Opinion

Where in the world is Erbistock?

I had a press release through from BT yesterday full of yet more FUD. The small Welsh village of Erbistock, near Wrexham, is to receive its first ever broadband service.

After spending more than 12 months thinking about the problem, BT has decided it can deliver a 1Mb/s to 4Mb/s service over, um, copper lines.

This is nice, of course, although I don't really think trumpeting the advent of copper infrastructure based broadband is anything to write to the papers about.

BT said the nasty old media had been accusing it of quoting £500,000 to deliver broadband to the area when really it had "bent over backwards to find a solution" and had several other ideas. Some of them even better!

And here's the kicker, according to BT: "The majority of local residents have been unable to receive a broadband service to date due to their homes being too far away from the nearest telephone exchange at Bangor-on-Dee."

With me so far?

"BT believes it has overcome this challenge however by offering residents the option of transferring their line from the Bangor-on-Dee exchange to the closer exchange at Overton-on-Dee."

So is Bangor closer to Erbistock than Overton, or isn't it? My knowledge of the geography of North Wales is sketchy, but it looks like BT's engineers might need a map, too.

They also want to charge villagers a hundred quid for the privilege.

Those plucky Erbistockians who might be considering switching their broadband as soon as they can might be put off by a report released by Ofcom this morning, saying that 45% of consumers think switching providers is too much hassle.

The regulator says it is considering ways to make the switching process easier and quicker, and has committed to reviewing switching processes going forward.

It today proposed in prinicple a process in which the new service provider takes the lead - albeit with measures in place to prevent the disgraceful practice of 'slamming', when consumers are switched without consent.

Ofcom reckons this will incentivise the new provider to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. It could also deliver lower prices, more choice and innovation for consumers by upping competition levels among ISPs.

Whether or not this just leads to more crazy claims on speed remains to be seen.

This was first published in September 2010

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