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People 'don't care' about fibre, they just want broadband that works - expert

Monday, June 22nd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Most consumers don’t care whether they have fibre broadband or not, as long as they have a broadband service that works, the head of a network infrastructure company has said.

Roy Shelton, CEO of ITS Technology Group, said people don’t care whether they have “fibre or an elastic band”, providing it allows them to do what they want to do.

Mr Shelton spoke to Cable.co.uk after delivering a speech at the Connected Britain conference last week, where he discussed the issue of urban ‘not-spots’ – places with little or no broadband coverage.

ITS, which builds fibre and wireless networks as well as running IT services, is behind several projects, including networks in Knowsley, Derby, Leeds, Liverpoool, London, and Cumbria community broadband project FibreGarDen.

But Mr Shelton said many consumers do not place high priority on the technology that is delivering their broadband.

He said: “Based on historical discussions with clients and the marketplace, not everybody wants fibre, not everybody can afford fibre.

“Fibre’s not always the best option because of the difficulty in installing it, and the cost to install it as well.”

He said if ITS was to offer 40Mbps speeds to an area that currently has just 2Mbps, one of the last questions would be about the technology delivering that service.

“It’s ‘what’s the speed, how much is it as in the connection fee and the monthly fee, what’s the term of the contract, how quick can you do it?’, then it’s ‘what’s the technology?’,” he said.

'Compelling'

“If you’ve answered all four questions to their satisfaction, you’ve made it compelling enough.

“They don’t care whether it’s fibre or an elastic band, as long as it works.”

Mr Shelton said ITS has thousands of consumer clients who are often “very demanding” and “know what they want”.

“What they want is a broadband service that works. They don’t want anything else.”

Mr Shelton said he had seen numerous examples of how bringing connectivity to deprived urban areas had changed people’s lives.

Getting online has helped people find jobs, start their own businesses, work from home, and allowed single parents to work, he said.

A pay as you go service offered by ITS is also allowing people who otherwise can’t get a broadband contract to get connected, he said.

Mr Shelton praised the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout, but said there was still a “huge amount” of consumers getting “well below the nominated speeds”.

“So if the Phase 3 funding goes ahead with BDUK to address some of these white spots throughout the UK on a residential basis then that’s something we will focus on, it’s something we will encourage them to do more of,” he added.

“What I’d also like to see in the summer budget is that the Chancellor and Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) extend the BDUK voucher scheme for superconnected cities to all SMES.

“It should be eligible to all SMEs.”

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