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Author Topic: Britains telecom Network  (Read 1686 times)


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Britains telecom Network
« on: October 02, 2008, 11:59:45 AM »

Question,  Will this country ever get a 21st century telecom network while it is in the hands of a private company?

 Here is an e-mail I sent to Ofcom about a week ago.  I am still awaiting a reply ::)

Dear Sir/Madam,
This is an enquiry about a subject that I am finding extremely frustrating and I feel that there are probable many thousands in my position.  I am writing to you at Ofcom as you are the regulator of this industry and feel that not enough is being done to address this issue by yourselves.
  When will areas like mine that have particularly long lines on the local loop, mine is just under 4K, ever get an acceptable service?  It seems the rest of the world and large parts of this country are just leaving us behind.  As an example, my son who is in  Preston, gets a cable service recently increased to 20mb for just 27 pm, which includes telephone and television.  Until last week I was getting a telephone and broadband package of just over 1mb for around 45 pm.  I have changed ISP now and only pay 20 pm for much the same package. 
The point I am trying to make is it doesn't matter what ISP I sign up with, until there is a will to upgrade the cabling in mine and other areas, nothing will change.  I understand that BTW are rolling out fibre optic cabling in many areas over the next 5 years, but
                  a/ There is no guarantee that it will happen in this area
                  b/ If it does happen I understand from what I have read that we will be charged a lot more for it which I think is unfair because of point C
                  c/ If we get fibre optics in this area it will be FTTC which means from the cabinet to my house will still be old cabling and in many areas, and I am led to believe mine in one of them, this old cabling is aluminium.  What this means is there would be considerable signal loss from the cabinet to the house, so I could end up with a service no better or even worse than my son is currently getting now but costing more.
                 d/ I have read an article online that infers that BTW's fibre optic rollout with be vastly underfunded and inadequate.  It goes on to say that it will also only be just enough of an investment to maintain favourable conditions with Ofcom.
So as you can see I am disillusioned about the whole situation and feel that privatisation of the telecom network has led to these inequalities that look set to continue indefinitely. Networks like Road, Rail and telecoms should be state run and maintained and private business can then use these networks on a level playing field to promote competition. If this had remained the case in this country, the whole network could have been upgraded to fibre optics probably at less cost than  Northern Rock or the Olympics.  The commercial opportunities to this outcome would have been immense. At the moment, due to the constraints of privatisation,  there doesn't appear to be any commercial incentive for BTW to upgrade its network in many areas.
I would appreciate some concrete evidence to the contrary about my situation but suspect none will be forthcoming.

Any Thoughts?
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Re: Britains telecom Network
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2008, 03:22:26 PM »

FTTC would mean a vast improvement, and Ive long said FTTC is the way forward and should help improve many lines.
Distance from the cab to the home is "normally a comparitively short run", to give an indication most copper lines of 500m should support 24Mb, so if fibre is used to the cab, then attenuation for a large amount of lines should be vastly reduced.

>> I am finding extremely frustrating and I feel that there are probable many thousands in my position.

Indeed, 10's of 1000's have high attenuated lines due to length.

>> I am disillusioned about the whole situation and feel that privatisation of the telecom network has led to these inequalities that look set to continue indefinitely.

I agree - without a doubt that has made a difference, because BT now has shareholders and have to maintain a profit.

>> there doesn't appear to be any commercial incentive for BTW to upgrade its network in many areas

Actually here comes the crunch - many feel that its OFCOM who are actually restricting the advancement of adsl in the UK.
BT spent millions and millions of pounds in the 2003/2004 period upgrading 99.9% of exchanges in the UK.
BT's plan was to do all exchanges.. they were aware that some of the more remote exchanges were going to cost a lot more than those in the cities, but decided to make it fair that the cheaper city exchanges would ofset the prices of the more expensive remote exchanges and have a same price for all policy.

Then sometime in/around 2004 OFCOM stated that BT should open up their exchanges to other ISPs, and also brought in something called the the "Margin Squeeze Test".  This meant that LLU providers could go into the most profitable BT exchanges and provide adsl from there. The first LLU ISPs obviously cherry picked the city exchanges which were cheaper to install..  and to top it off the MST actually set a minimum cost for BTw  so that they couldnt reduce their prices.
The result was IPStream prices were kept artificially high because of this ruling, and LLU became cheap for the towns and cities. 
I remember at the time writing many posts that this action would mean a "two tier broadband system in the UK", because no way would any of the LLU providers ever look at installing their kit in some of the more remote places... unlike BT who are now forced to maintain these expensive exchanges without as much income from the more profitable ones to offset the costs.

Lesson learnt by BT - spend millions upgrading all exchanges, then OFCOM rules that any telco (often foreign) could come in and cherry pick, leaving only BT the ones to foot the bill on exchanges where no-one else wants to go.

>> due to the constraints of privatisation

Many people fear that BTs hesitancy to spend Billions of pounds rolling out FTTC is that OFCOM would again rule something similar and make them open up the cabs too. 

Why hasnt cable expanded?  Theres been no new cable broadband laying in years.. why hasnt C&W (Virgin) been made to expand their network to give us more choice.  Why havent they spent any money laying new cable as an alternative.

Would any other private firm spend huge sums upgrading something if it was later ruled that a competing company could then use it and be able to charge less, whilst they still had to charge more?  If a private company is going to spend billions upgrading something then they are at least going to want some sort of return or period of time when they can recoup these costs.  No company who has to account to shareholders would think any differently.

This is one area where I actually have a lot of sympathy with BT.. and you will find that many who understand the workings and the politics behind OFCOM feel the same way.. and feel that its actually OFCOM and the MST that has hindered broadband in the UK.

It would be interesting to see how OFCOM reply.
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Re: Britains telecom Network
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2008, 07:52:20 PM »

You do make a valid point in the latter stages of your reply regarding the unfair situation BT find them selves in because of Ofcom, but if they (BTW) were a Nationalised concern there would not be these conflicts of interest.  As it stands if Ofcom had not put price restrictions on BT they might well have had an advantage over any competition due to their close links with BTW. A difficult situation all round. 

I still think a nationalised Network is the best option and this would have to include all Networks including Virgin.   Leave making a profit to the ISP's because the Network as a whole is too important to leave to the whims of private companies.  Private isn't always better,  just look at the Banking industry.  I don't think that nationalisation is ever going to happen though so where we go from here,who knows.

« Last Edit: October 02, 2008, 07:58:49 PM by Maturecheese »
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