Can Kicking Expertise
The UK is not alone — but we do it so much better
Gold medals can get awarded for all manner of sporting competitions, but to win the European Can Kicking Championships requires a very special ability. The winner is the country that doesn’t want to compete and kicks the can furthest down the road.
Beyond the long grass lies a mountain of kicked cans and, on top of heap, sits the UK’s can of full fibre worms. The UK is, of course, not entirely alone — but, sir, we do it so much better. We can denigrate investments as ‘subsidies’, hype narrow to be broad, declare targets as aspirations (maybe), claim that slow is shockingly fast, and please don’t get me started on the will of the minority. Even our national identity can be fudged as ‘sort of’ (ish).
It is no surprise, therefore, that in an assessment of the capacity for Reality Facing across European economies, the UK trails, but reigns supreme in kicking cans down the road. Difficult for researchers to assess, you’d think, for there are surely so many potential indicators. For the avoidance of Gross National Depression, it is so much more fun/creative to think up displacement activities rather than facing and sorting the issues. Even better, perhaps, to deny that the problems really exist.
If that sounds just a little harsh, we could blame the virus for inadvertently exposing the issues — and a vaccine cannot arrive soon enough to smooth over the cracks. In this disquieting year, almost all TV stations have been forced to rely on remote contributors. Every evening we endure, frozen faces, distorted audio, oddly fragmented, stuttering, conversations, buffered bits and crashed connections — demonstrating the daily deficiencies of our digital connectivity.
Even if we avoid TV news programmes, our trying to work from home is equally fraught — except perhaps for those lucky few who never believed the marketing hype of the old telecoms brigade with their cables and copper of previous eras.
Today’s report published by the FTTH Council, ‘Identifying Best Practice in Fibre Advertising’, suggests that no-one can honestly expect Advertising Standards Authorities to understand much more than the interests of the advertising industry.
‘Actions have been taken in a number of countries — including France, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands — to address “misleading advertising” in relation to fibre. These actions, which include legislation, regulations, guidelines and court decisions, have been justified on the grounds that misleading advertising prevents consumers from making an informed choice and affects competition in the market, by depriving investors in fibre of the ability to clearly differentiate their offers from other services which do not provide the same degree of quality and reliability.
‘A review of the schemes that have been introduced around Europe, clearly demonstrate that the strongest and most effective forward-looking interventions in the market have been driven by the National Regulatory Authority or Digital/Telecom Ministry of the country in question rather than the ASA.’
If consumers are misled, they suggest, it would be far better to expect the Ofcoms of this world to get the older carriers to mend their ways. Some hope. At a time when foot-shooting has never been more popular, that’s like expecting them to defy the willingness of the people to be deceived. Somewhere there’s probably a government department devoted to explaining the subtle distinctions between being misled and being misguided — their work may come in handy over the next few months in the UK’s spinning industry.
Full marks to the Fibre To The Home Council Europe for telling us what is already blindingly obvious. Meanwhile the grand Prime Ministerial promises of nationwide Full Fibre coverage have been downgraded to just 85% and a rear-guard action by cable providers redefines their performance as gigabit-ish. And Ofcom has scheduled a work item for next year to think about the possibility of maybe looking for the can of fibre worms in the long grass and, perhaps, kicking it a little further on.