Digital Britain - providing for everyone
If you are going to have a "universal provision" then why not make it "progressive" and have the 2Mb/s provided for each and every person in the UK.
You get 2Mb/s with 5Gb/month download in any form you want (3G, ADSL or cable) for being a "citizen". The government covers the cost of those who would otherwise spend the money elsewhere or can't pay (or the "won't take charity" pensioners).
The government backing a 2Mb/s universal service would make connecting up even the smallest village viable. All these residential lines would also provide for small and medium-sized businesses.If you want a more "average" connection, you pay a small charge (and a small tax) and if you want the current "top of the range" you contribute a bit more to pay for the universal service.
The government backing a universal service would drive down the costs of the next generation broadband, so everyone would benefit.
I don't think I explained that as well as I could.
The cost of providing an internet connection to a consumer requires:
a) a consumer connection device;
b) a connection to the consumer from your local office;
c)a big switched in your local office;
d) a "fat pipe" (a high-capacity, high-speed physical communications link) to the internet "backbone".
The device (a) is more-or-less a standard consumer item for ADSL, but belongs to the company for cable in the UK.
For (b) in the UK you will have one of:
- a pair of copper wires to the telephone exchange, usually connected via "wiring cabinets" that you see in the street making several physical connections on the way;
- a 75 ohm co-axial cable that runs to a Virgin Media wiring cabinet somewhere around you local street. A device provides the "internet" to the "cable modems" and then links via a single fibre-optic pair to the local central office;
- a fibre-optic high-speed link to the internet, originally part of the SDH digital interconnection the telephone networks provide.
You can just buy a (c) and a (d).
The problem for (b) is that however useless copper pairs are for data transmission - 8Mb/s is stunningly slow in data communications circles (a snail vs a Ferrari) - but the cost of providing the man and machines to fit a proper fibre-optic link is just uneconomic.
And it's uneconomic for a rather ironic reason - when it WAS economic to do it, BT was banned from installing them, to give the cable companies "a go". THAT worked well - remember that, Lord Carter!