Sunday, 5 November 2017

Burning an Openreach van effigy will clearly fix the broadband.

Interesting news article on BBC about burning an effigy of an Openreach van.


Firstly I would like to say I have some sympathy for anyone that has to endure slow broadband speeds. It is a pain. I have been there. In fact I was lucky when I managed to start using ISDN at 64k after being on 28.8k modems - a big step up from 1200/75 modems I first used. I would say I am lucky now that I am on real glass, but that is more down to paying many thousands for a fibre to be dug in rather than luck.

These days there is a lot more content on the Internet, and there is one key thing that generally needs several megabits of capacity - that is streaming video in real time.

Sadly, publicity may get change in this case, which is not really fair on everyone else in the same situation. Good luck to him, and well done if it does.

But let's pull apart the article a bit here, as it does not quite seem right...

BT said Templeton in Devon is extremely rural, which made the rollout of fibre broadband "more challenging". It said it was working hard to find alternative ways of bringing faster broadband to residents, including a community fibre partnership and a mobile broadband solution.

Well, yes. A small town, needing many kilometres of roads or fields dug up to lay a fibre, and possibly for a handful of houses - simple economics - the cost of doing that is way more than the revenue you get from it for many many years. If the residents don't agree, they are welcome to get the road dug and a fibre laid - there are companies that will do that for them. It will be many thousands of pounds per household I expect and only work if they all pay it. It is a shame, but the last few rural areas will be the last to get roll out of such things. I am glad BT are trying to work with them on improvements.

Mr Linden said "It's incompetence of the first order... but we all had a great evening watching the bonfire."

That puzzles me. BT are not incompetent generally, and they can lay a fibre, and will, for the right money. This is not a result of incompetence, it is a result of economics. I will be more than happy to provide Mr Linden with 1Gb/s fibre optic broadband to his home in Templeton if he wishes, for the appropriate fee (many many tens of thousands of pounds), and I'd use Openreach to do it. So not actually incompetence at all.

With a speed of 0.7 megabits per second, Mr Linden says - like many others in the village - he cannot stream anything and is only able to look at emails and occasionally browse the internet.

OK, so he can do browsing, and email, and other things but not stream video in real time. 0.7Mb/s sucks, I agree, but it is not unusable. You can access the Internet. It is a good case where an ad blocker would help matters, I agree. Pretty much all things apart from live streaming video are actually possible, but slow. See below, there are things that can be done...

Adam Short, who moved to the village about 18 months ago, said he helped create the van effigy - marked with the words "won't reach" - on the floor of his barn. "We knew it was terrible before we moved, but we hoped there would be a solution," he said.

Hang on, he knew it was terrible before he moved? He "hoped" a solution magically happen? If you moved there and knew the situation beforehand and made an informed choice, really, WTF have you got to moan about?

"Trying to run my business from home is nigh on impossible at times, and I'm one of the lucky ones because I have a 4G signal on the roof with some specialist kit.

This is even more odd, in my view. He moved there, and runs a business from home using the Internet. He knew it was slow. But why would it be impossible - I run a business as we don't need live streaming video - we use web pages, and email, and things using way less bandwidth, all of which are possible.

Also, hang on, he has a solution, some specialised kit (?) to get 4G. So why is he moaning about this. He "hoped" there would be a solution, and, err, there is one, and he has it? What am I missing here?

"It also has an impact on the children in the village as it's restricting their homework."

OMD! (Oh My Dog, I have a dog) this is actually the "think of the children" argument. Please, what homework needs live video streaming? No way, sorry.

What can be done?

There are many ways this could be improved.
  • A really simple start is some line bonding. We have dealt with people in small villages and they struggled to get 1Mb/s on a line, so had 4 lines bonded. Worked really well. A&A can do that. Costs a bit more, but nothing like fibre dig costs.
  • They could club together and work on a community fibre initiative (what the BT man suggested), but it will cost.
  • Anyone could get a fibre service for an arm and a leg - just depends how much they want it.
  • There are point to point wireless systems - I have a friend in a small village who paid a farmer the other side of the valley that could get FTTC to have a radio link on his roof. Now my friend has over 160Mb/s in just this sort of village.
  • Satellite is available - it is shit latency but as far as I know it does work and will do 10Mb/s type speeds. It works anywhere you can see the sky and is not stupid money.
  • 4G and mobile solutions exist - one of the people in the village even has this.
So sorry I sound less sympathetic now - the story starts off well, but then almost every quote in the story is wrong in many ways, and it sounds more and more like a pure publicity stunt.

Hopefully they will find more solutions soon...

21 comments:

  1. "publicity may get change in this case, which is not really fair on everyone else in the same situation"

    What about those who do not have an influential blog?!

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    1. Ha, I hope my blog can change things too, I agree. I don't know if it does. They can always start one :-)

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  2. To be fair, OR do make some baffling decisions.

    I'm in a new build development which would allow for hundreds of customers. Openreach added a brand new cabinet right outside the development, but it's not fibre enabled (exchange is, as are the vast majority of cabinets in the area). It's obvious that OR had to build new trenching/ducting to support the PCP cab and that the cab is brand new.

    OR have put copper lines to every single property but no fibre.

    Because BT broadband is so slow (~2-4 Mbps max), everyone has gone with Virgin Media, so BT have gained basically no money from the work.

    Now what would be common sense? Running fibre to every building so OR can quickly upgrade to fibre if the demand is there. Making the cabinet FTTC from the start. People have had to wait months for Virgin Media to sort themselves out, so BT would have won a lot of business. And then you have considerations like the Homehub 5 issue where you can get awful latency (I've managed to get 10ms ping to the gateway over my LAN on a few metres of copper, it's that bad). I'd have gone with BT in a heartbeat, especially so with a proper FTTP service.

    The absolute best case scenario is that the ducting should be in good condition to hopefully allow fibres to be blown down them (I think BT are experimenting with this method of overbuilding to reduce costs), but there's no guarantee.

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    1. No idea why I said HH5, I meant the Virgin Media Superhub 3. Whoops.

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    2. I think part of the problem with new-builds is that Openreach *allow* preparation, including FTTH in some cases, but don't push it - and developers seem willing to skimp there. (Openreach provide the appropriate parts, then the developer installs wires back to the Distribution Point, ready for Openreach to connect as and when each new owner orders a line.)

      If the site needs its own new-build PCP, it should surely be a "no-brainer" to make it FTTP and skip the copper entirely, but it seems BT/Openreach are still wrestling internally on how and when to move in that direction.

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    3. The ducting and work to install FTTH is no more onerous on the builder than Copper pair, they just have to engage BT/OR at the start of the development and they give them all the bits they need to install then OR blow the fibre to each property when they need connecting up. I believe OR are getting better at publicising this to builders.

      However, there are a number of caveats that the development has to be over a certain size and you have to engage them at the start, so developments that are built in phases are unable to get FTTH as its unlikely that "phase 1" was built since OR started making FTTH "free" to install

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    4. OpenReach install what developers ask for. If a new development only has copper then it's the developers fault. OpenReach will install FTTP for FREE on developments of 30+ homes.

      It's also the developers responsibility to pay the roughly 20k it costs to install a FTTC DSLAM for said new development.

      BT GROUP/OpenReach is a privately owned company, with shareholders, just like most other telecoms companies. They have a legal duty to try make a profit for those shareholders. Why on earth would they fork the bill to install fibre in the middle of nowhere of they aren't going to make any profit from it?

      Why aren't they burning a Virgin/Talktalk/Sky effigy? I don't see them racing to invest in areas where they will make no money.

      The incompetence is entirely with the guy who KNEW the broadband was slow, but moved his family/business there anyway.

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    5. that because the devloper requested copper only and openreach prodided what was requested by the developer and the developer has been paid to have that inrrastructure put in

      so what development is this and where

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  3. Afraid RevK that my Computer Science homework often requires streaming video. I do flipped delivery at A Level, where pupils are expected to do the bulk of learning independently before the lesson and lesson time is used to check their understanding, fix misconceptions and put their learning into practice. Sometimes this involves pupils watching videos on YouTube (e.g. the excellent ones provided free of charge by Craig n Dave) and making notes as preparation for their next lesson.

    Of course I teach in an inner city school where internet access at home is (almost) guaranteed, and we provide facilities before and after school for pupils to make use of our computers in the event that they don't have access at home for whatever reason.

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  4. BT's technical people seem very competent, their management don't - lots of ridged procedures that just accomplish endless hoop-jumping instead of actually getting things done. I've had numerous experiences really struggling to get things done because of "procedure says no" rather than any technical reason for it being a problem.

    On one occasion I spent *months* explaining what we needed for a routing change on a BT leased line. Eventually the management types Ok'd it and was put in touch with a techie to do the work. Despite months of back and forth explaining what was needed, the techie hadn't been given any notes so he asked me to explain from scratch what we needed. 5 minutes later the job was done. So what was the purpose of that months of back and forth with the management types instead of just letting me spend 5 minutes with a techie?

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    1. They need to work on their XKCD:806 compliance (https://xkcd.com/806/)

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  5. Reminds me of the stories of people who've moved to a house near an airport, then campaigned to get it shut down because of the plane noise. In many cases, not only did they know, they had to sign an agreement acknowledging their proximity to the airport.

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    1. If you're liable to be picky, then Mr Linden doesn't actually specify what he's referring to when he's saying "it's incompetence of the first order", so he could well have been referring to his move to an area with inadequate broadband to run his business!

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  6. My only annoyance at BT on this one is that they won 4G spectrum at auction (as Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc)) for fixed Base 4G for situations like this, then did nothing with it. That company was wound up a couple of years ago and I don't know what happened to that allocation.

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  7. This can't be a BT Wicker Van; if you remember the film, it has to be Virgin :D

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  8. >I would say I am lucky now that I am on real glass, but that is more down to paying many thousands for a fibre to be dug in rather than luck.


    Can I be really nosy and ask what sort of connection you have at home? Just to make myself jealous really!

    I'm guessing a 100mbit+ leased line? Or FTTPoD?

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    1. Actual glass fibre... Works well. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

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  9. Devon CC effectively told openreach to 'go and do one' so I'm not sure they are the company to blame in this case.

    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/12/1gbps-fttp-broadband-35225-extra-devon-somerset-premises.html

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  10. Just had a look and all networks have 3G coverage out there and all but Three have 4G available too.

    So with some "not so specialist kit" getting better speeds shouldn't prove to hard.

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  11. On the Radio 4 Today programme it was said that BT had laid a fibre cable right through the village. Given that you would think it would not be to expensive to make provision for connecting the villagers.

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    1. Would be interesting to know the reason for this fibre cable through the village.

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