11 Aug 2010

Broadband in Stroud and Open Source update

Why do Broadband speeds vary so much?

Well an article on the BBC summarised the various issues like line length, the rush hour and the 'cabinets' - all this leads to what came out in the press recently about varying speeds - see here - Ofcom point out that the gap between the marketing and reality of broadband speeds has grown even wider.

Photo: Bap Man in Bread Street - still being added to since our street party where he was created!

On this blog I have argued we need better Broadband in Stroud District - see my blog here about the national campaign to improve rural Broadband and a small survey of householders in Bread Street. Sadly the Cabinet member has not responded to either of my emails asking if the Council would like to take forward a campaign like other Councils are doing. How much interest is there out there for a local campaign?

How best to get improvements?

Well Ofcom have not set deadlines for BT, etc. to upgrade the exchanges and to make them open for other providers to install their equipment. A colleague recently complained to Ofcom who said that they did not act on individual complaints but should they receive sufficient complaints they would investigate. So please think about:

A) Test our broadband speed - test site (www.speedtest.net) - to see if we are getting what we are paying for - after talking to my provider I had my monthly charge reduced from £15 to £7.50 - but I still think that is high for the dire service I receive.
B) Complain to Ofcom – it’s not easy, but you can navigate the phone system to find someone human! Providers like Sky will offer £5 broadband if the exchange has been upgraded and ‘unlocked’ by BT. So if like me they are paying £17 per month they should complain.
C) Let me know how you get on if you are local!

Last month's "Manifesto for a Networked Nation" report from Martha Lane-Fox was a useful addition to the debate (see more below re the campaign). Adrian Ramsay, deputy leader of the Green Party, responded with a press release saying:

"David Cameron may say that 'promoting digital inclusion is essential for a dynamic modern economy' - but he will need to put government funding towards Internet access in every Jobcentre Plus centre, and engagement projects to reach the 10 million not currently on the Internet, for that rhetoric to become a reality. We must ensure universal access to broadband. It is a matter of social equality. 47% of those people living in households who earn less than £11,500 do not use the Internet, and yet we have an economy where job adverts are increasingly placed online, and where 90% of new jobs require computer skills. Lack of access to fast broadband is an obstacle to many businesses and employees, especially in rural areas. BT should have an obligation to provide broadband capable infrastructure to every household. The principle of universal access at the same base price to the household should prevail as with post and telephone services.

"We agree with Martha Lane Fox's 'Manifesto for a Networked Nation' when it says that 'we should work towards ensuring that people have easy and affordable access to the Internet in the same way they can access water, electricity or gas. BT is making massive profits from broadband connections in urban areas. It should be forced to use some of this money to ensure everyone has access to broadband."

Martha Lane Fox writes in the councillors' First magazine

"More than a fifth of the British population are missing out on access to public services and employment opportunities because they do not use the internet. That’s why this month I launched the ‘Manifesto for a networked nation’, a rallying cry for government, industry and charities to take urgent action to help get every British citizen of working age online by the end of 2012. Around 10 million adults in Britain have never used the internet.

"The average family misses out on £560 of savings a year by being offline, and consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate that if everyone were online the total benefit to the economy would exceed £22bn. The disadvantages of being offline are becoming so great and growing at such a pace, that for reasons of social justice and economic necessity we must act now to inspire, encourage and support everyone in the UK to get online......I want to hear your views both on what you are already doing to help get people online, and what more I can do, as the UK digital champion, to support you in making the networked nation a reality. Please go to www.raceonline2012.org, read the manifesto and sign up to be a partner, because we will all be better off when everyone is online."

Open Source at last!

The Green Party has long backed calls in this country and Europe for the wider use of the free Open Source software and a rejection of Microsoft's Vista operating system. Open Source is software whose authors intentionally extend users the freedoms to study, copy, modify and share their work. While proprietary software functions by dividing people and using technical restrictions to block communication between them, free software was created with individual freedom and social solidarity in mind.'

Greens have sought to see the District Council use this but in the past this has been rejected. I am now delighted to learn that Open Source is part of the District Councils plans. They will be looking at it seriously after the installation of their current 'Citrix' system.

1 comment:

John said...

Very good article..