Depends what “all” means, doesn’t it?

Fast broadband is to become a legal right for everyone in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron says today, as he puts having a strong internet connection on par with receiving a letter.

Because all isn’t all:

“Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.

Some bothy in the middle of Argyle doesn’t have the “right” to insist upon mains water nor grid electricity. Not without paying fearsome connection fees. As long as that’s what he means then fine: it’s political posturing. But if he really does mean that some mountain cottage in Wales has a “right” to fast broadband for £20 a month and the normal connection fee then he’s mad.

18 thoughts on “Depends what “all” means, doesn’t it?”

  1. I’d be more impressed if pressure were put on Ofcom to stop BT using line rental as a bloody cash cow to pay for their expensive chavball.
    I’m happy with ADSL2+ for my needs and its at a price / performance sweet spot compared to fibre.

  2. I have now Gigabit speed, over 1,000 times faster than the <1Mbps BT provided. We a cured this entirely commercially, with no help at all available from government, because we were too remote (not remote at all).

    The catch 22 was that gov subsidies made it harder to achieve because the imposibility of competing with a government subsidised offering is the main risk to the commercial investment.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    I expect he means rolling it out for everyone.

    Because it is a good thing we all voted for this Lib-Dem party rather than a party that might form a genuine Tory government, right?

  4. The target is an odd one. 10mbit is somewhere between old style ADSLMax (up to 8mbit) and ADSL2+ (Up to 24mbit), or possibly the outer ranges of fibre to the cabinet/fibre to the distribution point tech.

    As for making it universal, I can see Openrach being more likely to give free service/pay the fines than ever upgrade rural infrastructure properly. They simply aren’t interested in actually repairing faulty infrastructure.

  5. Of course everybody needs broadband. How else are the authorities going to spy on everybody’s porn browsing habits prevent terrorism?

  6. The BBC are reporting that its not clear whether any extra money will be given to BT/Openreach for the new USO. Personally I think its possible for openreach to do it without.

  7. I am at the end of a meandering six mile spur. My connection speed is 1.2Mb, which means I can open a web page in about 8sec and download a film in 236min. I doubt BT will install several miles of superfast fibre just for me and a couple of neighbours, and it would be unreasonable of us to expect them to. Then again if the government insists…after all I’ve spent most of my life paying tax to feed and educate other people’s children.

  8. Great news for yachtsmen whose yacht is their home. Normally getting anywhere near broadband speed on a boat 10 miles off a remote bit of the Scottish coast would AFAIK cost you about £20k just for the hardware. But if everyone else is chipping in for the cost of the satellite antenna ……

  9. Interesting. I thought electricy and water was subject to a universal service obligation which meant all houses had to be connected regardless of where the house is and what the cost to the utility company was.

    It would be odd to make broadband subject to such an obligation and not water and electricity.

  10. Neither I nor my neighbours have mains water. I get mine from a spring on the moor and have to pump it some distance.

  11. I’m not on mains water and I’m only in Dorset, not Wales or the wilds of Scotland.

    There’s a private supply system that covers the farm, a few cattle troughs and a handful of cottages, including my hovel. There’s a pump in a borehole at the farm, which fills a big tank (an old industrial boiler) on top of the hill, then it’s gravity fed down.

    Nothing to do with the water board; nice unchlorinated spring water, no water rates to pay.

    No mains gas either, and can’t imagine a gas company would run a gas main a mile out of the village for anything like a standard connection fee.

  12. I just looked it up.

    New gas connections are only at a standard charge if it’s less than 23 metres of an existing main; anything above that is an extra cost.

    New water has to be within 2 metres, otherwise they charge £77 + VAT per extra metre. That’s almost £150,000 per mile, which is a touch excessive, but you can get it done privately and they’ll just charge for the connection.

    Can’t find anything for electricity.

  13. There’s a paper from someone at Bath university about what the universal service obligations mean:-

    “A guaranteed right of access (on reasonable and equitable terms) to a commercial service does not necessarily ensure connection to and use of the system for all. Implicit in this definition is the notion of ability-to-pay – while all consumers have a right of access, this is not a free right and consequently only those who can afford to pay for connection to and use of the service are ensured access to that service.”

    With something like electricity, that means that once you’re connected, they can’t charge you more for providing broadband, but you have to sort out the connection. And if I’m not mistaken, that’s where OFCOM already stand.

  14. @Tim Almond

    The current BT/Openreach USO/service level agreement only covers voice and up to 14.4k dial-up. That is, your phone line *has* to work for that. Broadband has always been treated as a “Best effort” service. That is, if openreach can’t supply it, then tough.

    This leads to a number of properties having perfectly good voice service (as long as openreach have actually bothered to fix any faults) but can’t have broadband as openreach has used equipment like DACS (basically the digital equivalent of a party line) which allows two voice lines to share the same cable but means neither can get broadband.

    One bloke in Ceredigion, who’s phone line had been split in this way to allow for a dial-up line for a water pumping station was given a quote of £40k+ for broadband, as openreach didn’t have any spare working lines left, and it was cheaper for them to use the line splitting equipment than to repair the faulty cable.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    Broadband and mobile are increasingly beng seen as utilities by Government and there’s a whole department of DCMS, BDUK, complete with CEO and an army of civil servants and contractors working on ways to delver them.

  16. I have a “right” to broadband? Ok, JobCentre, you’re not allowed to take my benefits off off off me, ‘cos David Cameron says I’ve got a right to broadband.

  17. Ipso facto, broadband providers have no rights.

    You can’t have a right to other people’s property or services. And yes, laddie, that includes medical care.

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