Broadband Britain to get 2Mbps universal service

Summary:But no gov't cash for next-gen broadband yet...

...Lord Carter is far more circumspect, deferring a decision on whether the public sector has a role to play in helping push out next-gen coverage.

"We will establish a government-led strategy group to assess the necessary demandside, supplyside and regulatory measures to underpin existing market-led investment plans, and to remove barriers to the timely rollout, beyond those declared plans, to maximise market-led coverage of next generation broadband," the report said.

"We will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, have considered the value for money case for whether public incentives have a part to play in enabling further next generation broadband deployment, beyond current market-led initiatives."

Speaking today, Lord Carter added there is no doubt the market would be able to fund the lion's share - between 60 and 65 per cent - of next-gen deployments in the UK, provided the regulatory conditions are suitable. Hooking up the other 30 to 35 per cent, however, could prove more tricky.

"We asked the question as to whether or not the market will take us beyond 60, 65 per cent or whether or not it will only get us there if there is a use of public incentives and I don't think we know the answer to that," Carter said.

However, he added: "The case for the value of next generation networks is probably clearer now than it's ever been."

Commenting on the report, Ian Fogg, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that while the commitment to deliver universal service for broadband is "a worthy goal" the report is decidedly lacklustre on the issue of next-gen networks. "I don't think this report has enough in it about making sure that in urban areas we have internationally competitive broadband, fibre-powered broadband," he told

"This report talks about access to [up to] 2Mbps... the vast majority of the country has that available - in excess of 99 per cent depending on whose figures you use."

Fogg added: "If the focus is too much on making sure that broadband's widely available, we will have less of a digital divide but we will have achieved that by ending up with a lowest common denominator approach… We need to make sure that both those things - deploying high speed fibre broadband and making broadband available throughout the country - both those things happen without sacrificing a competitive market."

There are now more than 30 separate local or community next generation broadband rollouts planned in Britain and under the plans set out today, the government will help implement a proposal for an umbrella body to be established in order to ensure these next generation networks are open and interoperable, as well as providing technical and advisory support.

The report also suggests the government is gearing up to tackle online piracy - setting out a commitment to legislate to require ISPs to notify copyright infringers their conduct is illegal.

"We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities) to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order," Lord Carter's report states.

Topics: Networking

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