Interviewed by Hamish Mackintosh
Thursday February 19, 2004
It’s not developing as quick as we would wish. Although BT has started to sprint forward with enabling exchanges for ADSL, broadband take-up rates are very disappointing compared to other countries. I believe this is partly due to the broadband "experience" not being as good as it’s hyped up. A lot of broadband subscribers are using connection rates so slow that the only difference they notice is that they don’t have to dial up. So the downloading of pictures and video streaming isn’t instantaneous and pictures are still "herky-jerky". I’ve coined the expression "wideband" and until 2megabits per second becomes the norm we shouldn’t really be saying it’s broadband.
Can the average net user tell the difference?
The marketing boys are partly to blame. They offer broadband at speeds that are incomprehensible to the average consumer yet clearly too slow. And even when high speeds are offered, they aren’t always guaranteed because of contention rates when there are many users. So, at peak times, the system slows to a grindingly boring pace!
Is wireless the answer for rural broadband?
It’s tempting to put a Universal Service Obligation on broadband providers but I don’t think that would future-proof technology. Wi-Fi and now WiMax could provide broadband where cable can’t reach. Satellite has its place and with 10 or more subscribers it becomes cost-effective. However, geostationary satellites intrinsically introduce delays because of the distance the signals have to travel.
Should more government be online?
That’s the understatement of the year – and they’ve just gone and closed the UK Business Online site.
Did MyDoom show up how vulnerable the net still is?
Absolutely. It also demonstrated how vulnerable government servers could be. I’m still unconvinced that the government takes seriously the threat of not only mischievous hackers but also potential Denial of Service attacks.
The government has made this problem worse by having a loophole that says business spammers can’t be prosecuted. A lot of spammers have now registered in the UK. I went on holiday for two weeks recently and came back to 1,904 items of spam, which had slipped through the so-called spam filter on the Parliament network.
My favourite is so basic it probably won’t impress you but I have a 30GB USB drive I bought from Jadetec. It’s so useful for moving pictures or files around and it fits in my pocket. There is also my lovely Canon Ixus digital camera, which has four megapixels
You’re in a minority as an MP with your own website?
I’ve tried to make it very straightforward – there aren’t any applets on it.