Copper-Bottomed Con

Whilst we and other communities in the UK push ahead with bringing fibre to every property in our area, The UK and Local governments continue to give a good impression of being in thrall to the BT Group, an underachieving and disinterested private monopoly that still tries to pretend that copper-to-premises is a valid service model for the twenty-first century.

Point Topic has just published it’s (free) global report for Q3 2015 and it makes sobering reading for those of us stuck with the backwater infrastructure of the UK – I can’t even use the term ‘Third World‘ here, as most countries that we’d otherwise regard as having that status have far better and more modern communications than we do. To quote Point Topic on the main global trends during the quarter (my highlighting):

  • For the second quarter in a row fibre continues to dominate as the main broadband access technology, having exceeded the number of end to end copper subscribers globally.
  • End to end copper decline is accelerating.
  • China continues to be the main driver behind the significant FTTH growth, though the Americas also saw FTTH technology share increase in Q3 2015, mainly led by US and Canada.
  • Globally, FTTH and cable subscriber figures are very close to converging as FTTH is catching up with cable by showing consistently higher growth rates.
  • Overall the US fixed broadband subscriber growth is slowing down due to the increasing take up of mobile broadband, especially over 4G LTE platforms.
  • Italy is one of the notable examples of countries which are embracing VDSL technology, having recorded a 23% quarterly growth in VDSL subscribers this quarter, making it top of the list globally.

Point Topic Q3/15

What do we have to do to make the British governments realise just how much of a blind alley they’re taking the country down by handing over even relatively moderate sums of public money (via BDUK and its call-off contracts) to a company that is (expensively) putting in a technology that was inappropriate twenty years ago?

And if you want to know why Britain is so far behind the rest of the world, when it could have been twenty years ahead, read this article at TechRadar about Peter Cochrane‘s plans for fibre to every home in the UK in 1990. It makes for familiar, if very depressing, reading.

I had the good fortune to spend a little time with Peter at the BT Research Labs at Martlesham Heath in the late nineties and, from contemporary conversation with the man himself, can vouch for the broad accuracy of the article.

Bottom line: if local communities, acting on their own, some (like us) with public funding support, can put in a complete local fibre infrastructure when learning how to do it from scratch, just imagine the economies of scale that could be achieved from a professional national programme that covered the whole country.

But, rather than spend the billions it would take to ensure that every home and business in the land was comprehensively futureproof for communications, with all the productivity, competitive and environmental benefits that would ensue, we’re spending a minimum of £42Bn (which will of course double by the time it’s built) to cut a few minutes off a rail journey from London to the Midlands. Go figure…




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