talk-talk: a little more walk-walk is required

By in cloud, general, mobile, products, strategy, uncategorized on Thursday, 4 November 2010

Sometimes I despair at the appalling state of the UK’s broadband services. It’s truly horrific.

Here is an ex-state monopoly supposedly “competing” with a number of other providers, but what the public is actually getting is simply a re-badged service provided by BT.

The BT infrastructure is antiquated and decaying, virtually on its knees from years of under investment, yet being milked dry by greedy BT accountants.

UK customers in the meantime are being sold services by unscrupulous suppliers who’ve probably never been near a phone exchange, let alone have any network of their own.

But let’s just put the subject of BT’s steam-powered infrastructure to one side for a moment, I’m worried that BT may well be tilting the tables even more in their favour.

Imagine this. You own the exchange where all your competitor’s connections are housed. Who would know if you simply unplugged them for say, two minutes every now and then?

BT’s service wouldn’t have to be that good if the competition’s kept going off line, would it?

Ofcom – the sleeping watchdog with no teeth

Ofcom. Off-Com. Was there ever a network communications regulator more aptly named?

To be relying on any Public Sector body to actually perform at all is to be wildly optimistic. To ask it to perform well and in a responsive and efficient way is just asking too much.

Ofcom’s method of operation is to do nothing for 90% of the time, then to lash out with a punitive fine without setting out any recovery strategy to ensure things get better.

That’s never going to work – and as a result, neither will our network infrastructure.

Twenty-first Century Network?

Good people, I’d be happy with a working 20th century one. BT is crowing about its new fibre service, the investment of which was paid for by the wholesale customers it rips-off.

The truth is – as I’ve written about before – the new fibre network BT is installing actually costs less to install and maintain than the ancient copper-cabled network that it replaces. BT’s doing you no favours, believe me.

And Talk-Talk…?

I’ve singled out Talk-Talk here, but I could level the same criticism at any of the others. They all have to take a service offered by BT and somehow find some way of adding value to something with little inherent value originally.

So to do this, they give you an off-shore help desk – oh, how we love those – staffed by semi-literate, untrained call centre staff for whom having electricity for more than a couple of hours a day is a luxury.

How can they ever be expected to empathise with a UK customer who’s broadband has failed for the tenth time that week?

But the icing on the cake is BT’s repair strategy. To discourage breakdown calls that call for engineer intervention, they impose a fee for not finding anything!

BT charges for any call-out that finds no fault. It’s actually in their interest not to fix anything.

Who could possibly have sanctioned that?

Oh, sorry, I know. Ofcom…

2 thoughts on “talk-talk: a little more walk-walk is required

  1. 1

    I have had a number of problems with AOL. Does this apply to them as they are an American company? J.

  2. 2

    Hi, Jenny, I’m afraid it does.

    Every supplier, regardless of who they are is forced to use a BT Exchange. Even Sky, which is a vast global media company, has to go through a BT exchange to reach every domestic subscriber.

    This is called the “Local Loop”.

    So, everyone is stuck with BT in some way or another. Terrible, isn’t it?