BSG Rural Broadband Report:bsg
The Impact of Public Sector Interventions on Broadband in Rural Areas
Significant barriers exist to the extension of mass-market broadband coverage to rural areas. In some of the most remote parts of the country, the economics are so challenging that it is reasonable to assume that the market will probably not deliver to 100% of the population in the foreseeable future without some form of public sector intervention or support. To that end, in some areas of the UK, public sector funding/support may be required to ensure coverage. However, determining the appropriate level and mechanism to intervene will need to be considered in the context of the long-term impact on competition.
In recognition of this, the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) developed the GBP30 million UK Broadband Fund to help RDAs and Devolved Administrations stimulate supply and demand for broadband services in rural areas. This fund helped spawn the creation of many initiatives and models of public sector intervention.
With the UK Broadband Fund coming to an end, and in light of e-Commerce Minister Stephen Timms recent call for broadband coverage to be extended to every community by the end of 2005, as well as recent announcements from BT regarding their demand registration campaign, it is important to look at what types of initiatives have worked and what have not and what the requirements for public sector intervention might be going forward. The overall question is how do all of these initiatives impact on the Government’s objective to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005 as well as the achievement of availability to 100% of communities by the end of 2005.
The purpose of this report therefore is to provide a picture of where we currently stand with regard to the deployment and take-up of broadband in rural areas.
In addition to this report the BSG has recently published a wireless report ‘Options for accelerating the deployment of terrestrial fixed and portable wireless broadband services by 2005’. It is recommended that these reports are read together in order to gain a better picture of the full range of commercial and public sector and regulatory initiatives aimed at extending broadband coverage to rural areas.