The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee today published a report into the extent of broadband coverage in rural areas and the launch of digital only services, in which it called for the “hardest-to-reach” areas to be given priority in the delivery of broadband services.
The ninth annual report published on 28 January explores the consumers’ experience of the use telecoms, the internet (predominantly fixed broadband), digital broadcasting and postal services in 2014. It is accompanied by a Consumer Experience Policy Evaluation which assesses the impact of Ofcom’s policy work and activities against the findings of the research.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) discussed today the National Audit Office progress report on the Government’s superfast rural broadband programme.
In a more positive session, the Committee reviewed with the panel (DCMS, BT Group and BDUK representatives) issues raised in previous meetings, including the lack of transparency on the detail of the roll-out plans including costs and level of competition in public funding.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published a report on the coverage and performance of broadband provision in the UK from the perspective of SMEs.
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…)
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.
The report focuses its attention on areas where the committee believed BT and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport could have acted in a way which brought better value for money for the tax payers.
The recommendations from the report are as follows: (more…)
Ofcom has today published a piece of consumer research looking at how consumers are buying broadband products and their understanding of ISPs’ traffic management policies in relation to this.
The BSG played a key role in facilitating the voluntary code of practice on traffic management transparency launched in 2011 and welcomes Ofcom’s research as an input into how well that voluntary framework is meetings its stated objectives and meeting the needs of consumers.
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…)
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:
A recent paper from Arthur D Little has aimed to shed further light on the global conundrum that, despite a number of great macro-economic justifications, private industry has struggled to make the case for national fibre strategies. National Fibre Strategies: National economic imperative or just another private industry task?, presents five models for national fibre strategies, looking at the relationships between very fast speeds, productivity and innovation. The report does not claim to have cast light on causal relationships, but nevertheless its claim that increasing home speed broadband by 1Mbps increases household income by an average of $100 per year is a powerful one. (more…)
Just over a week ago the National Audit Office published Digital Britain 2: Putting users at the heart of government’s digital services. Its authors looked at the progress being made with the Government’s ‘digital by default’ agenda for public services. Today we see that it has been taken up for further inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee, indicating that this agenda will continue to receive further scrutiny from various quarters and will have to address the significant numbers of people who cannot, or do wish to, go online. (more…)
The Lords Select Committee on Communications has published its report on Media Convergence yesterday, after months of evidence sessions with some of the big hitters from the media world (including our very our Chair Richard Hooper). The report is available here with accompanying information here.
The Chair of the Committee, Lord Inglewood, commented on the report that “The elephant in the room has been the impact of technological change – the Internet. Sitting over most of the media we consume is a complicated framework of rules and regulations. These are supposed to make sure the content the UK public engages with meets their expectations. However, the simple days have gone.”
Last week saw the release of Ofcom’s bi-annual UK fixed-line broadband performance from November 2012, which gave latest figures on residential speeds across ISPs. Much of the recent coverage (including in the Telegraph, BBC and Cable) has focused on the surge in speeds over time, with the main headlines being that the average fixed download speed was 12.0Mbps. This figure was 34% higher than the 9.0Mbps from six months prior, and a whopping 234% faster than the 3.6 Mbps average in November 2008. (more…)