Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Rural Broadband Partnership and Final Third First

Those who believe that broadband internet is a human right got a boost this morning, with a segment on BBC Breakfast dedicated to the the poor souls in Felindre, 20 minutes from Swansea, who are stuck on dial up.

They interviewed a representative from the Country Land & Business Association, who explained how rural businesses are "at a disadvantage" compared to their urban counterparts. Well, maybe, but I suspect this is reflected in land prices, and nobody forced them to live there.

The CLA website is revealing:

The village of Lyddington in Rutland raised the money to bring superfast broadband to themselves, and other villages are following. But the next Government must develop a strategy to bring it to the whole country, because not all communities will be able to DIY broadband. Read The Daily Telegraph's coverage of the issues.

Help yourself to broadband - the CLA supports the Rural Broadband Partnership, which helps communities and business build propositions from the ground up - putting local need first, not last. Find proven resources here to get broadband to your door.

Join our national coalition of groups and individuals, Final Third First, to make sure that fibre optic goes to every home in the UK. The CLA's broadband campaign to bring fast access to the internet to all rural users is a key priority.

There we have it. Rural communities can help themselves if they want to, like those in Lyddington; but how much cheaper and easier it is to compel others to subsidise your lifestyle! It's especially good if, as a business, you can get your urban competitors to subsidise you! Here's a snippet from Final Third First:
At present, these commercial players cannot find a business case for connecting the Final Third, with the most common arguments being that where fibre needs to be laid in rural areas, where the number of potential connections are less than in urban areas, the economics do not stack up for this to be profitable for the telcos.
What mugs the people of Lyddington will feel if the government steps in to help other villages. If only they'd waited for a handout, rather than showing initiative and self-reliance! Final Third First recognise that it is uneconomical for providers to bring broadband to certain rural areas, but maintain that "every home and business must have equal or similar connection available to every other".


  1. the people of Lyddington are to be commended that out of their desperation for a service they helped themselves. Many other rural communities have done similar work, there are some great examples. They haven't got the final solution, which is fibre to the home, and that is what the final third first are campaigning for. Places like Lyddington who have shown some initiative will be likely candidates for first place when the time comes that something can be done. Finalthirdfirst aren't fighting for funding to do these jobs, they are fighting for a level playing field so that communities can do it for themselves. Funding has to go into the infrastructure to deliver those services, something that Lyddington hasn't managed to achieve. Their broadband still goes through copper. With government support it could get NGA services. It is all too complicated to explain here, but the site has a lot more information about it. The key is removing the VOA tax, which is a tax on lit fibre. This stops people other than the incumbent investing (they don't pay extra for new fibre). We then need digital village pumps - similar to Lyddingtons cabinet, which local fibre can be laid to. It is up to every community to deal with this issue, either by doing the digging themselves or by paying someone. Either way, once the pump is in the area it makes it doable, whereas at the moment it is extremely difficult, hence the need for a lobby group such as FTF.
    It is vital that all have access to the 'fourth utility', it is essential for rural businesses and families to thrive, innovate and carry on supplying the food, water (and oxygen) to the urban areas. We don't have access to many urban amenities but we can get by. We can't manage without next gen comms. It is now a necessary part of every life if you don't want to become a dinosaur - it isn't a case of subsidising a lifestyle at all, its a case of making sure the whole country has access to a utility, in the same way it has access to water and electricity. The government can't save money until everyone is online. They can save far more than they need to invest, and they can invest far less if they make a level playing field.

  2. You obviously don't understand what next generation access will bring if you think it is about subsidising lifestyle. What is being talked about here is not just a fatter pipe to download movies (what a quaint notion of broadband you must have), but developing services across health, wealth and learning that a) reduce costs, both financial and environmental, b) allow service and application delivery such as we can barely imagine yet and c) encourage innovation and creativity to bring Britain back into the 21st century.

    The telcos have been acting as gatekeepers, which is now seriously impacting on both the economy and the well-being of every business and citizen of this nation.

    We all have a responsibility to safeguard the resources of this planet and to work together to protect our communities and citizens. Next generation access will permit people to access resources that are currently prohibited to them. Just because you live in a city, it doesn't mean that the specialist consultant you need when you develop some rare disease is nearby, any more than those living in rural areas have everything they require on their doorsteps. NGA will enable us to do so much more than just access the Internet.

    For instance, in Utah, the FTTH network has permitted seamless communications between patients and specialists in the Mayo Clinics. But, its not just about health. As Jeremy Hunt said today, bringing even one of the four (average) communications with the Government we as citizens each have every month, would save approx £1 billion/year.

    Next generation access is the 4th utility, whether you personally like it or not, and each and every person in this country should be able to access it. And not some half-baked attempt to provide it which keeps the telcos shareholders happy.

    Your beef with rural areas is poorly placed. Next time you buy milk, veg, meat, bread, etc, make sure you buy it from a foreign source or you might find you are accidentally supporting those of us in rural areas to lead the lifestyle we apparently chose. Our average wage here is one of the lowest in the country - 63% of the national average. Many people have NO CHOICE about where they live as they are in a catch 22 of low wages and high 'lifestyle' costs eg eating, fuel, distance from resources etc which automatically restricts the ability to move out.

    And I strongly suggest you look up the facts on land prices in rural areas currently. Want to expand your rural business onto that land nearby? Fuggedit.

  3. Chris and Cybersavvy,

    Thank you both for your comments.

    Please understand that I have no particular beef with rural areas; they are one of the best features of this country.

    If you read through other articles on this site, you'll see that my beef is with Big Government, and the detrimental effect that it has on all areas of the UK.

    The VOA tax on lit fibre sounds like a classic example. Taxes should be few and simple, and they should be chosen to minimise disruption on the market. Taxes and regulations that favour the incumbents, and stifle competition, should be the real targets.

    If you were allowed to keep more of what you earn, and planning laws were less restrictive, rural broadband would probably become much more economical.

    All that said, I can see why you take the line you do; in the current governmental framework, fighting for favours (especially in the name of 'equality' and 'rights') is much more expedient than fighting for freedom.

  4. ha, think we are all on the same side then! let us hope the new all singing all dancing big society lives up to its promises and we will all be able to fight from a level playing field and kill all bureaucracy which has cramped innovation over the past few decades eh? power (and freedom) for the people.