Friday, December 28, 2012

Nice Tablet, Shame About The Bandwidth

I don't need to read blogs or read my news apps to be able to tell you that tablets and other connected devices have been popular this Christmas. All I have to do is to try to post this story for the fifth time unsuccessfully.

Eight years ago when I first moved to where we now live in Wales I had no problems at all with connectivity. But that has gradually eroded and eroded to the point now where I can barely get the bandwidth I was getting via a dial up modem in 1996.

I suspect that this problem isn't specific to Wales, but this has been a decade of missed opportunities by the Welsh Assembly Government, and indeed by politicians all over the globe. They either live in cities, or spend most of their time in cities, so this is a non-issue to them. I remember arguing in a forum at OFCOM over a decade ago that this was a problem, something that was openly denied. A decade on, the provision of bandwidth to rural parts of the UK is a total disgrace.

Of course, our local exchange hasn't been unbundled, and probably has had no new equipment for five years or more. It serves around a thousand homes and businesses, so the £50k investment isn't worth it.

But still, companies like Sky and TalkTalk are happy to take your money from a non-LLU exchange for an advertised 8Mbps service and then deliver 30Kbps. They should be firmly held to account. As should the suits at OFCOM who have singularly failed to do anything about this. The charge sheet from Open Reach for unbundling is also a joke. This infrastructure has been paid for many times over and BT is clearly price gouging.

Sky Broadband is currently spending a fortune on an ad campaign with Jennifer Anniston, but let me warn you, take their service at your peril. They just said that there was nothing they could do when I complained. Yet I still see their ads and their ridiculous claims.

Meanwhile, the form on the Welsh Assembly Government site that allows you to apply for a grant to improve your broadband doesn't work at the time of writing, and even if it did, why the heck take a piecemeal approach to the provision of a service that is by now essential? It's a stupid, bureaucratic approach.

But to really point a finger here, how about the likes of Apple, Google, eBay and Amazon, all of whom benefit disproportionately from the provision of good broadband, stump up some of that tax they've dodged ? After all, their Christmas tablets are nothing more than expensive etch-a-sketches to those who received them as presents in rural parts of the UK.