Britain and Fibre Optic Broadband

Posted on November 19, 2019

Impulse has been the order of the day with regards to Labour and the offer of free fibre broadband. On the left, it was seen as a piece of cake to pay for and administer by simply making corporate giants like Google and Facebook pay their taxes (which won’t be a simple task). Whilst on the right, it was labelled something along the lines of BT standing for ‘Bolshevik TzarCom.’

Corbyn is so universally despised as an opposition leader that if he found a cure for cancer it would headline in The Daily Mail as: ‘CORBYN’S KILLER COMMIE CANCER CURE!’ However, it must be said that offering free broadband to every household and business in the UK possesses many components for failure.

The only way I can see every house and business in Britain having access to fibre is by it being a massive government infrastructure scheme like Trident or HS2. It would cost billions, but it would create jobs and wealth for generations. There is no doubt that if Britain was a global leader in broadband infrastructure, it would boost the economy drastically.

The one thing I can’t understand is the somewhat fanciful plan that the tech giants will pay for it! There is little point budgeting for something with money that you might not get, unless there is a trick to get in dodged corporation tax that I am not aware of.

It is worth looking into the current market, first of all, to see who is dominating broadband and how it is performing. The UK lags behind the rest of the EU. At this moment in time, our fibre network covers just 8% of the market compared to Portugal at 89% and Spain at 71%, and if you were to look at the value/cost per gigabyte, the UK sits in 21st place from the other 28 EU countries. Pathetic really.

Although I am not technically minded enough to fully understand why this is the case, it does appear to show a lack of desire on the UK’s part. Additionally, if anyone thinks that BT is going to use their money fitting fibre down every country lane in the UK when they have shareholders to satisfy, they are deluding themselves.

Openreach has slowly become better over the years but they are still pretty much work in progress. My partner pays good money for broadband that is barely strong enough for me to open my Sage accounts package, and at my home, it has periods of interference that warrants BT charging £250 just so one of their engineers can investigate the issue.

At the moment the UK has an internet infrastructure that (before plans for growth) is based on satisfying the shareholder pay-outs and director bonuses so there is no way BT will foot the bill for something so huge – well, at least not anytime soon.

If we are to be taken seriously as a nation, full-fibre broadband is the way forward, and not a system where BT receives a fine of £45 million for deliberately slowing down the progress of their competitors. As a friend of mine said today: ‘we might as well just accept it is a huge investment and print the money to do it rather than relying on an ambitious plan to make corporate giants pay their corporation tax – which they won’t without a huge fight and/or several glamorous lunches with HMRC.’

It is undeniable that fibre is the future and for many countries, it is already the now, so if we are to have any ambition, Brexit or no Brexit, we might as well commit to investing in it and make it happen. It will eventually pay for itself via the increased business activity where anyone can work anywhere between John O’ Groats and Lands’ End.

It will also allow more and more people the benefit of working from home, which has to be good for the environment?! Why can’t we lead the way for once rather than being some shitty little nation with a crappy network marginally better than dial-up?

I just can’t see tech giants paying for it; especially post-Brexit where they would escape the new EU Tax avoidance laws regarding tax havens.

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