Guest Blog by Bill Pugsley, Chairman, Lakeshore Data Management

On 9 November 2015 it was announced ‘ finally promises legally binding broadband service obligation – by 2020’ but what was not stated was ‘Is 10Mbps pledge only on downstream? Wait and see…’.

What are the Home Broadband Service Issues?

There are currently parts of the UK that have an excellent service with superfast speeds for downloading and uploading data. It was announced in late 2017 that Cornwall would have its already superfast fibre services upgraded to super-superfast services. Great news if you live in Cornwall.

Yet there are still many parts of the rest of the UK that have poor service (if any service at all).

Promises made about establishing even reasonable services are delayed year after year.

Government Financial Compensation for Poor Broadband Service

The Government has been prepared to offer some financial compensation where there is likely to be no reasonable service planned to be provided within one year. It takes the form of an ‘allocation’ of around £400 that will be given directly (by the local council) to an alternative supplier of broadband capabilities. The only companies that fit into this group are Satellite Broadband Suppliers whose broadband services costs and packages fail to offer the facilities of traditional wired broadband services. In fact, to get a reasonable service can be as much as a thousand pounds a month!

Is 4G Mobile Network Access a Good Alternative?

The only alternative is if the location has good 4G mobile network access to acquire the hardware (home/office WIFI router) and a data sim with a pre-allocation of services. However, the current best deals have limits on the amount of data you can use on the service package per month.  At time of writing a 50GB package from Vodafone costs £30 a month. Deals (from mobile service providers) keep changing but all have limits on data usage.

When sending and receiving a great deal of data as well as using the service for conference calls – 50GB per month is simply not enough! The only way around this limitation is buying / contracting for multiple data sims and physically exchanging them as they get exhausted each month. If you make the mistake of not setting a data cap and go over the allowance you may be charged £6.00 or more for each additional quarter GB you use – and this soon adds up!

UK has Failed to Provide Adequate and Affordable Broadband Services

It does not matter whether you are in a very rural area or just in a small town. There is no difference if based in the supposedly affluent south east of England or the highlands of Scotland (although you probably have superfast services in the latter). The UK has failed to adequately deploy affordable and adequate Broadband services to parts of the country and is going to fail to do so by 2020.

As you may have detected I live/work in the allegedly affluent south east of England. When I had wired broadband, I had some of the worst speeds imaginable (even at 3.00 am!). I pay a significant amount for broadband services (even after good discounts) because I need almost daily conference call contact with Australia and Canada/USA with intermittent contact with many other countries. Yet if I were  living in Cornwall (which I keep considering) I would have phenomenal broadband for less than £20.00 a month.

Broadband and your Business – How are you Impacted?

1. Does your business rely on broadband services or do you have your own direct link to an internet Service Provider (ISP)?

  • If you use Broadband, how reliable and fast are the services?
  • If you use an ISP, do you use it because of poor broadband services or because of the volume of your usage?
  •  If you use an ISP, how reasonable are the costs?

2. Does your company already have a work from home or flexible work program or are you considering it?

  •  If you offer remote working for your employees/colleagues does the availability of a reasonable broadband service pose any problems to your business?
  •  If not available does this remove remote working as an option?
  •  Do you meet all or part of the broadband costs of your employees/colleagues?

So as an employer offering flexibility or an employee availing of home working how do you work effectively when limited broadband is in effect a barrier?

The views are those of the author.


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