Ofcom has published the first of its spring updates on the previously annual-only Connected Nations Report. These reports track the progress made in increasing the coverage and changing nature of communications infrastructure across the UK. A spring and a summer update will now complement the full Connected Nations report published at the end of the year.
Government today laid legislation setting the design of the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). This follows Government confirmation in December last year that having access to high speed broadband would be a legal right.
Ofcom today announced new rules that aim to increase investment in full fibre by reducing the upfront costs that building the broadband network entail.
By forcing BT to make its telegraph poles and underground tunnels available to communications providers, Ofcom estimates that the cost of laying fibre cables could be reduced by 50%.
Figures published today by DCMS showed that BDUK-supported projects have seen 4,772,207 premises with a superfast broadband service available to them by the end of December 2017. The £1.7 billion Government program, BDUK, has provided funding where superfast broadband would be otherwise commercially unviable, enabling the Government to deliver on its manifesto commitment that 95% of the UK would have access to superfast speeds by the end of last year.
The DCMS call for evidence for the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review signalled the opening of the conversation around what – if any – policy interventions could benefit long-term investment in the infrastructure required for the next generation of digital technologies.
Satellite broadband hasn’t really taken off in the UK in the way that we might have expected it would 10-15 years ago. There are many reasons for this, both technical (latency issues affecting video calling and gaming applications and the potential for weather related outages) and economic (expensive terminal equipment and relatively high ongoing data costs).
I’ve written before about why the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) failed to live up to its expectations. In summary, building infrastructure is hard in any case and it’s even harder when neither the problem you want to solve nor solution are agreed upon by the parties involved. Last week though the Government published the Mobile Infrastructure Project: Impact and Benefits Report so it’s only fair to pay attention to the benefits that it delivered too.
This weekend saw two big developments in the bid to create a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) with the Government launching its consultation on the design of a USO and BT making a voluntary offer to deliver this service.
With the General elections taking place in three weeks, the main national political parties’ manifestos have now finally been published. As you would expect some areas are not overly detailed but all include a digital agenda with targets on broadband coverage, speed and references to investment in infrastructure.
The European Commission published last week its annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), ranking EU countries according to their performance in areas such as connectivity, digital skills, use of the internet by citizens, the digitisation of businesses, and digital public services. The UK moved from 6th place to 7th this year behind Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Although the UK progressed well in terms of coverage and take-up of superfast broadband connections, other countries have moved faster, encouraging their citizens and businesses to use internet services made available to them.
Just before Christmas, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published Connected Future, looking at what the UK needs to do to become a ‘world leader in 5G deployment’.
The media reporting focussed on the revelations that the UK’s 4G coverage is worse than that of Albania and Peru (a claim since questioned by Ofcom) and hailed 5G as the opportunity to put things right.
Ofcom today published their technical advice to Government on the design of a broadband Universal Service Obligation. Ofcom were instructed to deliver its “views, evidence-based analysis and…recommendations??? by John Whittingdale, then Secretary of State for DCMS, in March 2016. It has certainly delivered on the first two although in making clear that designing a USO is complex, it only offers a few recommendations. It will now be up to Government to make some of the thornier policy choices.