Free fibre broadband for everyone is in the news, due to the "sales pitches" by Labour & Conservatives in the General Election campaign.

However, did you know that everyone in the UK would likely already have fibre connections, had Margaret Thatcher not forced BT to sell off their world-class factories in 1991?

According to Dr Peter Cochrane, former CTO at BT, this is what happened:

Interestingly, the article suggests that fibre broadband was strangled in the USA for a similar reason: the enforced breakup of AT&T.

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@fitheach Don't forget what a mess the big orgs like AT&T and BT were/are - it's very hopeful thinking the world would have been better not having split them up. It took long enough for BT to let anyone else make a phone that they'd let you plugin. There are places in the US that do have full fibre (e.g. Verizon FIOS).
The mistake wasn't splitting them up - it was not being tougher and forcing the remains to get their act together.

Of course, you can never be sure how a situation may have developed, had you taken path B instead of A. There is a nice wee film starring Gwyneth Paltrow, called Sliding Doors (1998), which explores this idea.

Privatising BT may, or may not, have been beneficial, but the loss of the manufacturing facilities must've been a blow. Fitted with Thatcher's idea of making the UK a service economy, rather making things. Same ethos replicated elsewhere.

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