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Free Beer and Bagels!



I’m trying to think of any product or service that gets piped into my house that’s free – but with the exception of air and domestic abuse I’m stuck. I pay for water, electricity, gas and TV so what’s so special about superfast broadband that it should be free like the NHS and education?

Jeremy Corbyn reckons it should be not just free, but also government owned. The roads are government owned but of course every car owner has to pay tax to use them. Railway tracks are government owned but we pay to use the trains on them. So why free broadband?

Those of us old enough to have been around in the days when the Civil Service ran the telephone service – the good old General Post Office (GPO) – can remember the utter shambles it was. If you think BT today is a shambles you’re right, but in comparison to when the government ran it it’s super-slick and efficient. Well I say the government ran it, it didn’t. A unionised monopoly controlled it for the good of its members. To pay for it the government just hiked the prices up every year. You can do that with a monopoly.

In London where I was a student recruit, there was a 6 month wait for a telephone line, network engaged tone on 2 out of 5 dialled calls and you never saw a field engineer after lunch. Promotion was by way of dead man’s shoes and “Buggins’ turn” regardless of how useless Buggins was. Nothing mattered because nobody cared about profit and efficiency; there was massive overemployment and underwork.

But this free beer lark is just from the nationalisation of BT Openreach, god knows I dislike Virgin, TalkTalk and especially Sky but they too have invested in building broadband networks (as have we) and it looks like they aren’t going to be compensated for losing their businesses.

And, by-the-way, hands up, who’s happy with the government having total access to all our data from use of the Internet?

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