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British Broadband Needs £1bn More Funding 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the filling-up-the-coffers dept.
judgecorp writes "A report from the London School of Economics says that funding for superfast broadband in Britain faces a £1.1 billion shortfall. It's a government priority, but rural areas are uneconomic to cable up. From the article: 'Britain is in danger of missing out on the economic and social benefits of superfast broadband due to a lack of government funding and e-skills, according to a new report. Research by the London School of Economics (LSE) and Convergys claims a funding gap of £1.1 billion could cause the government to miss its target of having the “best superfast broadband network” in Europe by 2015.'"
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British Broadband Needs £1bn More Funding

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  • wireless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sdnoob (917382)

    it's a small country.. should be easy enough to set up national fixed wireless service that reaches all but the most remote areas (e.g. areas that'd need multiple towers to reach a handful of households)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not _that_ small!

      And the UK currently has a Tory (well, coalition of Tory and spineless yea-sayers headed by a tory in all but name) government. "National" anything means private investment and government kickbacks to chums.

      • I like the name 'con-dems.' Though labour wouldn't be any better.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, small... but densely populated.

        • by sdnoob (917382)

          which should make it easier and cheaper, as more households and businesses already have cable to them (or have cable that passes them) for internet via cable or dsl... those profits should be able to fund the build-out of wireless (fixed or cellular) elsewhere (where it may not be 'cost effective' to upgrade wireline infrastructure) while still leaving a reasonable profit leftover for the pockets of corporate executives and the politicians they bribe ...
           

          • by neokushan (932374)

            The problem isn't the places that have cables near them already, it's the ones that don't. Most major cities these days are fine and by 2015 probably will have some form of cable, FTTC or both, but it's the small towns and villiages (of which there are many) that are miles away and only have a few residents. If there's only 30 people there and the nearest telephone exchange is 5 miles away, then how much is it going to cost to lay that much cable and blanket the area in wireless? Now split that cost up by 3

            • by Froggie (1154)

              My family lives in a small village.

              BT had an advertising campaign a couple of years back saying that anyone on BT could vote to get their exchange upgraded to BT Infinity. And yet, because their exchange was so small, it was impossible to reach the necessary 1000 person threshold to be counted.

              They're 25 miles away from two large cities, and yet their broadband runs at somewhere between 500 and 1000kbps, despite being well within the 14km ADSL line length limit - and that's when the wind isn't blowing, bec

              • by neokushan (932374)

                Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending BT or the government here - I fully support the idea of wiring up every single villiage and out-of-the-way house there is. I don't see why it should be any more difficult to lay fibre to these places than it is to lay water pipes or electricity - it's essentially just a different type of cable. An expensive one perhaps, but never the less fibre is the future.
                I was simply explaining to the poster above me who seemed to think that it shouldn't cost that much. I stand that

    • The british mainland is 800 miles long (1000 miles if you include the shetland and scilly isles) with 200 miles of mountains in scotland. While it may be small compared to the USA or russia its quite big compared to a lot of other countries.

      I get a bit tired of my country being pigeonholed as some tiny little quaint island one step up from marthas vineyard or similar.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        G' day

        Yes. Wiring up your little island which its of measure against tassie is nothing compared to writing up Australia. Big island. Lots of unpopulated areas. This is why the Australian nbn project plans to connect the 5 to 10% of real remote areas via sat link. Cheaper.

        Your problems are small in comparison. Be thankful.

      • by Jimbookis (517778)

        The british mainland is 800 miles long (1000 miles if you include the shetland and scilly isles) with 200 miles of mountains in scotland. While it may be small compared to the USA or russia its quite big compared to a lot of other countries.

        I get a bit tired of my country being pigeonholed as some tiny little quaint island one step up from marthas vineyard or similar.

        Your quaint little island has the same land area as my quaint little State of Victoria which has buggerall people in it. Your country is a step up from Iceland and has a shittier economy to boot. And crapper broadband.

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          "Your country is a step up from Iceland and has a shittier economy to boot."

          Really? I guess they haven't taught you how to use google down under yet. Not surprising considering as you say there are bugger all people and its all flies and dirt.

          But just FYI the GDP of the UK is about $2 trillion, iceland is about $12 billion.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        The british mainland is 800 miles long (1000 miles if you include the shetland and scilly isles)

        If we get to include the Shetlands and Scilly then should they have Hawaii and Alaska, giving them over 5000 miles as the crow files? [distance-c...ator.co.uk]

        • 4th most populated country in Europe 12th largest country in Europe ...

          If it were a US state it would easily be the most populous, (almost the same as California and Texas together) , and the 12th largest by area ...

  • for other industries they real beneficiaries are not the outlying regions but the connected in high places people who choose to have estates far from their primary place of work.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damienl451 (841528) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:06AM (#39888067)

    At a time when austerity is the word of the day and cuts are being made all over the place, I wonder whether "superfast broadband" in rural areas is the best way to use limited resources. Presumably, people choose to live in rural areas because they derive benefits from that (clear air, outdoors, less crime, community, etc.). Good for them! But why should city dwellers subsidize their rural lifestyle? If you choose to live in a rural area with low population density, you have to accept that perhaps your internet connexion will not be as fast as if you lived in bustling city.

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      At a time when austerity is the word of the day and cuts are being made all over the place, I wonder whether "superfast broadband" in rural areas is the best way to use limited resources. Presumably, people choose to live in rural areas because they derive benefits from that (clear air, outdoors, less crime, community, etc.). Good for them! But why should city dwellers subsidize their rural lifestyle? If you choose to live in a rural area with low population density, you have to accept that perhaps your internet connexion will not be as fast as if you lived in bustling city.

      Ah ... but a lot of the people buying big houses in the country are Conservative MPs, the ones who decide what your money should be spent on.

    • by zennyboy (1002544)

      Or we came out here as we could not afford family-sized city-based accommodation...

      Not in my case, but for many, rural is the cheapest way to live...

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Or we came out here as we could not afford family-sized city-based accommodation...

        Not in my case, but for many, rural is the cheapest way to live...

        Not unless you are talking about teleworking or really long commutes, the hour and a sub half distance from big cities (in the South East at least) is more expensive than the "outer city". Of course the expensive properties right in the centre (£50,000 a year rent plus) are only available to either the very rich or the scroungers on the dole, via housing benefit. (Whet a stupid country it is when we working people commute for hours to pay tax that goes to work-shy chavs who live in the city).

    • Superfast broadband is being seen as this decade's basic democratic right.

      An extra billion pounds to wire up 60 million people seems cheap compared to the $AU35billion+ the Australian government is to spend on their equivalent.

      • Maybe the difference is that in australia (here), it is the rural dwellers that make the country money. They pay tax and see monuments go up in the cities, but city dwellers are mostly parasitic "service" providers. They contribute nothing to the international trade balance, only consume each others wealth.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by water-and-sewer (612923) on Friday May 04, 2012 @07:25AM (#39888401) Homepage

      This drives me crazy as it stinks of "un-researched." Yes, broadband internet is probably useful and may lead to economic benefits of some sort. But I think in practice the way that broadband is going to be put to use is streaming TV over Internet, so, basically entertainment. Meanwhile, web pages bloat and you can enjoy Flash goodness in new craptacular ways.

      To address the recession in the US the Obama administration prioritized the same. One of the sob stories was a rural farm owner complaining "with dial up it can take me 45 minutes to upload a picture of the horse I'm selling." FFS, you know she's uploading a 4+MB picture her camera took, with enough pixels to print the damn thing out at life-size. If she reduced it to, say, 900x600 she'd have a picture she could upload in a few seconds over a plain old dial up line.

      My point is: it's easy to claim on the basis of no research at all that lack of access to broadband is a killer that will cause the economy to implode. But I don't think it's true, and suspect the big ISPs and cable companies are whispering this falsehood in the ears of gullible politicians. If the point of Internet is to access information I think you do a lot of what you need to do with very little bandwidth at all. You need more bandwidth to offer new services (like, ahem, a service that tints your digital photos and allows you to share them for free, cough). But you don't host a server like that in the woods, you host it at a hosting facility in the capital.

      So, what is the need again? Does anybody know?

      • And even if he GOT super-fast broadband speeds, his upload would still suck donkey balls. I can get 20Mb down, but can barely push 460Kb up. That's about 2.25% of my download speed! Shaw Cable in Lower Mainland BC btw.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        So, what is the need again? Does anybody know?

        It is absolutely vital to our national interest that the subsidy to corporations be maintained, no increased even, in this time of insecurity.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Meanwhile, web pages bloat and you can enjoy Flash goodness in new craptacular ways.

        Online shopping is one of the fastest growing areas. In fact it is one of the few growing areas any more. Lots of high resolution images and fancy 360 degree Flash based products displays are the order of the day, because that is what sells. Studies have shown that if a web page takes more than a couple of seconds to load punters rapidly lose interest.

        Streaming video is taking off massively and is likely to replace cable and satellite TV in the next decade or so.

        In countries that have fast broadband there a

    • There is no economic value in super-fast broadband to rural areas. The only value is to super-fast broadband infrastructure companies who would like to have the taxpayers money to give us a boost during the recession. Where is the need for fat pipes to empty rural landscapes. We could have a much better economy if we first got rid of all these self serving think tanks sponging off the small proportion of us who actually create wealth. I despair.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Yes, I'll remember that argument as I'm sat here in my rural village next to a resevoir that's at 100% capacity and you come crawling because you want some of our water due to the fact those of you in cities like London are consuming more than you've accounted for in your resevoirs and you talk about bringing some from the North. Maybe if some of you moved more rural there'd be enough water to go around.

      Don't be suprised when food goes up in cities too as farmers increase prices to pay for their rural broad

    • I think what you should really be asking is why 'austerity' is the word of the day.

      Fiscal policy is an effective way to stabilize the economy. The basic idea is that government spending increases relative to real GDP during contractions, while taxation decreases or remains stable. The idea is for fiscal policy to smooth out the business cycle. Liberals and conservatives, in all countries, understand this idea very well*. That's why you only see them talking about austerity measures when they're talking abou

    • by sleiper (1772326)
      I live in a town of 14k people and we have just moved to 8Mb broadband speeds, the closest City, of around 250k people moved to 20Mb a year or so ago. There is no estimated date for my town to get access to BT's fibre network or Virgin's Cable network even if it ever comes to the City 13 miles away. I would not consider myself rural, im an hour's drive from the capital and 10 minutes drive from one of the major oil ports in the north sea. I'm in Scotland BTW, and the busy side, not the mountains, blue oc
      • by Dark$ide (732508)

        I live in a town of 14k people and we have just moved to 8Mb broadband speeds, the closest City, of around 250k people moved to 20Mb a year or so ago. There is no estimated date for my town to get access to BT's fibre network or Virgin's Cable network even if it ever comes to the City 13 miles away. I would not consider myself rural, im an hour's drive from the capital and 10 minutes drive from one of the major oil ports in the north sea. I'm in Scotland BTW, and the busy side, not the mountains, blue ocean, and unhappy crofters side.

        Luxury. I live in a town of 140K and the best we can get is 4Mb.

        Part of the problem is lack of investment by BT because they're a private company who have to feed their shareholders rather than giving the best possible service to their customers. Cameron and the ConDem Gov't can bleat on about superfast broadband for everyone including the folks in the Outer Hebrides but unless BT can turn that into a profit for their shareholders it ain't gonna happen.

    • by Eil (82413)

      If you choose to live in a rural area with low population density, you have to accept that perhaps your internet connexion will not be as fast as if you lived in bustling city.

      I'm going to answer this from my own personal experience.

      I grew up in a rural area of the midwest United States. It was an hour's drive to any decent-size city. I went to the same school from Kindergarten through 12th grade. The average class size was about 30 students. Most of the area was above the poverty line, but let's just say t

    • by zlives (2009072)

      FTFY
      'I wonder whether "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious broadband"'

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:12AM (#39888093) Journal

    Just before the 2010 general election, the now ex-Labour government shoved through (mostly) to BT, the main backbone company in the UK £10bn to upgrade switches etc. to enable spying on all phone calls and internet traffic in real time. Imagine what you could do for an economy instead of spying on people, you built a phone / data network that is faster than your competitors for businesses.

    Oh well, you can dream on with politicians having common sense. They are more worried about themselves and what people are saying about them, than worrying about the economy.

  • any plan where a bureaucrat uses the word "e-skills"?

  • by Retron (577778) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:26AM (#39888167)

    How amusing - our dear little con-dem Government reckons Britian will have the best superfast broadband by 2015, do they? Well, they might like to "encourage" BT to pull its finger out and upgrade all the exchanges to ADSL2 for a start. There are thousands of small exchanges stuck about 5 years in the past and no plans whatsoever to upgrade them.

    Meanwhile all the effort seems to be going to towns and cities, the places that already have the choice of cable or ADSL2 or fibre to the cabinet. They really ought to splunk that cash on bringing everyone up to speed instead, but no, as it's all about money it's far more efficient for them just to push ahead where there's already fast broadband.

    I think there's more chance of the Sun suddenly exploding than there is of the UK having the best superfast broadband by 2015.

  • by travellerjohn (772758) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:27AM (#39888175) Journal
    Superfast broadband is great, but are there really economic and social benefits?

    Fast broadband makes a difference to entertainment but hardly necessary for employment, communication or accessing public services. Unless the government has plan to put high end tech jobs out in the depths of the Scottish highlands I would have thought that 4 MBps would do just fine. I struggle to see why I should subsidise some farmers access to NetFlix.

    Who commissioned this report again? Any danger of the LSE coming to the conclusions the client wanted?
    • by Viol8 (599362)

      The sort of people who witter on about social benefits are the sort who spend their entire waking life on twitter or facebook. Most normal people treat the internet as an amusing distraction or somewhere they occasionally do online banking or book a holiday, nothing more.

    • Yeah, fluff I say! Like that electricity, with its expensive lines! Why do they need that when a torch and icebox will do? Or phone lines! After all, most conversations can be done by letter just as well. And what a waste roads are, the moving carriage is little more than a toy. A horse is just as fast and doesn't need a paved way! The audacity of these bumpkins, being born outside of my privileged environment...

      Eherm... got carried away. My point is, your lack of imagination can be applied to the m

  • Rural areas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:28AM (#39888181)

    but rural areas are uneconomic to cable up

    Then don't. Seriously, so much noise is made in the UK about universal access to broadband and the majority of it is people complaining that the speeds they get are terrible. Or that BT has told them they need to pay thousands if they want connecting. What do all of these people have in common? They live in rural areas often right in the middle of nowhere.

    The papers love this kind of thing as it allows then to print headlines like "Rural Pensioner charged £90,000 for broadband setup". Ignoring what should be obvious to anyone which is if you choose to live in a remote location then you have to accept that there may be downsides to that decision. One of those downsides will inevitably be poorer access to services. Expecting any company (or government) to run miles of cable and install switching equipment for the sake of one house is ludicrous.

    In the same way I can't move to the middle of nowhere and then complain that I have to walk miles to buy a paper in the morning, complaining about not having access to the best broadband speeds is hardly reasonable.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Not always as simple as that. We've got a fairly densely populated country; it's common to find villages on the outskirts of towns - perhaps only a few km from the town centre - that have their own telephone exchange that was only enabled for ADSL relatively recently.

      The only way you'd know you were moving into a potential broadband blackhole is if you put the postcode into SamKnows before buying the house. A cursory glance at a map wouldn't necessarily be terribly informative - indeed, it could be downrigh

      • that was only enabled for ADSL relatively recently.

        What do you consider recently? BT announced 99% coverage of households in the UK back in 2005, the current coverage is even higher than that with the remainder being almost entirely made up of households that are too far away from an exchange for ADSL to work.

        The only way you'd know you were moving into a potential broadband blackhole is if you put the postcode into SamKnows before buying the house.

        Which I think you will agree is hardly the most difficult

        • by jimicus (737525)

          Usually your solicitor does that due diligence, that's why you hire them. But their diligence wouldn't extend to this and BT aren't obliged to provide a phone line capable of broadband.

          And I can tell you an exchange right now that's only enabled for plain ADSL.

          No ADSL2 of any description, no unbundled services. It was one of the later ones to be enabled for ADSL in summer 2004.

          It's not in the middle of nowhere - it's serving a small village on the outskirts of a larger town, only 3.9 miles away from the tow

    • If you choose to live in a remote location then you have to accept that there may be downsides to that decision. One of those downsides will inevitably be poorer access to services. Expecting any company (or government) to run miles of cable and install switching equipment for the sake of one house is ludicrous.

      And that's also why most of the rural UK doesn't have access to electricity, running water and landlines.

      Oh wait...

      • And that's also why most of the rural UK doesn't have access to electricity, running water and landlines.

        If you build a new house or renovate one that doesn't have existing connections to utilities then, shock horror, you have to pay to have them connected. In a suburban plot or in a large village with most main services, a quotation for supply of water and the right to connect to a mains sewer can vary in price between £500 and £700 in addition to the cost of any associated work to the public h

        • by Bengie (1121981)
          In the USA, we like farmers who make food so the rest of use lazy people don't starve. So the government runs electricity/etc to these rural folk.

          I think all of the farmers should just conspire to jack up the prices of food to cover the cost of fiber roll out and see how everyone fairs. OMG anti-trust! Welcome to the free-market that you so much want. Ohh, wait.. you want the government to help you but not the farmers?
  • If the ISPs will continue to limit how much you can download each month as if there is a limited supply of "internets". ISPs in the UK (no idea what it is like across the pond) seem to follow the same business model that the movie/music industry does and until that changes, I don't see a valid reason for this and I live in one of those areas considered "rural England". Many people I know don't need 'super-fast' and don't care for it. In fact most just care how much it costs and when ISPs start offering "su
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's not entirely true, whilst it could be much improved the biggest ISP in the UK is BT, who provide an unlimited 80/20Mb service for around £400 a year (you pay monthly, but for the best price you need to bundle a phone line and pay that yearly). The service has some traffic shaping with regards to torrents but has no other clauses such as a FUP today.

      They're also forced to resell their fibre, VDSL and ADSL services, and allow access to the exchange to allow other providers to unbundle the last m

  • The main UK problem is that backhaul from the exchanges is very expensive (and metered, believe it or not) unless you put equipment at all of them. This makes it almost impossible to compete with the few carriers who DO have equipment at all exchanges. Therefore broadband competition only exists in the cities where you can get enough subscribers that it is worth putting in your own equipment. Then add FTTC, where it is impossible for more than one carrier to put in equipment. There simply isn't room or powe

  • Virgin media posted Cable TV, broadband and phone 2010 as best year ever as revenues hit £3.8bn
    BT pre-tax profits of £1bn 2010
    BskyB Revenue also rose to £5.9bn, up more than 10% on the £5.4bn recorded a year earlier.

    There is lots of money to invest just the companies dont want to - they would rather charge for over priced and poor quality services to keep the share holders happy.

    • Mmm, for an existing provider the question is not "how much are we making now?", it's "how much more would we make if we offered faster services and/or wider coverage and how much would it cost us to do that?"

      And for a new upstart the question is "can we displace enough customers from the incumbent to pay for our fixed costs?"

      How much does going from say 5mbps to 50mbps improve the internet experiance for normal users? how much extra do you think most people would pay for that improvement?

  • A few years ago I would have felt sorry for people without broadband or the Internet. Now I envy them.
    There hasn't been anything good on the Internet in years. It's all crap. Reading the Internet will make you stupid now.

    • I'm sure you're right, but as I get dumber, everything I read seems more insightful, so I don't notice the difference.
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday May 04, 2012 @07:30AM (#39888427)
    That works out to 16 pounds per person. That's less than one months revenue for the network operators.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday May 04, 2012 @08:05AM (#39888613)
    We can raise that for them. C'mon slashdotters, start eating those hotpockets!
  • There was an ISP in the USA that decided it was worth it to to run fiber to it's 30k customers, who were spread over 5,000 square miles or 13,000km2. That's an average of 6 people/mi2 or 2.3/km2.

    How "rural" are these areas that they're not worth it?
    • Doing some napkin math, that would be about 400m of fiber per customer. Assuming no river crossings, street crossings, or rocky terrain, new-new fiber could be trenched for around $15 000. Aerial masts could further reduce this cost to the $10 000 mark. Therefore, this model could become profitable for each customer after anywhere between 5 and 10 years, assuming a monthly subscription of $150 - and that's an extremely modest fee for such first-rate service.
      It is doable in the long-term, but it is purely a
    • by Xest (935314)

      This is exactly the issue in the UK, you have ignorant Londoners whinging about rural, when in reality rural in the UK is equivalent to suburbia in the US. Even countries like Norway and Sweden who have much smaller populations than us but just as much distance to cover have better broadband networks - the problem isn't that "rural" in the UK is cost prohibitive, it's that no one wants to spend the money when they can make more investing it in the markets etc.

      Realistically BT should be forced to roll it out

  • I thought that Britain is in danger of missing out on the economic and social benefits of superfast broadband due to The Pirate Bay being blocked.

    Thankyou Ladies and germs. I'm here all week.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a Canadian, I find the notion of rural areas in Britain being uneconomic to cable up to be quite hilarious.

  • by suss (158993)

    The UK just spent 24 billion Pounds on the Olympics and nobody wanted those...

    Surely they could have spent this money better on something like this broadband project... and with that much money left, give everyone a free PC!

  • by AmiMoJo (196126)

    could cause the government to miss its target of having the âoebest superfast broadband networkâ in Europe by 2015.

    Surely the government jests. They seem to think that getting Virgin and BT to install FTTC is going to get us there, but clearly nothing short of a full FTTH roll-out is going to work. Fujitsu offered to do it but that would have upset Tory party donors.

    • by Froggie (1154)

      FTTC would be a damn sight better than what we have. If we actually *mean* cabinet, then most people are a few hundred metres away from their nearest cabinet. However, rural users are typically several km from their local exchange. The wiring is set up for 1960s phone systems, with long runs of many many pairs from the exchange out to neighbouring villages - runs that could be replaced with something as lowly as a single gigabit link for drastically improved connections over an all-IP network.

  • > cause the government to miss its target of having the “best superfast broadband network” in Europe by 2015.'

    I'm curious as to how fast the best network is considered to be in Europe currently and what the target of the government is. The article is severely lacking in this information.

  • Chaps, I hate to say it, but I'm going to need another 1B pounds sterling. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that if you don't come up with the money, you're in danger of missing out on the economic and social benefits of superfast broadband. Those are some fantastic knees, by the way.

    • Use Gamemaker. I detected that you're not using Gamemaker. It'll make you more hip, and it offers extreme slowness. Why not use Gamemaker? There are an infinite amount of reasons that you should, and no reasons that you shouldn't.

      Switch to Gamemaker. Return to Gamemakerdom.

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