Vested interest, red tape snatch defeat from UK broadband victory
Britain has enough money to build the best broadband in Europe, but vested interests and red tape are stopping progress.
That’s the conclusion drawn by Eurim, a policy think tank, following hearings to find synergies between the nation’s broadband and smart metering network programmes.
A report on the meeting published yesterday said the money needed to build the energy companies’ smart grid ranged between £1bn and £4.5bn, a sum that “dwarfed” the £530m given to BDUK to ensure that “the final third” of UK residents will get high speed broadband.
These sums did not take into account potential savings from pooling spend on public service networks, sharing existing infrastructures and mixing technologies and business models according to local needs, provided the barriers are removed, Eurim said.
“UK targets for 2015 (minimum 2Mbps for 90% of homes) are modest compared to what could be achieved if currently agreed public funding and that available from industry were joined up, regulatory and planning obstacles removed, and 4G spectrum made available at the same time as the rest of Europe,” Eurim said.
The availability of broadband was already a standard solicitor’s question for domestic property transactions, it said. Lack of access to high speed broadband could wipe hundreds of thousands of pounds off the value of commercial properties. This helped make it the top priority for the economic development teams of many councils.
Eurim said the obstacles to joining up the smart grid and broadband networks were mainly regulatory and legal and to do with conflicting business interests and models rather than underlying technology.
“The more dynamic the market (with genuine competition between varied and evolving service offerings) the (more) important the need for ‘open’ standards to enable inter-operability and choice,” it said.