Final Third First calls for more details of Ministers’ ‘encouraging’ broadband pledge

The Final Third First (FTF) welcomed a commitment by the Culture and Environment Secretaries of State to provide broadband to the final third of the country and called for details of exactly how they plan to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
A spokesman for the FTF said: “ We are encouraged by the three trial rural broadband projects announced by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the supportive statement made by Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, who said that broadband access for rural communities is essential. This is undoubtedly a big step in the right direction for Next Generation Access, and in order to ensure the most successful outcomes, it is vital that the experience of successful rural broadband initiatives is fed into the planning for these pilots right away.  FTF welcomes the opportunity to be involved in these initial pilot projects and also to help shape the broadband future in all of Britain’s rural communities.
Jeremy Hunt’s statement is even more encouraging as the Government has accepted that rural areas must be treated in the same way as those living in urban centres. As the Secretary of State said it is a ‘scandal’  that nearly three million households in Britain cannot access the current broadband offerings available and only one percent of the country has access to Next Generation fibre optic-delivered broadband. Clearly, it is vital that everyone has access, particularly as the Government is putting in place even more online services.
Businesses (and especially those in the cultural industries) will only survive and thrive if this Government wastes no time in putting its good intentions on broadband into practice.”
To read Jeremy Hunt’s keynote media speech, visit:
Notes to editors
Dr Charles Trotman
Head of Rural Business Development
Country Land and Business Association
16 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PQ
Tel: 0207 460 7939
  1. cyberdoyle
    June 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    This is an email thread that has been published on another blog. I have permission to use it again, so I am pasting it here where I feel it is relevant.

    Barry Forde: Firstly what is NGA – “Well it has to be high speed symmetrical low latency capacity able to handle next generation applications such as HD, 3DHD and interactive video for gaming, tele-medicine and social interaction. Also probably more than one stream as most homes have more than one person in them and each is likely to want to do its own thing. Put that together and you need full duplex/symmetrical >50Mbs low contention capacity. I cannot see how FTTC, DOCIS, terrestrial wireless, satellite or data over power can deliver that, the only technology that has the range and bandwidth is fibre all the way. If we accept that fibre is the way then due to the way ethernet technology goes up in 10s you have either 10Mbs, 100Mbs or 1Gbs and of those only the higher two meet the NGA bandwidth requirements. So I’d say for NGA we need FTTP running either 100Mbs or 1Gbs back to the serving PoP.
    What keeps happening is that we merge together the issue of NGA and the 2Mbs USC and get ourselves in a twist about which we are discussing. If we want to limit the public sector investment to only deliver 2Mbs then that’s fine and dandy but lets not refer to it as NGA, it isn’t. I think there is a genuine desire to make sure the 2Mbs USC is delivered in a timely manner and to everyone. However what the NWDA, BDUK and everyone else also realises is that any investment in USC that cannot then be reused for NGA is wasted money. We get one bite at this cherry and we had better make it work or the window of opportunity will shut for quite a while. Government will believe it has solved the problem for the rural areas and will not want to listen to people telling it that hundreds of millions have been spent but by the way we need to do it all again as its no longer fit for purpose.
    So coming back to your delivery via FTTC, Wireless, Satellite etc these may have a part to play in the USC delivery. However I believe that public funds should only be used for the parts of project that do put real fibre in the ground and can therefore be reused when moving to NGA. For instance getting fibre to PoPs in the rural areas but letting the local community fund the final delivery via wireless is fine. Putting public money into the wireless side is not. Similarly getting fibre to the cabinet is fine, funding VDSL2 for final/first mile is not etc. etc.
    How do we deliver USC 2Mbs under this sort of regime? Well I think if you can get high capacity pipes into local communities which can be used to provide low cost middle mile connectivity/backhaul then lots of options open up for the first/last mile connections. If communities wish to bid for funding for using fibre in an FTTP style roll out then that’s eligible for support but because the total cost is high they might well have to contribute something for the local bit. (Note their contribution might be money but equally it can be things such as donating wayleaves and free/cheap labour doing duct digs or fibre installation). If on the other hand they want to take an interim position and roll out USC only then a low cost wireless/WiMax or possibly Data over power rollout is a runner. Its down to them to make the decision.
    If the local community doesn’t want to get involved at all then what? Well if we have funded fibre to the community then Openreach or anyone else can make use of it to do an FTTC via sub-loop unbundling or anything else they want to do. I think there are likely to be small start up ISPs who could make a living filling that space.
    So to summarise I think public sector funding should only be made available for the areas that are unlikely to get NGA in a reasonable time frame otherwise (2015?). It should only be used to support fibre laying projects and finally it should mandate a delivery speed of no less than 100Mbs symmetrical. Where public sector money is targeted at USC delivery only then it should again mandate that the funding can only be used for the portions of the build that result in pure fibre installation.”

    reply by Miles Mandelson:
    “That’s the clearest exposition of NGA and the role of public funding I’ve seen yet and, setting aside matters of self-interest, is nigh-on impossible to take issue with. However in small communities such as my own, the cost differential between FTTP and high-performance wireless (for example) is so great that, while the latter is affordable and therefore very tempting, the former feels almost completely out of reach. Accordingly, in trying to make progress locally, I find myself making compromises as regards performance in order to bring advancement into the realms of affordability and, in doing so, bending the definition of NGA to make a case for funding.

    So to adhere to the principles you have set out, we need to find more ingenious (and affordable) ways of delivering FTTP in sparsely populated rural communities over long distances and across challenging terrain”.

    Barry’s reply:
    “I dont think anything I said would prove problematical to somewhere like Gxx. My thoughts were that when looking at any area with a view to rolling out FTTP there would be an analysis of the geography, distribution of premises and number of premises. From that would come an indication of what the cost would be for full FTTP rollout via a standard commercial contract. From that would flow the idea of the degree of subsidy needed for that particular community. Somewhere very difficult/expensive to connect would be eligible for higher subsidy than one that’s easier/cheaper to do. I envisage the subsidy reflecting the difficulty of rollout. So the contribution from people within the community would remain broadly constant across community types. I would expect any attempt to roll out the USC 2Mbs to be subject to the same analysis and the equations to line up with each other.
    In the case of Gxxx if we could deliver a centrally funded fibre into the village with a 1/10GbE backhaul, charged at a nominal fee, linking back to an Internet exchange where you could get metro Internet Transit pricing you would have quite a bit of your isolation removed. From the PoP in the Village you might well go for a quick and cheap WiMax solution and that’s fine. As users wanted more then the move to putting in a fibre at a time to their premises or getting them to club together to service clusters is quite on the cards. So long as there was no subsidy for the wimax bit it would be perfectly OK for them to request subsidy for that last mile bit as and when they were ready to do it.”

    (this was an excerpt from an email thread we have permission to publish on this blog.
    The discussion can continue in the comments if anyone has anything they wish to add …)

  2. Somerset
    November 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Barry asks for a centrally funded fibre into the village with a 1/10GbE backhaul, charged at a nominal fee. If this becomes possible then why not everywhere so everybody gets very low cost, high capacity, broadband?

  1. September 22, 2014 at 8:44 pm

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