Broadband - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by IT Support Line Ltd

  IT Support Line Ltd provides adhoc IT support to home users and small businesses around the Milton Keynes area. As part of the role in providing support to users, I have seen many home and small business users broadband issues and users have expressed their views to me about the quality of services provided by their ISP.

  I would like to express my views to the Committee about what the UK Government should do to improve the digital state of our Nation.

  The state of the broadband coverage and speed in the UK is considered poor compared against other nations. In Spain broadband speeds can reach 24Mb/s and in Japan approaching 100Mb/s. I know BT will soon roll out 24Mb broadband in 2011 but this is only catching up to other nations and very few of homes or businesses will get the full 24Mb.

  There are several issues at stake—infrastructure, consumer choice and quality of service.

  In terms of infrastructure, BT Openreach control of UK telecommunication lines should be removed and given independently away from British Telecommunications. British Telecommunications have been very slow to implement a digital infrastructure, alibi they have shareholders which have different priorities.

  I would suggest setting up a new tender of running Britain's telecommunication lines of a period of 5-10 years and let competing companies bid for the right to improve the service. The intention is to provide fibre connections to the consumer or business property.

  Alongside this a new Government quango should also be created for the aspect of improving the UK digital status. To help pay for this organisation and infrastructure improvements consumers and businesses would pay a small tax against downloaded monthly usage. The quango organisation would also collect the taxes from the ISP's for the Treasury.

  I believe a charge of £1 for every 20Gb downloaded each month would be reasonable. I don't have statistics of how much UK consumers and businesses download every month but I'm sure National Statistics could provide the numbers for you. Faster broadband speeds will mean more internet downloads and thus more tax to get the UK into the leading digital nation.

  Consumer choice is limited to mainly London and areas where cable connections already exist—the rest of the country is limited by the length of the distance from the BT Exchange. BT put up the prices of the land line rental because less calls are being made from land line calls and the cost of broadband I feel is still expensive as you cannot have fixed line broadband without a telephone number.

  In the future, I believe that consumers should have a choice of not having a telephone number with their broadband connection. For example: Fibre line monthly cost £5 + Broadband ISP monthly cost £10 + Downloaded monthly usage tax (50Gb) £2.50 = £17.50

  The quality of service between ISP's do vary significantly, in general those ISP's who have UK support call centres appear to provide better service than those based abroad in places such as India. It is not clear what ISP's provide to consumers but consumers are also not aware of why their broadband is slow because of limits placed upon them by their ISP. The new quango organisation would ensure that ISP's deliver what they said they do and not punish their customers by limiting speeds without notice.

August 2009

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