Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications

  • Is this site really necessary?
  • Don't 'free' ISPs kill your argument?
  • Unmetered local calls will never happen
  • But electricity and gas are metered
  • The problem is the cost of PCs
  • The network can't cope!
  • Dial 999 for unmetered
  • Metered local call charges are reasonable
  • Why should I pay for someone else's calls?
  • Computer gamers will cause trouble
  • ISP charges would replace phone charges
  • An American Mythbuster
  • Unmetered calls would trouble ISPs
  • People on low incomes would be affected
  • Unmetered calls would favour the South-East
  • The network can't cope!

    One of the reasons most often used against unmetered telecommunications is that the telephone network would not be able to cope with any increased usage that could result from its introduction. This is one of the most common arguments used by the public-facing parts of BT and other telecommunications operators. However, this myth has little to do with reality. But don't take our word for it - who better to scotch it than Peter Cochrane, Head of Research at BT Laboratories?

    The following extract comes from a 1996 Channel 4 documentary entitled "Visions of Heaven and Hell". It is available in Real format, so you will need RealPlayer 5 or better to run the clip. If you don't already have it installed you can get the latest version free from RealNetworks.

    If you can't view the video clip, here's a transcription:

    'In the last fifteen years we've seen quite a revolution in the role of technology. Let me show you.'

    [Brandishes a thick copper cable]

    'The cable here, which is basically a 1930s design, is able to transport a thousand simultaneous telephone calls on copper-pair.'

    [picks up a more modern cable, with the same diameter, but containing within tubes of smaller cables]

    'From just thirty years ago, here is a cable that could transport ten times this number of talkers in ONE of these coaxial tubes. So not a thousand, but ten thousand in one of these tubes. And there are eighteen of them [in the cable of the same diameter]. So instead of a thousand telephone calls, it's ten thousand telephone calls times eighteen tubes, in about the same volume.'

    [picks up an optical fibre strand which is so thin to be barely visible]

    'Now what is really quite remarkable is this optical fibre. Now, thousands of these [points to the modern copper cable package] will go on one of these optical fibres. That's as thick as a human hair. We have installed in the UK three million kilometres of optical fibre. It is made from only 90 tons of sand. There is enough communications capacity on there [points to the single fibre he is holding] for every man, woman and child on the planet to talk twice over at the same time.'

    Peter Cochrane, Head of Research, BT Laboratories, speaking on 'Visions of Heaven and Hell', Channel 4, 1996.

    What more needs to be said?

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