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UK ministers' Broadband '2.0' report confuses superfast with 10Mbps

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I can't wait for Grant's report on the use of Wikipedia in Government.

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I think Michael Green is doing that one.

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"I think Michael Green is doing that one."

Ah, splendid. I can't wait to see what he comes up with after his best selling "Everything I know about teaching". I couldn't put it down, so riviting.

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I think Michael Green is doing that one.

[Citation Needed]

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Another report by ignorant people.

These people have been hopelessly confused by the advertising use of "fibre", a label defined in a way that would have included my first 300 baud dial-up modem, because the signal was only on copper for a few hundred yards.

They also ignore measures such as bandwidth per person.

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Coat

Re: Another report by ignorant people.

"Last year Shapps' body published a report "

Doesn't say what the rest of him was doing though ...

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Re: Another report by ignorant people.

"They also ignore measures such as bandwidth per person."

Not to mention upload speed.

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Re: Another report by ignorant people.

He slammed the report for failing to understand the basic difference between [...] availability and actual take-up

Well, it's government. Seems more likely that they're "pivoting" to a different question, in order to endorse a pre-ordained conclusion which was not supported by the data.

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Big Brother

Re: Not to mention upload speed.

You are not meant to 'upload' your own content to the internet. You are meant to mindlessly consume approved content.

Consume. Consume. CONSUME!

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Anonymous Coward

Super fast just doesn't cut it these days. You need at least super-duper fast.

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Go

I'm still holding out for Ludicrous Speed...

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Don't you mean "mind bogglingly fast I mean so fast you won't actually believe how fast it is!"

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Ah, but does your broadband go up to 11 on the dial?

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Ah, but does your broadband go up to 11 on the dial?

Insanely fast broadband unboxing. You won't believe what happened next

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Gummint clueless about IT

Who'd a thunk it

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Wii lthe real Grant Shapps please stand up, please stand up

Not one known for anything other than desperate clean-up operations and a half-hearted whine at Tesco for moving from his patch --this preening fool was given a simple job and once again displays his complete and utter lack of knowledge about anything

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Don't have access to the Internet

Does this include those who don't want access?

Can't be arsed to chase up the figures but a better measure might be households/dewllings with no possibility of Internet connection (fixed or mobile).

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Thumb Up

Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

@Dave Bull - yup. 1 ft of copper is enough to make 5Km of fibre irrelevant to the SERVICE a customer receives. Those metaphorical 12 inches of copper contribute the majority of the problems to reliability, which increases maintenance cost. All of this ignored by the ASA who allow all the ISPs selling DSL to use "fibre" to describe it in advertising. STOP IT.

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Re: Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

"1 ft of copper is enough to make 5Km of fibre irrelevant to the SERVICE a customer receives."

In rural areas it makes more sense to not have FTTP because the only ways to bring fibre to the premises is via overhead cable, often crossing from one side of the road to the other. To get FTTP underground is disproportionately expensive. In these circumstances copper is far more resilient and maintainable than fibre for the segment from the cabinet to the premises.

Fibre cracks fairly quickly when subject to the cable moving around in the slipstream of passing trucks.

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Anonymous Coward

it makes more sense to not have FTTP

Part of the cost issue is with the way OpenReach install in rural areas - they still use the "close road, dig up road" model.

Much easier to go across the fields - have a look at b4rn.org.uk. BT said it would cost between £10k and £20 per property to connect. These guys have done it for about £500. Sure, they did it themselves and don't have to pay crazy way-leave charges, but even so...

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

Openreach don't have to pay crazy wayleave charges either, there's no reason that a landowner couldn't grant a wayleave free of charge. The difference is that when a bunch of folks in the village ask for permission it's personal, and the landowner might say "OK guys, for you I won't make a charge", but when "official" BT shows up it's "wahay, time to screw them for all I can".

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Boffin

Re: Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

Agreed - but the annoyance for many is that Openreach seem unwilling to add new cabinets in locations which are currently at the end of long copper runs, even though they are not geographically isolated. FTTC is fine if your final copper hop is a foot, or indeed a kilometre or so - the places which really suffer are those with copper runs of 3Km+ to their "local" cabinet or exchange, for reasons dating back more than half a century. And many of these are not isolcated rural areas - I work on one site which gets a flaky 2Mb down sync while being less than 1Km from a city boundary, and I've read many similar reports from folks located inside the M25.

OfCom could usefully force Openreach to install a new, fibred-up cabinet at any location which is, say, >2Km from an existing cabinet/exchange, and which could replace copper connections to >25 properties within 1Km of the location. (Not sure of exact numbers, but you get the general idea.) That would improve life for a great many people, without costing anywhere near as much as FTTP.

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

Gigaclear are busy installing FTTP in rural areas, and reckon their costs are less than £1000 per house they pass, - their trick is to get the householder to install the last bit into the premises themselvers, or pay extra for their subcontractors to do it. And in reply to Lotaresco, they don't have any fibre flapping around in the air, they perform "micro-trenching" which just means digging a little trench not-very-deep. As well as providing a better (and synchronous upto 1000mbps) FTTP service, avoids the biggest maintenance cost of FTTC, - copy between the cabinet and premises, flapping around in trees, wind, etc...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

I don't think ISPs are allowed to call straight ADSL fibre broadband, just VDSL or better - anything with fibre in the last mile.

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Re: Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

Agreed - but the annoyance for many is that Openreach seem unwilling to add new cabinets in locations which are currently at the end of long copper runs, even though they are not geographically isolated. FTTC is fine if your final copper hop is a foot, or indeed a kilometre or so - the places which really suffer are those with copper runs of 3Km+ to their "local" cabinet or exchange, for reasons dating back more than half a century. And many of these are not isolcated rural areas

Exactly this. Case in point - my parents. On the edge of a village with FTTC/Infinity. But for reasons that history does not recall, the line on their lane goes 3 miles over to the next village instead of half a mile into their village. Whichever fool up the comments said that fibre is less reliable than wire should see how reliable 3 miles of poled wire is in the face of cattle trucks, tractor-mounted hedge cutters, falling branches, etc. It might be marginally more resilient than fibre to wind-flexing (though there are plenty of fibre products designed for pole-mounting to address exactly that), but there are ample ways for pole-mount cables of any material to get snagged and outright snapped. They have - on average - at least a week a year without phone/ADSL service because the line is out.

OpenReach seem to have very little interest in re-architecting that stretch of network to put their lane on the local cabinet which would give them better speeds, and cost OpenReach less in maintenance given that you'd cut out some miles of rural-poled wire.

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Re: Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

Had a client "upgrade" a 2.8Km line to FTTC. New line lenght: 48 metres shorter. Cab was at the end of the (short) road the exchange was on. Went from 8/.448 to a blinding 7/.190...

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

With Gigaclear a domestic user does have the option of self-install - although there are still steep activation costs. Rural business users typically have top pay £1000 for activation and installation (can be much more), extra monthly charge for bridge mode so that they can use their own firewall, no IPv6 availability, and a monthly charge that is getting close to leased line (but with contention, and inferior SLA). But since Gigaclear is usually the only option rural businesses don't have much in the way of choice...

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Boffin

Re: Super Fast Broadband != "fibre"

But they *are* alllowed to called it fibre if the cabinet is fibred - even if the cabinet is so far from the premises that the fibre element brings no benefit. I have certainly been told by Openreach engineers that ADSL2+ sync with an exchange 4Km away can be faster than VDSL sync with a cabinet 1.5Km away, so you might get a faster connection by sticking with your ADSL2+ account than "upgrading" to fibre.

Chloe Cresswell and rh587 above are exactly right - the devil is in the geographical detail. And most of this (eg locations of the cabinet serving your line, copper cable lengths etc) is not made public by OR.

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

"And in reply to Lotaresco, they don't have any fibre flapping around in the air, they perform "micro-trenching" which just means digging a little trench not-very-deep."

If only you understood more than the limited amount that you do. You can't trench across a road without disrupting traffic, this costs money and takes time. It's more usual to do this using a mole so that there's no need to break the road surface. This isn't as cheap as cable providers like. It makes sense to provide cable via trenches in urban areas where adoption rates will be high enough to pay for the work.

However, if you bother to look in rural areas you will see that the cable duct runs down one side of the road (only) meaning that you need to reach premises on the other side of the road somehow. The solution used by *all* providers in rural areas is to run a cable up the nearest pole and then from there to the premises. If you bother to look you'll see that the cable flaps about. A lot.

This is what most rural roads look like. Notice how the poles are on the opposite side of the road to the housing.

Rural Telecoms

Also if you don't bury fibre sufficiently deep under a road, it will break because those trucks pound the road. One way to do traffic monitoring is to bury a fibre optic under the road and monitor the deflection.

Heck but I've only been designing networks for a few decades. What would I know, eh?

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

"If only you understood more than the limited amount that you do."

Why resort to rudeness so readily?

"The solution used by *all* providers in rural areas is to run a cable up the nearest pole and then from there to the premises."

Excuse me, but far as I know Gigaglear have never run a fibre cable up a pole, certainly not in my part of rural Gloucestershire. But yes, to cross the road, they do close it, and put a "micro-trench" across it.

I use their service, know of hundreds of others who use them, and have been watching their installs round here and nearby with some interest. Have yet to see a cable up a pole, - they specifically announce that this is what they want to avoid. For the reasons you correctly state.

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

I am currently waiting to see how reliable overhead FTTP is. Here in France the whole village (one of only three in the department) is being connected to fibre. That is every house farm and shed. Fibre is being slung along the tops of existing poles on metal tees outside the village, trees have been cut in half, just the half nearest the new fibre, and hedges trimmed with a set of giant circular saws, pretty it is not. Will it ever work?, well hopefully it will be better than the current 1.07Mbps/0.43Mbps on a 5km line

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Re: it makes more sense to not have FTTP

"I am currently waiting to see how reliable overhead FTTP is."

It depends on many factors. How stingy the supplier is factors heavily. If they use armoured cable then it may survive but the costs tend to make that uneconomic. The details of the site are also important. Trees grow back after being cut and eventually the branches waving in the wind damage the cable. We have outages of power and telecoms because of that. As mentioned before passing trucks cause cable to whip around, particularly if the cable is hung over the road rather than along it.

If the hedges/trees are kept neatly trimmed and the cables aren't over a road that's heavily used by trucks and if the cable has a steel support cable as well as the plastic sheath then there shouldn't be a significant problem.

On private lines you could monitor the line quality and improve resilience by using a multicore cable and putting an OTDR switch at each end so that in the event of a break or degradation the switch uses another pair in the bundle. Sadly no service provider is going to go to those lengths for a SOHO user.

The sort of cable we use for this sort of work is £2,000 per km and service provider flinch at those costs.

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Marppet

Grant Shapps again showing he is an incompetent marppet (marketing muppet) who shouldn't be trusted with anything more complicated than a colouring book.

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Meh

Re: Marppet

I don't think he's allowed sharp things like crayons.

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Unhappy

Available but not realistic

In the rural community where I live central and local government have been bragging for months that they have brought "fibre to the area under a rural broadband initiative". This seems to be all the interest that politicians have, it's available. Uptake has been minimal, mostly for the simple reason that no one can afford it and the service offered is no better (practically) than the existing DSL. We get about 18Mbps DSL (give or take depending which way the wind is blowing). The fibre offered is "up to 30Mbps" but it's capped, traffic shaped and costs twice as much as the BT DSL. You can go up to 80Mbps (advertised as 100Mbps in typical marketing fraud, but it is stated that the rate will not exceed 80Mbps). That rate is only available to businesses and costs £200 a month. Although not capped, there is the usual "fair use" restriction with no mention of what is "fair use".

Also customers are not permitted to use their own kit for connection to the network, hence my business which sits behind a firewall would be forced to connect to the internet using the crappy built in service provider router firewall rather than our own enterprise model. Given how much traffic we see being dropped on the WAN interface, I'd be very worried about switching to something that we can't configure.

There's a gulf between "available" and "worth paying for".

The better way ahead for us seems to be to buy 4G access which is available in the area and which costs less than the cheapest available FTTC/P offering available to us. The 4G is faster, cheaper and although capped, it offers double the data volume offered by the "rural broadband initiative".

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Re: Available but not realistic

@Lotaresco

any links to those 100mbs fibre products that can only be used upto 80 mbops?

never seen anything advertised like that other than Virgin Media advertising 100mbos and beyond.

Also while they state you have to use their rubbish router, its often not impossible (other than on Virgin) to use your own.

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Re: Available but not realistic

There's a gulf between "available" and "worth paying for".

Which is exactly the point made in the last-but-one paragraph of the article, and something that I and others have mentioned here several times over the years.

Regarding 4G, I'd be wary of anything based on a shared medium. Do you really want to rely on a decent 4G connection, when the school bus is late and there are a dozen teenagers waiting at the bus stop outside your premises?

I've just found an interesting bit of kit by TP-Link that might help some people in these circumstances, if they have a friendly "someone" within a few km that can actually get decent speeds and (crucially) line-of-sight. TP-Link's CPE range of outdoor WiFi kit claims reach of up to 15km under ideal conditions, while the WBS range can apparently manage 50km with a suitable antenna. The units are not expensive (the CPE510 I've just bought for a specific project is around £50ea) - install your net connection at your friend's place and bung a device on the roof. Plonk the other one on your own roof, job done. Set your router up with a 4G modem or just old-fashioned ADSL as backup.

M.

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Re: Available but not realistic

"Do you really want to rely on a decent 4G connection, when the school bus is late and there are a dozen teenagers waiting at the bus stop outside your premises?"

Given that there's no bus stop, no pavement, the area doesn't have more than a handful of teenagers and we're in the centre of a National Park plus there's no 4G at ground level but a strong signal on the roof of our premises because it's a tall building so we can put 4G aerials on the roof and use a DSL/4G router so that in the absence of 4G we can fail over to DSL, no I'm not really concerned. YMMV.

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Re: Available but not realistic

"any links to those 100mbs fibre products that can only be used upto 80 mbops?"

No, because to get such a link you have to enter the details of your premises into the supplier's coverage and speed web application. You can try it for yourself if you like, at the site of the rural broadband initiatives suppler, Callflow UK. There you will find that they advertise 100Mbps then state "Up to 80Mbps Download & 20Mbps Upload ".

Seriously, why would I bothered to lie to you about this as you seem to be implying?

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Re: Available but not realistic

There you will find that they advertise 100Mbps then state "Up to 80Mbps Download & 20Mbps Upload

In an earlier posting you referred to this as fraudulent; not if you're a marketeer it isn't. 80 + 20 = 100 so suddenly it's "hey everyone we can call this 100 Mb/s".

Cynical? Moi?

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Re: Available but not realistic

"Line of sight" on these links may be a little less critical than you think.

For an example, a FiberNinja video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/DGOPESpU64A

Though it's not that long a distance, which would help.

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Re: Available but not realistic

"not if you're a marketeer it isn't."

Yes, sadly that is true. I've been in the same room as the lizards when "truth" is being discussed. Once I saw a graph being presented by a technical person to a roomful of lizards. The graph showed that compared to the gold standard reference test method that the company's "new" test system was a random number generator. The results plotted on the graph formed a vaguely elliptical cloud rather than a straight 1:1 line.

A lizard asked for the slope to be calculated and it came out as 1 with an intercept close to zero. However the probability was laughably small.

Lizard response "We'll say we have perfect agreement with the reference method and just show the slope, not the actual data point."

B Ark material, all of them.

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Is it just me

Or is the guy unrolling the reel of fibre in the article photo, doing it in the most awkward way?

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Def
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Re: Is it just me

He's not unrolling it. ;)

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Anonymous Coward

fibre helps you shit.

Maybe that's why all these clowns are avoiding the roll out.

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Anonymous Coward

Due to a phone line issue, I'm not even getting 1Mbps - it's about 756 Kbps.

And before that, it was physically impossible for my house to get any more than 4 Mbps.

The kicker? I pay £22.31/month for that. And it's going to go up again in August...

I can only imagine what it's like to get 10 Mbps.

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How about ISPs charge for the speed/latency as actually delivered/measured, that would give them and OpenBreach an incentive to perform better :)

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Anonymous Coward

It would give them a reason to refuse to supply service to anyone who doesn't get a decent speed. Beware of perverse incentives.

The cost of provision would be exactly the same but lower speed customers would offer less revenue and less margin.

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Anonymous Coward

I doubt the cost of the Internet is actually that much. 90% of that fee is probably "line rental."

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Anonymous Coward

Line rental from Openreach is about £7.50 a month. If you have ADSL the broadband service is either delivered by your ISPs own kit installed in the exchange or a resell of a BT wholesale service.

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