Provincial outrage over BT's broadband upgrade race
Misfired email puts London in pole position
The early standings in BT's competition to find the five communities where faster broadband is most in demand aren't encouraging for anyone living outside the M25, or indeed Zone 1, if an email to entrants today is to be believed.
It claims the current top five in the "Race to Infinity" are Bermondsey, Bishopsgate, Canonbury, Clerkenwell and Covent Garden - all in central London.
The capital-centric leaderboard brought swift condemnation on Twitter, from those hoping the competition will be a chance for rural communities overlooked by BT's upgrade programme to persuade it to reconsider.
"What a shock London tops the rankings for the BT Race to Infinity. :-/ Roll it out somewhere it'll impact, like Shropshire!" wrote one outraged provincial.
But Reg reader Bill, possessed of a more thoughtful outlook, noted that not only were the results strangely alphabetical, the Clerkenwell exchange is already scheduled for upgrade, and work on the Canonbury exchange is actually complete.
A BT spokeswoman confirmed the email was the result of a cock-up, not a London liberal media elite conspiracy.
"A test email was sent by mistake this morning, the exchanges listed in the email are not leading the race," she said.
To be eligible for an upgrade, at least 1,000 people connected to an exchange must register on the Race to Infinity site. The top five exchanges will be decided by comparing the number registered by the end of the year to the total number connected to each exchange - the higher the level of interest, the higher the chance of getting a fibre-to-the-cabinet upgrade.
"The email was not meant to go until the first five exchanges hit the 1,000 mark. We are currently investigating what has happened and apologise to customers who received this email," explained BT's spokeswoman.
So, pitchforks down - for now. ®
Surely upgrading the exchanges with highest density of users first is only sensible, espcially given that the upgrade is a fixed cost. More people will benefit quicker and it will cost less per user.
If you want to live in a village in the middle of nowhere that's fine, but you can't expect to get a fiber upgrade before major metropolitan areas. You get the beautiful countryside, fresh air and shit braodband. We get the filth and stink of the city and fibre upgrades. Suck it up.
Increase in ARPU
The established thinking suggests that upgrading the densest exchanges makes the most sense. As you say - more people, lower cost per user (although cost is not fixed - you need more scalable kit and greater backhaul capacity for larger exchanges).
However a more sophisticated analysis might consider the increase in ARPU as well as the number of people that will benefit. If city-folk already enjoy high-speed Internet access (ADSL2+, cable, LLU services) and the majority will not see a huge benefit in further increases (FTTC, FTTH) - the majority are unlikely to pay significantly more for additional Mbps downstream. If you already have broadband that gives you 15Mbps, how many users will pay more for 30Mbps? How many new applications will it give you access to? The demand for greater than 8Mbps is limited to power users until applications appear that use the capacity.
In rural areas though, the differential between the current (512kbps perhaps) and possible capacity will make take up of applications and services that require higher capacity more likely as more Mbps downstream is made available. I will watch videos online, perhaps even subscribe to a video-over-IP service if I can achieve 8Mbps downstream. I won't spend that money if I can't.
If I would pay £40 per month to an ISP more than I do now after an exchange upgrade - then I am worth eight times more as a customer than someone who may pay £5 per month more after an exchange upgrade.
At some point people will no longer know what to do with the additional capacity and so offering them more will make no difference to the revenue generated by the service providers. Perhaps that's when the rural market will start to look attractive to investors.
At Least 1000 people?
Great. My exchange has fewer than 750 lines. Stuffed before we start. Another BT stitch up.
BT Wholesale is the sole provider and even SamKnows has given up indicating when there might be movement on that front.
Ofcom? Chocolate fireguard? Spot the difference.
As for James Thomas, but.... welcome to our sheep shit and cow shit; sounds like fair exchange for BT shit. 3 out of 3. Ain't we lucky?