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internet-networking in Internet & Networking Channel,
Written by: Andrew Pearson on Apr 6 2010, 4:47am

Who should pay for the new digital network?

This is something probably more relevant to people in the UK but I'm not sure what other countries are doing with regards upgrading the existing phone network to allow super fast broadband speeds.

The current government want to introduce a 50p per person tax to pay for upgrading all the old cabling to either new, better wire or fibre optic. I'm unsure if ISP's are being taxed extra as well to help pay for this or not. Now I'm happy to pay extra for an upgraded network system BUT British Telecom still own the network and still have a monopoly over it's maintenance. In this day and age I think it's ridiculous that a private company controls all the network forcing other ISP's to use their engineers etc.

If the public is expected to pay for the upgrade then shouldn't we expect that that same network is administered equally for all instead of being left to one private company to decided where it's resources are allocated?

11 Citizens Answers

Paul Bamberger says:

Actually, I don't think it is 50p per person - it's 50p per telephone line (I assume that it applies to all the telephone providers including Virgin and Kingston).

A couple of decades ago Mercury (and more recently NTL/Virgin) started rolling out telephone services in the cities and big towns but it just isn't economically viable for them to put services into the remote locations which this tax is covering - even with the use of the additional tax. I slightly begrudge paying this extra tax, but I pay for all sorts of services in my taxes that I don't actually use. With this one, in five years I might decide I would like to move to a village and to continue working from home I will hope that my 50p levy will have been used.

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Apr 6 2010, 12:36pm | Report

Nacim TAMINE says:

It’s bit better here in France.

FRANCE TELECOM has lost the monopoly for over a decade and even if they still own the wired network, any costumer can subscribe to a private ISP without paying any tax.

But since FT will owns the wires, ISP's have started deploying their own network, and it is optical fiber, off course, each costumer is free to move from DSL to fiber...for free !

But somehow, FT seems to keep its leadership in terms of market shares, and I still can't find the reason why?,  it is more expensive and does not offer as much services as private ISP's

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Apr 7 2010, 3:46am | Report

Andrew Pearson says:

That the issue I have with BT still owning all the wires and exchanges. whilst all the ISP's are totally reliant on BT engineers to do anything physical on the network I can;t see how the other ISP's will get any immediate benefit from the updating of the networks. BT are surely going to implement the new network in a way that suits there business but they give the worst service of any of the ISP's despite technically being in the prime position to sort out issues quickly and easily!

I honestly believe that if a landline tax is implemented then at the very least the administration of the network should be taken awy from a private company and run as a public service. At the moment it's like the AA owning all the roads in the UK and if you happen to be with the RAC or Greenflag you'd have to wait for an AA van to take your engineer to your broken down car!

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Apr 7 2010, 3:54am | Report

Paul Bamberger says:

This country's record on taking over the administration from private companies is not very good - we would end up with another impractical organisation who ignored customer needs and increased prices to everyone.

My general experience of BT is that they sort out all issues at the same speed - they are too complex an organisation to provide different levels of service. I think their policy is "One size fits no one".

Fundamentally it's a real hornets' nest. I know that the telecoms regulator and government have put massive restrictions on what BT can do to allow for competition but the question then is, do you restrict a private company (which is what BT now is) to the extent that other companies have an unfair advantage? NTL (Virgin) have proved that you don't need BT exchanges to implement telephone line services. They are offering 50Meg broadband which is far more than BT.

BT have been required to allow for Local Loop Unbundling (where ISPs can install their own equipment in exchanges) and I know that apart from the cable from the exchange to my house my internet access is completely over Plusnet infrastructure.

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Apr 7 2010, 4:07am | Report

Andrew Pearson says:

Basically however they achieve it in these times I think one company running the network is totally flawed. The network needs to be opened up so that other providers have a greater amount of input into it. That of course needs tight regulating but shouldn't that be what off-com do anyway? The country needs the infrastructure changing, we're already lagging well behind most of the developed world and to me it seems simply because we have to rely on one company to decide anything and is against taking on the costs.

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Apr 7 2010, 4:22am | Report

Paul Bamberger says:

I agree that we are lagging behind other countries. That is the problem with being first to implement ideas. Early adopters always solve all the problems and work through the pain and then everyone else benefits (I will wait for the 3rd or 4th generation iPad for that reason!) If you look at our train, road, power and mail systems they are not the best in the world - but we were early adopters!

BT is an example where, initially, the only way to implement such a service was for it to be state sponsored. It probably stayed in government control too long (too many strong Labour governments and week Conservative ones) and we are now seeing the impact of that.

I suggest that you move somewhere with Virgin cabling and then you won't need to stress about it anymore! ;-)

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Apr 7 2010, 4:32am | Report

Andrew Pearson says:

He he, believe me when my current contract is up I will be looking at it with interest!

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Apr 7 2010, 4:35am | Report

Paul Bamberger says:

Clearly these comments have gone to a wider audience... The BBC news website has just reported that the 50p tax has been scrapped!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8606639.stm

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Apr 7 2010, 5:09am | Report

Andrew Pearson says:

I take full credit for it all! :D

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Apr 7 2010, 5:22am | Report

Paul Bamberger says:

Here's another interesting update on this story.

A village in the UK has set up their own fast broadband service (up to 40Mbs). They had to get the regulator (OFCOM) involved to 'encourage' BT to do what was needed but it looks interesting.

Here's the link...

http://tinyurl.com/y2pqaey

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Apr 15 2010, 3:56am | Report

Andrew Pearson says:

Interesting, it's certainly a novel way of circumventing BT's god awful service.

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Apr 15 2010, 5:11am | Report

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