The Government’s much trumpeted* £150m Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) will close later this month. It has only succeeded in deploying around 60 mobile masts in mobile not-spots at a total cost of under £10m. For those living or commuting through those areas, then the new mobile coverage from all four operators is no doubt eagerly received. But given the project was originally scheduled to deliver between 550-600 sites, there is no doubt it has fallen short of its original goals.
The 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…)
2014 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…)
It’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.
A 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…)
This week we have seen the adoption of regulatory proposals by the European Commission which will have a knock on effect right across the industry for the open internet, spectrum release, the extension of transparency requirements on bundles for Pay TV, switching practices, and an end to charges for roaming in the EU. Commissioner Kroes has stated a longer term intention, as is well-known across the industry: “Until the single telecoms market is in place, the Commission will not propose a single regulator. This is not the optimal solution for the market right now.”
The past month has seen a new tranche of 4G services launched by o2 and Vodafone, with Three announcing their plans for launch in 47 cities. Ofcom published their research highlighting consumer understanding of traffic management, an area where the BSG has played a key role in facilitating the voluntary code of practice on traffic management transparency. We were also pleased to welcome Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards to a dinner with the BSG’s Advisory Council, and got an update from the team at the Government Digital Service on all things Gov.uk and the lowdown on their newly established Digital Inclusion team. (more…)
July saw the long-awaited Communications Strategy paper from government, downgraded from its original billing as a White Paper. Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth tackled four main areas: world-class connectivity and digital inclusion, world-beating innovative content, consumer confidence and safety and the cost of living. We were pleased to be named as the key conduit to assess what the commercial requirements will be as part of the development of an overall UK digital communications infrastructure strategy for 2015 to 2025. We look forward to working with government and industry on this going forward, and you can read our short briefing on the paper here.
We were pleased to welcome shadow communications and media minister Helen Goodman MP to the BSG, where she spoke on Labour’s notion of ‘One Digital Nation’ and how broadband and digital communications can be harnessed to the benefit of citizens. You can watch the video of this speech here. (more…)
A busy month in the broadband policy landscape, with the Treasury’s Spending Round and Infrastructure update providing a revised signal of intent on the Government’s headline broadband delivery targets. By upping fixed line broadband targets to 95% of the population by 2017, the Government have found a new headline target which accommodates for recent delays to roll-out and pleasing those who want wider rollout of superfast fixed connectivity. Chief Secretary Danny Alexander MP also indicated a new vision for 99% superfast connectivity including mobile solutions, and there was also mention of a revised scope for BDUK based on the recent recommendations of Olympic stalwart Lord Deighton. The Information Economy Strategy signposted a new scheme on SMEs and digital skills provision, which we can expect the Deputy Prime Minister to outline fully later in the year. (more…)
First up, traffic management – or more specifically net neutrality and the open internet – are firmly back on the political agenda. Commissioner Neelie Kroes outlined her ‘No Disconnect’ policy in a major speech this week. Watch this space for updates from the UK being coordinated by the BSG over the coming months, and take a look at our work to date here.
The Major Projects Authority – the unit based in the Cabinet Office tasked with evaluating the progress of major government programmes – rated the four major broadband initiatives running out DCMS as operating with either ‘Amber’ or ‘Amber/Red’ status – read BSG’s blog on the report here. (more…)
The end of April saw a number of milestones met by various broadband players. Ofcom pronounced that broadband in the UK had reached new levels of competition, with the number of unbundled telephone lines to homes hitting 9 million. This came just days after EE reported strong 4G take-up, making ‘good progress by focusing on high value segments’. Lord Tony Hall started as Director General at the BBC, and in his letter to staff on his first day he asked “What are the next big trends in technology and consumption that we need to grasp as we did with BBC Online and iPlayer?” Gov.uk won Design of the Year 2013, and the NAO announced that it would be conducting a review into the 4G auction process. (more…)
First up, March saw the some lengthy debates in the House of Lords on the Growth and Infrastructure Bill regarding relaxed regulations for the siting of broadband cabinets and poles. We were pleased to see the Government’s amendments adopted which removed potential problems of contention that new precedents would be set with ramifications to AONBs and national parks (we issued a response to the DCMS consultation on this last month). (more…)
“Connectivity, Consumers + Competition” – that’s what Ed Vaizey MP described as his approach to the converging media environment in evidence to the Lords Select Committee on Communications last month, and that was certainly felt in the world of broadband. (more…)
Hello and welcome to the new-look BSG website. This is the first of a series of monthly updates from me, giving the broadband community an overview of latest developments and trends in the industry whilst looking at those issues on the horizon for this year and beyond.
2013 is set to be a huge year for the broadband policy scene – how do we get fit for purpose infrastructure? What lessons can we learn from demand, take-up and usage? Where should the industry look for new opportunities on the operation and innovation of broadband-enabled services and an evolving regulatory environment? With the rollout of BDUK, 4G auction excitement, a forthcoming Communications White Paper, the weighing up of spectrum issues across the world and debates on universality and digital inclusion rumbling on, 2013 is set to be a big one. (more…)