It’s been interesting listening to chancellor George Osborne at the Tory party conference outlining his plans for a wonderful new age of state-of-the-art British infrastructure. He’s wheeled in Labour peer Andrew Adonis to head a commission into same.
Hmm. Having spent yet another day grappling with Virgin Media – and its forever collapsing broadband network – I wonder if George and his supporters can actually see the wood for the trees. Does George live in the real world?
It’s pretty clear that in a so-called digital economy functioning broadband is essential, but in the British economy it doesn’t. A big proportion of the country hasn’t got anything that works – ever – and most of the rest of us are lumbered with something that should work but doesn’t.
Virgin, now owned by John Malone’s US-based Liberty Media, is a shambles. I was told today that a 12 hour outage was the result of a slight increase in May temperatures (this in a dire summer) which buggered up the whole system. How?
There was an engineer on the case but they only work office hours. It came back on but, as I write this, the deadly arrow on the router is flickering away, which probably means it’ll be off tomorrow.
BT, which controls the fibre network, is under pressure to separate off its Openreach business, which has signally failed to improve UK internet services – for ever. But BT poster boy CEO Gavin Patterson (left) has been loud in his protestations that they’re doing everything they can to improve the network (cobblers) and, by the way, it’s going to get even better. Only because they might lose the business.
Patterson would far rather spend his shareholders’ money trying to rival Sky Sports. Someone in government – or its agency Ofcom – should tell him to concentrate on his day job.
BT is about to buy EE’s UK mobile business for about £12bn. EE’s network is crap, heaven knows what it will be like with BT in charge.
So, essentially, there are lots of very rich companies around in the broadband/mobile sector commanding huge valuations and salaries for the bosses which are failing to deliver an acceptable service.
This isn’t the way free markets are supposed to operate. They’re supposed to stimulate competition and, therefore, better value for the customer.
In UK broadband the free market has completely failed. Maybe Jeremy Corbyn has a better solution..