Consultations

BSG Position Paper on government intervention in NGA released

BSG has released a new position paper, ‘approach to government intervention in the deployment of next generation broadband’.

The paper provides a view on how the new coalition government should think about intervention in the deployment of NGA in the UK. There are many uncertainties and unknowns in the debate, and as the new government develops its broadband policy, it is important that the issues raised in this paper are considered and addressed should the government decide to intervene.

The paper also incorporates BSG’s response to the previous government’s next generation fund consultation, and its review of the fibre cost model.

Download BSG position paper

BIS Consultation on proposals for a Next Generation Fund

BSG calls for evidence from industry to revise fibre cost model

BSG is calling for evidence and data from the industry that would assist it in revising the fibre cost model, published in September 2008 as an input to the Caio Review.

BSG wishes to test whether the underlying assumptions and conclusions regarding costs set out in the report are still valid, or whether they should be revised in light of industry developments. This will inform its response to the government’s Next Generation Fund consultation. (more…)

BSG responds to DCMS product placement consultation

The BSG has responded to the DCMS consultation on whether or not to allow product placement on television.

The BSG supports the introduction of product placement in the UK. As traditional ad revenues and business models come under challenge as the result of the convergence of digital media, it is important that the industry can explore the potential commercial benefit of product placement to ensure sustained investment in content.

The BSG recognises the concern that any introduction of product placement does not lead to negative outcomes for consumers. However we believe the protections required of the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive, which allows the UK to permit product placement for some types of programmes, will be sufficient to ensure that consumers are protected and are armed with the information they need to make informed choices.

BSG response to DCMS consultation on product placement

BSG responds to overhead deployment of telecoms cables consultation

BSG today submitted its response to the government’s consultation on overhead deployment of telecommunications cables. The key points from the response are:

  • Permitting new overhead distribution could have a significant impact on the investment case in some locations; however, it is unlikely to be a panacea for rural deployment.
  • Due to a number of factors, it is unlikely that increased aerial deployment would be beneficial in urban areas; it is likely that the benefit would predominantly be for rural deployments.
  • In terms of the impact on the ‘final third’, indicative analysis suggests that up to 1m homes could be brought into the market-led first two-thirds of homes.
  • Visual amenity is an issue that should be considered; however, government will need to consider the trade-off between improved communications infrastructure and the impact on the visual amenity of a locality.
  • Access to existing infrastructure that can support aerial deployment should also be considered by government as part of this exercise.

BSG response to BIS consultation on overhead deployment of telecoms cables

BIS consultation on overhead deployment of telecoms cables

BSG responds to additional BBC Trust Canvas consultation

BSG has submitted a response to the BBC Trust’s second consultation on Project Canvas, following the publication of further information regarding the project over the summer.

The response highlights that Canvas would have a significant impact on the UK communications market as a whole; BSG can envisage a range of both positive and negative scenarios for this impact. Therefore, the BBC Trust should be aware of the broader commercial environment in which Canvas is being proposed and the issues that will inform companies’ commercial strategies and reactions to Canvas. (more…)

BSG provides submission to Welsh Affairs Select Committee inquiry in to digital inclusion in Wales

The BSG today submitted a report to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee as part of their inquiry in to digital inclusion in Wales.

Focusing on broadband availability and take-up, including the prospects for next generation broadband, the report highlights the challenges facing Wales, owing to the low population density and high proportion of rural communities.

BSG submission to Welsh Affairs Select Committee

BSG submits response to BBC Trust Canvas consultation

The BSG’s response to the BBC Trust consultation on the BBC’s Project Canvas proposals sets out the potential and significant impact this proposal could have across the broadband value chain.

Depending on how the proposal is taken forward in practice, it could have various implications, such as heightened pressure on broadband networks from increased levels of video traffic, to how Canvas could drive demand for higher quality broadband services and how such a UK centric development could affect global manufacturers of set-top boxes.

Central to the BSG response is the view that the BBC Trust needs to view the Canvas proposal in the wider context of an industry making the gradual and difficult transition to next generation broadband.

Furthermore, it is essential that this consultation is the beginning of the debate rather than a one-off and final assessment of the proposal.

Detailed, open and ongoing discussion across the value chain is vital to effectively assess a proposal that has such far-ranging relevance for the UK broadband value chain.

BSG response to BBC Trust consultation on Project Canvas

BSG submits response to interim Digital Britain Report

The BSG today finalised its submission to the government’s interim Digital Britain Report.

The response recognises the ambition and rationale of the report, while noting the challenging timescales. It goes on to highlight a number of challenges and issues facing developments in each of the areas of the report, and makes a number of suggestions as to how to address the actions raised.

BSG response to interim Digital Britain Report

BSG responds to Ofcom 'Delivering superfast broadband in the UK' consultation

The BSG has submitted its response to Ofcom’s superfast broadband consultation. The response re-iterated the BSG’s findings from its three reports published in 2008, and offered broad support for Ofcom’s categorisation of the key issues.

The current economic environment and financial crisis makes investments increasingly challenging for operators, and so it will be important for Ofcom to allow operators to experiment in the short term whilst providing sufficient certainty in the long-term to support investment decisions.

BSG response to Ofcom NGA consultation

BSG responds to EC NGA consultation

The BSG has submitted its response to the EC consultation on its draft Recommendation on regulated access to NGA networks.

The BSG welcomes the general principles set out by the Commission for guiding NRAs when regulating for next generation access, but expresses concern at the level of detail and prescription included in the Recommendation currently.

The BSG believes that the Commission’s objective should be the harmonisation of outcomes, and that this is best achieved by giving national regulatory authorities the responsibility to implement regulatory principles in the most appropriate way for local market conditions, rather than prescribing specific regulatory remedies.

BSG response to EC NGA consultation

EC NGA consultation document

A busy month for next generation broadband

September has been a busy month in the world of next generation broadband. Government reviews, UK and EU regulatory consultations, not to mention our report on the cost of fibre-based next generation broadband, have certainly moved the debate on in the UK.

The month started with the BSG publishing its report ‘The costs of deploying fibre-based next generation broadband‘. This report used geographic and cost data specific to the UK, allowing us to model the cost of deployment across a variety of geotypes. The long and the short of this is that the report suggests that fibre to the cabinet will cost up to £5.1bn, and fibre to the home up to £28.8bn.

The total costs are interesting, but the purpose of the report was to breakdown the various cost components, to examine where the real costs lie. Unsurprisingly, this was in the civil infrastructure elements of the network – 42% of total costs for FTTC, and up to 80% of total costs for FTTH. Any steps that could be taken to reduce these costs would obviously help reduce this barrier to investment, and the report modelled how various actions, such as if higher duct re-use was possible, would impact the overall costs.

The report also clearly set out that there is a definite difference in the cost of deployment between urban, rural and remote areas of the UK. For fibre to the cabinet, for example, the cheapest 58% of households would cost £1.9bn to deploy to; the next 26% would cost £1.4bn, and the most expensive 16% would cost a further £1.8bn. Clearly, deploying beyond the first 60% of UK households will be a more challenging case for investors to make, which has a number of implications for government and the regulator.

This was closely followed by the launch of the final report of the Caio Review – ‘The Next Phase of Broadband UK: Action now for long term competitiveness‘. The Review suggested that, while we shouldn’t be panicking about a lack of NGA in the UK, the government could take actions to reduce the barriers to investment, and set out the need for leadership from the government and the regulator. A range of initiatives were recommended, including providing certainty for investors and reducing the costs of deployment, while increasing the competitive pressure on copper-based services, and benchmarking our performance against other countries while considering the ‘batstop’ remedies should the market fail to deliver NGA.

We welcomed these recommendations at the time, and look forward to hearing the government’s response to the Review. Certainly, our reports over the last 18 months have supported the conclusions and recommendations of the Review.

What followed was then followed by a flurry of regulatory activity. First, the European Commission set out its long-awaited draft Recommendation on the regulation of NGA. The Recommendation sets out how the Commission would like regulation to support investment and competition in next generation broadband, and makes for interesting reading for Ofcom and the operators, who will no doubt be submitting their views to the Commission before the 14 November deadline.

This was swiftly followed by Ofcom themselves publishing their latest consultation on the regulatory environment for NGA, ‘Delivering superfast broadband in the UK‘. The consultation discusses a range of issues and, although differing in depth of detail across the issues, certainly moves the debate on from its previous consultation last September. Positioning itself as a ‘framework for action’, the regulator will further progress these issues through a range of activities with stakeholders.

And, just to add to the fun, the Commission has also now begun its second periodic review of the Universal Service Directive, as well as launching an EU-wide broadband performance index.

Quite a lot to absorb for those of us who spend their days working on next generation broadband. So where has it left us? Well, the Caio Review has set out a number of options for government if it is serious about trying to reduce the costs of deployment. The government response will be interesting, and whether they are actually able to implement some of the suggested changes (such as to the way fibre is treated in the rating system) is up for debate. Caio’s recommendation that government and the regulator take a strong lead on NGA is one that we support, and are keen to see.

Our report has added further to the evidence base for policy making that we are committed to creating, to ensure appropriate policy is developed. It adds numbers to views that were likely already held, but also raises interesting questions, and the granularity of our figures should be of real use to those interested in local or regional broadband projects.

The Commission’s Recommendation, and Ofcom’s consultation, take us closer towards regulatory certainty than we were before, although a number of questions remain unanswered and this is unlikely to be the end of Ofcom’s process for creating the right regulatory framework. Certainly there could be a sense that every time you delve deeper into an issue, the list of questions a regulator needs to answer gets longer.

One issue worth noting is the change of view towards public sector projects. Sympathies certainly appear to have shifted within Ofcom, and possibly within BERR given the Review’s recommendations, since the DTI/Ofcom Best Practice Guide for Public Broadband Schemes was put out in 2007, and this is a welcome development.

This is one of many issues raised this month, however, and stakeholders will be watching with interest to see how these are played out in the coming months.

Ofcom publishes latest consultation on superfast broadband

The BSG welcomes the publication today of Ofcom’s consultation on delivering super-fast broadband in the UK.

“The regulatory framework is key to next generation broadband”, said Antony Walker, CEO of the BSG. “The consultation asks some important questions and we will be working closely with stakeholders to respond in detail.”

The deadline for comments to this public consultation is 02 December 2008.

Ofcom Consultation – “Delivering super-fast broadband in the UK”

Ofcom Consultation Executive Summary

European Commission publishes its draft Recommendation on next generation broadband

The European Commission today published its draft Recommendation on national regulatory approaches to next generation broadband.

The Recommendation lays out the Commission’s over-arching regulatory principles, as well as going in to more detail on the various passive and active rememdies that the Commission favours, and other issues such as the rate of return for investments in next generation broadband.

The closing date for responses to this public consultation is 14 November, after which the Commission will finalise the Recommendation in light of the comments received before adopting it in 2009.

EC NGA draft Recommendation

EC NGA draft Recommendation Explanatory Note

BSG response to EC consultation on cross-media rating, age verification, social networking sites

The BSG today responded to the European Commission’s consultation on cross-media rating, age verification and classification, and social networking sites.

The purpose of the public consultation is to gather the knowledge and views of all relevant stakeholders, such as public bodies, child safety and consumer organisations and industry on these issues.

The gathered information will be fed into this year’s Safer Intermet Forum 2008 which will be dedicated to the above mentioned topics. This is taking place on the 25 and 26 September in Luxembourg and the BSG will be speaking at this event.

BSG response to EC consultation on cross-media rating, age verification, social networking sites