Roll out the fibre

I’m a little disappointed with the speed of my broadband connection at home – it just isn’t fast enough. Attempting to stream classic Charlton Heston science-fiction films from Youtube in a seamless fashion is a far from a high-speed affair.

If you are an engineer working from home, I can imagine that you must be equally as frustrated with your service too, especially if you are attempting to transfer large multi-megabyte files around the country, or indeed around the world, to your work colleagues.

So this week, I was rather thrilled when I heard that BT is launching a nationwide survey to see how much potential demand there is for fibre broadband. The survey, which will run until the end of the year, will enable folks like us to express our desire for high-speed fibre-optic services, helping the company identify ’hot spots’ where demand is high as well as influencing the company’s future deployment plans.

The survey itself is to be run as a competition called Race to Infinity. On the Race to Infinity website, participants can vote for the locations they would like to see fibre broadband rolled out – with BT Retail promising funds, if needed – to help five ‘winning’ exchanges with the highest demand to be enabled by early 2012 at the latest. In the meantime, the site will display the top five exchanges leading the race as each exchange hits 1,000 votes.

Sadly, my initial enthusiasm for BT’s idea didn’t take long to wear off. Somewhat apprehensively, I imagined what sort of cacotopic future might materialise if other service providers jumped on the BT bandwagon, deploying similar web-based voting schemes to enable the population at large to determine which areas of the country should be provided with upgraded electricity or gas, sewage or water services!

To be fair to BT, the company did add that it is pledging to ‘engage’ with any community that gathers 75 per cent of possible votes for their exchange but doesn’t win the competition. This is in the hope that those exchanges can either be included in future commercial phases – if the exchange is deemed commercially viable – or enabled as a result of either public sector or community support.

Nevertheless, I’d rather the public at large wasn’t involved in such pathomaniacal elections at all, whether they involve telecommunications or any other essential services. After all, the clever engineering folks at BT most probably already have a much better idea of where they should be initially deploying broadband than we do.

So rather than running competitions that are no more than PR exercises, perhaps their bosses should just get out in the community and help them start rolling out the fibre instead.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Electronicstalk

Dave’s comments form part of the weekly Electronicstalk newsletter, which also includes a round-up of the latest electronic products and services for engineers. To subscribe click here