Monday, July 06, 2009

BuddeBlog: Digital Britain in summary

Digital Britain in summary - taxes for an insufficient network lacking a broader vision

Henry Lancaster – Senior Analyst, Europe – BuddeComm


Missed opportunities
There are few governments which consider future IP networks in a larger framework. The UK is a case in point. When building a nation’s NGN, policy makers should take the opportunity to think big, which means thinking far beyond broadband as is currently perceived. At present, the Digital Britain report has taken a silo approach in that it addresses elements such as telecoms, content, radio and TV in isolation of each other.

The trans-sector approach, by which broadband taps into and co-ordinates with other sectors, is currently being championed by Australia, and under its example and guidance is being explored by New Zealand, The Netherlands and the USA. Other sectors include the use of IP infrastructure for a range of services, of which telecoms is only one. Bandwidth tenants will include government departments developing e-health and tele-education services (as well as the private sector doing the same), utilities managing their smart grids, security and entertainment firms, and a plethora of new and entrepreneurial services yet to be thought of. Applications such as e-health, tele-education and smart grids will together account for at least 50% of the digital infrastructure capacity, while broadband as we now know it will represent 10-15%. In effect, broadband will in future years become such a small component of overall IP-enabled services that it can provided for free, much as email and computer-to-computer VoIP are currently free.

So despite the posturing, the government faces a bleak fact: that without a broader vision and a coordinated approach to IP infrastructure it will be impossible to maximise the economic and social benefits from its Digital Britain initiative. This will be shameful for the government, and a pity for all citizens.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Digital Britain - Parliamentary inquiry

Parliament to probe Digital Britain plan | David Meyer | Published: 30 Jun 2009 12:47 BST

A parliamentary select committee is to check whether the recommendations proposed in the Digital Britain report are realistic, particularly those regarding broadband speed.

The Business and Enterprise Committee inquiry was announced on Monday. Many of the government's recommendations in Lord Carter's Digital Britain report, published earlier this month, require new legislation if they are to be put into practice.

According to a parliamentary spokesperson, the select committee's inquiry is intended to "inform the House to better amend legislation" when that legislation is put before MPs after the summer recess.

The cross-party committee will examine several questions. It will ask whether the 2Mbps universal baseline broadband speed is ambitious enough, and will also investigate whether ISPs are providing the speeds they promise to consumers.

The 50p-per-month levy on each fixed copper line, as proposed by Carter, will also come under scrutiny. This charge, if allowed by the new legislation, will feed into a fund that will be used to roll out high-speed next-generation broadband access in areas of the UK where commercial companies do not see a sufficient business case for investment.

The committee will also attempt to find out whether the government's plans for next-generation broadband access will work, and whether current regulation "strikes the right balance between ensuring fair competition and encouraging investment in next-generation networks".