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New PAC report on rural broadband programme

Today the Public Accounts Committee publishes another report on the government’s rural broadband programme.

This latest report from the PAC reinforces previous views it has articulated about the scheme. Namely the lack of competition in supply of services following the procurement process, the need for improvement in cost transparency, processes to ensure value for money and the need for further detail on roll-out plans. (more…)

New BSG report reveals SMEs are not capitalising on potential of broadband and technology

A new report published today by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) identifies that SMEs are not yet unlocking the commercial potential of online activity and new technologies.

The report entitled Capitalising on Connectivity: Realising the benefits of broadband for UK Small and Medium Sized Enterprises identifies that despite estimates that increasing the digital capabilities of the UK’s SMEs can unlock economic returns of £18.8 billion (ref 1) evidence tells us that SMEs are not capitalising as best they might on this lever for economic growth (ref 2).

This report considers current data on SME engagement with connectivity, policy initiatives to support SME use of broadband and technology, alongside new BSG research.

It makes five recommendations regarding how to better understand SME use of technology and incentivise further take-up and exploitation of connectivity: (more…)

CEO’s monthly update – infrastructure and usage looks longer-term

Pamela LearmonthThe beginning of February saw the Department of Culture, Media and Sport issue the Terms of Reference of their Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy, a piece due for full publication by the end of 2014 which will consider what steps need to be taken to ensure that the UK has the right infrastructure in place to meet the needs of users in 2025-30 and ensure that the UK remains a leading digital nation. We are pleased that our 2014 programme of work can play an important role in helping industry and government work together on assessing these longer term needs beyond the current BDUK rollout, so watch this space for further information and inputs on the strategy.

And that wasn’t the only piece of work looking at the longer-term picture in the UK, as the BSG took at trip to Speaker’s House for the launch of a report from the Tinder Foundation and Go ON UK, which costed a digitally included Britain for the first time. A Leading Digital Nation by 2020 estimated that national commitment to ensure basic online skills for everyone by 2020 would cost £875 million – an annual investment of £146 million over a 6-year period. These efforts in costing are to be welcomed as we consider how tackling digital inclusion can drive greater social and economic benefits from broadband-enabled use, an issue the BSG will continue to look at. (more…)

Tinder Foundation and Go ON UK publish report costing a digitally included Britain

Last week, the Tinder Foundation and Go ON published A Leading Digital Nation by 2020, providing for the first time an estimate for the investment needed to create a 100% digitally skilled nation.

A national commitment to ensure basic online skills for everyone by 2020 would cost some £875 million – an annual investment of £146 million over a 6-year period.

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BSG CEO on expert panel for Broadband Genie and PC Advisor Home Broadband Survey 2014

Our CEO Pamela Learmonth was amongst a number of industry experts for the Broadband Genie and PC Advisor Home Broadband Survey 2014.

On Monday, Plusnet, Virgin Media, Sky and Gigaclear were announced as the winners of the 2014 Home Broadband Survey, an examination of the state of UK broadband carried out by comparison site BroadbandGenie.co.uk and technology magazine PCAdvisor.co.uk. (more…)

Job vacancy at BSG: Policy Manager

The BSG is currently recruiting for a new Policy Manager. For full details please see the full advert on the techUK website.

Our current Policy Manager, Charlotte Holloway, will be taking on a newly created role with our partners at techUK as Head of Policy at the beginning of March.

DCMS publishes Terms of Reference for Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy to 2025

DCMS has today published the Terms of Reference of the Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy, as was announced in the Connectivity, Content and Consumers policy paper last July. This strategy will play an important role in ensuring that the UK has the right infrastructure in place to meet the needs of users in 2025-30 and ensure that the UK remains a leading digital nation.

The Terms of Reference cite BSG’s work on future domestic bandwidth requirements in the document, and the BSG will continue to work closely with DCMS on this area, as part of our 2014 work programme. DCMS has said it is keen to gather views on future demand for connectivity, the drivers for that demand, how this demand can be met and who needs to do what to ensure our infrastructure is capable of meeting user demand over the next 10-15 years. (more…)

CEO’s monthly update – 2014: a busy quarter ahead

Pamela Learmonth2014 promises much for those in the broadband industry, and it’s all eyes to the policy sphere to help smooth the way for rollout and take-up of connectivity to realise the social and economic gains for the UK.

The first quarter of 2014 alone promises much in the way of further detail on the Government’s Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy, the £250m BDUK superfast extension programme and the £10m innovation fund. From DCMS, we can also expect the publication of the Spectrum Strategy, and from the GDS team in the Cabinet Office the forthcoming Digital Inclusion Strategy can be expected to have reverberations across government. In UK Parliament, the Consumer Rights Bill has been introduced and the Intellectual Property Bill is progressing, currently at amendments stage. In Europe, all eyes to Commissioner Kroes as the Connected Continent package has a limited amount of time to pass before election season. (more…)

Future bandwidth demand features at CES 2014

Another new year, another Consumer Electronics Show, where Las Vegas plays host to the latest developments in consumer technology. There’s been plenty of coverage on the weird and the wonderful in the press, but at the BSG we’ve been interested to note a growing conversation about bandwidth needs for the cutting edge products poised to dominate the market.

UHDTV or 4K video streaming has been a notable highlight. Firstly, Google showcased their low-bandwidth 4K YouTube streaming called VP9, and have been working closely with a range of the big electronics firms and device manufacturers on its implementation. Netflix also took to the stage to promote its 4K services, with CEO Reed Hastings stating will require 15Mb/s of bandwidth compressed using HEVC. Interestingly, Broadcom also announced 5G Wi-Fi chips for tripling bandwidth in wireless home networking. (more…)

CEO’s monthly update – innovation, vouchers and the UK’s future bandwidth needs

Pamela LearmonthIt’s been a non-stop 2013 for broadband and telecommunications policy, and the last month has been no exception. New money for innovative technologies for the hardest to connect areas of the UK was announced by Danny Alexander MP in the form of a £10m new fund – read our roundup of what the Autumn Statement and National Infrastructure Strategy announcements mean for the broadband community here.

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Vaizey hails urban vouchers as 'breaking new ground', as scheme rolls out in 22 cities

SCCThe Vouchers component of the Government’s Super Connected Cities programme (also known as the Urban Broadband Fund) launched across 22 cities as part of Small Business Saturday on Saturday 7 December. The voucher scheme represents up to £100 million of the £150 million being overseen by BDUK and managed by cities to provide a step change in connectivity for businesses in urban areas.

Today in a written statement to parliament, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey MP said that “the market tests in 5 cities over the summer have showed that suppliers and SMEs want to participate in the Scheme, with over 60 suppliers registered for the market tests and an increasing number now registering for the full scheme.” (more…)

New money for innovative technologies as 2017 superfast broadband landscape becomes clearer

The Government has treated the broadband community to a new announcement and restatements of intent as part of this week’s Autumn Statement and National Infrastructure Plan.

The main new funding announcement from yesterday’s National Infrastructure Plan was the opening of a £10 million competitive fund in 2014 to market test innovative solutions, delivering superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas of the UK. The BSG welcomes this fund; an intelligent blend of different technologies (including fixed, mobile and other solutions) will be crucial in reaching the government’s ambition for 99% access to superfast broadband by 2018. (more…)

UK Broadband Impact Study published

The DCMS-commissioned UK Broadband Impact Study by SQW was released yesterday morning, and was welcomed by Culture Secretary Maria Miller MP who said “What this report shows us is that as well as superfast broadband being good for economic growth it will make even more of a positive impact on the way we live, helping us work more productively and get online faster.”

The study estimates that the availability and take-up of faster broadband speeds will add about £17 billion to UK GVA by 2024. This level of uplift contributes an average of 0.07 % to real annual GVA growth over this period.

The study estimates the following economic results relating to interventions made by the Government’s broadband programme: (more…)

BSG publishes new model for analysing domestic demand for bandwidth

Today the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) published a report outlining a new way for measuring and forecasting demand for bandwidth in UK homes. The group called for greater policy attention to be given to how demand relates to infrastructure provision.

Pamela Learmonth, CEO of the BSG said, “Despite global interest in whether broadband infrastructure is currently meeting demand and will continue to do so, there is a lack of evidence and methodology available to inform this critical question. This was our key motivation for commissioning new research in this area and this study presents a technology-neutral approach to forecasting demand, rooted in the applications consumers want to access.

The model for forecasting bandwidth demand, used in the BSG’s report, combines the usage profiles of various applications with the usage of profiles of individuals.  These individual profiles are then combined into various household profiles. 156 household profiles are modelled in the report, based on demographics, intensity of use and TV type. The household profiles have also been combined to create a picture of national demand. (more…)

CEO's monthly update – parliament gets back into the swing of things?

Pamela LearmonthA short update from me this time as I return from speaking to the World Economic Forum on how we deliver on digital infrastructure, after a September punctuated by party conference season and the publication of the Public Accounts Committee report following the enquiry into rural broadband.

There’s been lots of activity over at Ofcom, with Chief Executive Ed Richards challenging the industry to deliver on switching. Ofcom published their Spectrum Management Strategy which will review Ofcom’s approach to and priorities for spectrum management over the next ten years. This comes soon after the launch of the Intellect-led Spectrum Forum supported by Minister Ed Vaizey (check out the #SpectrumFuture hashtag from updates and discussion from the day). (more…)