The funding of broadband
Tuesday, 23rd February 2010
This morning’s BBC radio news reported that a cross-party Business Innovation and Skills Committee has condemned a government proposal to charge a levy to fund ultra-fast broadband as "unfair". The Digital Economy Bill, which proposes the 50p monthly charge on fixed phone lines, is currently being scrutinised in the House of Lords. The Government intends implementing the new duty on 1 October 2010.
The Digital Economy Bill (http://digbig.com/5bbcxg) outlines the government's broadband plans. It wants to ensure a minimum speed of 2Mbps to all parts of Britain by 2012, and then deliver ultra-fast broadband to most of the country by 2017.
The first part of the plan, for the UK to have a Universal Service Commitment of 2Mbps by 2012, will be funded in a number of ways, but mainly a surplus from the Digital Switch Over Help Scheme, ring-fenced in the BBC licence fee.
The second part of the plan – to deliver ultra-fast speeds, known as Next Generation Access, by 2017 – will be funded by the Next Generation Fund. 50p per month will be levied on all fixed phone lines to help finance the Fund.
Broadband improvement is essential for both businesses and individuals. A recent article on PublicTechnology.net reported how limitations in the broadband infrastructure are holding back the uptake of Cloud Computing by SMEs (http://digbig.com/5bbcxj).
More people are working from home – both the self-employed and employees remote working. Friends currently looking to move to a rural location are checking for broadband “not-spots” and “slow-spots” at the same time as looking at houses. The Broadband Notspot project (http://www.broadband-notspot.org.uk) maps out the broadband blackspots in the UK, defining a “notspot” as a location where you cannot order a fixed broadband service capable of delivering at least 1 Mbps in the downstream direction, and a “slow-spot” as a place you can get broadband, but only below 1Mbps (download).
Whilst there are many opinions about how funds should be raised and whether indeed the Government has a role in the first place, I think most will agree with the Government that faster speeds are “vital to the UK's growth”.
About this item:
By Anne Jordan
Anne Jordan is a freelance business information researcher and consultant with over twenty years of professional experience. She became an independent practitioner after positions in business research and research management at various City of London-based financial services institutions and management consultancy firms, including Marakon Associates, Mitchell Madison Group, Lloyds of London and Goldman Sachs. She has worked in the UK and overseas, most recently managing the client relationship with an Indian-based research organisation.
Anne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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