Skip to main content
The Hidden Costs of Broadband
When I read Barry Collins comparative analysis of broadband pricing, in The Sunday Times, over the Easter weekend, I felt something close to despair.

A month ago, the day prices fell, I was chairing The LondonOne Conference at the TUC Conference centre - an event devoted to the ideal of broadband Britain- and the news that the cost of ADSL was at last within the reach of the ordinary home, was welcomed with a sense of universal relief from those involved in a struggling cable broadband sector.

Of course, once the dust settles after the first big PR ‘Puff’, reality is always a little disappointing. I’ve been trying to find a spare moment to try and find out from BT – never a simple experience – what might be involved in bringing broadband to my home but the Sunday Times appears to have done much of the work for me.

First of all, it should be said that competition and the big drop in costs immediately drove-up the demand for domestic broadband, with BT apparently taking sixteen thousand new orders within days. This of course had the effect one might expect, the arrival of a long queue of customers waiting for installation. As a result, there are really two options – three if you are thinking of wireless of cable - . You wait for an engineer and pay a hefty premium or you do it yourself. Buy a cable modem and plug and play. Is it ever that simple I wonder?

Prices are, from my point of view, far too high, with only Pipex coming in below 25.00 a month and with the others, including BT hovering around 29.99 (why not just say 30.00).

On top of this, there’s the modem charge of around 100.00 and an installation charge if you can wait for an engineer. This rather does lead me to wonder how the government expects us to overtake Germany as a broadband society within eighteen months. You might have to wait that long for an engineer!

When all is said and done and my natural cynicism is put back in a box, where it belongs, we are looking at a cost of around 450 – 500 in the first year for broadband Internet access on a ‘Do it yourself’ basis and around 600 if you can wait for an engineer.

In my opinion, it’s still too expensive and much too complicated for the man in the street and I’m thinking of my in-laws here, silver surfers with their first PC and a passionate interest in a world they’ve only just discovered.

I still get the same feeling that I had when I plunged into the Internet in its early days of FTP and Winsock and Netscape 1.0. It was a very ad hoc experience, prices varied between ISPs; technical support was a nightmare and BT executives spent hours in my office agonizing over how they might set-up a consumer Internet service.
The last mile problem hasn’t really gone away; it’s just been divided-up between competing services. Until my in-laws can pick-up their phone, ask for broadband and have it installed and working in a week and at below 25.00 a month, broadband Britain may still be a while coming.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…