Sunday, 21 February 2016

Random Sunday update - ultrafast frustration, Ofcom

In a somewhat frustrating note today I had a wander to the local supermarket and as soon as I left my own road was greeted by marks on the pavement indicating the route ultrafast broadband is going to take.

There are a fair few people making a lot of use of our existing broadband. More than once during the school holidays I had to play with settings to ensure I could work smoothly. Our speeds are decent, for the type of connection we have we're above average, for the UK as a whole if all were to buy the fastest connection available to them we're considerably below average.

Regardless my only option longer term unless I manage the quality of service on the connection is to purchase a second link in order to keep the online experience smooth, and it's going to have to go through the exact same equipment, copper, cabinet, etc, as the existing one so there are going to be plenty of common points of failure between them.

It shouldn't be this way. I live in the 3rd largest city in the UK, in a densely populated residential suburb. I am quite happy to spend money on my connectivity however if I want truly diverse and strong connectivity the bill for the second line is way out of range for a home worker. The install charge quoted is £6,150 and the monthly fee on a 3 year contract £240. Not a lot anyone who builds networks can do about this.

Any solution would run the risk of requiring street works which are not possible here right now. The more properties covered the higher the risk of street works. The only way to reduce this risk is to cover fewer properties which means higher costs per property.

In other news I've made a few somewhat unkind comments about Ofcom in the past. Seems as though their thoughts with regards to BT and Openreach are politically expedient, extremely incompetent and more of the same - further regulation in order to try and undo the mess their regulation has created. A view I've heard a few times is that Ofcom's end game is to quite literally wear BT down by placing regulation on top of regulation into voluntarily divesting Openreach as it ends up impractical for them to continue ownership.

If this does end up being the case I sincerely hope BT use every tool available to them to push back on Ofcom. We are supposed to have a Conservative government in power; you'd hope they'd be far more enthusiastic about allowing the market to work and trying to ensure that those who've risked their own capital making investments see those risks fairly rewarded. Forcing Openreach to allow access to their dark fibre is opposed by those who've made investments themselves as competitors to Openreach and rather than incentivising private investment actively discourages it. Why invest yourself when you can wait for Ofcom to give you what you want? Win:win - you don't have to spend your own money, Ofcom get to justify their own existence and impress the politicians.

Ofcom certainly seem to have politics down. As with most politicians and political institutions if you think the problems they've created are bad just wait until you see their solutions.

Here's hoping that the rumours are wrong and Ofcom will impress and surprise us all.

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