Following the broadband money

Governments to be broadband catalysts and referees, not owners

with 6 comments

Governments’ role in the broadband revolution is to be referee and catalyst, and to leave network development to private sector investors, says the secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Hamadoun Touré.

In this exclusive interview with Ian Grant, Touré argues that governments have to provide leadership and vision to use broadband technologies to develop their economies. He says governments need to follow the model of the mobile telephony sector, which has produced 5.3 billion users in about 20 years, with broadband.

He says this applies to both developing as well as developed economies. Governments can create demand for broadband by investing in content creation around education and health care. The ITU is working with other UN bodies such as Unesco to facilitate this, he says.

Touré’s comments come just after the publication of the UN Broadband Commission’s third report on the state of the broadband market. This will receive further attention at the commission’s next meeting at the ITU’s Telecom event in Geneva from 24 to 27 October 2011.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/08 at 10:05

6 Responses

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  1. ‘We have come to the end of the life of copper networks’ ? too right, but how do we convince UK government to stop councils giving public money to patch them up????
    Why should we create content when we can’t upload it?

    I do hope Hamadoun is right, and that government see it from his point of view and stop listening to advisors from the copper cabal.

    I don’t remember millions of pounds being spent on promoting the benefits of mobile phones. I didn’t see massive organisations spring up to support users of mobile phones. The only reason we need people supporting users and trying to get them online is because the infrastructure is so bad in so many areas that they can’t get a connection fit for purpose and they stay analogue.

    The solution is to get the pipes to the people, and they will deliver the content. Whilst we languish on copper with the digital divide growing with every cabinet that is commissioned the brave new world will never happen.


    2011/06/08 at 15:33

  2. Sadly there is no evidence that in the vast majority of areas delivering a pipe (please define exactly what that is) would result in the ‘people’ having the resources, time or expertise to provide connectivity to every property in the area.

    Like it or not we seem to have a service available soon to 66% and more of the population that meets the needs of the majority. How does FTTC increase the digital divide?

    Only other option is government funding FTTC to all.


    2011/06/08 at 22:17

    • What we will actually have, and which yoiu should have said, is a duplicated service to 66% of the population because BT’s FTTC/P footprint will pretty much overlap Virgin Media’s, and with an inferior service.
      BT has already complained about poor take-up of its FTTC product in Cardiff, and for the above reason. So shareholders will be soon asking whether BTs £2.5bn FTTC programme is a good use of their money.
      It beats me BT why doesn’t open up places where Virgin Media is not, where it is already the effective monopoly supplier, where there is a known demand, ans where it can charge what it likes. It would be pushing at an open door.
      The harder problem for everyone is Ofcom’s finding that 25% to 33% of people believe there is nothing on the net for them. Interestingly, this is confirmed by the latest report from the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School, about which more later. For all Martha Lane Fox’s valiant efforts to get us all to race online, without compelling content or zero alternative infrastructure to access government services , there no reason to go online using any network medium.


      2011/06/09 at 00:13

      • Yes, the >66% is a BT/VM mix. Presumably the only reason for rolling out in a particular area is that they see customers. In the case of BT FTTC it must be Sky, TalkTalk, BT Retail etc. that say they want it.

        If a cabinet is £30k it needs a lot of customers.


        2011/06/09 at 10:22

      • It’s not a mix, it’s largely a duplicate footprint. And choice is good, right?
        With respect to the customers for BT’s FTTC product being TalkTalk etc, are you suggesting that BT will not consider a direct relationship with rural communities? I suggest BT’s close, even intimate, relationships with country and city councils (see Cornwall, Lancaster, Cumbria, Surrey, Suffolk, Liverpool, Barnet etc) is evidence that BT cares so deeply about these communities that it doesn’t want to lose them to competitors.
        If a cabinet costs £30k, it needs some combination of customers and time to pay for it. Let’s say for argument’s sake that a £30k cabinet has room for 100 cable pairs, and it is 80% full. BT then has to recover £30,000 from 80 homes, i.e. £375 each, over the life of the cabinet. Let’s say each cabinet has a life of 12 years (Bill Murphy says this is the breakeven period on the Infinity programme). So that makes it £31.25 a year from each home. Two months’ rental income for a phone line plus “broadband” should cover it nicely. BDUK’s budget allows £60 per home.
        One has to wonder what BT does with all the profit it is making on cabinets.


        2011/06/09 at 12:52

  3. I vote for Touré to take over OFCOM (and sack BDUK) then the UK might actually have half a chance of a decent 4th utility infrastructure

    Guy Jarvis

    2011/06/09 at 13:07

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