News

Half of all UK homes now have Internet access according to new consumer research published by Oftel

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/

Government proposes to change existing planning regulations for satellite dishes and antennae

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.

Intellect members lead the way in Broadband adoption and show the rest of the SME community the way it should be done

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.

Case Studies Summary

Impatica

InferMed

ISTRAT

ICICI Infotech

E-Advantage Solutions

Mantix

ITDYNAMICS

ihotdesk

The Growth Consultancy

Executive Summary

Oxford Internet Survey Press Release

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.

For further details contact the Oxford Internet Institute; E: enquiries@oii.ox.ac.uk;
T: 44 (0)1865 287210

 

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Report

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.

View ITU press release

Groundbreaking Report from the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) urges Industry and Government to accelerate the quest for solutions for Digital Rights Management (DRM) and micro-payments

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.

These include:
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.

6. The UK content industries and public sector beneficiaries of copyright exceptions (such as libraries and education) should work together to create frameworks for use of content, employing DRM systems to enforce the agreed scope and terms of use.

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.

View DRM report in full

BSG Recommendations taken forward in Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) Rural Broad

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.

View full report

Broadening Horizons: Why Broadband Matters

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

DTI releases broadband pilots reports

29 May 2003

The feasibility study on broadband content pilots commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is now available. The study was produced by Atos KPMG (AKC) and benefited from the full support of the Digital Content Forum (DCF).

The pilots concentrate on the business models for broadband content development and its contribution to competitiveness and productivity, both to the UK content industry and to the wider economy. The study makes a strong case that the pilots represent a significant opportunity for UK business, and that the DTI and industry should take them forward. The report includes a full evaluation of the rationale of each pilot together with a recommendation on the proposed structure for the pilots and implementation plan.

Two of the AKC recommendations are directed towards helping SMEs enhance their productivity and competitiveness through the use of broadband content. These are:

Developing broadband marketing to provide consumers with compelling broadband experiences, initially within the Tourism industry (‘The Broadband Visitor‘). Making tools available for more effective collaborative working within a creative industries cluster (‘Broadband Collaborative Working‘). The third project (‘The Broadband Channel‘) would involve creating a central body commissioning high quality broadband content coupled with a hosting platform and showcase of UK broadband content for access by distributors. It is different in nature and size from the other two projects and is more of a market maker than a pilot.

DCF Chairman David Worlock said:

‘Nothing is more fruitless than trying to ‘define’ broadband content; clearly it will be an aggregate of the entire range of digital products and services currently available, presented in a new setting which exploits the unique values of broadband to release new values and productivity gains. But if it cannot be defined, then at least it can be exemplified. DCF members here strongly supported the idea of pilot projects to demonstrate to a wider marketplace the huge potential of broadband. The proposed initiatives in this report – the Broadband Visitor pilot, the Broadband Channel and the Broadband Collaborative Working pilot – do just that and thus make this report required reading throughout our industry. The speed and energy with which these pilot opportunities – and the wider opportunities that flow from them – are realised will say much about the vitality and capacity to innovate of the UK digital content sector as a whole.
‘This work would have not been accomplished without the sponsoring activity of the DTI, or the active support of the Broadband Stakeholders Group. My predecessor as DCF chairman, Anthony Lilley, deserves the gratitude of the industry for championing the ideas behind the initiative, and now for supporting them as chairman of the DCF’s Broadband Industry Action Group. The report itself, requires responses by 27th June, and, beyond that, innovative proposals for development concepts and participation. Please ensure that within your organisation someone has responsibility to engage with these issues – and thus with an important element of the future of our business as a whole.‘

The next step is for the DTI to respond to the recommendations, including on funding, and should one or more of the pilots proceed, to organise a competitive tender.

Meanwhile, the DTI and DCF welcome any feedback on the report by 27 June.

The BSG will be collating comments from its members

BSG highlights educational benefits of broadband

Education report provides step-by-step guide to making the UK a leader in online learning and calls on the Government to champion change.

28 April 2003

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the government’s key advisory group on broadband, today unveils its eagerly awaited Broadband Education Report. Stating the case for widespread use and exploitation of broadband within the education system, the report highlights the barriers to successful adoption, and proposes a five step strategy to help bring about a new age of learning for UK education.

“Across the world, and particularly in countries like Korea, access to education online has been a major driver for the take up of broadband, especially by families .” said Antony Walker, BSG CEO. “Broadband makes the Internet more accessible, fun and compelling. When applied to education this opens up new possibilities for students, teachers and lecturers alike”.

With almost 40% of schools already connected to broadband, the BSG report highlights case studies demonstrating how schools and colleges are discovering innovative new ways of teaching and learning using broadband, that change the way education is delivered; allow learners much more flexibility; and improve the way educational institutions are managed and administered. “The challenge today is to leverage these developments and examples of good practice so that the full benefits of broadband are delivered as widely and quickly as possible across the whole education sector,” said Walker.

The BSG identifies several key issues or barriers that need to be addressed for the UK to become a global leader in educational use of broadband. These include; how best to motivate users and decision makers to ensure that the deployment of broadband becomes an educational ‘pull’ rather than a technology ‘push’, how to address inconsistencies in the use of broadband in education, how to overcome the fragmentation of funding streams available for broadband education projects , and how to make sure that these projects are sustainable in the longer term.

To overcome these barriers, the BSG has developed five major recommendations:

1. The Government should clearly communicate its vision for the use of broadband within education and the wider learning agenda.

2. A central online resource for the broadband and education sector should be developed to provide guidance and information on how education institutions can fully integrate broadband into their strategic education targets and related processes.

3. Guidelines should be drawn up to advise educational institutions on how best to pull together funding streams to support new broadband projects in a sustainable and efficient way.

4. Action is required to ensure that teachers have access to effective technical support in the classroom.

5. Build sustainability requirements into educational projects to ensure that successful pilots can be maintained.

Keith Todd, Chairman of the BSG said, “The education sector is not yet fully exploiting the potential of ICT. The introduction of broadband in particular, represents a challenge to traditional methods of teaching, learning and administration and therefore needs to be accompanied by effective change management processes to ensure that educational organisations are compelled to use broadband.”

In November last year, Prime Minister, Tony Blair, argued that education and skills were critical to the creation of a knowledge driven economy. Announcing a major commitment to deliver broadband to all schools in 2006, Blair said “ We agree with the BSG that schools are key to taking advantage of the broadband revolution. We plan to build on the progress we have made in providing thousands more PCs and achieving the highest level of Internet connection for schools in the G7.”

View BSG Report in full

BSG welcomes the Government's response to its recommendations but warns of the many challenges ahead

Government Signs up to Broadband Challenge

20 March 2003

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the Government’s key advisory group on broadband, today welcomed the Government’s response to its strategic recommendations for the delivery of Broadband Britain but warned of the many challenges that lie ahead in implementing these proposals.

Keith Todd, Chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) said, “This is a very positive announcement. In our report last year, the BSG set out a full and testing agenda which the government has now signed up to. The Government has shown real ambition and has taken on a tough challenge –delivering these actions on time is not going to be easy. However the BSG is committed to making sure that they deliver all of the actions in this report.”

The BSG warned that timescales are tight, and the barriers to progress should not be underestimated. For example, the UK has so far made slow progress in the rollout of wireless broadband technologies, which will be vital for extending broadband coverage to rural areas. “Unleashing the potential of wireless is absolutely essential for Broadband Britain, but there are some real commercial and regulatory barriers that need to be overcome, particularly around the provision and assignment of suitable spectrum,” said Antony Walker, CEO of the BSG. “By committing to the development of a broadband wireless action plan the government has recognised the need for much more concerted work in this area.”

With regard to the Government’s plans to aggregate funds for more efficient purchasing of broadband for health and education departmental initiatives, the BSG warns that the Government will need to move at the speed of the fastest broadband mover, lest its initiatives become bogged down and deadlines are missed. The DTI’s Broadband Task Force has a vital role to play in setting out a clear framework for how aggregation is going to be achieved.

“The government will have to remain very focused if it is to deliver many of the commitments made in this report” said Walker. “I am particularly pleased with their decision to commit more resources to project managing their broadband strategy. This programme is vital to the UK’s long term competitiveness and needs to be central to the government’s e-agenda.”

Government Response to BSG Recommendations

BSG Second Annual Report and Strategic Recommendations

PM thanks for the work of the BSG – Government will provide funding to deliver broadband connections to every school by 2006

19 November 2002

The BSG was thanked by the Prime Minister in his speech to the e-Summit for raising the important issue that schools are fundamental for improving skills and for tackling the digital divide.

The Prime Minister went on to say that the Government agrees with the BSG that schools are key to taking advantage of the broadband revolution and as such, announced that the Government will provide funding to deliver broadband connections to every school by 2006.

Broadband Stakeholder Group Annual Report Drives Broadband Agenda

Landmark report provides step-by-step guide to becoming the most active broadband market in the G7, and calls on Government to champion change

Since November last year, Broadband take up has increased by 300%; retail ADSL prices have dropped by more than 30%; and coverage has increased by 7 percentage points with broadband services now available to 67% of the UK’s 24 million households.

19 November 2002

The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the government’s key advisory group on broadband, today unveils its eagerly awaited second annual report on the development of Broadband Britain. “The UK now has a tremendous opportunity to build on the 300% growth achieved over the last eleven months, and deliver on the promise of Broadband Britain.” said Keith Todd, Chairman of the BSG.

The BSG has set two main priorities for 2003:

  • Accelerating broadband take-up – In the year ahead Broadband needs to become a ‘must-have’ service for consumers, business and Government. The BSG calls on Government and service providers to continue their aggressive promotion of Broadband focusing on marketing the benefits to users. The Government can also play a key role as a purchaser of broadband access, content, applications and services, for improved health, education and other public services. The BSG will continue to research the way Broadband is changing and influencing online behaviour.
  • Extending broadband coverage and increasing competition – The report focuses on the importance of wireless broadband services and shared civil infrastructure as two key enablers for increasing coverage and competition. Wireless technologies have the ability to cost-effectively extend coverage to new areas, as well as opening the market to new service providers. The BSG calls on Government to prioritise the allocation of appropriate spectrum and set out a strategic plan for wireless broadband services.

Additionally, the BSG argues that the Government enables third party provision of civil infrastructure (ducts, buildings etc) to be shared by operators on a non-discriminatory basis. This would reduce the cost burden faced by operators, allowing them to extend/upgrade their networks more cost effectively, bringing further stimulus to the broadband marketplace.

Speaking at today’s E-Summit, Keith Todd, Chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group, said: “Broadband is central to the UK e-government agenda. Broadband is poised to have a radical effect on society and business. Our report will help policymakers turn theory into reality – and take Britain forward on its broadband journey.”

“We’ve made good progress this year,” added Antony Walker, CEO, Broadband Stakeholder Group. “We’ve now got to focus on driving more volume into the broadband market and really demonstrate the demand for bandwidth. This will be essential for securing long-term capital investment for the future. On the demand side, online education should be exploited as a major driver of adoption – as we have seen in Korea the classroom can be a springboard for mass adoption of broadband.”

The Broadband Stakeholder Group was established in April 2001 to advise the Government on its strategy for achieving its 2005 goal. The recommendations of its first report, published in November 2001, were almost entirely accepted and are now being implemented – the Government acknowledged that there was no ‘silver bullet’ to speed up broadband adoption. The BSG strategy is based on a ‘virtuous circle’ model of adoption, whereby a critical mass of early adopters and market makers fuel mainstream development and adoption of broadband services. Today’s report builds on these recommendations and is expected to take a leading role in shaping Government broadband policy.

BSG Second Annual Report and Strategic Recommendations

BSG Second Annual Report: Wireless

BSG Second Annual Report: Devolved Administrations

Key Metrics Annex