Tag: public money

A local community and a council in the UK deliver FTTP to Cotwaldon


BT Openreach engineer setting up for real Internet in rural Staffordshire press picture courtesy of BT Regional Press Office

BT Openreach engineer setting up for real Internet in rural Staffordshire

Community, council and BT to deliver FTTP to Cotwalton | ThinkBroadband

Public Funding Props Up BT Community Fibre FTTP Broadband Upgrade | ISP Review

From the horse’s mouth

BT Openreach (BT Regional Press Office)

Press Release

My Comments

A typical UK postcode would covers a small neighbourhood represented by a street or something similar but it would typically cover a rural hamlet or small village.

What has just happened lately is that Cotwaldon, a small hamlet in Staffordshire which is represented by one postcode, was to benefit from improved next-generation broadband Internet thanks to a public-private partnership involving that community. This hamlet was able to only benefit from a very slow broadband Internet connection due to it being an ADSL service provided using a long telephone line which I suspect could be decrepit due to it being poorly maintained.

But what has happened lately was for a community partnership to allow households and businesses in that location to benefit from fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband. This was facilitated in a public-private manner through the BT Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships which also worked alongside the Superfast Staffordshire next-generation broadband effort funded by the Staffordshire County Council and the UK Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.

There will be similar activities taking place around some of rural UK as part of the BT Openreach Community Fibre Partnerships as part of “opening up” their FTTP effort to be launched next year. This is with their vision of publicly-funded local broadband-rollout efforts engaging with them to facilitate the rollout of next-generation real broadband Internet in to rural communities.

The BT Openreach press release highlighted some usage scenarios where this technology was relevant to Cotwaldon and its peer communities. One of these affected small business which effectively drives these rural communities – a builder who wanted to use the Internet to communicate with their customers and partners. But there were use cases that affected personal lifestyles such as downloading or streaming AV content reliably, or using online storage services as a data backup facility especially with high-resolution photos.

It is anther effort that brings real broadband to rural communities who are likely to be treated as second-class citizens by the telecommunications industry.

Google Fibre breaks the digital divide in one of Austin’s public-housing communities

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Google Fiber

Blog Post

Housing Authority for the City of Austin

Digital Inclusion document (PDF)

My Comments

Lenovo Thinkpad G50-70 Laptop

Google Fiber to enable digital literacy in poorer communities

Google Fiber is participating in a community-based initiative to break the digital divide in the public-housing communities in Austin, Texas as part of their rollout in to that city.

This is a public-private affair in co-operation with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin which is a local-government-run public-housing authority in that city. The main premise of this exercise is that every child to have a chance to succeed in the 21st century global economy, but I also see as being important adults including mature adults and senior citizens who haven’t had much exposure to computing and technology in their school and work life also benefiting.

It is also encompassing training and study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As well, the program is also providing access to devices and affordable Internet connectivity in the public-housing districts. For example, Google Fiber is intending to provide for HACA development in their fibre footprint, free basic Internet service for each household for 10 years, with the option to upgrade to the “full-on” Gigabit connection for extra cost.

There is the all-important support for the household’s devices including the necessary digital-literacy training, something that typically is provided on an ad-hoc basis to these households by family and friends and it is being provided by Austin Free-Net.

What I see of this is an attempt by public and private efforts to help poorer communities with access to today’s technology for productive activities and expose people, young and old, to today’s technology. What needs to be underscored in the remit for these programs is that it is not just the children who are intended to benefit but adults, especially mature adults and senior citizens who spent most of their school and work life before the desktop-computer-driven 1980s, who need to become technologically literate. As well, the remit to help with computer literacy for older generations cuts across all social classes.

Deutsche Telekom raises issues about rural broadband in Germany

Articles (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

Telekom will für Breitband-Aufbau Kabelanbieter kaufen | Gizmodo.de

Breitband-Ausbau wird zweistelligen Milliardenbetrag kosten | Der Spiegel

My Comments

Deutsche Telekom logo courtesy of Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom to raise concern about assuring rural broadband coverage in Germany

Deutsche Telekom has been raising concern about assuring that the whole of Germany has access to decent-standard broadband Internet and have been interested in buying in to smaller cable-broadband services in that country to achieve that goal.

But are they the entity who has to carry the burden for rural broadband service, which requires huge investments? This is although they have been previously the government-run monopoly telecommunications operator for Germany.

Here, they were having to need EUR€10 billion to get a broadband service of at least 50Mbps over 90% of Germany with them needing to cover the remote areas which represents 10% for another EUR€15 billion. They also raised the issue of competing services needing federal money to achieve this same goal.

German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Farmhouses in these areas not to be forgotten about for real broadband

I see a reality where no other government or public-private entity is putting their hand up to provide rural broadband in that country. Germany’s political layout with the individual States (Bundesländer), especially the “Area States” (Flächeländer) could put themselves in a better position if the States (Baden-Württenburg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine-Westphalia and co) or subordinate government divisions could underpin the works needed to be done.

This is something that has taken place in some other European countries like the UK and France where local or regional governments put their hand in their pocket for broadband enrichment projects in their territories. This is with a view to seeing investment take place for their areas with a view to attracting major employers like research, education or technology to their areas or to see their local economy on a level or better playing field with other areas.

Similarly, allowing for a truly competitive environment for Internet service where there isn’t favouritism for existing carriers may also be a chance for the other carriers to invest more in to Germany and see all of the nation covered with real broadband.

Paris progresses towards a metropolitan-wide rollout of FTTP next-generation broadband


thinkbroadband :: Paris suburbs to benefit from FTTH network

My Comments

While the Australian political parties are bickering on about the pros and cons of a fibre-to-the-premises service compared with a fibre-copper (fibre-to-the-node) service for the National Broadband Network, plans are underway to cover the Parisian metropolitan area in France with a fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband service.

They pitched €20 million to the effort with France Télécom (Orange) and SFR behind the effort. This is intended to be a public effort with the Ile-De-France regional government standing behind the effort but it will exclude the city of Paris which would be the actual Paris CBD (downtown) area.

It seems like this kind of effort with two private companies who have their own infrastructures working towards a better infrastructure is considered ludicrous in the English-speaking world. But the mindset that drives Continental European business can allow for co-operation on larger projects and improved technology. Similarly, the idea of a national, regional or local government assisting private companies in a public-private effort to work a project may also be considered ludicrous especially when you hear of conservative governments in the US and Australia making efforts to cut down on public-funded broadband deployments.

I have written about the issue of having public assistance in private efforts to roll out broadband-Internet-improvement projects in order to prevent redlining and to allow areas that could be covered to be covered. Why can’t this practice be readily accepted when it comes to rolling out a broadband-improvement project in the UK, USA or Australia – is it too much a political hot potato?

Another example of public money towards real broadband Internet–this time in Germany


Broadband for rural areas: financed by the EIB and WIBank | European Union Press Releases

My Comments

Some more public money has been put up in the European Union towards facilitating next-generation Internet in rural Europe. This time, it is taking place in the middle of Germany.

Here, the European Investment Bank had put €80m towards Hessen government’s promotional bank (WIBank) to lend to companies to develop next-generation broadband in that state. They want to have this service pass pass 75% of households by 2014 with a desirable throughput of 50Mb/s.

It is seen to be part of “Digital Agenda For Europe” which is needed to satisfy increased data volumes that are now occurring in Europe. Hessen’s main urban centres like Wiesbaden and Frankfurt have the high-throughput infrastructure but there is a desire to get the high-speed broadband out to peri-urban areas, small towns and rural areas.

This may require building out of VDSL2 infrastructure in more of the towns and establishing the FTTP fibre-optic infrastructure in the dense areas like most of Frankfurt. Personally, I would also like to see the VDSL2 infrastructure moved towards FTTC (fibre-to-the-curb) where there are the shorter runs so as to increase the bandwidth available.

The Hessen broadband development is being set up to permit competitive business but is also to be seen by the European Union as an example of a next-generation urban-rural broadband deployment.

It is another of the European publicly-funded broadband-improvement developments that needs to be observed by countries considering the implementation of broadband improvements using public money.

Oise in France now to run fibre-optic past every household

Articles – French language

Le département de l’Oise déploie la fibre optique pour tous ses habitants – DegroupNews.com

From the horse’s mouth

Conseil Général de l’Oise – Local government for the Oise département

Le Très Haut Débit, Une Ambition Forte Pour L’Oise

Web Site

My Comments

In Australia, work is underway in some towns to have the National Broadband Network fibre-optic infrastructure in place. But the local government of Oise in France have put up a goal to have fibre-to-the-premises next generation Internet past every household in that départément.

This départément is located 25km north of Paris and is a mixture of rural and urban living as well as being home to some of France’s classic chateaux. But the main problem here is that a lot of Oise has areas that don’t “cut the mustard” for triple-play broadband. Here, you could just service basic Internet needs but wouldn’t service multimedia, a busy home or small-business network or triple-play Internet to the French competitive standard.

Technically, the network will be based on FTTH/FTTP technology and will be part of a buid-out of the TelOise fibre-optic network that has been already laid out. This places Oise on a par with most of urban France where there is a fibre-to-the-premises setup in place or being rolled out. The project will target areas where theire is substandard bandwidth first before covering the rest of the département.

This project will be supported with €265m worth of local public money, courtesy of the Conseil-Général who is the local government for the département; and will have a timeframe of around 15 years. I have touched on the issue of public money being used towards improving Internet service in this site as there has been a lot of conservative moaning about this practice in Australia with the NBN and in the USA with wireless hotzones set up by local governments.

What I suspect that would be going on would be a further push for some form of competitiveness in the way the service is delivered, as would be expected in France.

Whatever way I see it, France, like the UK, is an interesting country to observe when it comes to how Internet is delivered in a competitive manner and how local public money can be engaged in these projects.

Build out on TelOise network

Involvement of public money in Internet-access improvement

There is a common requirement to improve Internet access in many communities. This may be in the form of extending high-speed broadband out to rural areas or implementing next-generation broadband service around a nation or state. It may also include providing a community of financially-disadvantaged users, such as residents of a public housing estate with computer hardware, Internet access and training.

In most of these improvements, there is the involvement of government in facilitating the rollouts and the funds are derived from the money pools that the government has access to courtesy of the taxes that it raises.

Examples of the projects typically range from a local council implementing a Wi-Fi hotzone in its towns or a regional government funding a fibre-optic rollout in its area of responsibility to a national government subsidising Internet rollout projects across the country.

I have covered instances where action concerning Internet-accessibility improvement has been assisted with public money of some sort, such as improvements in Gironde and Vaucluse in France; and many other rural-broadband improvements in the UK.

Here, the question that is often raised is whether such operations should be funded by this public money and assisted by these government entities. This is typically raised by conservative organisations who prefer that little public money be spent on this kind of service delivery and would prefer that this is the responsibility of a private free market.

The free-market argument

The free-market argument underscores the fact that the public money is the “property of the taxpayer” and that government shouldn’t waste their money on these Internet-improvement projects. Instead they would rather that market forces determine the kind of Internet service that is provided.

Similarly the free-market no-public-money argument also underscores a rationale that the money to assist Internet deployment in underserved areas could be better spent on other services like health or road / rail infrastructure. There is also the fear that taxes will be increased in the area so as to cover the Internet-deployment project.


This may be OK if there is a vibrant competitive Internet-service market in every part of the country. But where there is a monopoly or cartel managing the Internet service for an area, there can be problems with a totally free-market approach.

For example, it is easier to fail to serve communities based on perceived lack of short-term profitability. This can be aided by various personal prejudices like fear of serving neighbourhoods dominated by minorities. With this, there is less of a likelihood of catering to a changing customer mix in a community. This is more so if the change involves establishing infrastructure in a community where there could be new perceived demand, such as a neighbourhood that has been gentrified or has acquired a new employer.

Infact some of the incumbent monopoly operators in the US have been known to cry foul and organise PR and legal campaigns against municipal hotzone efforts. This is because they fear that the Internet service offered by the hotzone is to provide a competing service and undermine their monopoly over their operating area.

Why use public money

The use of public money to provide proper Internet service to underserved communities is effectively a “leg-up” for private Internet providers to provide the service to these communities.  This is especially where they wouldn’t find this kind of operation profitable especially in the short-term.

Common public-money sources for Internet-service provision

Local government

I also find that the local government is in a better position to underpin local projects because they know what the local needs are. They are infact more representative of the local community and are dependent on a primary income base – the council rates or taxes — that is sensitive to local area value. Here a high-quality Internet service can attract a high-value employer which will raise the area’s effective value and income base.

Universal-service funds

Another public money source that is relevant to Internet-service improvement are universal-service funds. These are funds that are provided to communications companies and utilities to offset the cost of difficult service rollouts in order to provide a baseline level of service to all communities.

These funds may be resourced from a standard levy charged to all customers for the provision of their service, another tax base like the TV licence fee in the UK or a line of spending in a government’s budget. But these service funds would be specifically allocated for providing the communications service to the community. They are typically underscored by laws that define a minimum standard for Internet service through the nation in a similar manner to what is implemented for the telephone.

But there are other sources such as baseline federal assistance for communications and technology enrichment projects as well as international funding from multi-nation groups like the European Commission.

Public-Private Partnerships

The projects would be typically rolled out in a public-private partnership where the telco or ISP finance some of the project’s costs while the public funds finance the rest of the project’s costs.

They are exemplified through entities who represent the government and the private operatiors and are responsible for managing the project and tendering out the work that is necessary for it to go ahead. What is important about them is that the projects are subject to value-for-money tests yet have exposure to the benefits of free-market competition and the public money goes a long way towards the project with less drain on the public budget.


What i value is that public money can be used to assist in improving Internet access for disadvantaged communities or establishing a newer Internet technology with minimal private risk.