Fix Britain’s internet (FBI) is a campaign from Sky, Three and Vodafone which wants to put an end to BT’s control of Openreach – which FBI believes is failing the British public. The campaign is encouraging UK internet users to complain to Ofcom CEO, Sharon White, before the Openreach public consultation period ends at midnight tonight, estimating that 100,000 members of the British public have done so already. Neil Fraser, head of space and comms at ViaSat UK, believes that, despite the best of intentions, there is “no quick fix” to Britain’s internet woes and provides his comments below:
“While we admire and support the campaign’s aim to ‘Fix Britain’s internet’, this problem is not like repairing a dripping tap. The issues affecting Britain’s broadband are systemic and, alas, have no quick fix – despite the best of intentions. Under any leadership, BT or otherwise, so long as our approach to broadband remains fibre-first, we cannot meet the complete needs of Britain’s internet users either from a time or economic viability perspective.
“Fibre cannot be the whole solution and any new fibre solution, like those before them, will have the same issues at some point later down the line; such as the cost of reaching those premises that aren’t already within easy reach. At the most basic level, the technology backbone of the UK’s broadband network cannot provide the reliability or quality of service that modern users demand to every single part of the country at an acceptable cost, noting the Government has already invested significant sums with BT and others to offset this market reality.
“If we want to provide superfast broadband to everyone, give consumers choice and ensure services are resilient, the UK needs a mix of technology. Fibre is by nature static, and cannot affordably meet the increasing needs of the entire population. Satellite broadband is increasingly capable of offering the speed and capacity that modern broadband services demand. Indeed, satellites can already deliver superfast speeds of 30 Mbps and, by 2020, 100 Mbps will be a realistic consumer service – way in excess of the BDUK programme or the USO aspiration – but actually what will be expected by many by 2020 and looking beyond. Having a mix of technology means better penetration and coverage, and means customers can compare and contrast not only different providers, but different technologies to see what works best for them.”