Broadband Britain: The Wait Goes On
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