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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Digital Britain - throttle, persecute, don't invest

The UK government put a noose around its neck in the early part of this decade by declaring its aims for leading the G7 in broadband - bullshit as everyone knew, but the LLU farce made it much worse than anyone anticipated. So what would arch-realist Stephen Cater come up with as his interim report? Well , not much - but at least its not designed to fail. If you read the list of his advisors, you'd know its a reheated Ciao Review response, at least on network deployment.

Here's the network stuff (TV and radio transition details are in the main report):
We will establish a Government-led strategy group to assess the necessary demand-side, supply-side and regulatory measures to underpin existing market-led investment plans, and to remove barriers to the timely rollout, beyond those declared plans, to maximise market-led coverage of Next Generation broadband. This Strategy Group will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, assess the case for how far market-led investment by Virgin Media, BT Group plc and new network enterprises will take the UK in terms of roll-out and likely take-up; and whether any contingency measures, as recommended by the Caio review, are necessary.
Between now and the final Digital Britain Report, the Government will, while recognising existing investments in infrastructure, work with the main operators and others to remove barriers to the development of a wider wholesale market in access to ducts and other primary infrastructure.
The Valuation Office Agency has provided new, clear guidance which addresses the problem of clarity over business rates identified by Francesco Caio in his report, and will ensure that they respond to any queries from existing and new investors and maintain clear, helpful guidance. For its part, the Government will ensure that the guidance is widely understood by potential investors.
We will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, have considered the value for money case for whether public incentives have a part to play in enabling further next generation broadband deployment, beyond current market-led initiatives.
The Government will help implement the Community Broadband Network’s proposals for an umbrella body to bring together all the local and community networks and provide them with technical and advisory support.

Well, not exactly $9billion Obama fiscal stimulus is it? Elsewhere the Public Accounts Committee reported last week that the 12billion spent on the Programme for IT in Health is a continuing disaster - a small fraction of that pump-priming broadband to areas still waiting for DSL would make such a difference!

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