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Bombs and broadband: Digital Voices 03/11/2012

This week in your comments on Recombu Digital, we learned that the government doesn’t know how ‘teh interwebs’ work, Tesco’s cheap broadband is OK, and you should all ‘stfu’ – whatever that means.

Welcome to Digital Voices for the week ending November 3, 2012.

Internet aramageddon

Big picture of the week: Virgin faces insurrection from Pirate Bay fans for blocking file-sharing site after court order

It’s pretty conclusive that asking ISPs to block file-sharing sites like The Pirate Bay is ineffective – users soon learn to bypass the blockade.

We suspect the real purpose is to show the rights holders that someone is doing something so they go away, but Lou Nisbet points out that if it’s a genuine attempt to stop file-sharing, then we should be frightened of the other powers out rulers hold:

“Excuse me dickhead government lackeys – JFGI. No need to use proxies as the UK’s MAD HATTER policy of ‘wack-a-mole’ will have no effect whatsoever. Their ‘we are blind, deaf, dumb techno-phobes and WE WILL censor the internet ‘ attitude is utterly laughable. That is until you remember that these imbeciles have nuclear weapons at their disposal – and they want MORE of them.”

FYIs of the week

It’s always nice to learn new facts, so thanks to Brian Boulnois, EvieDiva32 and istu this week:

In the strand on Virgin TV pirates’ ringleader stripped of more than £7,000 in illegal earnings, Brian Boulnois wrote:

“Did you know that 30 years ago, they had the tech where a standard video recorder could stop recording a program when it was sent a signal that adverts about to start. Then start again recording again when adverts finished and the program started again. Imagine if someone brought out a setup box [that’s set-top box – ed] that was commercial buy able today even without the “siginal” you could very easy program the box to stop and start at points when you knew when adverts are about to come out. You watch a program on a sky and virgin and its always the same points…… i bet sky and virgin would be all over it trying to get it banned…. due to the lost advert revenue.”

We expect that ITV, Channel 4 and every other commercially-funded channel would do the same. They are businesses, after all.

Somewhere in a discussion about Tesco’s £2.50 unlimited broadband: what’s it worth?, istu wrote: “It’s not just attenuation, what about noise and cross talk, the main enemies of a quality DSL connection over twisted pair? Hybrid Fibre Coax networks provide a much more benign environment for digital signals although they are more of a “shared” resource than twisted pair back to a DSLAM or MSAN. On the whole, given the choice and in the absence of FTTH, I would go with Coax everytime!”

It’s a good point, but the only ISP doing HFC in the UK is Virgin Media, which uses it for the last few hundred yards from their cabinets.

And in the comments for Virgin Media pulls David Tennant Doctor Who ads (which long-ago ceased to be about the original story), we actually heard from someone who has freed himself of the TV Licence.

EvieDiva32 only uses a TV set for playing on his computer and watching DVDs (presumably less than £140-worth of BBC-produced DVDs), and said:

“Ive had a tv for about 6 years. I have no signal set up to recieve tv, i use it for dvd’s and computer console. I wrote to the tv license company to state that i would not be buying a tv license as i dont watch tv as it’s broadcast (it’s all crap nowadays anyway).. they sent a letter saying they would send someone round unannounced to check, which they did. They confirmed i need pay nothing, for as long as i wasn’t watching live broadcasts via the tv or laptop.”

In defence of Tesco’s £2.50 unlimited broadband: what’s it worth?

Retail leviathan Tesco has come in for a lot of flak over the ‘unlimited’ bit of it’s £2.50 broadband package (although it isn’t called unlimited any more, since rules on broadband advertising were tightened up this Spring).

Greg Woods thought it was still worth a go, and he’s very pleased:

“I just switched to this deal from Sky. Was only offline for an hour. However, the router needed continual resets to restore connection. After a quick to call to them, a very reasonable UK based person, who thankfully didn’t ask me to replace my microfilters or plug into the master socket, admitted it was a problem at their end. 24 hours later, I have a 7Mbps/920Kbps, reliable connection (Sky was only 5.5Mbps/700kbps – not that you can tell the difference).

“Although I had three days of teething troubles, all in all it is a good experience, and cheap. 100Gb is a reasonable limit even for my cloudy lifestyle, but shouldn’t be called unlimited.”

4G will wipe out Freeview in 1.9 million homes, confirms Ed Vaizey

So, regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not, the auction of 800MHz radio spectrum for 4G mobile is going ahead. For Zeidgeist, the question is whether further sell-offs of public spectrum can be avoided: “We now need a cast-iron guarantee signed in blood, that they will leave AM & FM RADIO alone, DAB is decidedly flaky.”

Dean Hunt, though, in his own words: “Thinks you all need to stfu.”

And why this strident declamation of those who oppose the auction?

“ofcom own the rights to sell the spectrum’s.. 800mhz was legaly empty.. it got sold . sorry your devices illegaly use the 800mhz spectrum without the permission of the licence holders.. perhaps you should speak to the manufacturers”

It’s an interesting legal argument that devices which use a slice of spectrum can be retrospectively outlawed, but we’re sure that Dean is an expert in spectrum licensing law.

BT adds 21 new exchanges, rural notspots light up: Broadband Rollout Roundup 11/05/2012

Capvermell is a reader with an axe to grind, after a May edition of Recombu Digital’s weekly Broadband Rollout Roundup listed his local BT exchange in Farnham Common as greenlit for fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC).

Since then, dastardly BT has pushed back FTTC rollout for the Stoke Poges area where he lives, currently to December 31, 2012.

Capvermell’s question: “When FTTC does not go universally live for the whole exchange on the same date surely you need to provide more accurate information on what part of the exchange (if any) is actually available for orders on the supposed live date?”

We’ve asked BT, and they refuse to release the information. On a practical note, it would make Broadband Rollout Roundup almost impossible to produce if we listed the breakdown for every exchange (often BT announces dozens of exchanges at once), and kept updating it.

It is, however, very disappointing that BT doesn’t make it clear that in some cases it could take a very long time to go from enabling an exchange for FTTC to enabling the whole area.