After years of waiting and letters and calls to BT, plus getting my member of Parliament involved, I finally got high speed fibre optic broadband switched on two days before Christmas. This is of course good news, but still very frustrating because I've suddenly realised just what a difference it makes and what I could have sitting on library websites, in terms of photos and videos for sale by now, if it had arrived shortly after the cable was installed. But this is the UK with it's privatise everything government and a short sighted lack of strategic planning that should (but doesn't) encourage enterprise and creativity.
Because I am after all, an exporter. I sell my work via mostly US libraries, so I'm a dollar earner and a (positive) contributor to the balance of payments. And if I had been able to use this 20x faster internet connection for the last few years after the fibre optic cable from the local exchange was installed, I would have been able to contribute even more to that. But things being what they are over here, our private monopoly telecommunications company who install and run this network are more interested in selling subscriptions to Champions League football and streaming movies rather than doing what they are supposed to do, I.e. cabling up the country and providing the wherewithal for an increasing internet based economy to flourish and prosper.
Those if you in other countries who have had this for years will probably, quite rightly, think of this as a bit of a joke. I may live in a semi-rural environment, but I am only one mile from my local telephone exchange in a small newish town which is actually full of high-tech companies, one of which made parts for the space shuttle and includes the largest print factory in the UK, several server providers and located where it is, provides warehousing, logistics and distribution for many of the UK's leading companies. This is a modern town with 21st century businesses, easy access to fast nationwide transport links and a population that almost doubles in size during the working day. And since just a mile or two up the main road at the end of my country lane is where a lot of these companies are situated, you might think that we would be a priority for fibre optic cabling, but it seems not. And it's been a full six months since the high speed cabinet was built at the end of my road before it was switched on. All of which has proved very trying for myself and others who live where I do, many of whom are also internet based professionals and who have had to put up with a slow, unreliable, easily clogged up with traffic, internet connection for years.
i am not exaggerating when I say that in the last four days I have uploaded as much as I have in the previous 3 months. Regular readers will know that I have been working on putting together stock video clips, but due to the deficiencies of my internet uploading facility, I have done very little about that. However I discovered with my fast line that I was able to upload 75 high definition video clips in under two hours, my image files now take seconds to get to the library sites I sell through and I can finally contemplate doing something about the backload of tens of thousands of images I have sitting on my hard drives. So yes, anticipation of what I can now achieve, but very much tempered with immense frustration at the speed of this fibre optic roll out. And if I and in particular my wife Ann, hadn't made a fuss I imagine I'd still be waiting. Living in the UK has many advantages, but being able to take advantage of available technology is not one of them, unless you live in London or another of our large cities.
Maybe one day our backward looking old boy network of a government might realise that they are actually elected to represent the whole country and those of us who work hard and long hours to achieve something, rather than their parasite chums In the city of London who make money by moving money around. (And we all know how that worked out!) They bang on and on about an 'enterprise economy' but don't seem inclined to provide us with the tools to achieve that. Perhaps one day things will change, but I suspect endless and pointless discussions about whether or not we should stay in or opt of the EU will take priority. However one small corner of Worcestershire had finally joined the World Wide Web in a meaningful and useful way and that is a nice Christmas present. But oh what might have been.......
And there ends this foray into economic politics. Normal service (i.e. A discussion of the relative merits of photographic gear designed and manufactured halfway across the world) will resume tomorrow.