Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Another "glad I don't live there any more" moment

The UK government is about to impose a 'broadband tax' upon every phone line to raise money for 'super fast broadband' in the UK. Ooo. That's intelligent. In the middle of a deep economic downturn they're imposing yet another tax on the hard pushed British public. Well, woger me wigid with a spwinterwy bwoomstick.

Excuse me, but will someone explain to poor old stupid me exactly why it is governments job to take extra money from the public to pay for infrastructure maintained and owned by 'private' Telecoms companies? The privatised water companies upgraded their networks back in the 90's around my old home without the government putting an extra tax to pay for it. We paid for the water main upgrades and replacements out of our own water and sewage bills.

I'm betting this proposed new law won't result in 'super fast broadband' for everyone at all. Local regulations forbid the installation of new infrastructure for various reasons (Conservation, planning etc) as was the case where I used to live. We could have had 2Mb connections, but the council forbade the cable company from installing new cable in our street because of 'conservation' regulations. Most of our neighbours wanted a faster connection, but the council said no to the cable company. Ergo we were stuck with a 512k DSL connection at best whilst round the corner in the next street, other neighbours had the cable companies services already. Less than thirty feet from our front door was a concrete manhole cover belonging to the cable company. Sheesh.

My bet is that this extra tax won't pay for anything at all, as the cost of collection and non-jobs will swallow up the extra taxation, and the net flow of funds to actually pay for mere fripperies like reels of cabling and digging necessary holes in the road will be close to nil.

Over here in BC I have a 2Mb broadband connection for the same price as a UK 512k DSL, and both Federal and Provincial Government expects the cable and telecoms people to fund their own upgrades. Overall we get a pretty good service. Shaw, our local cable company have an excellent customer service setup. Maximum wait time for an operator on the helpline was fifteen minutes, my line and modem was installed in two days, and the Technician turned up on the day he said he would (After first phoning ahead to let me know he was coming) within an hour of the time specified. Despite occasional breaks in service due to trees falling across the lines and heavy snow causing power cuts in winter, I'm quite satisfied with their service. Contrast this with my old BT broadband; it took four calls of over half an hour each to get through to an operator to request the DSL links, having first navigated BT's tortuous automated phone menu's. Two weeks to get an Engineer to 'install' the DSL link at my house (Most of his work done in a nice warm telephone exchange). The technician did not even turn up for the first appointment, and was half a day late for the second. In the end I ditched BT after their incompetence in providing proper DNS resolution screwed up a perfectly good server. "You'll have to rebuild your server." Said the ignoramus on their helpdesk when I called to resolve the problem. By contrast, Shaw have sent Technicians out within twenty four hours on the two occasions when their service was at fault.

Spoke to my Mother last week and she described things over in the UK as 'dire'. The UK's big government model was promising a lot, interfering too much, and basically ramping the cost of living up for everyone. Oh my. Am I glad we don't live there any more.

1 comment:

delcatto said...

Spot on. It's all gone to shit over here but I don't think it'll hit the fan until next year.

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