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
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.
The key findings of the research show:
12.5 million UK households are now on-line, with 750,000 new connections over the last three months
Around one million Internet customers are likely to upgrade to broadband over the next 12 months
UK prices for dial-up Internet access are cheaper than other European countries surveyed, with prices for residential broadband generally below the European average
The UK offers a wider availability of unmetered services than other countries surveyed.
Oftel has published the following quarterly research reports:
Consumers” use of fixed telephony – August 2003 Consumers” use of mobile telephony – August 2003 Consumers” use of Internet – August 2003 Business use of Internet – August 2003
Oftel has also published an “International benchmarking report” of Internet services covering both basic dial-up access and broadband services. The report covers Internet services in France, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom and the US (the States of Ohio and California are used for dial-up services; the study covers a number of the largest providers of broadband who offer services across a range of States).
NB: these Oftel reports are now all stored in the Ofcom archive and can be found using their search facility – http://www.ofcom.org.uk/find_document/
BSG welcomes new planning regulations consultation
10 April 2003
The BSG welcomed the Government proposals to change existing planning regulations this week which means that householders will have more freedom to install satellite dishes and other antennae on their houses so that they can have greater access to broadband and digital TV. The proposals are in part a response to a recommendation made by the BSG in their first report to Government in November 2001.
The government has suggested relaxing the rules that currently restrict the number and type of dishes and antennae that can be installed on the outside of a dwelling, block of flats or commercial buildings, as part of its drive to improve the take-up of broadband and digital TV. The most far-reaching of these proposals would see the elimination of many of today’s existing restrictions.
Launching the consultation Planning Minister Jeff Rooker said:
“The best way to make the planning system work for the community is to ask people what they want, and that’s what this document is all about. We are committed to delivering equality of access to digital TV and broadband across the country and this document is an important step in that direction.”
The BSG will look forward to putting together a submission echoing our initial recommendation to the consultation process which closes on 4 July.
ICICI InfotechT – PlanA recent survey, conducted by Intellect and Intel, has shown that the ICT sector is leading the way in broadband adoption in the UK. Just over half (52%) of the Intellect SME members surveyed have adopted Broadband as their main method of accessing the Internet. This penetration rate is significantly higher than the SME average across the UK which currently stands at just 28%.
According to the majority of organisations interviewed broadband had a transformational effect – “It’s like having a dishwasher” said one company “you think it’s a bit of a luxury before you get it and then within a week you are using it all the time and can’t imagine how you ever coped without it”.
Antony Walker, Chief Executive Officer of the Broadband Stakeholder Group commented, “The results are exceptional, and prove that the ICT sector is truly leading by example. The challenge for organisations now however will be to build on this success and to begin to make full use of the extra bandwidth, not just to speed up Internet access, but to improve working methods, empower employees and develop and deliver new services to customers.”
The BSG in association with CBI, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Communications Management Association (CMA) are holding a half day seminar on Thursday 16 October at the CBI Conference Centre, Centre Point 09:00 – 13:00.
This event will bring together various pieces of research exploring sectoral and national views on the business benefits of broadband and how these fit into the whole e-business value chain which will include Intellect’s research, BCC’s recent study and the CBI’s eBusiness survey.
Intellect has prepared a set of case studies that explore the way in which some of its SME members are using broadband, and how it has changed the way they do things. Key benefits range from improved productivity and efficiency and an enhanced work-life balance and reduction of risk when undergoing growth.
How much is enough for the Internet?
“While the battle for digital access is being won in Britain, government and business now face a struggle to convince everyone that the Internet is worth using,” concludes Professor Richard Rose of the Oxford Internet Institute from the new Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS). The survey was designed to learn who does and does not use the Internet and why. A nationally representative random sample of 2,030 persons age 14 and up was interviewed face to face between 23 May and 28 June 2003.
The OxIS survey found that the average person has access to the Internet in at least two out of four places: home, work, school or at a public library. Only four percent of the British population lacks ready access to a place where they could sign on to the Internet. The lack of a computer at home is not a major obstacle, since the average Internet user goes on line away from home as well as at home. Nor is having a computer at home a sufficient reason for using the Internet.
Among Britons age 14 and over, 59% currently use the Internet. The biggest difference between users and non-users is age. Among those still in school, 98% are Internet users and among people of working age, 67%. By contrast, only 22% of retirees use the Internet. Educational differences are less important. All youngsters, whether or not they are numerate or literate, appear able to click on the Internet, and a majority of working age people without any O-level or GCSE qualifications now use the Internet.
Once on line, the average person finds multiple uses for the Internet. The most popular are to get information, browse the WorldWideWeb, email, and shopping and youths tend to make more use of the web for studies than for music or entertainment. Between a tenth and a fifth of users employ the net to get news, banking or public services.
The OxIS survey shows that among the two-fifths who don”t sign on the Internet there is no fear or dislike of using electronic technology. For example, more prefer using a bank card machine than dealing with a bank teller. “People who don”t use the Internet don”t see how it will help them in their everyday affairs”, states Rose. “For example, older people have been educated, earned a living, shopped and paid bills for most of their lives before the Internet came along.”
Among the two-fifths who do not use the Internet, half are informed but indifferent; they know someone who could send an email or get information for them but have not bothered to ask for this to be done. An additional 7 percent are proxy users, who have asked for a friend to sign on the Internet on their behalf. One in seven are excluded because they do not know anyone who could send get on the Internet on their behalf, and this group divides equally into those who are anti-technology and those who are apathetic.
“Government and commerce will have to wait a generation or more before nine-tenths of Britons regularly use the Internet”, declares Professor Rose. If all the people who told the Oxford Internet Survey that they were definitely or likely to go on line in the next year did so, this would still leave 34% off line.
“Growth in Internet use can continue in Britain”, notes Professor William Dutton, director of the Oxford Internet Institute. “As individuals learn how to use the Internet over the years, they become more confident in this new medium and spend more time on a wider variety of activities”. Eleven percent of the population now has Internet access to broadband at home. The diffusion of broadband Internet services will increase the versatility of the Internet while also opening the prospect of a new digital divide between those who are on broadband and those who are not.
The ITU’s latest report states that the number of worldwide broadband subscriptions grew 72% in 2002 to approximately 63 million. The republic of Korea leads the way in broadband penetration, with approximately 21 broadband subscribers for every 100 inhabitants. Hong Kong ranks second with Canada ranking third. Home users are driving the vast majority of broadband demand in all markets.
23 July 2003
“DRM (Digital Rights Management) and micro-payments are becoming ‘make or break’ issues for the whole of the broadband value chain, ” said Antony Walker, Chief Executive of the Broadband Stakeholder Group. “They are the missing links that are preventing broadband from delivering its real potential for consumers and businesses alike. Government and Industry must show leadership to start addressing these issues.”
The Broadband Stakeholder Group, the government’s key advisory body on broadband, today launches its eagerly awaited Digital Rights Management report. Despite years of discussion, DRM and its related issues are still not well understood. This is the first time a cross-sectoral industry group has come together and agreed a common view of the DRM challenges and set out the key components of the solution. It is a significant step forward and a sign that the industry is getting serious about addressing digital rights management issues post Napster.
Investigating four key areas, the report highlights DRM, epayment and micropayment systems and piracy issues as critical elements that will act as a further catalyst for the continuation of current rates of broadband uptake . The report is also the first of its kind to investigate the use of DRM in the public sector.
E-Payment and Billing Systems Current payment systems do not cater adequately for micro-payments necessary for new business models. Correcting this situation will offer tremendous opportunities for developing innovative commercial content services, providing the UK with a great scenario that would include benefits for its broadband strategy and leading content industries.
Standardisation The report highlights that DRM tools and systems comprise of highly sophisticated technologies, which in turn require enormous resource to develop, the kind of resources that, in practice only big business can muster. These enterprises need a guaranteed return on their investment to justify the application of these resources. DRM tools and systems have to achieve a satisfactory level of interoperability if they are to provide a generally usable mechanism.
Piracy The latest figures from CNET show that Kazaa Media Desktop, the most popular file sharing software, has been downloaded a staggering 225 million times at an ongoing rate of 2,5 million downloads every week. Urgent action is required by Government to update existing rights enforcement measures to provide an effective response to this situation.
Public Sector This is the first report of its kind to address the use of DRM in the public sector. Public administration and public services will have a major impact on the take up of broadband services, both in terms of their own needs and their interfaces with the public. Libraries and education facilities in adopting DRM-enabled systems can prove to be primary testing grounds for implementing paid for content and applications.
“Without straightforward and reliable systems for the public to pay for online content, and effective mechanisms for copyright owners to protect their rights, illicit file sharing will predominate and there will be few incentives for content developers to innovate and invest in new types of online content, “ said Walker. “This would be a huge missed opportunity for a country that should be a world leader in the development of new online media – but unless companies can see a way of getting paid they won’t invest.”
“If we don’t look at these issues now, we could see broadband take-up start to flatten off because the value proposition fails to evolve, or the further erosion of ‘value’ in the content sector, due to illicit file sharing. Neither of these scenarios is acceptable. Now’s the time for the Government and Industry to show leadership and start to resolve these issues once and for all.”
DRM Report Project Leader, Nic Garnett, an IP and IT specialist at The Simkins Partnership, Europe’s leading media and entertainment law firm, has extensive international experience in the management and protection of intellectual property rights argues: “This report addresses the practical and commercial needs of businesses and consumers alike. We have highlighted the essential elements for the effective deployment of DRM systems, including interoperability in metadata, e-payment systems, business models and the legal frameworks to support them.”
Chair of the BSG DRM Group, Dominic McGonigal, observed, “DRM is a microcosm of the emerging digital content business and it has been fascinating bringing together the different elements of the digital value chain in this unique forum. DRM has become a political football. It’s a powerful set of tools and applications, but DRM cannot negotiate commercial arrangements and cannot resolve legal ambiguities. There is a clear message to Government and industry to put in place the e-payment systems, the new business models, DRM standards and legal enforcement to deliver premium content online.”
” The DTI were closely involved in this work, and were able to provide the resource that enabled Nic Garnett to write this authoritative report. This reflects the DTI’s recognition that concerns of content developers about making the business model work will continue to deter the emergence of compelling content in the UK. The effective utilisation of DRM, and closely associated issues such as micro-payments, are core points that need to be addressed.”
The BSG Report identifies 11 key recommendations that must be addressed for the UK to become a global leader in implementation of a globally accepted DRM platform.
1. DRM tools and systems should be regarded as falling squarely within the inventory of online security measures.
2. Government should urgently consider the formulation and adoption of “effective measures for enforcing intellectual property rights.”
3. The UK content industries should jointly commission a study into the application of the emerging rights data dictionaries and rights expression languages to the licensing and management of copyright materials.
4. Government should actively promote the development and spread of global DRM-related standards.
5. Government should commission an in-depth study into the area of electronic payment and billing systems.
7. The UK content industries should take the lead in addressing relevant consumer confidence-building measures through establishing codes of practice.
8. The Government should implement a number of pilot public service broadband offerings, deploying DRM applications and e-payment systems.
9. The BSG should conduct an international review of the impact of online content services on the take-up and use of broadband.
10. The BSG should bring together the various industries in the digital value chain to explore new business models.
11. Industry and Government must work together to bring relevant information about DRM and related elements of the online content service infrastructure to content and service providers, to their customers, to government and other public institutions.
The Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) have this week published a report following an investigation into rural broadband provision which the BSG gave evidence to a couple of months ago. The report recognises that there is a digital divide between urban and rural areas in terms of broadband availabilty and urges Government to urgently close the divide. It recommends that broadband should be made available to all areas of the UK according to a defined timetable and that the Government needs to allocate adequate resources to support that policy.
It endorses the BSG recommendation to free up spectrum and their report actually recommends “…that the Radiocommunications Agency be formally directed to set the price of radio spectrum licences at a level which actively encourages the development of wireless broadband”. Moreover, it makes reference to the “alphabet soup” of rural initiatives which are currently going on – a point we will make in the forthcoming BSG Rural Report which will be published in December.
The Centre for Reform has just published a new report: Broadening Horizons: Why Broadband Matters by David Stevenson, freelance journalist and TV producer. With a foreword by Keith Todd, Chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group the project has been sponsored by ntl.
In this challenging and thought provoking report David Stevenson examines what needs to be done to ensure that Britain is in the vanguard of networked societies. He argues that whilst the UK is making progress in rolling out first generation broadband services, we are actually falling behind other countries that are now starting to deploy next generation broadband services, including fibre to the home. As the goal posts continually shift, he argues that new policies will be adopted and fresh targets set by government.
The report is available now from CFR priced £10 / 15 Euros and can be ordered by calling 020 7631 3566.
Broadening horizons: why broadband matters by David Stevenson Foreword by Keith Todd, Chairman, Broadband Stakeholder Group