It has been announced that Keith Todd has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to the Telecommunications Industry. This is a well deserved honour and recognition for the tremendous amount of work that Keith has put into driving the Broadband agenda over the last few years.
Keith has been the BSG’s independent Chairman since early 2002. He currently also holds the positions of Executive Chairman of Easynet Group plc, Executive Chairman of FFastFill plc and has his own consultancy Knotty Green Consultants Ltd.
Ofcom’s recent report includes the news that:
- there are now 3.99 million total broadband connections,
- 15% of homes have broadband
- 53% of UK adults have internet access at home, of whom 25% connect to the internet using broadband (from a survey in February 2004),
- 68% of UK SMEs are connected to the internet, of which 37% use broadband as their main connection method.
The DTI State Aid Unit has published a guidance note on State Aid issues related to broadband projects for the RDAs and Devolved Administrations. This paper should be regarded as a work in progress and the DTI would be happy to consider comments. The DTI has pointed out that a further decision on another UK state aid case is expected from the European Commission in the latter half of May and the paper may need to be revised in the light of that decision.
Sean Kenny, Hugh Rawson or Edith Templeton
DTI State Aid Policy Unit Kingsgate House Room 230
66-74 Victoria Street London SW1E 6SW
Tel: 020 7215 8375
Fax: 020 7215 4468
The Broadband Stakeholder Group’s third annual report provides a definitive look at Broadband Britain at the beginning of 2004 highlighting significant progress made to date but warning there is no room for complacency as the challenge of delivering next generation broadband comes into view.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the government’s key advisory group on broadband, today unveils its eagerly awaited third annual report on the development of Broadband Britain. The report provides the definitive view of progress made in 2003 before warning that there is much more to do to enable a broadband Britain.
The BSG report recommends that government, in consultation with stakeholders should set a new target for the next phase of the UK’s broadband journey and the deployment of next generation broadband services, with clear milestones to be reached before 2010.
Antony Walker, CEO, BSG argues:“It’s clear that broadband has taken off – people are seeing real benefits every day. The real challenge is to meet the growing expectations of both consumers and businesses as they adopt, adapt and absorb broadband into their daily lives and to make sure that we build a thriving and sustainable broadband market in the UK – this needs a new target for the next phase beyond 2005.”
The government’s 2005 target has been successful in stimulating action by both the government and private sector stakeholders. However, the UK can’t be complacent in its bid to keep up with international competitors. By setting new targets the government can re-focus on the next objectives and build on the good work done to date.
The BSG lists five critical challenges for the next phase of the development of broadband Britain.
The BSG’s Five Broadband Challenges
- Create, deliver and exploit value – moving businesses and consumers through the phases of adopting, adapting and absorbing as quickly as possible
- Building a thriving and competitive content services and applications sector in the UK – exploiting and optimising the potential of UK talent for creative media in a pro-competitive way
- Encourage investment in ‘next generation’ broadband infrastructures and services ahead of the demand curve – Government has a critical role in creating the right investment climate for technological development
- Developing new broadband ‘environments’ – moving towards a more integrated approach to fixed and mobile communications services with the development of interoperability between platforms, services and devices
- Bridge digital divides – breaking down barriers to universal adoption and use is critical
The report positions broadband as a highly disruptive force that is rapidly changing the communications landscape as well as many other related sectors. The success of stakeholder activity over the past three years has hastened the onset of valuable broadband services and is now creating new opportunities. However, there are also significant threats in a broadband enabled global economy where lower skilled service jobs are easily exportable off shore. The BSG warns that as Britain moves into the next phase of the broadband journey, a huge step change is required by all stakeholders in the prioritisation given to building a world leading broadband-based online economy.
Keith Todd, Chairman of the BSG said, “we’ve made very good progress – but there is much more to be done by all stakeholders to accelerate not just the adoption of broadband but also the exploitation of its full benefits by consumers, businesses and the public sector.”
Stephen Timms, Minister of State for Ecommerce welcomed the BSG report and the new recommendations for further action, stating: “excellent progress has been made in the last 12 months with a significant increase in coverage, choice and take up of broadband.
“However the BSG is right to say that there remains much to be done. The widespread adoption and use of broadband is key to further improving UK business productivity and competitiveness.
“The BSG has been very effective in harnessing and communicating the views of the stakeholder community and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with all stakeholders as we move the next stage in the development of broadband Britain.”
Options for accelerating the deployment of terrestrial fixed and portable wireless broadband services by 2005
Wireless broadband technologies have the potential to play a critical role in the development of Broadband Britain and will be essential for: extending platform competition across the UK market; extending broadband coverage to rural areas; and enabling the introduction of new higher speed next generation broadband services.
In its second annual report the BSG highlighted wireless broadband technologies as having the potential to make the biggest impact on extending coverage and enhancing competition by 2005.
The term wireless can be used to describe a wide range of technologies and platforms including satellite and mobile (GPRS, and 3G) etc, all of which have a vital role to play in the development of Broadband Britain. However, this report is focused specifically on the issues related to fixed wireless access and W-LAN type services that provide service characteristics similar to or better than equivalent fixed line broadband platforms such as ADSL and Cable.
The objective of this report is to examine the reasons for the lack of progress in terrestrial wireless broadband deployment to date and to explore potential regulatory options for expediting the deployment of wireless broadband services by 2005 in order to influence the UK’s target to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7. The report also looks at the longer-term requirements for spectrum (post 2005) for wireless broadband services.
In addition to this report the BSG has recently published a report on the Impact of Public Sector Interventions on Broadband in Rural Areas , which sets out the range of public and private sector initiatives currently being developed at national, regional and local level across the UK. It is recommended that these reports are read together in order to gain a better picture of the full range of commercial and public sector and regulatory initiatives aimed at extending broadband coverage to rural areas.
Supported by DTI
Over 300 people attended last month’s BSG Broadband Britain Conference in London (28-29 October). The event was themed around realising the value of broadband and how it is starting to provide real benefits for users, consumers, small businesses, public services and communities and how this growing broadband value proposition can be translated into real commercial success for the companies and organisations that make up the broadband value chain.
The presentations from the conference are available to view as pdfs below:
Session 1 – The Consumer Value Proposition – James Crabtree/Simon Roberts, iSociety
Session 2 – The Business Value Proposition – Jenny Searle, Oracle
Session 3 – The Public Value of Broadband – Jamie Bend, IPPR (Speech)
Session 4 – The Community Value of Broadband – William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute
Session 5 – The Commercial Value of Broadband – David Cleevely, Analysys
The Impact of Public Sector Interventions on Broadband in Rural Areas
Significant barriers exist to the extension of mass-market broadband coverage to rural areas. In some of the most remote parts of the country, the economics are so challenging that it is reasonable to assume that the market will probably not deliver to 100% of the population in the foreseeable future without some form of public sector intervention or support. To that end, in some areas of the UK, public sector funding/support may be required to ensure coverage. However, determining the appropriate level and mechanism to intervene will need to be considered in the context of the long-term impact on competition.
In recognition of this, the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) developed the GBP30 million UK Broadband Fund to help RDAs and Devolved Administrations stimulate supply and demand for broadband services in rural areas. This fund helped spawn the creation of many initiatives and models of public sector intervention.
With the UK Broadband Fund coming to an end, and in light of e-Commerce Minister Stephen Timms recent call for broadband coverage to be extended to every community by the end of 2005, as well as recent announcements from BT regarding their demand registration campaign, it is important to look at what types of initiatives have worked and what have not and what the requirements for public sector intervention might be going forward. The overall question is how do all of these initiatives impact on the Government’s objective to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005 as well as the achievement of availability to 100% of communities by the end of 2005.
The purpose of this report therefore is to provide a picture of where we currently stand with regard to the deployment and take-up of broadband in rural areas.
In addition to this report the BSG has recently published a wireless report ‘Options for accelerating the deployment of terrestrial fixed and portable wireless broadband services by 2005’. It is recommended that these reports are read together in order to gain a better picture of the full range of commercial and public sector and regulatory initiatives aimed at extending broadband coverage to rural areas.
The BSG in conjunction with the DTI, have released the latest fixed line broadband coverage map (cable and DSL). The national map demonstrates that as at the end of September 2003, approximately 80% of the UK has access to a mass-market broadband solution – that is one that is targeted at residential or small business users. This represents a significant improvement over the 71% figure at the end of July. Also available are maps for each of the 9 English Regions as well as Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Please note that current coverage includes exchanges that have been committed to be enabled by the end of 2003.