The Cost of the Olympics

The (current) estimated bill for the olympics: £9.375 billion

The estimated bill for installing fibre to 95% of homes in the UK: £9.5 billion

Ditch the Olympics, tell broadband suppliers to pony up £3.5 billion and the taxpayer will pay £6 billion, leave it to the telcos to manage and rollout, and we, 95% of the UK citizens, get some decent infrastructure before 2012.

Country gets an infrastructure that is, for once, up-to-date and not limping after the rest of the world; small athletics clubs and athletes get their funding back; and a colossal waste of time, effort, and money is not spent to benefit one small corner of the country that is already overpopulated and won’t know what to do with the “world class” mouldering monuments 10 minutes after the last Russian weightlifter leaves in 2012.

UK PLC needs fibre to the home (FTTH) for true video conferencing and 3d immersive environments, reducing the necessity to commute and to fly for business; allowing true telemetry for life saving operations when a surgeon cannot physically be with the patient. Just think of all the things we do now on our computers that leverage the antiquated DSL (Broadband) we have. If the speed was 200 times faster, 500 times faster, what new applications would we be using? Ask the Japanese, the Danish, the Dutch, the Romanians, the Czechs… everyone is either rolling it out now, or has already finished doing it. What have BT, still, astonishingly, guardians of our telco infrastructure done? Nothing. Same as in 1997 when I worked for a small company developing on-demand video and shopping through a set-top box and this astonishing technology called broadband (not such a small company now, but the employees got screwed on the shares, so plus ca change). BT kept saying they’d roll-out broadband, honest they would, so we tested in Hull. In Hull the locals had booted out BT and setup their own telco, Kingston Communications, owning and running the infrastructure themselves. Kingston loved it and set about converting all their exchanges as fast as possible. The maintenance of these new exchanges and the extra services available over them, meant that the ROI was quick, and that the reliability was much higher and maintenance cost much less. It also meant much less floor space was used.

The video-on-demand service has since been renamed, sold, bought, messe around with, etc, and was rolled out in a major UK city in 2005-ish using the same infrastructure technology… 8 years after Hull had video on demand. Despite its early start, BT were so slow to upgrade exchanges, it effectively killed broadband and, by extension, IPTV in Britain for 5 to 6 years for its own reasons.

I wrote this and saved as a draft about 6 months ago. Still stands.

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2 thoughts on “The Cost of the Olympics

  1. Sorry, but you’re wrong about Hull. Kingston’s video-on-demand service was an unmitigated disaster costing the company close to £100m to serve no more than 5,000 people at it’s height. The KIT service was closed as a commercial service several years ago and the locals now have to put up with a limited range of expensive broadband packages in what must be one of the last telecoms monopolies anywhere in Europe. As for BT, don’t they offer IPTV via BT Vision. I’m not a customer so wouldn’t know.

  2. Sorry, prob didn’t make myself very clear. The company I worked for did the first trial of video-on-demand in Hull to 250 homes. It was proof of concept and I spent an awful lot of time making various microsoft apps do things they’d weren’t supposed to while the really clever guys in the high energy magic building designed and built the set top boxes. I understood that once Kingston Communications had seen what it could do, and the decreased maintenance (and size) of the exchanges with the new exchange kit, which was orders of magnitude smaller that the old stuff, they started converting the lot. Not sure what they did after our trial finished, but it was on for about 2 years up there in about 97/98. We didn’t do more than 250 people while I was there! As I remember it, BT kept telling the company directors the infrastructure would be being rolled out in London from about 1998. I think the first exchange was ready in about 2002, maybe 2003. It was shocking delaying tactics (from our (shares) point of view) 🙂

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