is delivered over 2Mbit/s plesiosyncronous digital carrier which is often a fibre bearer.

Re:Fishy (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931019)

ISDN is simply copper over normal phone line. Essentially it's digital packets over POTS (that's simplified and not 100% true, but it's enough). I have ISDN *and* ADSL. It's no problem at all: the hardware was a bit more expensive (less demand), but I have a nice fallback 64kbp and instant-on (single B-Line ISDN) and I can still call. Well, if my ADSL line drops which is, ehm, pretty much never.

ISDN itself was great during the days ADSL was not yet on the market. The line was faster, reliable, and instant on. These days, for the consumer with 1 phone and 1 internet connection (DSL) it doesn't make a difference.

Probably actually aluminum cables (4, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930879)

In fact it almost certainly wasn't fibre. BT experimented with a lower cost aluminium cabling system for a while for POTS. This is what they probably meant. The aluminium cables are so low bandwidth they cannot handle ADSL. In fact, one or two large corporations were caught out like this including npower, who found they could not get ADSL to their HQ in Worcester.

I can assure you that if there was cable in your area with FTTK, BT would be the very last people in the world to tell you. A Telewest salesman once told me that Telewest liked to employ people who had actually been sacked by BT rather than being made redundant, because redundant employees still believed one day they might get their jobs back, and so didn't want to sell against BT. The attitude Telewest liked was the guy who, in WW2 fighter style, put a little telephone sticker on his car every time he managed to move a business away from BT.

Re:Fishy (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930901)

Rubbish. BT never laid any fibre to consumer premises. Private cable companies did, but mainly when new estates were built in the 60's and 70's. So BT couldn't even have checked for fibre as it wasn't part of their network. And in the early days of ADSL, BT was the only game in town.

Re:Fishy (1)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931087)

It's not rubbish. There's a very large housing development in Aylesbury, Fairford Leys, which was cabled with fibre when it was built. BT had to overlay it with copper because they wouldn't provide a broadband service over fibre and everyone was stuck with dial-up. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there were similar situations across the whole country, given the proliferation of these types of development over the last 10 years.

Re:Fishy (1)

locofungus (179280) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931071)

In some places there was main exchange -> fiber -> roadside box exchange -> copper -> consumer.

In the early days of ADSL it wasn't physically possible to fit ADSL equipment into the roadside box exchange. I think this might now have changed BICBW.

Tim.

Ha. Well, there's no harm in calculating. (1)

Cloud K (125581) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930567)

It'd be nice if they'd actually *do* something like this though, but I can't see it happening. This is kind of like standing in an Apple shop going "Mmmmm pretty. Shame I can't afford it."

Spend the Olympics money on it; we'll only make a complete and total Millennium Dome style "designed by clowns" cockup of that anyway.

The thing with opening up massive broadband though is that something will also have to be done about bandwidth costs for the sites that are being downloaded from.

They're missing the point! (5, Insightful)

ribuck (943217) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930569)

For now and the next few years, most people would be more than thrilled to get the 8 to 24Mb/sec that they have paid for. This only needs more backbone, not the ultra-expensive "last mile infrastructure".

Fiber can then be laid opportunistically when infrastructure is upgraded, then connected together wherever the demand arises. To spend enormous amounts of tax money debating hypothetical universal options is stupid.

Re:They're missing the point! (1)

ThomsonsPier (988872) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931017)

Fiber can then be laid opportunistically when infrastructure is upgraded

Stop expecting companies to coordinate themselves properly. If three companies (or three departments from the same company) need to dig up the road, the road will be dug up and refilled three times.

This is Great Britain, you know. That's how we do things here.

Re:They're missing the point! (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931105)

For now and the next few years, most people would be more than thrilled to get the 8 to 24Mb/sec that they have paid for. This only needs more backbone, not the ultra-expensive "last mile infrastructure".

In a lot of people's cases, that will mean replacing the ageing, poor-quality phonelines between them and the exchange. If you're going to replace them anyway, might as well do it with something that you're not going to need to replace again in a couple of years time.

Re:They're missing the point! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931153)

For now and the next few years, most people would be more than thrilled to get the 8 to 24Mb/sec that they have paid for. This only needs more backbone, not the ultra-expensive "last mile infrastructure".

The problem is not the lack of backbone in BT's network. The problem is the cost. A 622Mbps "Central Pipe" [that connects ISPs to customers that they sold BT's IPstream DSL service to] costs circa £1M per annum.

Still cheaper than... (5, Insightful)

paulhar (652995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930581)

Still cheaper than the money they will end up wasting on ID cards.

The UK is larger than England... (5, Informative)

hmallett (531047) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930589)

England's rural areas could pose tough choices

I would imagine that the rural areas of Scotland and maybe Wales would pose tougher choices, as they are also in the UK.

Re:The UK is larger than England... (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930787)

You might thing so but you would be wrong. I would appear that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly already see this as an issue and are making have made the investment to fix the problem to at least some extent.

Maths (3, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930593)

From TOA - £28 billion fibre infrastructure bill.
Currently there are 16 million households with Internet access in Britain [statistics.gov.uk] .

If all of them adopted fibre, the cost per household would therefore be £1750, which would need to be recouped in ISP charges etc. over the course of this generation of technology's lifetime. Maybe £350 a year over 5 years = £30 a month.

That's more than I currently pay for unmetered ADSL, and doesn't factor in any profits, nor all the other stuff ISPs do.

OTOH commerce and government get a lot of value out of the Internet, so it makes sense to me that the effort should be funded by the public purse and taxes on business.

Universal Fibre? No (3, Insightful)

BBCWatcher (900486) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930673)

If all those households adopted fibre, then none of them would pay for ADSL. So you would have to subtract all current ADSL revenues from the pool of money available to fund this infrastructure. That's a big subtraction.

Chances are excellent that most households which already have ADSL would not switch to fibre unless the difference in price is zero (or very nearly zero). Slashdot audience aside, most households are perfectly content with ADSL "last mile" speeds, at least with the present range of Internet-delivered services.

Put these two facts together and one quickly concludes that, if the cost of the infrastructure is accurate, in order to execute the project the vast majority of funding would come from sources other than household rate payers. I really don't see the point given that there are likely much more attractive alternative business cases, including some combination of urban fibre, wireless, and improved copper-based technologies. Which coincidentally is exactly the approach Japan is taking. New high-rise apartment buildings in urban areas tend to get fibre, most of the rest of the country gets progressively faster ADSL, and various wireless data services keep getting more prevalent. Much of Tokyo has cheap 802.11b/g service available, for example, and the mobile telephone carriers keep boosting their data speeds.

Re:Maths (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931155)

If all of them adopted fibre, the cost per household would therefore be £1750, which would need to be recouped in ISP charges etc. over the course of this generation of technology's lifetime. Maybe £350 a year over 5 years = £30 a month.

So - I currently pay £19/month for "up to 8Mbps" (really at best 2.5Mbps and I don't get that sustained either) ADSL, or for an extra £30 plus say £10 profit a month (total £60/month) I could have 1Gbps fibre broadband?

I'm sold.

Cry me a river.. (1)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930633)

52 billion is not really all that much. Granted its enough to make one person filthy rich, but I'm guessing there's more than a few billionaires in London. Plus its not like the investment won't reap huge benefits.

If you really want to be scared do research on what it would take to upgrade the interwebs in a country like Russia, Canada, China, or the US. Note the extra zeros at the end.

Regardless, what will end up happening is it will flood the populated areas and sparsely inhabited areas will have to wait years unless someone important to the government lives there.

Re:Cry me a river.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931133)

The cost is NOT $52B. 28.8 billion pounds = 50.6 trillion US dollars. Only in the US does a billion have 9 zeros, the rest of the world has 12.

BT is ineffectual. (4, Informative)

fialar (1545) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930645)

There is a simple explanation of all this. BT is one of the most inept companies in the UK. I used to work for a DSL provider in the UK and had to deal with BT Wholesale all the time, who, in turn had to deal with BT OpenReach. It's a complete and utter mess thanks to the UK Gov't privatising and stifling actual competition.

Add to that, I've seen cases where a new customer signs up for ADSL. If that customer isn't a BT Broadband customer, BT OpenReach will "mysteriously" switch their copper to the cross-wired/noisy pair and miraculously, the BT Broadband customer will have the quietest lines!

It's a complete mess.

Re:BT is ineffectual. (1)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930967)

I agree BT is ineffectual, but please don't think engineers are that interested in the competition that they'd bother swapping an entire copper route onto a noisy pair.

For starters, the guy that does the exchange jumpering is not the same guy that does the route and customer end, and all the changes would need to be recorded in the routing system. It's really more hassle than it's worth.

More likely is that the rejumpering in the exchange introduces a fault, either a poor connection or dodgy protector module. Also, in many areas there just isn't enough good copper in the ground, which results in a lot of scrabbling round to find a functioning route.

How many times... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930661)

ENGLAND != UK

UK is made up of 4 countries, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Bloody England.

Fuckwits stop with this England is the UK already, ffs.

I see the future now...... (5, Funny)

spasmhead (1301953) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930665)

The real mother of all broadband - 1 gigabit fibre to your home

Download 10000 MP3's or 500 movies in 5 minutes*

All for only £500 a month (Fair usage limits apply**)


*From legal sources only, though everyone knows the only place you can get that amount of files is from illegal sources, even though we hate file sharers making us a bunch of 2 faced cunts.

**If you download more than 1Meg during some unspecified time limit that differs throughout the country we will limit your speed to 512k. Full speed will be reinstated after another unspecified time period. Unrestricted access is only available between the times of 01:00 - 01:10 each day.

Re:I see the future now...... (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930839)

The future's already here (according to Samuel L Jackson). Virgin ADSL already pull this sort of crap, glad I left them.

ISPs could change their tune... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931111)

Download 10000 MP3's or 500 movies in 5 minutes

Download up to 50 full DVD-sized linux ISO's in an hour*

* This service is meant for residental use only, daily bandwidth limit of 650MB applies.

3G LTE instead? (2, Interesting)

mapnjd (92353) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930671)

Or we could just let the Mobile Telecoms companies roll out 3G LTE http://snipurl.com/3ohwz [snipurl.com]
(should be here about as quickly as laying fibre to everyone's house...)

With T-Mo and 3UK consolidating their 3G RANs coverage is going to be expanded substantially.

Let's face it: the 3G licence holders (3UK, T-Mo, Orange, Voda and 02) paid a hell of a lot more
in the spectrum auction to HM Govt. than this £28.8bn!

Disclaimer: I work for a Managed Service company directly working on the 3/T-Mo consolidation.

Money Grabbing Profiteering Gluttens (3, Informative)

ChrisH619 (1319159) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930729)

This kind of topic REALLY rubs me the wrong way.

BT work great as a company, but have had no intention (until lately) to upgrade their networks or lay down a decent infrastructure for future improvements.

Work great as a company, much like the Petroleum companies in the UK, they can make a staggering profit, while screwing the consumers.

TeleWest/NTL/Virgin Media have had a solid network from the start, while BT prolly ridiculed them at spending such a vast amount on laying fibre.

Now when the profits are being squeezed & the copper core disadvantages are being highlighted, and every kbps is being used, BT/UK Govt complain of the Upgrade costs that have to be passed onto the consumer.

Needless to say I'm an ADSL, BT "boned" user, (although my ISP IS NOT BT), I only wish they had cable in my area.. :(

Re:Money Grabbing Profiteering Gluttens (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 5 years ago | (#24931145)

You should see the pavement outside my house and everyone else's house in Swindon - first town in the UK to have cable. Not only did Swindon Cable dig every single little bit of tarmac up 20-30 years ago for TV fiber, they thought it would be a good idea to dig it up again to lay super-duper fast cable for 50mbit speeds, on-demand services, 1000 channels of TV that no one watches - no one wanted any of this. No one wanted the mess.

None of the new houses, in the fastest growing town in the UK, have cable - work that one out.

Mess. Big mess.

Privatisation fked it up (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930755)

Before the state owned telecoms company was sold off they had plans to run fibre to the door of every home in the UK.

Then the cable TV companies ran fibre to the street cabinet.

Then BT ran fibre to the exchanges.

A fucking great duplication of effort and wasted opportunity.

Re:Privatisation fked it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24931149)

Even after privatisation the government fucked it up.

BT were actually willing to run fibre to every home in exchange for being able to compete with the cable companies in content delivery. Thatcher's government rejected the notion.

Of course, none of our public utilities/infrastructure should have been privatised anyway.

Rural isn't always slower though (1)

cruachan (113813) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930757)

I live in the Scottish Highlands, 3.5 Miles from the local exchange measured point to point. We don't have fibre of course, but we do seem to have extremely good copper - possibly because the branch of the line I'm on ends another 8 miles further down the glen. I routinely get 4.5Mb on my line (Demon as ISP), have seen 6.5Mb, and Demon tell me they are seeing a little over 7.2Mb raw connection speed at the Exchange. Furthermore because the exchange only has 130 people on it contention is virtually unknown.

Whilst I've love faster, bizzarly given the current state of the network I'd most likely see a drop in speeds if I moved into an urban area.

It ain't gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930871)

The new boss of BT was on Radio 4 recently talking about his "main focus" for the coming years is on customer service. This is like a fireman saying that he's going to do little more than put out the flames, rather than telling people not to juggle petrol cans and lit matches.

I really do fear that Britain is about to fall behind here. Several Asian nations are already at the stage described in TFA and, typically, we're "consulting" about it.

On the agenda (1)

kdcttg (980465) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930889)

Apparently the fibre option is already on the agenda for my area. It was announced in a newspaper last year, and the was a page on "the benefits to local businesses and residents" in a council propaganda magazine that came (uninvited) through the door yesterday.

Per capita? Compared to GDP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930891)

It's less than $860 per capita or 1,9% of the UK GDP. It's not quite pocket change, but not far from pocket change either.

Breaking news: It would cost over six billion dollars to give every person on earth a dollar!

802.11 N? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930893)

802.11 N supports up to about 300mbps, and has a range of .5 km, wouldn't it be more cost effective to dump a few of these around the place.

Really? (1)

OlivierB (709839) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930913)

It's funny how this is supposed to costs billions in the UK however in France they were able to roll out Fibre with 1000mbs products showing up almost everywhere for a sub 1bn investment (can't locate the source of this at the moment).

Funny how every other country with a successful Internet deploment strategy (France, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Korea, etc.) are all able to get this deployed without anybody getting out of business. The old dinosaur BT however needs oodles of cash. Yeah right.

Guess the old "Rip-off Britain" adage is still true (and I should know for living there!)

Source and report (2, Informative)

yogibaer (757010) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930927)

http://www.broadbanduk.org/ [broadbanduk.org] and the report (PDF):http://www.broadbanduk.org/component/option,com_docman/task,doc_download/gid,1036/Itemid,63/ (4 MB). Wy dont submitters bother to give the source of a news report?

Re:Source and report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24930941)

Link [broadbanduk.org] to make it easier.

fibre to the street cabinet (2, Insightful)

welshie (796807) | more than 5 years ago | (#24930959)

Fibre to the street cabinet, and then a DSLAM in the street cabinet means they don't have to disrupt customers too much, or make access appointments and so on, but it would mean maximum of ADSL2+ speeds.

Digging up streets is extremely expensive and labour-intensive, which is why when all the little local cable companies had built their networks, they had very little money to invest in the actual serice, and they ended up being taken over by what eventually merged into Virgin Media. Virgin Media seem to have no intention in laying cable to areas that never got finished in the initial build 12 years or so ago, and villages and small towns will probably never get cable. Remote rural users won't either.

Even if BT Openreach did run fibre to the street cabinet, there are many lines in rural locations that are many km from the nearest street cabinet, and wouldn't be able to get much better service if the DSLAM were relocated closer to their premises, and BT Openreach are hardly likely to install fibre to a new cabinet and install a DSLAM that is only going to serve 10 houses in a remote hamlet.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...