The importance of digital inclusion for rural communities

Image result for digital inclusion farmingBack in the 1990s I was running the business team at a company called CableTel South Wales, later to become NTL and now, Virgin Media.

We were building the first fibre networks to deliver TV and Telephone services and of course this new “big thing” called “The Internet”.

Even then we were concerned that this new connection to a “digital superhighway” could widen the gap between developed and developing regions in Wales. Has that changed? Or do we still live in a multi-speed country in terms of access to and performance of our digital lives? I think we do. Continue reading “The importance of digital inclusion for rural communities”

The Blog is Back

openFor the last 8 or 9 months, I’ve been trying to rescue my Blog. The web hosting company that was supposed to be caring for it started to lose interest some time ago and as a result, it’s been off the air for far too long but as of today, it’s back online – albeit at this new  and more Wales focused address.

It’s been really frustrating not being able to post in recent months, especially as there have been some pretty important things happening this year on subjects dear to my heart:

  • I landed a brilliant new job in January at the Farmers’ Union of Wales
  • We had an election here in Wales in May
  • There was a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union
  • The fallout from the Referendum and its political upheaval
  • Conflict continues in many parts of the world and terror has spread in Europe

Having now got things back on track I plan to pick up my pen (keyboard!) and get commenting once again, whilst also patching up some of the broken bits of the site.


PS: If you want to host a website somewhere – I would not recommend Extendnet!

Could more be done for Wales with the City Deal?

The City Deal is a Treasury driven stimulus for empowering local areas to drive growth by putting greater resources and financial freedoms into the hands of local leaders and it is gaining much attention in Wales. It has the potential to deliver an extra investment of circa £1billion and if used wisely might have a significant and long-term impact on the economy of a region.

But could it also have an impact on Wales? After all, we are a small country in terms of population and could, with a bit of effort and innovative thinking, develop a plan that might transform the country rather than just a single city-region. My belief is that if can but to do so we will need to think and operate differently to the way things are currently aligned. Continue reading “Could more be done for Wales with the City Deal?”

Leadership and Talk Talk

I met Dido Harding a year or 2 back when she spoke at the Cardiff Business Club. She made a great impact on me as someone who is an inspiring leader, willing and able to get to the heart of the action and she clearly had exciting ambitions for the growth of the company that she was so obviously proud to lead. Not often do I see people in leadership positions that I instantly want to work with, but she was definitely one of them and I’m convinced that to work with her would be exciting, challenging and great, but very rewarding, fun.

Sadly today she is suffering an enormous challenge as a result of a cyber attack on the Talk-Talk systems. Many in similar positions in the past have hidden the issues from the public or tried to downplay the risks and challenges they have faced. But to her absolute credit she is out there, working the media airwaves, as the real leader of her company. Her message is a difficult one to deliver and it will be a challenge to convince people in the long term, but without doubt Talk-Talk has a remarkably fine leader at the helm and one I would still want to work with.

Can Rugby history repeat itself?

The line up for the Haka would not be this close today.

I was there in 2007, in Cardiff, when France took on New Zealand in the Quarter Final of the Rugby World Cup. It was one of those nights when you just knew that something was going to happen. From the moment I walked into the stadium and sat watching the teams warm-up it was clear that we were about to see a moment in rugby history. And the expectation was met, in spades.

France were “up for it” in a very French way and perhaps no more so than the way that they stood up to the Maori Challenge before the game started. It was the start of one of those great moments of sporting theatre and I hope we see the same excitement again this weekend as the 2 countries go head-to-head in this year’s RWC.

The final score that night was New Zealand 18 v France 20, a truly fantastic match that did both teams proud. Same again this weekend? Let’s hope so – whatever the result.


Whose Call is it Anyway?

nuiscane callsMost days, around about 3.15 the phone rings. Sometimes it’s just quiet at the other end, other times it’s someone from a spurious call center business with a very official-sounding name like the “National Free Window Replacement Service”. Whoever it is, they never leave their number.

If I dial 1471 to check on their calling number I invariably get a message that includes “The caller withheld their number”. And the perceived wisdom is that that is the end of the matter.

But why should it be like that? The caller has just broken the law – my number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service to stop nuisance calls and call centres that operate legally know how to suppress dialling machines to stop listed numbers from being called. So on a point of law we ought to trace these people.

There’s something else that worries me: when telephone calls are made, phone companies like to charge for them. I remember that from when I setup CableTel South Wales, which grew to be NTL and eventually Virgin Media. And they way they charge is relatively simple, they capture bits of data to make a call record and that is the basis of the bill.

The call records consist of “A Ends” and “B Ends” – if my memory serves me correctly – and the A End is the calling party the B end the Called Party. The call record then says, in digital terms, “A” called “B” for XX Seconds at this time/date. Computers turn and bills are created.

But here’s the rub: the A End has to be associated to a phone number, otherwise the bill can’t be raised. So can someone please explain to me how it is that “the caller withheld his number” and yet the phone company can still raise a bill for the call they made. Someone somewhere is not telling the truth whilst some are making money just as some are making a nuisance.