This weekend, the UK's largest broadband provider and former incumbent, BT, is expected to raise prices for millions of households. A hike at BT usually immediately precedes price rises at the other big providers but if that happens this time it'll mean a double whammy for internet and calls customers: the other members of the UK's big four – Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – have all increased prices or announced upcoming increases for at least some customers over the past few weeks. story continues..
The networks all give the same reason for their price increases: more pressure to invest in their networks and, perhaps even more importantly, in the pay TV channels that bring in new customers. "We're investing record amounts to bring our customers even more unmissable TV at home, on demand and on the go," a Sky spokesperson said this week.
They're not kidding: over the past three years Sky have spent about £2.3 billion (about $3.8 billion) just on the right to show matches in the UK's prestigious Premier League, home to big clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City. Over the same period, BT have spent around £730 million (about $1.2 billion) on Premier League matches. Adding in the cost of other sports rights, not to mention the huge cost of hiring big name presenters and actually running their channels, it's no wonder BT and Sky are looking to squeeze a bit more cash out of their customers.
This is somewhat of a change for the UK.
Theresa May, the UK's Home Secretary, called for more powers to keep and collect online data but said that "there is no mass surveillance programme" in a recent speech
. Files released by Edward Snowdon show that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been intercepting fibre optic cables with the participation of major US and UK communications providers, an operation called Tempora, since 2011.
For years now, the UK government has given lectures on Internet morality whenever and however possible, forcing ISPs there to implement pornography filters that force broadband users to opt out, frequently filter entirely legitimate websites
, and can usually be bypassed by anyone with a modicum of technical know how. With that going so well, conversations are now currently underway in the to extend the porn filters to include government-determined "extremist content."
Given this righteous attempt to legislate morality, it's a bit ironic then that a scandal has broken out in the UK after Patrick Rock, a top aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and a chief architect of the country's porn filters, was arrested for possession of child pornography
UK budget broadband provider TalkTalk, added 47,000 fibre customers over the previous quarter, financial results released by the company lasy week
(pdf) show. TalkTalk fibre has grown sluggishly over the past few years, fueling speculation that budget-conscious UK consumers were going to seriously impede the network's take-up and therefor stifle potential additional investment in the fiber optic service.
According to Claire Perry, David Cameron's "special advisor on preventing the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood," all UK ISPs will offer porn filters by default before the end of the year. According to Wired UK
, Internet users in the UK will soon find their broadband connections with filters enabled, though users will be able to opt-out of the setting by request. Participation by ISPs is "voluntary;" though some ISPs like TalkTalk already require that users make their preferences known when they sign up for service. Ignored by UK government is the fact that said filters are usually absurdly easy to bypass, wind up raising rates for consumers, quite often wind up censoring legitimate content, and once started -- tend to encourage government to censor other nasty bits of the Internet they might not agree with.
Since last year, UK ISPs have been required to block user access to the Pirate Bay
, for whatever good that has done. The website simply set up a new suite of IP addresses for blocked users, quickly allowing most users to bypass the blockade.
Like several United States telcos, UK telco British Telecom called running fiber to the home "premature
," instead opting to milk copper for as long as possible. Also like telcos here, British Telecom has been a master at getting subsidies for doing very little, recently nabbing a £1bn public subsidy ($1,612,914,393) if they promised to expand their network (mostly FTTN) to another 12 million customers.
As ISPs here in the States begin to act as the entertainment industry's Internet baby sitters despite significant problems
with their new enforcement plans, a UK scam highlights yet another potential pitfall of these system: scammers. With the UK set to start implementing a three strikes system in 2014, scammers are already hard at work conning users out of cash by using fake copyright violation letters
. The poorly written scam letters (did you know that's usually intentional
to help weed out smart folks?) claim to be sent by the "Digital Econnomy Act," warning recipients the must immediately pay a £50 fee.
A recent high court ruling in the UK has declared that all ISPs there must now block their users from being able to access The Pirate Bay. Virgin Media is not too surprisingly the first to implement filters, which The Guardian
notes remains accessible via many of Virgin’s competitiors at the moment. UK ISPs are using DNS filtering, something the folks over at The Pirate Bay note can be easily bypassed any number of ways
, ranging from using a VPN to simply changing to Open DNS or Google DNS servers. While imposing filters isn’t going to stop pirates or piracy, the news coverage did act as free advertising for the Pirate Bay -- which broke traffic records this week
as news outlets covered the filtering efforts.
The United States spent $300 million on a broadband map that doesn't come close to showing reality
, and the UK looks to duplicate that "success." Last week the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a new map showing broadband availability
in the UK’s 36 largest towns and cities. It’s interesting for a peruse although the data isn’t exactly new, it comes from regulator Ofcom’s Communications Infrastructure Report 2011, released last July, a standard report on the country’s broadband progress that it is required to present to Government.
by Revcb 06:41PM Wednesday Dec 14 2011
Last week, the UK communications regulator Ofcom set out its stall on equal access to services online, a repetition, in the main, of their usual stance: some differentiation on services is fine, just be upfront about it. story continues..
To that end, for example, the regulator warned ISPs that they should be providing more information on how traffic management polices will affect specific services.
The UK’s smallest network operator, Three, seems more poorly named by the day. Lately, the forth-largest provider is lucky to be in the race at all. story continues..
by Revcb 07:12PM Wednesday Aug 24 2011
by Revcb 08:16AM Thursday Sep 30 2010
by Revcb 08:14AM Thursday Sep 23 2010
by Revcb 08:43AM Thursday Sep 09 2010
by Revcb 09:19AM Thursday Sep 02 2010
·more stories, story search, most popular ..
Recent news contributors
, Karl Bode