Invest in Rural Broadband and not HS2

As a family we made the decision to move to a more rural location over 10 years ago, at the time a good internet for homes was a fast modem or perhaps an ISDN line if you could afford it.  ADSL was just starting to roll out and was only really available in major cities.

Although a lovely place to live and having many benefits, being a techie and working in IT, I have spent a lot of the past 10 years bemoaning the poor quality of service that is offered to rural locations.  I’ve held onto the belief that if we really wanted to make the UK compete at the highest level we need to provide universal access to very fast internet access so that people do not have to travel and can compete on the global stage where ever they live.

After failing to use dial up I did eventually get a two way satellite installed that offered a massive 512KB performance, but with horrible latency meaning no way I could do simple things like remote desktop or web conference.  And not to mention the huge costs.

In 2004 there was the campaign to get ADSL in the exchange

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Sadly when it did arrive I was too far from the exchange to even benefit from it!

Things improved with ADSL+ and some development in the technology but even today my broadband connection is painfully slow.

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Yes that is right with BT broadband I am getting less than 1MB download speeds, so this means no iplayer, youtube is barely useable and anything like Dropbox or Skydrive pro with it’s constant sync has to be banned in the house.

 

What is most annoying is that the investment in improved broadband is always focused on the same areas.  I understand the commercial reasons for focus on towns and cities, but the government has pledged many times that they are going to resolve the issue and sadly have failed to do anything over the past 10 years.

 

Fibre Optic Dream

Fibre optic broadband is seen as the solution with speeds today advertised at over 75MB.. sadly this roll out follows the others, even with some government help.

Here’s a view of the exchanges near me… and if they ever do get upgraded I doubt very much that anyone will be laying any fibre optic cables out very far from the exchange.

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My house is about 7 miles from the exchange if you follow the route of the phone line/cable and you really don’t seen any of the street cabinets so the expectation of any fibre optic is something I will be thankful for if it ever arrives.

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Government commitment to 2MB

I cannot believe that the government is making such a pitifully poor commitment to provide only a minimum of 2MB to 100% of the country

By 2015, the government has a target for:

  • 90% of UK premises within each council district to have at least 24Mb broadband; and
  • 100% of UK premises within each council district to have at least 2Mb broadband

This will continue to miss the opportunity to promote and develop our country.  If we continue to have a two tier service offering then people will be increasingly forced to move to the town and cities, putting more pressure on the transport systems and town services.  By providing 24MB universal coverage will enable people to work remotely and globally.

Stop wasting billions on a train from London to Birmingham that won’t be here for 20 years and invest the money in connecting everyone digitally, and now.  In 20 years we will be demanding 1GB connections, we will have real life holographic skype calls to allow truly global communication without the need to travel.

Invest in the infrastructure to make sure we don’t have to travel and not the infrastructure that means we do.

There are options

I have used a MiFi dongle from Three for a few years to allow me to work whilst travelling.  This simple mobile router allows me to connect up to 5 devices (laptop, tablet) and share a single connection.  Its based on 3G and gives a reasonable performance but has limited download to 15GB per month.  What I have found is that I have been using this at home rather than the fixed line broadband as I get much better performance.

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The 15GB limit has been a concern as going over this incurs significant costs, so I have had to use it selfishly for my business use and the rest of the house are stuck with the sub 1MB connection.

In comes the One Plan from Three with the promise of ‘All you can eat data’.

Sadly the One Plan is not available on MiFi devices – but it does come with Tethering option so still possible to achieve the same using a decent new phone like Samsung Galaxy S4. The benefit of the three offering is that they give much better performance today and will upgrade to 4G at no additional costs.

The downside of three is the limited coverage.

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For once you can see that I’m one of the lucky few so I took the plunge, purchased a new Samsung Galaxy S4 on the All you can eat one plan and hey presto – decent broadband.

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Yes that’s correct 13MB download, sure the upload is still poor – but compared to what I had before this is significantly better.

Invest in Rural Broadband and Not HS2

To really make a difference to the country I urge the government to really invest in universal super fast rural broadband and avoid the need for people travelling by providing the network to connect people to the world from anywhere.

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