DCMS to publish regular broadband stats
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|