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Going grumpy on technology

The wreck of a footpath near home
At the moment, the streets near our house are a mess as noisy drills are heard all day and large swathes of the pavement are closed off with blue plastic fencing. This is because they are laying a new fibre optic cable.

Surely, you may think, this is a good thing. And if we hadn't got fibre optic connections already, it surely would have been and I would have been all in favour. But we already have two fibre providers in our road: Openreach, which is used by a wide range of telecoms companies, and Virgin. So why the need for more disruption? According to the banner for the new provider, City Fibre, their USP is gigabit connectivity (though I could swear Virgin's vans also mention this).

Here's were I go into grumpy old man mode. We already have 100 Mbps guaranteed, typically running at around 130-150 Mbps. That's more than enough for our requirements. Interestingly, our provider recently gave us a free month on 300 Mbps to try out the benefits. They only told us, though, when they were about to take it away. And until then we hadn't noticed any difference, because there's nothing we do online that could make use of that kind of bandwidth.

Why then, should I care that I will have the potential to get 1,000 Mbps (i.e. gigabit connectivity)? I suppose the argument is that before streaming TV, I was quite happy with much lower speeds than we now have. Who knows what the future might bring? Do I hear anyone say 'Metaverse'? But given the current infrastructure can already support 500 Mbps or more, we have a lot of 'who knows' headroom left. 

I spoke to Neil Madle, City Fibre's local area manager. When I put to him my doubts, he commented 'It's a good question, one we get asked a lot. True, not every resident needs 1Gb - or anywhere near it, to be honest - but that doesn't mean full fibre shouldn't be the goal...' Full fibre is just marketing speak for the more technical 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP) - but we already have that from both our providers. Neil went on to say that 'If it’s genuine FTTP and not part-fibre FTTC [fibre to the cabinet], then it’s likely we’ll use the BT Openreach infrastructure in your area, as we’re allowed' - but from what's happening outside my office window, it seems that they aren't.

I ought to stress that we're heavy technology users here at Clegg Towers. I do all my work on a connected computer. I quite often have to upload and download large files. Almost all the TV we watch is streamed, while our only radios in the house are smart speakers. I even read the 'newspaper' on an iPad. But I really can't see the need for this disruption to get something that doesn't seem to deliver any benefits. 

Bah humbug, City Fibre, bah humbug.

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