‘Abysmal’ performance in broadband is hurting Yorkshire’s companies

I was at the Leeds Club earlier this month to hear a keynote speech by Kevin Hollinrake, the MP for Thirsk and Malton. The subject was Connecting Our Future, although it could also have been called ‘Two areas of policy where we are performing abysmally and need to take urgent action’. The event was the fourth in the Public Square series organised by the IoD, Leeds City Council and Leeds Beckett University.

Kevin Hollinrake set the tone by reminding the audience that only two per cent of premises in the UK have an ultra-fast broadband fibre connection, ranking us 27th out of 28 European countries, including such leaders in the field as Spain and Latvia. Citing examples of rural businesses being forced to move because of connectivity issues, he said: “Not only do we need to invest in, and connect, the great cities of the North but also our towns and villages.

“The issue of a connected future, including the internet of things, not only impacts on today’s communities but on future generations across Yorkshire.”

The estimated cost for moving our outdated copper wire network on to the modern standard of fibre could be as much as ?25bn and that’s assuming we get on with it. There is an ongoing debate about whether BT and Openreach are able to deliver what is needed, however they are configured. BT had announced a ?6bn plan to get two million premises connected by 2022, taking coverage up to – seven per cent.

It’s not enough. Dan Lewis, head of infrastructure policy at the IoD, recently said: “Our members tell us that broadband is the number one issue for them.

“Faster broadband would make them more productive. We have a booming digital economy but it is in spite of the network, not because of it”. The importance is highlighted by recent political events and the nature of our region.

As we go through the process of leaving the EU and establishing a new place in the world, it is less than ideal to be working off an inadequate communication infrastructure base. Talk of the region as a whole brought the meeting on to a subject that is beginning to rouse real passions and is just as important for our future: devolution. In particular, the failure of Yorkshire as a whole to get engaged with the devolution agenda as set by central government for the benefit of all of our people.

We need to accept that the only acceptable solution is to agree a deal across as much of Yorkshire as possible.

Until we can speak with a single voice you can be sure what we will get from Westminster – nowt.

Major outage at broadband biz 186k

Broadband-pusher 186k – as well as ISPs it supplies including and Firenet – is advising customers to seek other providers as it is unable to “continue to supply” its current service, in a notice sent to customers today seen by The Register. One reader got in touch to report the outage happened at 9:30am this morning. The company has not provided an update as to when it expects services to be running.

“Their entire broadband estate seems to die,” he said. “There was no warning or announcements, just the plug pulled out.”

He added: “It’s not the first time that 186k have had ‘issues’ but this is a new one to me. We are frantically trying to expedite new DSL/FTTC lines for our customers.”

Another customer told The Register: “We’re currently trying to get an answer on what’s going on, but their partner support is an automated message, and no email response or fuller statement has been issued.”

Most of Leeds-based 186k’s bandwidth comes from BT Wholesale, which it sells as a package to small businesses and home users. Other services such as hosting and email are unaffected, said 186k.

It added: “We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.”

The notice read: “If you are currently experiencing an outage with your broadband service, please be advised that you will need to find an alternative provider as we are unable to continue to supply your current service.”

The Register has contacted 186k to ask when it expects the service to return to normal, and the reason for the outage. (R)

Customers complained on Twitter:

On its website, the company’s “mission statement” says it aims “to offer our clients the best choice in wholesale broadband, telephony, voip, hosting and domain names.”

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Gigabit Wi-Fi via LinkUK kiosks coming to Camden

Slow public and hotel Wi-Fi seems to be a feature of life across the globe and while there are some public places with decent Wi-Fi (including some London Museums) the best to date we have found is Leeds Bradford Airport so it is with interest we find out that a partnership between BT, Intersection and Primesight is bringing kiosks similar to the LinkNYC ones in New York to the UK. The partnership should bring more than 750 kiosks to London[1] and other cities in the UK over the course of the next few years, with an initial roll-out of 100 in Camden. The kiosks will offer up to 1 Gbps Wi-Fi for free and other free premium services will apparently include UK landline and mobile calls, mobile charging (2 USB ports) and access to a local services directory via touch screens.

The free aspects in theory are all paid for via the advertising income from two 55″ HD displays, which is perhaps one more step towards a Bladerunner style future. Primesight as part of the agreement will also sell advertising in 17,500 BT payphone kiosks across the UK. Each month we look at the fastest mobile devices, and the best of the current generation of phones and tablets generally seem to max out at around 300-400 Mbps over their wireless links.

So it will be interesting to see what is possible from the kiosks, generally laptops have better Wi-Fi performance than mobiles due to the size limitations imposed on handhelds.

With 802.11ad offering the potential for beyond Gbps Wi-Fi connectivity over short distances using the 60 GHz band Wi-Fi is set to keep getting faster, but may need even more access points in a home to get the best speeds.



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