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4G insurrection and Italian pirates: Digital Voices 21/07/12

Who would imagine that broadband and TV reception could provoke so much passion? They’re things that we take for granted, but when they’re under threat we’ll rise up to protect them.

So without further ado, I give you Recombu’s Digital Voice’s for the week ending January 21, 2012.

Freeview-loving anarchist quote of the week

4G sabotage

It’s pretty much agreed that 4G mobile broadband is going to cause grief for more than a million homes using Freeview to watch TV.

Anyone affected will get one free filter – or more if that doesn’t work – but ‘Citizen’ Fred thinks that a more direct solution is appropriate: “Go out and damage the equipment that will be in a cabinet at the base of the local mast”

We can’t condone criminal damage, though we can understand the frustration that commercial businesses seem to have been licensed to run roughshod over a public service and fix the damage later.

In the face of losing Freeview, the argument continues over which is the best free TV platform, Freeview or Freesat.

Kevthedruid is firmly in the Freesat camp: “Freesat is ten times better than freeview, you can also watch ‘non freesat channels’. On my last Freesat box I had over 200 watchable channels by manually retuning it, going back to Freeview after that was like watching TV in the 1970s

David thinks it’s about time we abandoned terrestrial TV for less-costly satellite broadcasting: “Freeview is waste of our money! Can receive TV from one transmitter in sky yet will still use 1000s of land transmitters. The future is TV from satellite then they can cut the TV Licence in half.”

BT blocks the Pirate Bay: Italian edition

The Pirate Bay may have been (ineffectively) locked out of Britain’s big ISPs, but it’s far from the only country where the file-sharing heroes/villains are being pursued.

Luca Lolzo got in touch with us from Italy with a tale of the state policing the internet. We’ve translated it with Google’s help (if it’s wrong, don’t blame us!)”For a long time, many search engines. Torrent file as kickasstorrents (KAT.PH) & ThePirateBay are no longer accessible directly from Italy.

“However, thanks to the service offered by iTorrent you can reach these sites automatically and easily.

“As part of the ‘Last Paradise’ Core Tax Police of the Guardia di Finanza of Cagliari, Italy was inhibited access to the portal, one of the most major sites in the world of file torrent.

“After the operation, ‘The Pirate Bay’ in 2008 and the closing of ‘Reactor’ in February, the GDF of Cagliari has decided to focus on the now famous, virtually allocated in the Philippines.

“The site receives over three million hits daily from around the world and Italy was the third country of origin for users behind only India and USA.”

Smart TV drives hotter home networks

A couple of stories provoked readers to tell us what’s going on with their home networks, and streaming video seems to be pushing network speeds.

Our feature on The Cloud introducing 5GHz WiFi for up to 300Mbps brought a lengthy comment from harpermonroe09, who opened with a run-down of his home network demands:

“We have so much going on in our house; from smartphones to netflix streaming off of our PS3 upstairs, and off of our wii in the playroom; then online gaming in the upstairs bedroom, and at least two laptops and one desktop on every night!”

Ian Williams could hardly believe his eyes when we reported the low take-up of streaming video on games consoles: “As well as for games, my PS3 is also my Blu-ray player, movie and music streamer (from my NAS) and my LoveFilm player (as I find the interface better than through my Samsung TV). Use the TV for iPlayer though.”

BT-Wales fibre broadband deal to reach 96 per cent of homes and businesses

BT’s £452 million contract to cable up the Welsh countryside is going to connect up 96 per cent of Wales, but it brought no cheers on Recombu Digital’s comment column.

Ian wrote: “Doesn’t anyone else find that BT, a public limited company, who have dragged their heels over improved broadband speeds for years, are now benefiting from huge council spend to pay for upgrades they should have done themselves!!!!

“The monopoly they have over the UK communication network is simply outrageous. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a faster line than 3Mbps, but if the council pay for it, then I pay additional monthly for the benefits, BT win twice over!!!

Rural broadband activist cyberdoyle has a beef with BT’s muddling of pure fibre connections and mixed fibre-and-copper: “It isn’t ‘fibre broadband’ unless its fibre to the home, and ‘homes passed’ are BT weasel words. Cabinets are no good at all to rural areas because people are too far away from them.

“I think Europe will find state aid issues with funding a public company to protect their copper phone lines with cabs instead of laying new fibre. The money should have gone to altnets to provide some competition.”

Broadband UK: BT says Virgin should open its networks for more competition

BT Openreach has been engaged in a tit-for-tat war with its competitors, accusing them of choosing easy-to-reach customers instead of serving everyone.

Scotsman redted is in the BT camp: “Can only get BT in the Highlands, where’s Virgin or they still Cherry Picking!”

The very modestly-named Handsomfella21 thinks BT have had enough of an easy ride: “BT what are they complaining about? Years ago all you had was BT charging stupid prices for phone calls three different tariffs, early morning, business hours and evening. Now the market has let in competition they don’t like it.

“I have Virgin phone broadband and television. I would not go back to BT even if the cost was half of what I pay now.”

Gallery of broadband disappointment

Stories of other people getting faster broadband while you struggle with low speeds will always spark a comment, as we did when 20Mbps broadband opened to 125,000 UK homes, mostly southern England.

Keith – not a Southerner, we’d guess – wrote: “Why the South of England ? Are us northerners not good enough? I currently get 100Mbps with BT and everyone else is the same or slower, we are seven miles from the exchange and there is no chance of us being upgraded to anything like fast at any time in the future.

Mr Slow Internet added: “I would be pleased with 8Mbps. I am in Norfolk, and only 2 miles outside of Norwich, yet I have not managed to get more than 1.2Mbps with any provider, even though they all promise to beat each other.

“Its all a con, and I find it disgusting that BT shows so much profit year on year but is not doing serious re-investing in infrastructure.. Disappointing.”

The coppery conundrum of cable theft

A return to dry weather will almost certainly re-animate Britain’s busy cable thieves and BT’s efforts to catch them, and the problem continues to animate Recombu Digital readers.

The easy fix, as proposed by Davrosa and many others, is to replace the copper with ‘a more unsellable cable type’, with fibre optics the obvious alternative.

If only it was that easy, but Trenel99 informs us: “Fibre optic cables have large section copper cables which supply current for the regenerators. The quantity of copper exceeds the fibre optic strands by a significant amount.”

Stuart – who’s all in favour of a good old BT monopoly – adds: “To replace the copper network with fibre in total would cost billions and then Ofcom would come along and force BT to allow other operators to use ITS network. Yet another example of the regulator working against the customers interests.”

Jennifer Porrett doesn’t think changing the cables will fix the problem at all: “What do you suggest? Copper is used for it’s conductivity, malleability etc. The only real alternative is gold! What it’s time to do is punish people properly when they break the law, surely! The only cheaper alternative of suitable metals is aluminium and that is a poor conductor in comparison.”

A feeling shared by Anth2305:”Until we start handing out ‘minimum’ five year sentences, to be served in prisons run on the lines of old style discipline, then this country will only continue to go from bad to worse.”

The debate rages about exactly which unloved part of society is responsible for stealing cables. Jennifer Porrett is one of many to point fingers at ‘travellers and immigrants’, although she’s got a soft spot for Romanies and the dream of an idle life:

“They often come in asking if we have scrap metal (my Dad’s a mechanic) and one time the bloke in there came in (scouting out for a robbery, most likely, as we had a spate of car and boat robberies and they were caught after leaving a towel behind that they used to throw over a CCT camera and it had DNA all over it!!) and refused to hand me his leaflet – asking to see ‘one of the men’.

“I got one of the mechanics out, who handed the leaflet straight to me and made the guy apologise for being rude – LOL! It’s a shame and everything but you just can’t live like that nowadays. I know I wouldn’t mind mooching about in a caravan not paying taxes but unfortunately it’s not how this country works.”

Merefalow is one of many others who think the criminals haven’t travelled far: “It’s more than likely home grown lowlife,and you can’t blanketly accuse a whole section of people like you have.

“Also I don’t understand why we have to import crims when we have such a surplus of our own.”

Gary Lineker may transfer from BBC’s Match of the Day to BT Vision

We don’t know much about football at Recombu Digital, but we’re getting that impression that Gary Lineker isn’t very popular. There don’t seem to be many people who’d miss him if he was poached from the BBC to BT Vision.

Bearrpam described Lineker and the Alans Hansen and Shearer as ‘old school’ and ‘smarmy’, while Lineker’s jokes are ‘dreadful’. Martin Keown, though, is a ‘class act’ – but Headingly Whites said he ‘Hardly looked class when he headed a ball in Leeds V Arsenal cup game. You will be wanting Gabby Logan next…’

Alphie_Izzett even wrote a little Lineker verse:

“Linekar to leave MOTD?
“Oooooooo! Watta loss to mankind!!

Take the other two sneering T0$$£R$ with you Gary!”

Funny or die

Sometimes, it’s not easy to find pictures to go with stories about broadband, so we stuck a picture of an old Sinclair ZX Spectrum into a story about wireless spectrum.

Funny? well not according to Evil Dr: “Is that article image retrieved by a computer or has someone really no idea what they’re talking about, because it’s not funny enough to be a joke?”

At least Spam1521 saw the funny side: “Imagine playing Jet Set Willy on an 1800Mhz Spectrum!”

Bitchy comment fight of the week

We shouldn’t encourage this, but sometimes it’s funny to watch a fight emerge as the comments roll in.

Johnsmith was a brave man last week to ask whether those on Job Seeker’s Allowance would get free filters or help with Freeview interference from 4G mobile. We weren’t surprised when
Garygtw85 wrote:

“I doubt people on JSA will get it for free as Tv is not a life line but then people on Benefits get more than people who works so wouldnt surprise me!”

Let battle commence! Jeddydavy hit back, and below the belt: “Maybe you can get a grant from the government to repair the full stop and comma buttons on your keyboard, as they are quite obviously broken.

We won’t repeat what Felixdavie said, but Martin Quinn asked Jeddydavy: “Does your semicolon button not work?”

Adrsg3 let loose a barrage: “Maybe with a government grant you can surgically remove your head from your arse and stop correcting on-line blogs/comments.. As far as I know this is not an English forum, so take your snide attention seeking comment and stick it! (funny – but wrong)maybe also with a government grant you could start your own English language forum and educate the uneducated, using appropriate and well structured learning techniques.

“You or at least the type of person you are, is the reason that the world is as it is, all to willing to point fingers and laugh or belittle.. not all to willing to shut up and realise that other people have had far less opportunity in life than yourself and may subsequently lack basic literature skills..

“I say well done for making the effort and actually writing a comment. But to you sir/mamwords could not describe the disgraceful feeling that now resonates through out my body. Not because of what was said, but rather because I share the air that you breath and the water you drink.
It not big to take the piss, it’s not even funny any more, its old news and it’s sad.
probably why our country is how it is, people at the top taking the piss out of the people at the bottom.”

Which was too much for Soundjat Keita wrote, who added: “Oh dear. We are hysterical.”