Broadband coverage

Guest blog: 10 things to ask the new Minister for Digital Future by Mark Keenan, RealWireless

Just before Christmas, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published Connected Future, looking at what the UK needs to do to become a ‘world leader in 5G deployment’.

The media reporting focussed on the revelations that the UK’s 4G coverage is worse than that of Albania and Peru (a claim since questioned by Ofcom) and hailed 5G as the opportunity to put things right.

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Ofcom passes the USO back to Government

Ofcom today published their technical advice to Government on the design of a broadband Universal Service Obligation. Ofcom were instructed to deliver its “views, evidence-based analysis and…recommendations” by John Whittingdale, then Secretary of State for DCMS, in March 2016. It has certainly delivered on the first two although in making clear that designing a USO is complex, it only offers a few recommendations. It will now be up to Government to make some of the thornier policy choices.

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The NIC focuses on 5G

The National Infrastructure Commission today reported back to Government on how to ensure that the UK can become a leader in the deployment of 5G and take early advantage of the applications that it may enable.

The core finding of the NIC is that mobile connectivity is essential and that the market, as currently structured, will struggle to meet these two objectives on its own and that the whole of Government must work with industry to deliver on them.

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Business rates revaluation will hit broadband infrastructure providers…and ultimately consumers

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) announced last week a fourfold rise in business rates (taxes on the value of real estates) on some major infrastructure providers’ bills. The revaluation was judged “excessive” by BT, whose Bill increases from £165m to £743m per annum,  who added that the increase in rates will likely lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses. Virgin Media echoed BT’s concerns on the likely negative impact of the increase on future investment decision in telecoms infrastructure.

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European Commission unveils plans to create a European Gigabit Society

The European Commission published yesterday its proposals to achieve its vision for a European Gigabit society with ambitious targets from 5G coverage to access for all European households (rural and urban) to internet speeds of 100Mbit/s by 2025. Legislative and policy proposals include a review of the EU regulatory framework for telecoms, an Action Plan on 5G connectivity and new financial instruments as well as additional public funding for a WiFi voucher scheme that will benefit 6000 to 8000 local communities in the EU by 2020.

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Event – Urban Connectivity – the demand and the challenges

 Urban Connectivity: The Demand and the Challenges

12 October 2016 10.00-17.00

techUK, 10 St Bride St, London, EC4A 4AD

The UK’s cities are determining factors in our economic well-being, helping to drive growth and create jobs. By their nature they require resilient, high capacity and high quality infrastructure. This applies to digital communication networks as much as it does to transport infrastructure. Indeed, it may shortly matter more.

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“Establishing world-class connectivity”, Culture Media and Sports Committee publishes report today

In July 2015, the Culture Media and Sports (CMS) Committee launched a public inquiry into the coverage, delivery and performance of superfast broadband in the UK and progress made in improving digital connectivity. The report published today concluded that the “UK has done well” compared with other EU countries on the delivery of superfast broadband thanks to a competitive market. However, it also raised concerns about the willingness of the BT Group to invest in maintaining, upgrading and supporting Openreach’s fibre infrastructure.

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Digital Economy Bill begins the legislative process with first reading in House of Commons

The Government have today introduced the Digital Economy Bill to Parliament as part of its ambition for the UK to be the most digital nation in the world. The Digital Economy Bill (HC Bill 45) sets out the framework for the introduction of a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), includes new powers for Ofcom, seeks to reform the Electronic Communications Code and also sets out new consumer rights.

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Ofcom call for inputs on automatic compensation

Ofcom has today published its consultation on automatic compensation for consumers and smaller businesses who experience disruption to daily activities caused by problems with their communications services. Before publishing a detailed consultation on the system, Ofcom is gathering initial views on the scope, form, process, level of compensation and also possible risks of introducing new measures. (more…)

BT to Invest Billions More into Fibre, 4G and Customer Service

BT’s has today announced that its Openreach and EE businesses will spend around six billion pounds between them over the next three years, in the first phase of a plan to extend superfast broadband and 4G coverage beyond 95% of the UK by 2020.

The announcement focuses on services, coverage and capacity with the latter receiving the most press coverage. As well as confirming their ambition of supplying 12 million premises with ultrafast broadband, BT announced that at least two million of those to be connected with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. (more…)