To be in or out? That is the question.

Some of you are firmly convinced we should leave the EU, others equally convinced we should stay and I guess some don't know or don't even care.

The topic is vast, with a million different aspects to consider, and I'm certainly not qualified to talk about most of them - certainly not any financial aspects.

But I've spent most of my working life in telecoms, marketing and business strategy and have built up a store of knowledge on which I base my opinions, which I believe I can justify.

If we take one slice of telecoms that affects us all - internet access - and consider this debate from that perspective. I think we all have experienced a less than satisfactory service with regard to speed and reliability, both of which are dictated by the network infrastructure that prevails - that of copper wire and the inconvenient laws of physics that can't be overcome.

You may have heard in the last couple of weeks about David Cameron's "Universal Service Obligation" (USO) referring to the "right to request" a minimum speed of 10Mbps, wherever you happen to live. Note the wording "the right to request". 

This is NOT the same as the right to RECEIVE, and in my view is nothing more than weasely words coming out of Downing Street, written by BT, supported by the less than neutral Ed Vaizey, and there are no detailed plans as to how this will be achieved. In a competitive market, if it could be done it would have been done. But it hasn't been done, because it can't be done, if the status quo remains.

What does "the EU" have to say on the matter of internet access? The EU has what they refer to as the EU Digital Agenda. There are a number of "pillars" to the Digital Agenda, one of which concerns internet access.

The EU Digital Agenda says in respect of internet access:

"To match world leaders like South Korea and Japan, Europe needs download rates of 30 Mbps for all of its citizens and at least 50% of European households subscribing to internet connections above 100 Mbps by 2020.”

So the EU is saying that as a minimum, 100% of the population should have download speeds 3 x faster than Cameron's 10Mbps "USO", and half the population should have speeds 10x faster. Note that on copper networks, the upload speed equates roughly to 10% of the download speed.

So if we leave the EU, we'll need to compete against the EU. And this means we need to have better internet access than the EU. Which means we need an even more ambitious programme than the EU. By 2020. In five year's time.

If we stay in the EU, we need to at least match the more ambitious EU Digital Agenda than Cameron's USO.

So. Either way you look at it, Cameron's selling us short and his USO should have said "100% of the people should have the right to have delivered speeds of at least 100Mbps download and upload.”

Had he done this, and not caved into the vested interests of the status quo, then stay or leave we really would have had the world's best broadband network because to deliver this USO would require replacing the current asymmetric copper and fibre access network with a 21st century symmetrical fully optical one, capable of delivering 1000Mbps symmetrical wherever you happen to live.

Chris Conder, the leading light of the rural fibre optic broadband project B4RN, just got awarded an MBE for for doing exactly this. On her visit to London, this is the bandwidth she experienced at the Ritz, compared to the bandwidth she enjoys in rural Lancashire.

The irony is as delicious as the afternoon tea and cakes.

Lancs vs London

Lancs vs London