PURBECK has been named as one of the slowest places in the UK for broadband speeds. Despite 10Mbps being the minimum recommended speed for families under the Government’s Universal Service Obligation, many areas are falling short, a recent study suggests. Research by the consumer association Which, using data from Speed Checker Ltd, found Purbeck is one of the English regions where speed is slower than the minimum – indeed the district is ranked the fifth worst in the UK.
Which managing director of home services Alex Neill said: “We are encouraging everyone with broadband to use our speed checker so people can see if they are getting the speeds that they’ve been promised by their provider and find out how to complain if their speed is too slow.”
- Dundee City
- Orkney Islands
- Shetland Islands
Also in today’s EMEA regional roundup: disaster recovery in the cloud; Nokia does NG-PON with NBN; BT reinvents the customer experience; EE recruits.
- It’s not quite in the United Airlines league1, but there’s some bad PR afoot today for UK broadband providers. A study by Citizens Advice2, a consumer rights organization, has revealed that people on the cheapest broadband deals face an average price rise of ?113 (US$140) a year once their introductory, fixed-term deal ends, a hike that amounts, in the words of Citizens Advice, to a “loyalty penalty.” The worst offender is BT Group plc3 (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), which cranks up its monthly tariff by 67% to ?40.99 ($51) after the initial 12 months, though Sky4 (NYSE, London: SKY) isn’t far behind, foisting a 53% increase on those choosing not to switch. Only Virgin Media Inc.5 (Nasdaq: VMED) comes out of this well, with no monthly increase whatsoever after the initial 12 months. If UK broadband providers want to be seen as just another utility supplier, they’re going the right way about it — such loyalty penalties have long been a feature of the gas and electricity supply market.
- Cloud services company UKCloud6 has launched Disaster Recovery to the Cloud7 that’s enough clouds — Ed., a recovery offering aimed squarely at public sector organizations. The solution offers government departments and the like a back-up plan in the event of their local data center suffering an outage.
- Nokia Corp.8 (NYSE: NOK) is claiming success in a trial of its NG-PON fiber solution at its lab in Melbourne with NBN Co Ltd.9 , the organization behind Australia’s troubled nationwide broadband project. According to the Finnish vendor, the trial achieved aggregate broadband speeds of 102 Gbit/s on a single fiber and demonstrated the dynamic provisioning of bandwidth to cope with surging data demand from both residential and business customers. (See Australia’s NBN Cost Blowout10.)
- Also in the lab, sort of, is BT. The UK incumbent has opened its first “customer experience lab,” which sets out to “reinvent” the call center. The project is being carried out in cahoots with students from Dundee’s Abertay Business School. Perhaps one of the things they should examine is whether the phrase “your call is important to us” has any place in the modern world.
- Meanwhile, perhaps with the above in mind, BT-owned mobile operator EE is looking to hire more than 800 call center workers across the UK, with positions in North Tyneside, Merthyr Tydfil, Darlington, Greenock, Plymouth and Doxford up for grabs.
EE has made a lot of noise about it being the first UK mobile operator to “onshore” all its customer service calls back to the UK and Ireland after unsuccessful experiments with cheaper foreign workers.
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- ^ United Airlines league (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ study by Citizens Advice (www.citizensadvice.org.uk)
- ^ BT Group plc (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Sky (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Virgin Media Inc. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ UKCloud (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Disaster Recovery to the Cloud (ukcloud.com)
- ^ Nokia Corp. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ NBN Co Ltd. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Australia’s NBN Cost Blowout (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Light Reading (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Charting the CSP’s Future (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ All Upcoming Live Events (www.lightreading.com)
The fraud surrounded the financing of H2O Networks, a pioneer in fibre-optic infrastructure that collapsed into administration six years ago. Executives linked to the project were found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of making false representations to lenders Barclays and the UK arm of the Belgian bank KBC reports the Telegraph1. They included Simon Mundy, an “inside man” at KBC who received ?900,000 in bribes to approve loans to Total Asset Finance (TAF), a vehicle that in turn funded H2O Networks.
Stephen Dartnell and George Alexander of TAF were found guilty of fraud, along with Carl Cumiskey, H2O Networks’ former finance director. The broadband company’s former managing director, Elfred Thomas, and Kerry Lloyd, the former company secretary at TAF, were acquitted. An investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) found that H2O Networks’ business centred on signing long-term broadband deals with councils and universities. The contracts were sold onto TAF, which used them to obtain cash from Barclays and KBC.
However, the value of the contracts was inflated and some were entirely concocted by the fraudsters, the court heard. Prosecutors told the jury that there was no dispute that fraud on a massive scale had occurred between 2007 and 2010, but each of the defendants denied involvement and, in the main, blamed each other. David Green, the director of the SFO, said: “This was a carefully planned, complex and lucrative fraud which ran over three years.
“It took a determined investigation to ensure that those responsible for it were brought to justice. We will now turn our attention to securing confiscation of criminal assets from those convicted”.
H2O Networks aimed to lower the cost of building new internet infrastructure by installing cables in sewers and began work in Bournemouth and Dundee.
The fibre-optic networks it did manage to install prior to its collapse were bought out of administration and formed the foundation of CityFibre, a listed broadband infrastructure provider that is not linked to any wrongdoing.