Following the broadband money

DCMS to publish regular broadband stats

with 2 comments

The government is to publish quarterly updates of broadband coverage, speed, price and choice of service from 2012, according to the department of culture media and sport’s (DCMS) updated work programme.

The figures will include the number of premises covered per million pounds the government spends on broadband delivery.

It will report annually progress towards its target of giving the UK the best national broadband service in Europe. The scorecard will include average fixed download, upload and mobile speeds, by mobile, standard, and/or “superfast” service, and market concentration.

Given that high speed broadband access is concentrated in the towns and cities, these statistics may prove unhelpful to policy planners and investors unless it also considers location.

The government has acknowledged that some 5% of the population will never get high speed broadband, and that perhaps one-third may get a lot less than the “up to 40Mbps” figure BT is touting for its fibre to the cabinet programme.

Simply averaging the available speeds and other quality of service measures across the country means that poor figures in rural locations will be averaged up by better figures in towns. This makes it essential for the government to also report by location for everyone to have a realistic view of prevailing access conditions.

The question is, how fine-grained does the area need to be to be meaningful to potential investors and network operators? Parish? Village? Town? County? Constituency?

The DCMS has other stuff besides broadband on its plate, such as reforming communications regulator Ofcom, making sure the BBC is more accountable and gives better value to licence fee payers, finalising the switchover to digital terrestrial TV, kickstarting (again) digital radio, freeing up and releasing more radio spectrum to more people, ensuring better protection against online piracy, and getting up to 20 local TV stations onto the air by 2015.

Here are the deadlines for the broadband workload.

Department of culture, media and sport
Actions on broadband Start End
Create a level playing field between incumbents and new providers
Examine barriers to new providers seeking to invest in fibre optic networks Completed
Hold an industry round table to discuss ways to increase certainty and confidence for potential investors Completed
Open up access to infrastructure to facilitate super-fast broadband in many areas
Conduct a public consultation (with participation from industry regulators) on access to ducts, sewers and poles that can be used to carry fibre optic cable Completed
Work with Ofcom to require BT and other infrastructure providers to allow the use of their assets to deliver super-fast broadband Started 1 Nov 2011
Regularly review and introduce, if necessary, legislative powers to open relevant utility infrastructure to broadband providers Started 1 May 2015
Issue guidance on micro-trenching and street works 1 Nov 2011 1 Nov 2011
Facilitate the introduction of super-fast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas
Start market testing community-led pilots in the Highlands and Islands, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Herefordshire Completed
Publish policy paper setting out the lessons learned from community-led pilots and the Government’s approach to investment in broadband until 2015 1 Nov 2011 1 Nov 2011
If required, instruct Broadband Delivery UK to allocate funding to areas where the market has not delivered, after digital switchover has finished in 2012 1 Sep 2012 1 Sep 2012
Ensure that all businesses in Enterprise Zones have superfast broadband access 1 Jan 2012 1 May 2015
Source: DCMS

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/05/17 at 13:15

Posted in Broadband, Internet, News, Politics

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. For most people all that matters is the coverage and speed at their own property.


    2011/05/17 at 13:59

  2. True for individuals, and they could get that data from a number of independent speed tests. But what if they were thinking of moving house? Also, reliability is a key issue – just ask people Kent today, especially those trying to use O2’s mobile data service. For some, any speed is better than no speed.

    Network investors and planners need more and better data than they have at present. And surely the government needs to know just how many people are unlikely to be getting the EU’s recommended 30Mbps Whether it likes the answer or not, at least it can act on it.


    2011/05/17 at 15:27

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