HSBC half-year profits increase but warns of Brexit impact
HSBC’s profits rose 5% in the first half of the year after a turbulent 2016. The results were better than expected with Europe’s largest bank reporting that its pre-tax profit for the first six months to June came in at $10.2bn (?7.8bn), compared with $9.7bn (?7.4bn) for the same period last year. The bank has been on a recovery drive during the last two years to streamline the business and reduce costs. It has laid off tens of thousands of staff and shifted more of its focus towards Asia.
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint said there were still “uncertainties arising from increasing geopolitical tensions and ambiguous predictions around the shape of transition to, and final form of, the UK’s future relationship with its major trading partners in the EU” post-Brexit, but described HSBC’s performance as “resilient”. HSBC confirmed earlier this year that it may have to move 1,000 roles from London to Paris due to Brexit over the next couple of years.
Government calls for compensation for poor broadband speeds
Hate having a slow internet connection? MPs do too. A new Government report is calling on Ofcom, the media and telecoms regulator, to get tough on broadband providers that promise fast speeds but fail to deliver. The British infrastruture group of MPs, led by former Tory party chairman Grant Shapps, estimates that as many as 6.7m UK broadband connections may not hit the 10Mb minimum that the government wants to be the UK standard for a basic decent service.
The Broadband 2.0 report, which is backed by 57 MPs, calls for automatic compensation for customers who do not get the level of speed promised from the internet packages they buy.
“Although broadband is increasingly considered to be an essential utility, the quality of customer services has simply not caught up with demand,” said Shapps. “It is unacceptable that there are still no minimum standards in the UK telecoms sector to protect customers from protracted complaints procedures, and ensure that broadband providers are fully accountable to their customers.”
BT promises ?600m investment in rural broadband
BT has said it will invest up to ?600m to bring broadband to the UK’s rural areas in a bid to avoid tougher regulation. It wants to get 99% of the country connected to broadband of at least 10mbps by 2020, a speed that’s considered good enough to stream films, use video chat and browsing online at the same time. The proposals put forward to the government by the telecoms firm come after the right to request a minimum broadband service was made possible under new laws.
“We are pleased to make a voluntary offer to deliver the government’s goal for universal broadband access at minimum speeds of 10Mbps,” said BT chief executive Gavin Patterson.
“This investment will reinforce the UK’s status as the leading digital economy in the G20.
We already expect 95% of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or faster by the end of 2017. Our latest initiative aims to ensure that all UK premises can get faster broadband, even in the hardest to reach parts of the UK.”
SoundCloud looking to sell company stakes to stay afloat
SoundCloud has had a rough couple of months. There has been a lot of talk in the press of mismanagement, after the business laid off 40% of its staff. Bloomberg has since revealed that the music streaming service is in “advanced” talks to sell stakes in the company to two private equity firms. If the deals go through, it will be a bittersweet moment for the company.
While it will manage to stay afloat, it would also hand majority control to outside companies. In essence, SoundCloud would be giving up its vaunted independence in order to keep the lights on.
Number of UK women earning more than ?1m doubles over 5 years
The number of women earning more than ?1m a year has doubled in the five years to 2014-2015, but they are still outnumbered by men by a ratio of 10 to one. Women make up 9.2% of those earning above ?1m, according to an analysis of tax returns filed in 2014-15, and derived from a freedom of information request made to Revenue & Customs.
The figures, requested by financial advisor firm Salisbury House Wealth, show the number has doubled over five years, to 1,400, compared to 13,800 men.
“The data really clearly shows the gulf between what men and women earn when you get those top jobs,” said Sam Smethers, chief executive of The Fawcett Society, which promotes gender equality and women’s rights.
“It’s not that surprising but the difference is really stark when you look at the numbers.”
The tax data also show that more women are becoming entrepreneurs.
More than 1.6m women were self-employed in the first quarter of this year, compared with 1.2m in 2011.
- ^ READ MORE: HSBC half-year profits up 5% after turbulent 2016 (news.sky.com)
- ^ READ MORE: MPs demand compensation for poor broadband speeds (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ READ MORE: BT offers ?600m for 10mbps rural broadband investment by 2020 as MPs consider Universal Service Obligation plans (www.cityam.com)
- ^ READ MORE: SoundCloud is close to getting a lifeline (www.engadget.com)
- ^ READ MORE: Number of UK women earning over ?1m-a-year doubles over 5 years (www.ft.com)
By David Williams
“There you go again.”
Ronald Reagan uttered those words in a 1980 debate, possibly turning the tide of the election in the Gipper’s favor and changing history. North Carolina lawmakers would do well to remember that famous line this year as the topic of taxpayer-funded broadband networks bubbles to the surface again. The current North Carolina law was enacted in 2011 to set limits on the growth of these schemes. It was supported by another great statesman, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, who was then the state House speaker and who has since introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to protect laws like North Carolina’s from federal encroachment. Yet here we go again. Government-owned broadband supporters have been trying to reverse the “level playing field” law nearly since the ink was dry on the statute.
They’ve failed and failed again because the majority of state lawmakers believe that municipal broadband poses a significant threat to taxpayers. The majority is right. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation recently launched a website that maps more than 200 muni networks all over the United States. From sea to shining sea — literally — taxpayers have suffered when their local leaders built city-owned networks. For example, San Bruno, California’s network has been in business since 1999, but the city still is paying off debt for its system because it has fewer than 5,000 subscribers. That level of interest was well below what local leaders had planned for.
Up north, there is Lake Connections, Minnesota, which took on $10 million in debt and swiped more than $66 million from federal taxpayers for its construction. Down south, LUS Fiber in Lafayette, Louisiana was at one point shedding $45,000 a day. Back here in North Carolina, the city of Wilson spent more than $33 million on its municipal network, including a $3.2 million raid on the city’s gas fund.
In Mooresville and Davidson, the towns borrowed $80 million for its municipal network in 2007 and by 2009 were running a deficit of $6.4 million. Today, it continues to lose about $6 million annually. Meanwhile, the town of Salisbury is “seeking proposals for new financially stable business models” for its network, which could include selling the Fibrant network entirely.
Don’t get excited and think selling the network will be a financial windfall. Provo, Utah’s $39.5 million network was sold for $1. Supporters of high-risk municipal broadband schemes like these are behind current efforts to destroy the North Carolina’s carefully crafted law that protects taxpayers. Having lost a federal court battle to undo the statute, government-network advocates are back in Raleigh seeking another way to slip their hands in taxpayers’ pockets. Lawmakers who care about their seats should be careful when these folks come calling. Last year, we attempted to assess taxpayers’ appetites for government networks.
What we found is that several priorities are much higher on voters’ lists. In fact, access to high-speed internet service ranked dead last as the issue voters want elected officials to prioritize. Additionally, while 63 percent of our respondents said they are concerned about low pay for teachers and firefighters, only 29 percent said they were worried about adequate access to broadband.
That’s probably because nine in 10 survey respondents said they have internet at home and the vast majority of those who did said they were satisfied with their service. We also found two-thirds of voters oppose the idea of their local leaders incurring debt to provide a high-speed internet network. A plurality said they would have a less favorable impression of an elected official who supported building a government internet network.
Individuals in Raleigh must listen to these numbers, rather than political rhetoric. We hope Republican lawmakers will remember their roots and that they were elected because of their devotion to protecting taxpayers and the free enterprise system. Simply put, we hope these lawmakers will ask themselves, “What the Gipper or Senator Tillis do?”
Certainly, lawmakers will conclude they don’t want to go down this road again.
David Williams is president of the American Taxpayers Alliance, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to educating the public through the research, analysis and dissemination of information on the government’s effects on the economy.
You might have spotted new BT green cabinets in various places around the village, often right next to existing cabinets. These are the upgrade that s going on to bring Fibre Broadband to everyone! Update information follows here! If you had broadband before now it will have been ADSL . The internet connection came to the BT Exchange on Furnace lane, and your phone line may be several kilometres of wire to connect back to that. The longer the wire, the lower the speed you get. At best you might get 24Mbps (megabits per second) but realistically you might get 5-10Mbps, which is enough to watch a youtube video or have a skype call, but not enough for everyone in a home to use at the same time.
The latest broadband is called Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) which means that an optic fibre brings the data connection right to the cabinet that is hopefully much nearer your home, and so the very last bit over wires might be only a few hundred metres, which means much higher data speeds. If you re reasonably close to the cabinet, you could get speeds up to 80Mbps, though more likely 50Mbps, but that s more than enough for everyone to be using the internet at the same time, and even better the optic fibre is effectively unlimited in how much it can carry, so you re not having to share the total with everyone else in the same area. There are 8 cabinets serving Madeley, their statuses are :
Madeley Cabinet 1: (The Coach House, The Holborn) : Live!
Madeley Cabinet 2: (Moss Lane): Live!
Madeley Cabinet 3: (Monument View, Crewe Rd, Madeley Heath): Live!
Madeley Cabinet 4: (New Road / Greenmeadows Road) : Coming soon (by April 2016)
Madeley Cabinet 5: ( Morningside ): Live!
Madeley Cabinet 6: ( Last Few Direct Connections! ): Coming later (2016/2017)
Madeley Cabinet 7: ( Bevan Place ): Live!
Madeley Cabinet 8: (Beck Road/Salisbury Close): Live!
If your cabinet is showing as live (it ll be the one you re closest to), then you should already be able to order Fibre Broadband from BT or any of the other internet providers.
They have very helpfully explained that the last cabinet for Madeley Cabinet 6 is not actually a cabinet but is the connections for the remaining local premises, and these are more complex ones with lots of extra engineering works required (that usually means having to make new ducts for cables, or running them overhead), but that it will be providing FTTP Fibre To The Premises, so while it might take a bit longer it s worth the wait as that s the best possible type of connection to have.