Since Ofcom’s long-awaited evaluation of the UK market has not yet taken place, and the decision on Openreach is still pending, we bring you a different outlook on how ‘UK’s Broken Broadband’ can be fixed by Tatros, the fibre optic provider; and they don’t hold back!
The broadband of the UK faces a risk of developing into an obstacle on the economy of the country block since alternate routes to high-speed internet connectivity and massive improvements in download speeds which are actually available now are being ignored. Tratos, the fibre optic cables provider, points out a number of innovative technological answers that are clever enough to bypass the existing network caretakers – which are actually currently available.
This innovation focused company is among the smaller sized more aggressive competitors who could play a key role in bringing the much-needed change with more than 2 decades of experience all over Europe and UK. This company that aims at being part of Britain’s solution has the ‘smart’ optic fibre cables which bring down some of the arguments made by BT such as the expense of setting up and interruption as copper is replaced with fibre.
Tratos cautions that Britain will ultimately pay the price for failing to invest in FTTH this year (2016). They also say that the cracks are already apparent, particularly since DIY UK is on board with ‘building your own’ broadband service.
Maurizio Bragagni, the CEO of Tratos pointed out that Britain is not being told and sold the whole truth regarding the subject of fibre to the residential broadband. Fibre at home in the UK only exists for just a few selected members of the population; i.e. the privileged and the ones who decided to take matters into their own hands.
Solutions that are currently at hand are completely disregarded, FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) is not FTTH (Fibre to the Home). The benefits of fibre are lost since he fibre fed cabinet connections to homes still depend on low-tech copper.
Whatever the question, it is quite clear the UK’s broadband isn’t keeping up. Very little has changed after 10 years, with an ongoing full-scale battle over the fibre/copper debate. Technological growth is taking place faster than anyone expected but Britain still stays heavily dependent on an outdated copper network. Even though BT may be owning the current out of date infrastructure, it is not the only route to residential homes. Maurizio insists that they have technologically advanced fibre optic cables that effectively travel via the routes of other home utilities such as water, electricity and gas.
All these utilities are capitalising on a smart grid to regulate and keep tabs on resources that are flowing into homes. There is no reason why fibre instead of copper can be utilised to achieve control of supply today and bring in fibre to the household which broadband can efficiently piggyback and thus circumnavigate the current copper lines. All that is required is the government opening up proper competition for the proper solution. Smart technology corporations will definitely respond and begin the process immediately.
A little over a month ago, thousands of companies, employing a population of 4.5 million told the government that they can’t remain silent anymore about the patchy broadband services and how it is severely affecting their performance. In a letter to the Culture, Media and Sports Secretary John Whittingdale, which was signed by 42 Chambers of Commerce which represented 75,000 corporations, business owners warned of the negative impact of slow broadband services.
Ofcom, the industry watchdog expresses its concern about the gap between the speeds that small firms believe that they are buying and the speeds that they are actually provided with. A recent voluntary code from Ofcom is going to commit providers of broadband service to let their business consumers leave the contract the moment the speeds drop below the minimum guaranteed level. However, this is still not enough according to Tratos. The action that should have been taken a decade ago must begin to be implemented instead of it just being all talk.
UK’s broadband remains heavily handicapped and disadvantaged in the fight to retain its dominance in economic prowess while even the developing world communities are receiving much faster broadband connectivity.
Maurizio further indicates that there is a possibility that investment may see UK left dragging behind by up to 7 years as it strives to catch up. The arguments by BT’s Gavin Patterson that true fibre to the premises is not affordable for Britain are quite absurd. Even though the current broadband speeds are essentially acceptable, if they are not competitive at this time, it means that in the future, this will not be the case. Copper will inevitably become obsolete and fibre cables will have to be set up eventually.
A recent report that was supported by 121 cross-party MPs called for forcing BT to sell Openreach, the leading broadband provider in the country, since it is performing poorly. The details of the report suggest that BT’s Openreach has just partly extended high-speed broadband in spite of £1.7 billion of government funding and that its sale will be an opening for competitiveness in the service provision. The MP’s cross-party BIG (British Infrastructure Group) asserts that about 400,000 medium and small sized businesses currently don’t have access to high-speed broadband services and more than an astounding 5 million of the population have unacceptably low speeds of download.
In addition, the broadband report also indicates that there will be minimal change unless Openreach and BT are formally separated. In addition, it states that Openreach makes immense proceeds and finds little or no benefit of investing in the network, setting up new lines or even fixing up the faults properly and in a timely manner.
The British Infrastructure Group, which is headed by Grant Shapps, argues that underinvestment which stems from the ‘natural monopoly’ of Openreach and BT is the main factor that is pulling Britain back and costing the economy £11 billion annually. When he spoke to BBC, Grant accused BT of being a monopoly establishment which clings to obsolete technology without any appropriate lasting plan for the future.
Trato’s CEO, Maurizio Bragagni fully supports this report.
The speed of broadband in Britain barely makes it into the top 20 countries globally when it comes to connectivity. Britain comes behind Czech Republic, Ireland, Lative, Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan and much more. While 84% of Saudi Arabians are connected to superfast 10Mbps broadband, only 38% of Britons are connected to high-speed internet.
Getting closer to home, Elir, the Irish company is making strides on FTTH connectivity, past the 1.4 million connected homes with fibre-based broadband speeds up to 100Mbps. By 2020, Elir aims at providing fibre to more than 1.9 million homes, which is actually a revision of 1.6 million which was their initial target, a figure they are set to beat by the end of this year. Presently, Elir is deploying speeds of 1GBps to 66 towns within the 1.4 million households using the fibre-to-the-home technology and at the moment, in 16 of the towns, 28,000 premises are already able to get the 1GBps speeds in conjunction with the investment of a superfast fibre network by the Irish Government. No wonder broadband-reliant corporations like Google list the speed of connection as one of the determinant factors when it comes to selecting Ireland as a calculated operation base. The Government of Ireland spoke of its own objective to make sure that the final 750,000 businesses and homes that are not yet connected to broadband, finally access it with a speed of at least 30Mbps. They pointed out that a few people can’t be left behind in their largest broadband intervention in the history of their State. BT, UK’s manufacturers of copper cable and owners of the copper network, has shown interest in offering this fibre optic cable work in Ireland, and this is a clear demonstration that what UK needs can actually be done!
Britain generates more money via the internet than any other G20 nation but according to Tratos, this may not be so for much longer. The internet is a greater part of the economy of UK than even construction, healthcare or education. Four years ago, a former BT chief technology officer Peter Cochrane warned that the UK will be frozen out of the coming industrial revolution. Britain is at the back of the pack when it comes to broadband because almost every other country in Asia and Europe is far ahead of us.
This blind spot of broadband is a crucial factor in determining the health of the economy of Britain. Other countries which are faced with similarly scaled challenges started their trail of investment considerably earlier than Britain and even though they are currently lagging behind in broadband speed they are anticipated to leap-frog to a substantial lead once their infrastructure projects are completed.
Even in the presence of tangible challenges which are the same or even bigger that Britain’s for instance work around of architectural and heritage sites, others have always reached to a solution around the problem.
Tratos, which has been a fibre supplier to the Highways Agency (National Motorway Communication Systems) for more than 2 decades is looking to be part of the solution and it is among the number of smaller-sized more agile competitors with a focus on innovation and they could be pretty helpful in making the necessary change.
Maurizio concludes that the same Broadband watchdogs are the real reason behind UK’s slow broadband. They are the custodians of the old network who will incur a short-term financial hit but from whom Tatros envisions long term gains. They are responsible for blocking everyone else’s progress but if they open up to collective working, they could be part of the solution.
The working world has already undergone some change. The number of sole traders working in small-sized silo offices or from home has already increased significantly. Again, there are also the employees of larger companies who work flexibly between their office and at home or strictly at home. In short, internet speed has stopped being an issue for an office environment only.
Tratos focuses on how fibre can directly be delivered into premises now because it has the technology accessible today.
Already, the UK is 7 years behind in launching the line on the delivery of next-gen speeds, a technology that could propel Britain into the top 10 countries in the speed of broadband services only if BT was to invest or BT and Openreach were to separate.
Some may think of the fibre network investment as a massive cost or risk but then the cost of not doing it is way bigger. Whatever consumers may believe, there is simply non-existent fibre to the homes in Britain.