Minister cuts ribbon on Herts village fibre

Minister cuts ribbon on Herts village fibre

Summary: Launching Vtesse's high-speed broadband service in Birch Green, communications minister Ed Vaizey gave his opinions on net neutrality and the Digital Economy Act, but knew nothing about Acta

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  • The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a very British affair, complete with scones and pouring rain.

    Vtesse's service actually went live a few weeks ago, despite the fact that the company said Vaizey "officially switched it on" on Tuesday. Around a dozen customers already use it.

    Photo credit: David Meyer

  • Mark Betteridge is one of the first customers to have signed up to Vtesse's Birch Green offering.

    The solicitor, who sometimes works from home, signed up for a 16Mbps service. He told ZDNet UK that although the company offers packages of up to 40Mbps, he "wouldn't need that".

    Betteridge said his testing had indicated download speeds of 15.6Mbps and upload speeds of "just over a meg". His previous broadband connection, provided by "a certain satellite TV company", had given him "barely 0.75Mbps", he said.

    "In terms of quantifying time saved, over a year it will save thousands," Betteridge said. "My wife also runs a business from home — for her, it's a massive improvement."

    Photo credit: David Meyer

  • Ed Vaizey, the minister for communication, culture and the creative industries, took questions on subjects ranging from the taxing of fibre to net neutrality and the Digital Economy Act.

    Vaizey, who had a meeting with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on Monday, said the business rates charged by that agency on fibre would not be reviewed. Small communications companies have described the charges as onerous.

    "The key is that the system is transparent," Vaizey said. "My job is to work with the VOA to bring my issues to the table. We don't need to go through the rigmarole of a review."

    This statement contrasts with the Conservatives' pre-election stance. The party had said that it would look at the case for changing business rates to ensure that there were no longer any disadvantages for new market entrants.

    "I can't promise solutions, but what I can do is promise dialogue," Vaizey said. "We will make rapid progress. When I know what progress means, I will let you know."

    ZDNet UK asked Vaizey for his opinion of the Digital Economy Act. "We [the government] can live with what was passed by Parliament," he replied. "Broadly speaking, it's relatively light touch. It's important to make the point that any kind of disconnections will be temporary."

    Vaizey surprised many of those present by saying he had never heard of Acta, the global copyright treaty being negotiated behind closed doors.

    Reacting to a question about this week's net neutrality proposal from Google and Verizon, Vaizey said net neutrality was "an issue that we [the government] will have to address ourselves".

    "Broadly speaking, we're in favour of net neutrality," he added. "It's an issue that will cross my desk. The government is in receive mode rather than transmit mode."

    Photo credit: David Meyer

Topics: Broadband, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Great stuff, vtesse going where BT fear to tread, into the final third. I hope Ed listens to Aidan because he doesn't half have some good ideas for the NGA solution. Unlike the incumbent he doesn't just fall over when things get tough.
    cyberdoyle@...
  • "Vaizey surprised many of those present by saying he had never heard of Acta, the global copyright treaty being negotiated behind closed doors."

    Time for him to earn he's keep then eh.
    CA-aba1d