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Leeds – city of thieves: Digital Voices 10/11/2012

This week’s comments came with a lesson for those who comment before they’ve read the full story, frustration from an Android upgrader, and summary judgement upon the people of Leeds.

Welcome to Digital Voices for the week ending November 10, 2012.

Is Leeds Britain’s criminal capital? BT’s killer RABIT foils copper cable thieves

The seemingly-unstoppable conversation about thieves attacking BT’s copper cables has splattered blame on many targets: ethnic minorities, travellers, dodgy scrap dealers, foreign spies.

This week WrinklyOldGit narrowed it down to one easy group – the people of Leeds: “I worked for a railways project group, one of our perennial problems was cable theft – and the worst thieves were those who came from the Leeds area, which was also known on the railways as the worst area for baggage theft.”

Having lit the blue touchpaper, we await your comments.

Leeds, the Mos Eisley of The North

Jumping the gun: Superfast Cornwall: Fibre Broadband Speed Tests

Recombu’s Tom Newton this week had a rare opportunity to see BT’s vision of our broadband future in action, as he was given a whistle stop tour of Superfast Cornwall, where BT is working on a variety of new technology for bringing high speed internet connections to rural users.

We’d recommend you take a look at his report on solutions for the last 10 per cent who will be beyond fibre-based solutions. Tom also posted updates during the day from a few of the locations he was able to visit – ironically, his reports were limited by the shoddy 3G coverage mobile operators have delivered to the region.

Reader NigelG, perhaps one of the 10-per-cent himself, was unable to wait for Tom’s full report, and posted a scathing attack on Superfast Cornwall:

“I am not that impressed with Superfast Cornwall, both BT and Cornwall County Council have spent £100M plus upgrading service to the ‘haves’ without providing any real solution to the ‘Have nots’.

“The Superfast Cornwall solution for the 10% plus who will not be able to use the FTTP/C equipment is satellite… Really? 8Mbs on a good day (not the OFCOM definition of Superfast) with prices per GB such that they would price 99% of users out of using current cloud based services. Even those trying to provide simple WiFi coverage for guests (Cornwall’s tourists are an important source of income) via Satellite feel embarrassed passing on the cost.

“That leaves 1-2% or 20,000 people (at least) using bonded copper to get less than 2Mbps….
I pity these people, listening to all the hyperbole about the internet and unable to watch Eastenders on iPlayer even at the lowest resolution…

“Nielsen’s Law indicates we should be connected at something like 20Mbs – 30Mbs today, in 5 years time it will be 100Mbs plus, have Superfast Cornwall thought 5 years ahead? It’s taken them 3 years to install a system that is already fallig behind and could be described as being at the end of its life…

“People with vision are installing FTTP and not wasting time, effort and money on a short term intermediate solution (FTTC). Look at B4RN and other similar groups to see what can and should be being done.”

Nielsen’s Law, coined by Jakob Nielsen in 1998, predicts that a high-end user’s connection speed grows by 50 per cent per year. It’s an observational law that Nielsen gave some economic underpinning after the fact, but it doesn’t really apply to rural broadband – it’s designed around high end urban users with access to the latest technology.

Poster worldsGreatistOptomist pointed out some economic factors more appropriate to rural broadband:

“This is Cornwall remember. most people don’t have mains water or sewers. Some still don’t have telephones. Cornwall is predominantly retired people on low incomes who don’t like paying out money. Its a huge effort for no income which is why the government has had to stump up the cash.

“Having superfast wizz go broadband will make yours and my lives easier (I WFH) but it won’t fix Cornwall’s lack of industry, drive or get up and go. What I’m trying to say is abandon all hope ye who live in Cornwall…”

Satellite, although costly, already has top speeds of 18-20Mbps, and there’s plenty of headroom to increase speed by a factor of 10 or more with improvements to modulation and the huge amount of available bandwidth.

Those on bonded lines and on FTTC will eventually be offered FTTP On Demand which, as we’ve also seen, is capable of handling download speeds of 10Gbps.

Of course the viability of this all depends on costs and competition being able to thrive so that costs can be driven down. It’s all well and good saying that FTTP On Demand will be offered, but until we know how much this will cost, we can’t call it.

Tom adds: “Hats off to the likes of B4RN for getting in there first and showing people what can be done but I don’t think it’s fair to say what Superfast Cornwall and BT are doing here is a short term solution.”

Jelly Bean bwah: How to get Sky Go: now with 8 children’s channels

Android users (I’m one) have always been Johnny-come-latelys when it comes to companion apps for our pay-TV services. Sky customers waited months for Android Sky+ and Sky Go apps, and the new Virgin Media TV Anywhere app is iOS-only until next year.

This week, Scarrot asked when Sky Go will be ported to Jelly Bean, the latest version of Android: “The latest android has been out for months and yet still no support for what is a fairly simple change. Very poor given the amount customers pay but there seems to be no urgency to get this working at all.”

We’re waiting for an official answer from Sky, but based on past enquiries, we’re the victim of a double-whammy.

First, the the high fragmentation of the Android user base among different versions of the OS makes it expensive to develop for all but the most popular phones, particularly with every manufacturer adding their own tweaks. Perhaps Google should insist on a little more consistency.

While I’m not a mobile expert, I believe that Jelly Bean also has some significant back-end changes to the way it secures content, so it may not be as simple an upgrade as it seems.

There’s also a demographic problem: iPad users get first-class treatment because they’re among Sky’s highest-paying subscribers, followed by the iPhone crowd, with Android still seen as the penny-pincher’s mobile OS of choice. 

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