Monday, December 06, 2010

New govt initiative on broadband - give £ to ISP's

In a sparkling new government initiative (which seems to have been designed with PR in mind) we have been promised the best broadband in Europe by 2015. Currently we rank @13th in the table and fall behind quite a bit on speed of delivery.

Between them successive regulators and BT have pretty effectively held back the development of competition in the market - ADSL was first on the scene in the UK in 1997 - by stopping the realistic unbundling of the local loop and the breaking of BT's monopoly. Sir Peter Bonfield - then CEO of BT - gets his place in the hall of fame for suggesting that there was no real demand for broadband services.

However - we are where where we are so does this initiative have any real value beyond the column inches and minutes of airtime it will generate ?

The mechanism of using the BBC licence fee to fund the costs is a good one - given the big success of the I Player.

The hole in the argument however is that the overall policy towards the internet needs to be presented to include the steps being taken to protect the copyright of the creative industries without whose content and applications the pipes of the broadband networks would be completely pointless. Email and other communications apps require very limited bandwidth (exception of video calling perhaps).

High quality TV pictures can be delivered at about 3-5mbps so the DCMS are missing a trick by not taking some of the budget from the BBC and investing it in protecting the creative industries rather than filling the boots of their buddies at the ISP's. The implementation of the Digital Economy Act 2010 would really boost the position of the UK's digital creative industries but this is oddly absent from the current round of press statements.