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Saturday, 16 November 2019

CorbynNet - just wrong on so many levels

I pay about £17 a month for unlimited interweb at a consistent speed of 30MB - plenty for me, with Netflix, a couple of internet radios on all day and normal browsing. And neither a strand of copper nor a whisper of fibre optic in sight - it's all LTE 4G mobile, my router having a SIM card slot rather than an RJ11 socket. I don't need 5G, and as I don't own any sort of huge screen I don't need faster speeds. I don't even watch Netflix that much - last night, with the fire playing in the stove, I sank into the comfort of  a Portillo rail journeys DVD, an early one, before he started to camp it up for his considerable gay fan club. I don't think I'm untypical of the older internet user.

Clearly I think Labour's £100bn nationalised internet offer was aimed at the young, but to my mind it's mistaken on at least three levels. Firstly, is the UK seriously proposing to dig up all those streets and roads again to lay fibre into dwellings, rather than just into junction boxes which use copper for the final connection? Isn't this a bit, erm, steampunk, when the entire sparsely populated alpine region of Europe gets 4G using mobile?

Secondly, an anyone who has ever compared internet tariffs will ask, what does 'free' and 'fast' mean? Is it 10MB speeds for up to 2GB a month? Or 67MB for unlimited use? You see, Mr Corbyn clearly doesn't quite understand that demand for something free is pretty well infinite - which is why we have to ration free stuff like the NHS. And St Greta will not be pleased - the interweb already takes more than 10% of our power consumption.

Thirdly and most importantly, what sort of morons would vote to voluntarily hand control of their internet access to an overweening nanny government department? One journalist asked at Labour's press conference yesterday whether national CorbynNet would ban porn - and got a weaselly answer about controls to prevent harm to users. That means censorship. Now the young generation I know uses stuff like Tor, bitstreaming, online gaming, the greyer bits of the web where we olduns never venture and, I am pretty sure, lots of porn. Everything in fact that Labour's authoritarian illiberal nannies would want to ban. They'd have us all watching documentary films about cheese-making co-operatives.

24 comments:

DeeDee99 said...

He who controls the messenger, also controls the message.

Corbyn's proposal isn't about supplying faster broadband; it's about controlling it.

mikebravo said...

Surely the notice would say that the internet allowance had been increased from .5GB a week to 2GB a month.

jim said...

This election is deeply depressing. Thankfully Labour very unlikely to get elected, merely demonstrating that politics is show business for ugly people. We are now stuck with Boris's half-baked Brexit. Not sure which is worse, a quick economic death with Corbyn or a slightly slower economic death with Boris, or drowning at the hands of Do-Nothing-DEFRA.

Rehashing redundant northern railways - as if. That £500M will be spaffed away on feasibility studies and reports if it ever survives past December 13th. Won't happen.

I had hoped we might have gone for a full-on No Deal Leave, pas mieux, at least that would have ruined the country and then we might have hoped to rebuild from the ashes. As it is the corpse of the UK looks to stagger on in some squalid BRINO care home for a while longer with no hope of recovery. Is there a nice Swiss clinic for political systems?

DiscoveredJoys said...

The whole policy is a mess. BT (the one being 'privateered') supply around 38% of the UK broadband, with Virgin, Sky and TalkTalk providing almost all of the remainder. Will they be privateered too? Or will they find themselves selling against 'free' stuff?

BT were working on fibre-to-the-cabinet more than 15 years ago together with the consequential effects of fibre-to-the exchange, exchange infrastructure, and national network structure. It takes time to deliver the infrastructure and any speeding up of the programme to meet a political timetable, particularly in deeply rural parts, is likely to disappoint (or have 'success' redefined).

When you add on the personal aspects for Open Reach staff and BT pension commitments the whole idea is a huge expensive bundle of conflicting costs, far greater than the numbers proposed. Plus you can make a good argument that BT is one of the 'successful' privatisations.

In the horrifying event that Labour wins the next election I rather expect that this proposal will be quietly dropped... unless the whole country is put on a war footing to deliver. TANSTAAFL - there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Bloke in North Dorset said...

You may not want 5G but your provider will eventually want you to have it because of its improved spectrum efficiency and lower operating costs. Anyway that's just a side remark.

The reason's for what was to become BT's privatisation was nothing to do with Thatcherite ideology it was simple economics. After years of under funding, the NHS, British Leyland and other Labour priorities in their marginals, in the '60s and '70s were the priority, BT was broken and we were in danger of falling even behind the rest of the world.

As part of one of my Royal Signals courses we visited Bournemouth exchange in early 1984, just after privatisation. After a brief tour we spent some time with their engineering managers. In short, every Strowger exchange in the country had been beyond its economic life, was full to capacity and there were no spares. It had got to the point where they had stopped doing routine maintenance because if they broke something they couldn't repair the exchange. The crossbar exchanges were no better, running close to full capacity they were short of spares as well. But it didn't stop there, the infrastructure connecting exchanges was old and decrepit and the last mile infrastructure hadn't been maintained for years.

The scale and cost of the upgrade to digital exchanges, something the resto of the world had done some 10 years earlier, was massive. This was a time when, to coin a phrase: "I'm afraid there is no money". Faced with this problem in '1979 and with businesses clamouring for telecoms (no need to go in to how difficult and expensive it was to get a phone here, I suspect) the government really didn't know what to do. Don't forget that had all sorts of other problems to deal with as well.

I remember, but can't find any record of it, an interview with Keith Joseph later in his life when described what happened. The idea of privatisation came in a meeting with a couple of junior officials and advisers when they were struggling with what to do and one of the junior advisers suggested privatisation as a throwaway remark.

While it was part of their ideology they hadn't really taken the idea seriously up to that point. The rest, as they say, is history.


So, if anyone really believes that any government, let alone a socialist one, will have the capability to pay for and manage the scale of upgrade needed to run fibre to every home I've got a bridge for sale. What does everyone think will happen to the taxes. even if they are paid when there's an NHS and marginal constituencies to be paid for?


Smoking Scot said...

Airlines - international bookings. Bitcoin miners. Porn sites. Newspapers. Video sites. Live streaming.

Just a fraction of the very heavy users. And they slow things dramatically at certain times of day.

That's why the commercial ones, banks and such, usually have their own dedicated networks, with lines leased directly from BT and the like.

They haven't a clue of the enormity of this proposal, except it'll increase the number of government employees.

Bloke in North Dorset said...

Not sure which is worse, a quick economic death with Corbyn or a slightly slower economic death with Boris, or drowning at the hands of Do-Nothing-DEFRA.

I console myself with thought thought that a Corbyn victory will bring an end to Blair's asymmetric devolution madness and that we'll be rid of the whingeing Jocks and can govern ourselves.

APL said...

Raedwald: "and got a weaselly answer about controls to prevent harm to users."

Well, yes. They are really hot about 'harm', I watched an exchange in Parliament the other day, where they were discussing 'online harms' and how to protect the most vulnerable. Otherwise known as censorship.

But what really pissed me off about the exchange, 'Online harm' seems to be the next big buzz-phrase in parliament.

They don't care 'two hoots' about actual on-street harm suffered by our daughters and children, at the hands of the racist gangs of Rotherham, Manchester, Oxford and Bristol.

In fact, the BBC slipped up and broadcast a segment a while ago, where one talking head implied that the Home Office explicitly told the police to stand down and not to take any action in cases where underage girls were being assaulted because .... these girls a majority of whom were under the age of legal consent were, 'making an informed choice' about their lifestyle.

So our Parliamentarians twatter on about 'online harm' but encourage 'on-street' assault.

An evil Parliament.

Hector Drummond said...

"They'd have us all watching documentary films about cheese-making co-operatives".

That's the best case scenario.

Dave_G said...


Tell me ONE Goverment-led, run, financed, created etc department, organisation, business etc that works cost-effectively, efficiently or profitably and I'll eat everyone's hat.

Anywhere - and I mean anywhere - .gov has poked its bureaucratic nose it has created expense, inefficiency, complication and trouble.

Corbyn..... fuck off.

ALL Government Departments should be run on a business-orientated basis. Those that run them should be paid according to profitability (or cost-reduction where profitability isn't practical) and face the same recruitment and sacking standards as the rest of us.

Political Parties have gamed the system to make 'promises of free stuff' their primary reason for us to vote for them when, if they had any sense, they'd offer LESS interference and cost-reduction promises instead.

THAT is something I'd vote for.

DiscoveredJoys said...

Just to echo what Bloke In North Dorset said.

I worked in BT for more than 30 years, before and after privatisation. It was starved for money and did indeed reduce maintenance and reduced provisioning standards to stretch the budget.

It appears to be an iron rule that organisations can often find the money for a new bridge, a new road, a new building or technology 'leap'. It's sexy and the chairman/mayor/MP gets their name on the plaque. But come times of financial restraint the unsexy maintenance of those new things is the first to be stretched over a longer time or removed entirely - because nobody will notice until there is a catastrophic failure.

Governments are particularly bad at this... there is always a new use for taxes (basically for buying votes) to address the latest outrage of the day and infrastructure failures will be a later administration's problem. What chance Labour would be any different?

Anonymous said...

Hitler preferred cable radio to broadcast radio because it was easier to control.

Don Cox

John Brown said...

The problem with nationalisation, like all communism/socialism, is that it may appear to be able to provide more efficient and cheaper services than privatised services but in the end always ends up working for the benefit of the suppliers and not for the customers.

It is important, however, that for privatised services to work efficiently there must always be competition available. That is why I think it has been wrong for governments to always give broadband extending contracts to BT Openreach.

I would have given such contracts to wireless broadband providers who can more easily reach customers who are far from their local BT exchanges and at the same time give BT some competition.

There appear to be just two types of fibre delivery discussed, FTTC (to the cabinet) and FTTH (to the house/property). I am served by FTTC but this means that I still have 0.5Km of copper cable between my house and the cabinet.

Also, I would guess that the most expensive part of FTTH, particularly in rural areas, is the last piece between pole/road and the house.

So why is there no discussion/costings for FTTP (fibre to pole) with even the possibility of the pole to house provided by wireless ?

BTW, I’m very pleased that fibre has replaced the copper to the cabinet as it has stopped the theft of the 500 copper pair cables between cabinets and the exchange which occurred regularly in our area.

Raedwald said...

DJ - agree wholly about sexy schemes getting funding. Every time I did a scheme using any proportion of public money, I knew I would be under pressure to create a photogenic outcome for the head honcho politicians; add to this the urge of designers to create portfolio pictures for their practices, it was an uphill struggle. Public realm schemes were particularly difficult; architects and politicians wanted all the money concentrated in one small area to create a stunning photo-op, when I would fight for a much wider use of the budget to create the best possible experience for the people actually using the space. Some things never change.

Anonymous said...

DeeDee99 said @ o7:16

'He who controls the messenger, also controls the message.'

The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan - who posited that new technologies 'exert a gravitational effect on cognition, which in turn, affects social organization: print technology changes our perceptual habits ("visual homogenizing of experience"), which in turn affects social interactions ("fosters a mentality that gradually resists all but a... specialist outlook").'

Steve

Peter Barrett said...

I imagine the majority of commenters here would prefer small government. Everything government gets involved in it does badly, slowly, expensively, ineffectively, inefficiently and usually with a large dose of corruption (labelled as effective lobbying). Just stop.

The internet might well be free to all at some stage in the future, but it will be nothing to do with Magic Granddad. Spacex have already launched their first experimental 5G satellites. Their Starlink system will eventually use hundreds of shoebox size satellites to replace the trunk connectors. Other big players are also involved and within 5 years Europe, North America and probably India and China will be well enough served with satellite internet to do away with copper and fibre optic cable except for the final connection. Even that will eventually succumb to progress as individual users get their own satellite tracker to receive the beamed signal.

I place great trust in a possible future socialist coalition government to spend billions of our hard-earned on a virtue signal that will be redundant within just a few years.

Nonny said...

I did laugh Pter Barret when you claimed 5G is progress rather than a cross between a totalitarian globalist wet dream and an untested experiment on the population. I wouldn't mind if it was only for the cornucopian trans-humanist fantasy lovers, I however have to contend with a bought agents of the state and corruption imposing it.

JPM said...

Nah.

The Chinese, bless 'em, have a road and rail bridge thirty-odd miles long, and to a relatively insignificant island.

This now-excuse-for-a-country can't even connect the world's sixth largest economy to the Mainland in like manner.

Why? Because Hayekian doctrine dictates that it must be done by the private sector, not by the country.

They demand guaranteed fat returns within specified times. It doesn't happen. Look at the nuclear plant shambles.

Corbyn is right on this.

Anonymous said...

JPM: "This now-excuse-for-a-country can't even connect the world's sixth largest economy to the Mainland in like manner."

China's got a big bridge. That means we have to have one too. Na na, na na, Na.

What an infantile perspective.

Dave_G said...


@JPM - the "Country" has nothing that the people don't pay for. It's not the Country that demands (or not) a bridge to perdition - if a bridge is to be made it is for the people to decide and I recall the anger and resentment at creating even a TUNNEL to perdition.

The Chinese(Communists) don't, of course, care what their taxpayers think - much like the situation we currently have in the UK under EU rule.

Poisonedchalice said...

Apart from an evil twat controlling the UK internet, lets just war game this through to the end.

The government takes over Openreach. Who also uses OR other than BT? Well just about every other telecom provider, for the last mile anyway. So that's them out of business. Who uses other providers than BT? Loads of large businesses in the UK, through open tender, have chosen alternatives to BT. So what happens to those businesses, when their provider goes up in smoke?

I don't think the public realise just what the hell is going on.

SG said...

JPM - “ This now-excuse-for-a-country can't even connect the world's sixth largest economy to the Mainland in like manner”.

Do you actually live in this country JPM? I think most people who do will at least be aware of the existence of the channel tunnel. Also, there were good reasons for favouring a tunnel over a bridge across one of the busiest shipping lanes on the planet.

Michael said...

If the Magic Grandpa and his Stasi Corporal McNasty want to take over the internet, will they then stop all these Russian beauties wanting to meet me under the clock at Waterloo Station, or tell me that as I logged on to their porn site, that I'll have to pay them a squillion gold splonders to stop them sending my address to my family, or will they stop the Irish sending me PPI investigation offers, or will I not be able to email Diane Abbott with numbers approaching double digits, so she can calculate the size of the Labour election result?

I reckon they haven't thought this through enough, so I won't be voting for them...

Sorry!

JPM said...

It might help get Labour into the news, which is probably more important for them than anything else.

On the other hand, the Tories could still get a big enough majority to enable them not to need either the DUP or the ERG, ironically.

Perhaps our Green, socially-liberal Alexander could extend his Ultra Low Emissions Zone over the whole country, and bring in his amnesty for unlawful immigrants if so?

Those who switched from Farage's mob wouldn't be very happy, would they?

What a hoot!