Tweeting the National Broadband Scheme..

Posted: February 21, 2009 in Uncategorized


While Twitter is best suited for quick comments and short exchanges sometimes a topic arises that needs further discussion. Some days ago Joe Drumgoole asked me for my opinion on the National Broadband Scheme. This led to one of the longest exchanges I have ever had on Twitter. Severalother Twitterers commented afterwards that it would be a shame if the discussions just dissapeared into the depths of Twitter so I will try to replicate it below…

  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB how would you improve the existing NBS?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole There are several issues: technology is not the best suited, business & pricing model is wrong, it creates another semi-monopoly
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB ok, lets take them one at a time. What is the best suited technology?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Do you honestly want me to solve Irelands broadband problem in 140 characters?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole & @campbellscott I’ll quote from previous blogposts
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole & @campbellscott & & .
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Nothing in those links makes any significant suggestions as what is a better technical alternative to the existing NBS
  • @evertb: @campbellscott Interesting report to read on this topic:
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Really? You must be reading something different from me then
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Really? You must be reading something different from me then
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole You think that the NBS is a good idea then?
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB The reason the government is involved is nobody wants to deliver broadband to the last 10% (or even 20%)
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Care to back that up?
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB so the suggestion in your post that local loop will be dealt with by private industry is nonsense
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Did you read this post:
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole You’re obviously not aware/ignoring all the WISP’s that have sprung up all over the country
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB WISPs may have sprung up all over the country, but what is there coverage, and and what cost?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole I’ll look the percentages up for you tomorrow.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Another point it that 100% coverage is an unreasonable goal.
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB 100% is a clearly achieveable goal with a very measureable result. Anything less can be fudged in a variety of directions
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Clearly achieveable as in it is is clear when it has been achieved
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole 100% coverage makes a nice statistic but is un-achievable and a waste of money
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Northern Ireland claimed to ahve 100% coverage many years ago but in reality they still don’t.
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB agree about 100%, but where do you set the bar. 80% and just exclude all of Galway?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole If you want to use a metric you could tie coverage by population density. A better approach would be by demand
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Another point is that NBS is based on incorrect data (coverage)
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB but supply creates demand in any network so basing it on demand would mean nothing was ever done
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Not neccesarily. I have seen examples where demand for broadband was the reason for a private operator entering the market..
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Everybody else’s data is incorrect but mine 🙂
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Better back that data up in safe location
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Can I summarise, “Don’t worry about local loop, the private sector will take care of that, instead reduce the cost of backhaul”.
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB hence encouraging the development of WISPs who can sell retail broadband cheaper?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Yes & No
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole“stimulate the local loop private market by reducing backhaul costs and extending backhaul network”
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB not in the sector (West of Ireland) that we are taking about, this is a very specific solution for the Irish market.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole What is specific to the Irish market?
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Market size and dispersion of that market, population density drops off dramatically as you move west
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Ok, assuming local loop is sorted by the private sector, what next?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Government provides sufficient backhaul, private market takes care of local loop. What next do you want?
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB So increase supply to stimulate demand?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole “Bigger, better, faster” basically (and cheaper).
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Why do I get the feeling that I will be quoted on this somewhere?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole West of Ireland is very specific, that’s why you will see a higher percentage of wisps there..
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The demand is already there and will only increase with supply
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB West of Ireland is anything West of the Shannon for my argument
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB if all this demand is there and the private sector will meet that demand, why is there still no coverage in many areas?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole A lot of west of Ireland wisps are commercial spin-offs of the former IrishWAN..
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Not anything west of the Red Cow?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Because the demand is not in 100% of the country. But where it is the private sector will supply..
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB But if there is all this demand surely private sector should be able to address the backhaul issue as well?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The main stumbling block for wisps is the cost and availability of backhaul
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Example: a lot of broadband around my area is beamed in from Limerick ; 50 km away.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole All done by a private operator..
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The costs are just too high.
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB lucky you, one swallow does not make a summer
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB welcome to the private sector! Its not cost effective to ship broadband at Dublin prices to the boonies, sorry! Hence the NBS
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Silly sarcasm doesn’t make for a conducive argument..
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB yes, silly, but true. Private sector gets to charge whatever the market will bear, which makes for good profits but stifles demand
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB I said earlier 100% was unrealistic, that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water and abandon NBS
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Am I mistaken or were you not advocating 100% coverage a few minutes ago? What happened to that argument?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole How will the NBS “ship broadband at Dublin prices to the boonies”?
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB by subsidising the delivery and infrastructure costs, its a bootstrapping exercise.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole So, in your opinion, the private sector will stiffle demand?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole And will it open up the market? It will hell!
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB my argument is simple, metcalfes law. By creating more endpoints you add more value to the network etc etc.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole That’s exactly what I’m saying; by extending the end-points of the backhaul you add value to the network.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The NBS is government run, and they have proven to have their head up their arse when it comes to broadband.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole They f*cked up and killed of the MAN’s which was conceptually the best thing that happened to broadband in this country
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB But the NBS is run by Three not by the government.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The money and guidelines are coming straight from the Irish government.
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Well Three proposed it and they aren’t in it for love, they want to make money. The elephant in the room is the eircom monopoly
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The monopoly created by the NBS will be of the same proportions as the one created through Eircom’s privatisation..
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Of course Three are in it for the money. It’s a state funded monoply. Have you ever looked at LLU over 3G?
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB with three and Eircom it starts to look less like a monopoly situation.
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Eircom doesn’t operate in the areas covered through the NBS, that’s the whole point
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB really? Well the just plugged in my wife’s parents last month (in Claremorris) after years of “You are too far from the exchange”
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole OK, that is now, but that’s not the data that the NBS is based on
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Fact is that any other operator does not get 500 mln or whatever it is to rolllout in those areas
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Thereby creating an uneven playing field.
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB I’m starting to loose track of your tweets. 3G is where the planet is going for wireless broadband whether you like it or not
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Another issue is the 3G coverage. You know yourself how bad cover is now. It will take a lot to improve that..
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Anyway, let’s continue this some other time @mrs_bopp is due back from UL and I still haven’t finished the dishes
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB Always a pleasure, I’ve learnt a lot tonight. Generally agree with your backhaul argument, but think local loop is just as important
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole The pleasure was all mine
  • @jdrumgoole: @EvertB for a free market anarcho-capitalist like yourself, is it not fundamentally about non-intervention by goverment?
  • @evertb: @jdrumgoole Spot on! 😉
  1. Nice one Evert, well done!

  2. Tom says:

    Nice post just came across your blog pleased to meet you 🙂 I’m Tom. Notting too much of interest in the above conversation 🙂

    Eircom should be forced to put Annex M on their dsl lines which would allow 3.5 mbits up & the standard 24mbit down on adsl2+ depending on distance from the exchange and stop worrying about devouring their legacy leased line revenues.

    Where the hell is fibre to the curb anyway?? How many WLR’s would reap millions offering triple play over fibre ?

    As regards to areas of the country not being covered.. comreg should come down on hard on the USO and make sure everywhere is covered with cooper no matter the cost.

    I’ve used 3g across the country its not there yet.

    However Eircom not winning the NBS tender was an interesting move by the goverment an a shock to Eircom at the time or so I am to beleive from comments from within Eircom

    Could Eircom possibily at risk as Ireland’s USP if they where to be over taken in market share? Since perlicos deal with Vodafone when you call their offices it say’s the #1 compeditor to Eircom

    I also hear that a number of the Eircom sales divisions are now being targetted on contracts rather than revenue…

  3. […] I’ve have discussed my opinion on the Irish governments National Broadband Scheme before but nothing has summarized my outrage as wel as […]

  4. […] I believe that we have a lot of the components of a digital ecosystem already in place and what we now need to do is to identify those components that should be fostered and made more pervasive. We are feeling the growth pains as many who are involved feel the frustration that we are not moving fast enough, but are being held back by some fundamentals such as poor broadband access (see examples of these frustrations here from Damien Mulley, Adrian Weckler and Evert Bopp. […]

  5. […] need for broadband is mentioned again. This crops up again and again but we still do not have it. […]

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