Fibre to the home Council, Milan 2011

25 February 2011 at 16:22 in guest post by Tom Woof

As the only community representative at the Ftth council in Milan, I was definitely in the minority where 3500 delegates gathered to further the cause of Fibre to the Home.  As a potential end user I was also in the minority, as most of the other delegates represented suppliers of a bewildering array of equipment for fibre.  They supplied, ducts, fibre, sub ducts, jointers, splitters, access nodes, manholes, data handling equipment for putting TV and telephone systems into the fibre.

What struck me first of all was the sheer number of ways that fibre can be put around.  It can go through special ducts, existing ducts, sewers, water and gas pipes, buried directly, wrapped around electricity wires, hang off garden fences.  It can go almost anywhere.

Read the rest of this entry →

Eden’s Broadband Champions meet with BDUK

19 December 2010 at 12:35 in guest post by Libby Bateman

On 16 December, Libby Bateman, UECP project officer and Broadband Champion for Ravenstonedale, convened a meeting between Mike Kiely of BDUK and Broadband Champions from across the Eden valley. Here, she blogs about her experience as a longstanding broadband campaigner and her perspective on the latest developments in the campaign:

Meeting of Broadband Champions at Kirby Stephen, 16 December 2010. Photographer: Lance Greenhalgh

Yesterday, I walked through the snow with a young friend of mine to her home halfway up the Uldale Valley. She is one of three children in their late teens and early 20s and I feel like I am letting her down when I say: “it may be another twelve months before we can get broadband to your home”.  She has now been unable to drive her car for three weeks because of the snow. She has been completely isolated from the outside world with no broadband, a very unreliable landline, and no mobile signal.

Six months ago, it was very simple: we were going to dig in the fibre, plug it in, and switch it on. Our problems were: which route do we take? And how do we make it affordable?

Then, along came the Big Society, which seemed to be purpose-made to help us in what we were trying to achieve, and along came some money from BDUK - another real bonus.

But the result of these two strokes of luck has been delay. Instead of bashing on and building our networks, we now have to wait for the powers-that-be to catch up. The BDUK funding and the resulting government procurement have slowed things down. But, however frustrating this may be, we can’t rush the process: it’s essential that they get it right first time.

To quote a good friend, this is where the Big Society and Big Government come crashing into each other. But remember, we are the Big Society Vanguard, which means that the government is hoping to learn from us how it can work better with communities. And so, yes, we may well go bump a few times, but isn’t that part of any learning process?

Now, my intention is to ensure that, in twelve months time, we really do deliver broadband to the top of the Uldale Valley and that we don’t just get faster broadband to major population centres to satisfy government statisticians.

Read the rest of this entry →