Data check

Making broadband free for all is eminently sensible

What is data? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself as currently I’m in the middle of changing my broadband provider.

For the last year I’ve had limited broadband: 18 gigabytes a month.

What you notice when your broadband is restricted is just how much rubbish there is on the internet. The reason you notice it is because you’re paying for it.

Every time you get one of those moving adverts which slows down the rate at which the page downloads, it’s eating up your data.

In other words, not only are the advertisers insinuating themselves between you and what you want to see, but you are paying for the privilege.

It’s the same with those adverts at the beginning of YouTube videos: you know, the ones where they say your video will start in 6 seconds and there’s a little timer in the corner telling you how long you have left to wait. That’s your data they are using.

Personally when I see one of those adverts I vow never to buy the product. So it’s a case of negative advertising in my case: the more they advertise, the less I want to buy.

This is true of all advertisers on the internet. They are stealing your data in order to throw unwanted material at you.

So what are we paying for exactly?

According to my on-line dictionary data is “the quantities, characters and symbols on which operations are performed by a computer.”

In other words – and put more simply – it is language.

Just as the spoken word is language transmitted by vibrations in the air in the form of conversation, and the written word is language transmitted by inscribed symbols on the page in the form of literature, so data is the digital word: language transmitted by electrical signals through copper wire or fibre optics in the form of the internet.

And how much do electrical signals cost? The answer is, virtually nothing.

Data has no weight, no mass and no volume. It costs nothing to move around. It is free, or virtually free, and yet we are being charged to use it. The only cost is on the outlay, on the investment in the equipment. After that there is no work involved. It is all done by algorithms.

When Corbyn promised full-fibre broadband for all, free at the point of use, during the election, he was rounded on by the press. The Daily Mail called the policy “crackpot” and “communist”. Actually it was eminently sensible.

Currently just 7% of households in the UK receive full-fibre broadband. In Spain it is 71%. In Japan it is 99%.

No one argues with the idea that the state should pay for our road infrastructure, and that it should be free at the point of use. It’s the same with schools and libraries. Why not a national communication network, a language medium for the 21st century?

I only hope the next Labour leader, whoever it turns out to be, will continue with the policy.

*************

From The Whitstable Gazette 05/03/20

The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.

Send letters to: The Editor, Room B119 Canterbury College, New Dover Road, Canterbury CT1 3AJ

Phone: 01227 475985

fax: 01227 762415

email: kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

So you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn

So you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

How do you know you don’t like him? Have you met him? Have you spoken to him? Did he come round to your house and kick your dog?

No. You saw him on the telly. He was bit scruffy and he didn’t know how to do his tie up properly. He didn’t bow his head enough at the cenotaph. He didn’t sing the national anthem. What else do you know about him? He’s an anti-Semite and a terrorist sympathiser is he? Google it. Where can you find an actual anti-Semitic or pro-terrorist statement? You can’t, because there are none.

You like his policies. You want railways and other utilities back in public hands. You don’t see why foreign-based state-owned rail companies should be taking profits from our subsidised rail system. You want to see our Health Service properly funded. You don’t want to see it sold off in a trade deal with the Americans. You don’t want to see our nurses using food banks. You think that corporations that use our infrastructure should be properly taxed. You are against tax havens and tax cuts for the rich. You are fed up with foreign wars.

But you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

Shall I tell you a secret? We don’t live in a democracy. You think it’s one person, one vote and that the will of the majority should prevail? It’s not. You get your vote, your thirty seconds of choice, between the man with the red rosette and the man with the blue rosette, but it’s the will of the most well-off that prevails. Power resides in the hands of those who have the most wealth, and governments do their bidding, not yours. So the choices you get are the choices between one set of wealthy people’s priorities and another, between one brand of free-market capitalism and another: between the blue Tories and the red Tories, Tory-heavy and Tory-lite. Your choices don’t come into it.

But you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

We’ve had relentless negativity about him since he first appeared on the scene. Why would that be? Maybe it’s because he’s offering you a real choice. For the first time in a generation, those are your priorities being set out before you, as a set of policies, not those of the wealthy elite. The same policies brought to you by the 1945 Labour government, and by governments across the Scandinavian world. Not extremist policies: Social Democratic policies. Policies that are known to work. So, unable to attack the policies, they attack the man.

It’s been non-stop, day-in and day-out, since he first won the Labour leadership, from every branch of the establishment. From the BBC, from the Guardian, from the government, from members of the Labour Party, those whose career trajectory has been knocked off track. From the Daily Mail and the Sun. Is it any wonder you don’t like him really? If the BBC told you that cornflakes were bad for you, and repeated this message every day for five years, chances are you wouldn’t like cornflakes either.

A friend of mine asked me why the Labour Party didn’t pick a more charismatic leader, a more handsome leader, someone who looked good on the telly?

That’s because we were fed up with Tory-lite. We were fed up with only getting the choice between one form of free-market capitalism and another. We were fed up with being told that if you didn’t pick the policies that suited the wealthy elite, you wouldn’t get into power. But what’s the point of power without principles? Tony Blair got us into power. He was handsome, charismatic and he looked good on telly, but look where he took us: into an illegal war in Iraq that has caused devastation across the Middle East, and terrorism across the world.

He also, coincidentally started the process of privatising the NHS. In other words, Tony Blair was a Tory, not a socialist.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is refusing to talk to Andrew Neil, refusing to meet the public except in carefully stage-managed photo-ops, refusing to take unvetted questions from the likes of you and I. He’s being sold to us like a commodity, like a soap powder brand or a type of washing up liquid. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Hands that do dishes. It’s an advertising slogan not a political platform. How many of you know what his actual policies are?

So this is my appeal to you. So you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn. Fair enough. But let’s look past the individuals and instead look at the policies. Take a look at the Labour Manifesto, then take a look at the Tory Manifesto. Weigh them up and consider them. How many of these policies are for you and your family, and how many are for the wealthy elites?

Meanwhile, to get a sense of what the Tories real priorities are, try these few sample facts out for size (follow links for verification).

Since being in power the Tories have:-

  • increased the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK by 183%
  • increased homelessness by 165%
  • increased foodbank use by 3,800%
  • increased the national debt by 80%
  • increased outsourcing to private companies in the NHS by £15 billion (since 2015)

And you say you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn? Maybe it’s time think again.

Up ↑