Broadband Britain: The Wait Goes On

12:35 PM -- Relax everyone! The UK's long wait for universal broadband just got longer today with the launch of the government's DCMS Structural Reform Plan.

In amongst a lot of gubbins about competitive sport for kids and the Big Society (whatever that is) was the revelation that the deadline for delivering 2-Mbit/s universal broadband in the UK has been put back three years, to 2015. (See Britain Botches Broadband and Blow to Digital Britain.)

According to the revised schedule, a public consultation on access to the necessary ducts and sewers for urban rollouts will begin this month, and is due to be completed by November, while a report on the impact of relevant regulatory measures will not see the light of day until September 2011. Any necessary trench digging might start in November 2011, by which time BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and other providers must allow access to the appropriate bits of infrastructure.

It's clear what will happen. BT will forge ahead with its FTTH/VDSL broadband rollout in built-up areas, where users should get reasonable downstream speeds, while cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) will continue to upgrade its broadband facilities in its network areas, which cover about half the UK population.

But if you live in a remote village in northeast England, or the Welsh or Scottish mountains, then getting a 2-Mbit/s connection looks to still be something of a pipe dream. Unless, that is, someone with some knowledge, common sense, and a grasp on the collective benefits of universal broadband service (whether over copper, over fiber, or via a wireless connection) takes hold of this plan, knocks some sense into (and wrings some cash out of) the government, and just gets the job done.

But for now, the UK is in for another five years of moaning and excuses, followed by another set of reasons why some folk still aren't connected to the 21st century because they have the wrong post code.

— Paul Rainford, freelance editor, special to Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:29:54 PM
re: Broadband Britain: The Wait Goes On

So the new government can dump on the old government and say the 2012 deadline was nuts and not properly funded, and push the deadline to at least 2015. Well done. Point scored. Problem swept under the mat for 5 years.

What a bunch of losers. When is someone going to show some backbone in this country?

The thing is, 98% of the UK population does't give a monkey's nuts because they can already get > 2 Mbit/s. But that's not the point. The socio-economic impact of having universal broadband -- and by the way, forget 2 Mbit/s, we should be talking at least 10 Mbit/s for crofters that live in a shack on the far side of a hill in the Hebrides -- is still grossly misunderstood.

Ask a British politician what impact countrywide, guaranteed broadband would mean to education, health, democracy (ha!), security, social support, transport, urban planning, population migration, employment, international credibility, and on and on and on, and they'd look like a deer in headlights. 

And up until now, I've been ambivalent about deer culling...


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