sharon white OFCOM CEOForcing BT to unbundle is good, although the news reports of "halving" are high.

BT, like DT and many others in the West, has been giving a big 'eff you to their government's desire to bring fiber home. If you believe having a great Internet is important, then full fiber is most often the right choice. OFCOM is requiring BT to share poles and ducts, which will bring down the cost of competitive fiber. Good move.

Their saving estimate is modestly higher than the Spaniards and the Italians report. The unbundling affects only the cost to pass the premises, not the complete upfront cost.

Getting from the last duct or pole into the customer's home is typically 25% to 40% of the total cost, which will be from $400 to $1,500/home. Installing on poles costs $20,000 to $30,000/mile even for telcos who already own the poles. The fiber itself is cheap but not free. ("Fiber is cheaper than udon," the Japanese say.) The equipment cost is ~10%. 

A more realistic total saving figure is 10-30%, with the actual savings dependent on the price BT is allowed to charge. Telcos almost always persuade governments their "costs" are much higher than industry norms for large companies. Deutsche Telekom just bragged Germany is giving them rural subsidies at what I know is ~twice the necessary level. OFCOM didn't say, but the tariff will likely be based on BT's "costs."

Getting this right would help guide better policy. My take is and DOCSIS 3.1 cable will serve almost all needs for a decade or more, especially if Fries deploys the upstream. At the moment, he probably delaying that until the next decade. Bringing down the cost, even if it is only 20%, is good for competition.

France and Spain have something like 15M lines of fiber home compared to Britain around 1M.


New Ofcom rules to boost full-fibre broadband

23 February 2018

More UK homes are set to benefit from ultrafast internet speeds, after a draft decision by Ofcom that will halve the upfront cost of building ‘full-fibre’ broadband networks.

Full-fibre broadband is many times faster – and around five times more reliable – than today’s superfast internet services. But it is available to just 3% of UK homes and offices.

So, Ofcom today announced measures to further increase investment in full fibre. This follows recent commitments by broadband companies that could see up to six million premises covered by full fibre by 2020.

Cheaper, better, faster networks

Under the measures, BT must make its telegraph poles and underground tunnels open to rival providers, making it quicker and easier for them to build their own full-fibre networks.

This will change the business case for building new networks and could cut the upfront costs of laying fibre cables by around 50%. It could also reduce the time required for digging works, meaning fibre could be installed in some streets in a matter of hours, where it would previously have taken days.

In addition, Openreach, BT’s network division, will have to repair faulty infrastructure and clear blocked tunnels so providers can access them. Openreach must also ensure there is space on its telegraph poles for extra fibre cables connecting homes to a competitor’s network. And it must release a ‘digital map’ of its duct and pole network, so competitors can plan where to lay fibre.

Protecting consumers, especially in rural areas

Ofcom has a role to ensure affordable access to superfast broadband for people and businesses. We want to protect against high prices, particularly in places that are unlikely to benefit from competitive investment, such as rural areas.

We will do this by cutting the price that Openreach can charge telecoms companies for its basic superfast broadband service.

Regulating this price will also help BT’s rivals to compete for customers, while several build their own full-fibre networks, as well as protecting consumers from high prices during this period.

Building momentum

Today’s announcement follows proposals put forward by Ofcom last year. Since then, strong momentum has built towards full-fibre broadband in the UK. A range of companies have announced plans to invest:

Virgin Media has made progress on plans to reach a further four million premises, half of which will be full fibre.Gigaclear aims to reach 150,000 rural properties by 2020.Hyperoptic aims to cover five million premises with full fibre by 2025.KCOM aims to have full-fibre coverage across all of its network by March 2019, covering 200,000 premises in the Hull area.CityFibre, in partnership with Vodafone, aims to roll out full fibre to up to five million homes by 2025.Openreach aims to connect three million homes and businesses to full fibre by 2020.TalkTalk aims to cover three million premises to full fibre.

These plans could increase coverage of full fibre in the UK from 3% today to up to 20% by 2020. Today’s measures are designed to help deliver this and promote further investment beyond these ambitions.

Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s Competition Group Director, said: “Full fibre meets the country’s future broadband needs, as demand for data soars.

“Ultrafast speeds will allow people to download entire films, or businesses to share huge files, almost instantly. Full fibre will also underpin exciting technology like remote healthcare diagnostics, 5G mobile and connected devices.

“The measures we’ve set out today will support the growing number of companies who have already announced plans to build full-fibre networks, and open the way for even more ambitious investment around the UK.”

Improving repairs and installations

Moving customers to full-fibre broadband will be a gradual process. In the meantime, Ofcom wants to ensure that Openreach installs new lines on its existing network, and fixes faults, more quickly.

So we have decided that, in future, Openreach will be required to:

complete at least 88% of fault repairs within one or two working days of being notified (up from 80% today);complete at least 97% of repairs within seven working days;provide an appointment for 90% of new line installations within 10 working days of being notified (compared to 80% within 12 days currently); andinstall 95% of connections on the date agreed between Openreach and the telecoms provider (up from 90% today).

These new requirements must be met by 2020/21. Ofcom has also set out interim targets to ensure improvements in its service before then. We will monitor Openreach’s performance closely and step in if these standards are not met.

These rules are part of a range of measures designed to ensure all telecoms companies provide the quality of service customers expect. For example, Ofcom has already announced that broadband and landline users will receive automatic compensation when things go wrong.

We are also supporting the UK Government’s plans for homes and businesses across the country – including in rural and remote areas – to have the right to request a decent broadband connection.


The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein


Professor Noam's "Many Internets"

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See . More from Noam

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list,