Beyond rural infinity

Hurrah! Fibre broadband has landed in my village. Is this the end of slow Skyping yokels? Or is there a catch?

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Hurrah! The Fandango Fibre broadband has landed in my rural village.

BeyondRural_Infinity

No more photos uploading at night to avoid Mr Franglais’s moods over our precious bandwidth when he needs to have a conference call over the net. At least I can upload at night, Mr F is sick and tired of looking like a scary slurring yokel or a frozen pile of pixels.

Scary-Yokel

Hell O . Ha Who Ee Z It Go Ing Too Day In Sing A Poor?

Speed and efficiency on my mind, I contact my supplier, Utilities Warehouse, and ask them to switch to fibre. UW being more of a broker than a direct supplier, I assume they can buy the Fandango Fibre from OpenReach since I know that BT can provide the magic speed.

Only, I don’t want to go to BT.

“Let me see”, says the very polite UW man on the phone, checking the fibre offering at my postcode.
“Sorry, Mrs Franglais, we can’t provide you with fibre. BT may have installed it, but if they have, they have not enabled us to use it yet”.

Oh.
If ?
BT have installed it.
I spoke to the nice man digging the road behind my house.
Or is it OpenReach?
You know, that BTish company that is not quite BT because BT got too big; but kind of still is BT.

BT guarantee 74 megabytes.
Seventy four. GUARANTEED.

I am now perfectly puzzled.

The Mr and Mrs Franglais of the English countryside will sign a 12 months contract, with no superfast alternative. I thought this was called a monopoly. Hasn’t there been some kind of Monopolies Commission in the UK since 1949? Who else will protect these rural households and businesses, busy working hard and making work pay, trying to live within their means, when they are hooked to a contract that will just roll on and on, for months and months, with their easy monthly direct debits coming straight out their bank accounts?

I had sworn I’d never get back to BT.
You too?
I know, there are so many of us.

But I have no choice. Believe me, I slowly searched for hours during the day in between Mr F’s conference calls.

Virgin are not fibre friendly in my village. Sky, even more of a big NoNo than big bad BT in the Franglais household are nowhere to be seen round’ere anyway.

Nor any other supplier that I could find.

Begrudgingly I investigated this Infinity 2 Fandango Fibre Optic. Mr F was not only adamant that he needs this super speed for his conference calls, he was rather keen on the free Sports package. And what a great package it is too. Football fanatics and rugby nuts can equally jump for joy in front of their fibre enabled televisions when England scores. No mean feat.

As we want unlimited access so the whole family can finally jump into the 21st century after five long years at the end of the line on top of windy hill, we have to take the £30 Fandango package. The advertised everywhere £10 BT offer is slower and allows you less download. Oh, and we now need a BT landline. That’ll be another £17.99.

Thank goodness we get a free double ball BT Sport with the Fandango package.

Wait there.
What’s this under the word FREE?
£49.
One off fee.

So I asked Kirstie, who offered her BT help via a chat screen, whether Sport would then be free forever after.
“It is free on a 12 months contract” she replied.
What happens after the 12 months?
“The price could remain the same, and it could change also”

Puzzlement pursues.

Is the meaning of free not quite the same for BT than for others? Do they not have British in their name to help them with language? Does the English word free now mean a one off fee in our free market world?

Never mind. Let me get back to my free to a point £52 per month package that does not facilitate HD nor allow me to use more than one TV at a time (they’re extra) BT tell me that they can change their tariffs when they feel like it, once I’ve signed on the virtual dotted line.

You can leave if you don’t like it.

I wonder, once I’ve tasted the Fandango fibre, and if nobody else offers as speedy a service in my village due to some kind of monopoly, will the competitors’ offers ever taste good enough?

Am no business guru, clearly, but I do understand that BT, who are not a charity. have just forked out millions to enable fibre here, there and pretty much everywhere in England -in a coincidental twist of fate that they should win almost all council contracts in England- have to recoup their huge investment.

But hang on a minute, where did that £1.2 billion come from, and that further £250 million?

Taxpayers’ money I hear you say?
Well. Yes. So it is.

I need to go and do some research.

How did one subsidised company get all the contracts, bar exceptions to confirm the rule, then kept the fibre facilities for themselves in some places? And many more questions.

Great thing is, give me a fortnight or so and I’ll be able to do that research in no time. Mr Franglais will watch his sport. That’ll keep him quiet. Or shouting at the TV screen when England scores. I’ll try not to get distracted by all these new channels I don’t really want, although I can’t wait to watch that American channel I’ve heard lots about: Fox.

Mr F and I can have a shouting at the tv competition.

But hey, it’s a free market, in a free world. If I don’t like it, I can go back to Slow And Stop When It’s Windy Broadband with another provider. Maybe EE (formerly T-Mobile and Orange, formerly part of Deutsche Telecom and France Telecom).  Ah yes, I forgot, it is now BT/EE,  as allowed by the Competitions and Market Authority (the latest incarnation of the monopolies commission).

OK, Talk Talk then (who bought Tiscali UK and AOL UK) BT’s main competitor who dared attack the giant for monopoly practice. Not very safe with your personal details and bank accounts though are they, hacked as they were by 15 year old teenagers.

Weird how when the news of BT/EE came out, we were all busy Talk Talking about scary hackers.

Conspiracy theorist me?
No. Stop saying that. I’m not.
Coincidences amaze me, that’s all.

Anyway, next time I post I’ll have Fandango. I’d love to find an alternative, and maybe I will. My village has an amazing community that runs a community shop. Not sure they’ll go as far as an alternative to BT Fandango though.

But you never know.

La Grande-Provence?

Imagine an area where there is sunshine, warm seas, hills covered with vineyards, olive trees, the third largest city in the country (or is it the second?), the tallest mountains on the continent, sandy beaches, the only under water National Park in the country, the birthplace of real rosé wine, Roman theatres, world famous festivals… Courchevel, St Tropez, Cannes, the promenade des Anglais, the Count of Monte Cristo, the Mont Blanc:

Yep you’ve got it, that’s the South of France. Thing is though, which South? You see the region has so much to offer that they are now struggling to find a name for themselves.

Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur makes ‘PACA’ in French. Whilst most French people will know what PACA means by now, nobody else does and if it’s no good in English then it’s no good in business. And business in the Sud Est is tourism. What a quandary.

Problem is, the South West has already taken the ‘Sud de France’ name. Beaten at the post by the newcomers. It makes no grammatical sense in French but sure works for the English speaking clientele surfing the net. To my mind “Le Sud” is the South East. Probably because I come from there so I’m definitely biased… Possibly because historically that south was the holiday south, until they took the tourists for granted and started getting competition. I hate to admit.

So now the Beautiful and Bountiful South is fighting back. Finally. Why not Le Sud? Tout simplement… The domain name has been snapped up.

Mmm, why change at all? So taxpayers money can be spent on marketing a new name that will inevitably make a third of the region angry at the choice: Provençaux, Alpins or Azuréens? I’m a Varoise, so none of the above, therefore I don’t care. I’d love to design the new logo though, should be good fun!

I read they’re thinking of Grande-Provence. I’d love it now I live in Grande-Bretagne!