Campaigning for better Connectivity and Universal Broadband Access!

A UK 'bit' commons.

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This website is calling for greater transparency of service parameters in  the marketing of  high speed data services. In doing so it will help realise  more of the benefits available.  It is born of the conviction that while ISPs have mis-sold on speed,  they have also managed to undersell the utility of hi-speed connectivity.  The call for a Universal Service Commitment for Broadband in the  final Digital Britain report (June 09),  makes the need for service transparency even greater as we begin to use our high speed connections for more critical services.  In offering some ideas on what service transparency might mean we also offer a means to define  universal connectivity and deal with the need to replace legacy services.  These issues need to be resolved as the Next Generation Fund is established to upgrade rural communications to support quality home working and telecare.
 
Why the advocacy?
 

Internet Service Providers are promising download speeds up to 8mbps, 24mbps and 50mbps with  operators planning fibre deployments. Policy makers have now announced the need for Broadband access to be a universal service and are making provision for a Next Generation Fund.  This is a recognition of the critical nature of the world wide web, the internet protocol suite used to enable connections and our use of copper, fibre and the airwaves to allow the rapid transfer of bits thus providing access to public services, work, entertainment, health and education. These are great steps, yet, even the 2Mbps service has little meaning until the end to end service parameters are defined. Even Ofcoms' own propaganda on average speed adds little to our understanding of what we are buying or how best to use it.

 
 As our reliance on our connections grow this needs to change, we need performance guarantees however small. Good food labelling means I can buy bread and know the ingredients and nutritional content. To get the best from our connectivity we need to know its limits.  Overdriving any service will cause it to malfunction. A much greater understanding is needed on the nature and character of the UK data transport network.

 

By writing down minimum performance criteria for a connectivity service, there are many unforeseen consequences on existing services, network archtitectures and how we regulate for the futue. I have expressed the performance guarantee in such that it can run multiple services be it browsing, VOIP, iPlayer (BBC) and file transfers. It is done in such a way that it can be used for any form of connectivity.   Explaining the implications is a an ongoing piece of work.
Why Now?
We now know enough about the emerging operational properties of  Broadband services to request minimum performance criteria. Like the engineers building and running these networks,  we, the users are learning what is possible.

BT's 21CN  and other Next Generation Network programmes have announced new broadband variants, being rolled out now. As it stands quality is treated as a value added service, with geographic de-averaged pricing (country folk pay more).  It is convenient for the network operators to agree such matters amongst themselves,  but there has been very little questioning or objective setting in terms of what do we as customers want to do with our connectivity.
 
There appears to be very little discourse on the need to make our connectivity suitable for future healthcare delivery.  NGNs are being planned to replicate existing services rather than building new, better and cheaper services.
 
These parameters must feature in the specification of a Universal Service.  Without them,  you could end up with a an alleged  10Mbps Mobile Broadband service which is still only suitable for retrieving email.

What's in it for you?

 
If minimum connectivity performance (and consequential labelling) criteria are published and guaranteed, then it will help you to make informed choices and get more from your Broadband connection.


It will not stop the meaningless claims on speed,  but you will be able to see the detail of what your actually paying for and expose and encourage good internet engineering practice.

 

What's Next?
For now all I want is an e-mail from you voicing your support so I can begin lobbying the Communications Panel, NGN UK and the main providers about what we, the customers want!

Copy this URL to your friends and get them to support the setting of minimum criteria.

The attached blog provides a commentary on related public events as they happen.
 
Read the performance guarantee and the Broadband labelling proposal and drop an email to support the campaign and highlight any improvements you wish to make!