BSG comment

Are mobile devices the key to digital inclusion?

The main motivations for people to connect to the internet are: shopping (the UK ranks first in the EU for E-commerce), finding a job, connecting socially, and engaging with Government services… so nothing too important then!

The ever increasing importance of the internet – and the increasing cost, either to the individual or the State, of being offline has led to an expectation that everybody is or should be online. However, a research report recently published by Plum Consulting (and commissioned by EE) estimates that around 7.4 million people are still offline. 86% of which are aged over 55.

(more…)

BSG Comment – Reaping the benefits of the digital revolution – HoL Digital Committee’s recommendations to the next Government

The House of Lords Digital Skills Committee published today a report entitled “Make or Break: the UK’s Digital Future”. It outlines the digital revolution that is taking place and states that the UK is at risk of being left behind. The Committee calls on the next Government to take a more ambitious approach in the development and delivery of digital policies.

(more…)

BSG Comment: Broadband and ‘universal’ access.

Recent weeks have seen a lot of debate in Whitehall and Westminster around what should be the minimum download/upload speeds that premises and households can access. This raises a number of important questions as to what exactly we mean when we say that broadband is ‘essential’, ‘the fourth utility’ or even ‘a fundamental right’.

(more…)

CES: 4K and Smart Devices – the view from afar

So 2015’s bigger, louder and better (?) Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has closed.  From afar it looked as though this year was more about the direction and theme of the tech industry – with more 4K/Ultra High Definition televisions and an explosion in ‘connected’ devices appearing to be the main two– rather than about one device winning through.

(more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

Europe-wide survey shows bundling trend and growing appetite for switching

New data was released last week in the European Commission’s latest E-Communications Household Survey, which contains the results of questions put to consumers in member states on areas ranging from the quality and different types of telephone and internet access, penetration of communication service packages, sensitivity to connection speed, affordability and the transparency of communication service pricing.

The headline on bundling is that 45% of EU households purchase a bundle of communication services, a proportion that has risen continuously over the last few years, with the Internet the service which is most likely to be purchased as part of a bundle. Bulgaria (+13) and Luxembourg (+13) saw the greatest increases in bundle purchases. Making up that 45% figure includes triple-play penetration at 16% and quad-play at 3%. (more…)

Investing in Britain’s Broadband Future – Government provides further detail on a post-2015 vision

Whilst yesterday’s Spending Round had scant mention of broadband, this morning’s Investing in Britain’s Future publication on Infrastructure from the Treasury shed further light on the Government’s vision for broadband post-2015.

In his speech to parliament, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he wanted UK communities to be better connected.  This was reflected in £250m funds for fixed superfast broadband, targeted to cover 95% of the population by 2017 (building on the Government’s current target of 90% by 2015). This £250m comes as part of the £300m that had been previously been allocated for broadband from the TV licence fee in the period 2015-2017 (with the remaining £50m remaining uncommitted).

(more…)

BSG issue response to DCMS and DCLG consultation on mobile connectivity

Today the Broadband Stakeholder Group submitted its response to proposals aimed at boosting the roll-out of mobile and mobile broadband, issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The BSG supports the main tenants and objectives of the proposals but recommends that the government may wish to go further on:

  • Ensuring infrastructure upgrades in non-protected areas can occur under permitted development, without the need for prior approval, to support an efficient 4G roll-out process
  • Further ease restrictions in protected areas to support improved connectivity in rural and hard to reach areas

The response also offers some additional proposals focused on how to support anticipated new infrastructure in support of mobile connectivity, in addition to the proposals to support upgrade of existing infrastructure.

Read the full response to the consultation here.

Unanswered questions remain on digital scope of Draft Consumer Rights Bill

The Draft Consumer Rights Bill has now been published, following its announcement in the 2013 Queen’s Speech last month. This will be of particular interest to the broadband community in light of its aim to update consumer protection to keep up with technological developments, particularly in regard to digital purchases.

The Bill has been touted by BIS minister Jo Swinson as “enhancing consumer rights and making them easier to understand, which will boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade”, and will now cover the repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as film and music downloads, online games and e-books. (more…)

BitTorrent use drops as innovations in Video-on-Demand re-shape traffic stats

Consultants Sandvine published a report last month observing an emerging pattern that many suspect will become the norm in consumer traffic habits. That is that the use of BitTorrent – the practice of peer-to-peer file sharing, and the protocol often associated with the illegal download of copyrighted material – is waning. In the words of the authors, “We believe as more over-the-top Real-Time Entertainment (RTE) sources are made available to subscribers in the future, the rate of decline in share will begin to accelerate.”

As the report highlights, Netflix’s market leadership in RTE continues to dominate the American market, accounting for almost a third of peak downstream traffic on fixed networks, with share on mobile doubling in the last year. Elsewhere, YouTube is still the largest single source of RTE traffic on both fixed and mobile – yes, YouTube is still the leading source of Internet traffic in the entire world.

The report considers global trends, but I have picked out a number of highlights relevant for the European market:

(more…)