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Genmar IT managing director Garry Moore on the UK's under-investment in broadband, crytocurrencies and passwords using Olympic sports

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Garry Moore, managing director of Bishop's Stortford's Genmar IT, writes for the Indie...

Genmar is celebrating 25 years in business this year. Throughout this time, slow broadband speed has been an issue for many – both business and residential – and a particular bugbear for me.

I have lost count of the many promises made by those in government to ensure "superfast" broadband roll-out across the UK, none of which have been delivered. Today we are rated as having the 22nd slowest broadband speeds out of 29 European countries – this feat has been realised after falling 13 places by the end of 2020.

The near total reliance on the internet during Covid has proven the need for reliable, fast access and to find ourselves so low in this league table just goes to show the incompetence of our government and the disregard they have for the people who put their trust in them.

Mr Johnson and co enthuse about the future of the UK and their plans to resurrect us as the new "Singapore-on-Thames", but with our outdated infrastructure, some of it put in place over 100 years ago, it would be like Switzerland deciding to become the next naval superpower.

The reason behind this is quite simple – we have allowed BT to run a monopoly and under invest with little or no interference from Ofcom or the Government.

Genmar IT celebrated its 25th anniversary with a party for employees and families - centre, MD Garry Moore (pink top) and, to his left, general manager and son James Moore. Pic: Vikki Lince. (50751881)
Genmar IT celebrated its 25th anniversary with a party for employees and families - centre, MD Garry Moore (pink top) and, to his left, general manager and son James Moore. Pic: Vikki Lince. (50751881)

The main issue we have is the roll-out of FTTP (bear with me). In order to get really fast broadband, we need to update the physical cabling. Most areas of the UK now have FTTC, which means the exchanges have been digitalised and the cable from them to the green boxes on the roadside have been upgraded from copper to fibre optic (fibre to the cabinet). The cable from the cabinet to the premises is still copper and the distance from the cabinet to the premises is the main factor in how fast your connection is (the shorter the better), together with the number of lines connected to a cabinet.

FTTP replaces the copper with fibre (fibre to the premises), removing the issue of distance while connecting you directly to the exchange (and on to your ISP). In theory this will mean speeds of up to 900mbps, roughly 25 times faster than FTTC. However, BT is finding this very difficult, concentrating its small efforts in areas of dense population and leaving the rest of the country back in the dark ages.

To fill the gap between FTTC and FTTP, BT has recently announced a new technology called GFast. Rather than rely on replacing physical infrastructure, GFast uses a combination of very complicated software and hardware at the exchange to allow broadband speeds to increase 10 fold.

Oddly, BT is not promoting this at all, relying instead on third parties to sell it for them. As usual with new tech, there are a lot of promises about the speed and reliability, but, with this in its infancy, I guess we will see soon enough.

Cryptocurrencies bounce back

After the unprecedented increase in cryptocurrencies in late 2020, seeing some like Bitcoin increase in value by nearly 500%, the drop of over 50% in May/June this year saw many pulling out of the market.

Since mid July, the market has bounced back by over 50%, encouraging many small investors to buy back in.

However, this market is not for the faint of heart. Not only is it extremely volatile, it is mainly unregulated with many of the exchanges used to trade being hacked, seeing investors lose everything. This year alone saw £500 million taken from customers of the Chinese exchange platform Poly Network.

Olympic passwords

Latest research shows people are creating passwords based on events and athletes, with "football" "baseball" and "hockey" the most common.

While it is great to see people so enthused by the event, it is not recommended that you base your cyber security on it. Similarly, last year we saw many passwords using "corona" and "lockdown" or their own name.

Working with over 2,000 individuals, we know that it is not easy to keep up with changing your password regularly and ensuring it conforms to recommendations – no real names or words, use of special characters and symbols and to change regularly.

But the cost of not following these rules is likely to be far more disruptive. If you do not have a password policy in place at work, we strongly suggest you consider using a password manager and/or two-factor ID. If you don't know what this is then feel free to call for some free advice.

Go to https://genmar.co.uk/ for more information.

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