Google could not have started in the UK

In order to be a successful 'dot COM' business a good Internet connection is a basic requirement. No, you can't "work from anywhere". You must have a fast & reliable Internet connection.

Most Web developers in the UK host their applications in the USA where the costs are much lower. Any company I've heard that co-locates or rents space in the UK is paying about a two fold premium to do so. However it's about 20% cheaper in Germany compared to the UK, with 3x increased latencies.

Now if you are an innovative IT company you really need your machines and services close by for fast development iterations.

Google could never have started in the UK. How on earth would they have had the right IT environment to grow when bandwidth is so incredibly expensive in the UK? JANET don't have a clear policy WRT commercial "research" connectivity services. From past experience of JANET network administrators if you wanted them to host an enterprise like Google they would have responded with their typical "can't do" attitude. You're dreaming.


Typically a demanding UK business could be connected by LAN Extension aka 'leased line' aka LES100 (mbit) or WES (wholesale). This high end Internet market in the UK is full of meaningless service level agreements, mis-leading acronyms and terminology. The sales people will ease you into a false sense of confusion. Bonded, expresstream, dedicated, scalable 2M-10M and other sort of bollocks. Dedicated "tail circuits" to their point of presences (PoP) typically start at 2500GBP for installation and similar upkeep costs per month.

If you ask a reasonable question like: "Will my upload channel be faster than the 100 kB/sec I currently get from my Virgin XL connection?", the sales people won't know. They'll sprout bullshit about how their contention is better or that they can handle more parallel connections. Actually I just want to serve (upload) as fast as possible. 100 kB/sec (1M) upload is too slow. Good domestic broadband can currently suck down at 1000kB/sec (10M) to give you some perspective.

Most business UK leased lines barely compete with cabled domestic connections. Especially since high quality broadband ADSL connections are no more than 30GBP a month. Ideally there should be no distiction between domestic and business connections, though the UK sales boys don't miss a trick.

If your company is based in London, perhaps you can actually connect straight up to fibre to an exchange like LONAP. This typically will cost your premises at least 20kGBP to get hooked up. Plus all sorts of equipment rental and bandwidth costs. If I was budgeting, I would say 50k GBP was needed just to get started. Combined with your London rental rates, why not pile your venture capital in a mound and just set fire to it?

Non-Wired West

Globalcrossing UK fibre optic map

The irony is in Cornwall, Praze Farm, my family home is adjacent to fibre optic cable running along the A30 motorway. Probably the fastest Internet connections in the world are the transatlantic links between Cornwall and New York. However neither Global Crossing or EasyNet, would consider a splice into either of their cables that run along the A30.

If you believed the "connected" hype from government and schemes derived from Objective One such as:

You could be fooled into thinking that EU money was going into improving the IT infrastructure in the South West of England. The truth is very different.

There are no "point of presence" (PoP) hubs in Cornwall as far as I'm aware, so you can not get a costly high end leased line even if you wanted to. In the Cornish countryside a typical broadband connection is about 1M down and 0.5M up. So a symmetrical leased line to 2M~10M would be a massive improvement, at great expense. Anyway there is no such (WES) option offered by British Telecom (BT) in Cornwall.

The fastest connections in Cornwall are probably at Penwith College (Penzance), University College Falmouth & Truro College, all connected by the JANET offshoot SWERN. However they have no links near me in Bodmin, I've checked.

The highways agency

Webconverger isn't the only company that could do with a fast Internet connection. After calling EnterpriseMoucel who manage the A30 from Exeter to Penzance, they were interested too about getting connected to fibre. They need fast Internet for their cameras to stream data to their control centre. Currently they use an obscenely expensive microwave link between Mount and Looe supplied by BT.

Compared to copper

Imagine your business could only have one telephone line. That's what good domestic broadband or 'entry level' leased line gives your business. The ability to serve just one customer at a time. Your business would not be able to grow. This is the poisonous state of the current IT infrastructure in Britain.

Aside from the frustrating UK business banking service to deal with, I can't help but think if a serious IT firm wanted to innovate it would have to be based elsewhere. Trouble is, there aren't many fertile grounds in the world. I can only think of:

It's a shame Britain can't seem to get its act together with respect to wired fibre optic Internet links when we are such a small country. Attitudes must change. Fibre optics must come above ground. Britain must become better wired for new IT based economies to grow. Government should make this a national issue and nationalise the fibre optic network.

Update: &, though there are no details whether or not will be able to enjoy those speeds. :(