Someone, somewhere, needs to cover the costs of connecting people to infrastructure. Say it costs £50 to do so, someone will be making revenue of £20 a month by having done so, the connection needs to be made once and once only. We're pretty sure that some Coasean private sector bargain can be made to cover that. Perhaps a connection charge to the user, perhaps the supplier looking to that pelf and gilt that can be made and regarding it as an investment.
Now keep that monthly fee at £20 and posit that the connection charge is £50,000. The supplier won't make that back so there are only two viable options. The consumer coughs up or there's some subsidy arrangement.
Our general rule for all such things, broadband, roads, electricity, sewage and so on is that a charge is imposed upon the user. At times and in locations maybe the supplier will swallow it but significant distances from extant infrastructure are charged for, openly. Sadly, it seems that Grant Shapps is ignorant of this basic fact:
BT Openreach is charging rural residents more than £5,000 to connect their homes to the internet.
Some isolated villages can't get basic broadband because they are too far from the telephone exchanges owned by BT.
But, rather than extend its network, BT Openreach is telling communities they must raise as much as £58,000 among themselves to fund improvements.
Critics say that this is the equivalent of charging homeowners to install wires to carry electricity into their homes.
MPs say internet access is a vital utility and accuse BT of charging rural households for work it should be funding.
Grant Shapps, chair of the British Infrastructure Group of MPs (BIG), says: 'People in rural areas are being ripped off by BT.
'It can't be right that having been denied proper internet access for years, the solution offered is for residents to pay for the infrastructure themselves.
'Nowadays, broadband is one of life's essential services, like electricity, and you'd never expect the public to pay for the wires to be laid to switch on the lights.'
Not so Mr. Shapps, not so. Here's Ofgem:
How do I get a connection?
The first step is to contact your DNO. Their websites will tell you how to reach them. You’ll need to provide details of your requirements. The DNO will give you a quote for the work. You don’t have to use your DNO for all connection services. You can go to an independent connections provider or IDNO for some services instead.
What will I have to pay for?
You’ll need to pay for the cost of the work in advance. The cost will depend on factors including where you’re located and the amount of electricity you will need. The price will cover: the cost of assets solely for your use a proportion of the cost of reinforcing the network, if needed. The DNO must calculate the cost of the work using its connection charging methodology. Each DNO publishes this on their website. We approve this methodology, but we don’t approve the individual charges it works out.
People are charged to be connected to electricity. As they are to water, sewage and, at times, the road system. Because someone, somewhere, has to pay those costs and it might as well be the people who will benefit, the people who thereby gain those services.
We have to admit that we don't mind lobbying, we've been known to make the odd suggestion or two to government ourselves. But we do think it preferable to make such suggestions from a position of some awareness of extant reality. Picky of us certainly, but you know....