The government today announced much welcome spending on broadband roll-out ‘support’. They announced £530 million of funding to support broadband rollout – with the potential for making an extra £300 million available for the period 2015-2017.
Read the full strategy here. The strategy represents the government plan for how to spend the money in a way that will “stimulate the greatest possible investment in our superfast broadband network”.
Take particular stock of this bit:- We will work with every local authority in England which wishes to take part, and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, on encouraging the production of local broadband plans focussed on identifying investment needs where it is most needed. They should also involve local communities as much as possible. The needs and wishes of communities will differ across the UK, and this should be represented, including sparse, rural populations as well as urban communities. Among other benefits, Local Authorities own commitment to broadband delivery should help unlock innovation in public service delivery by ensuring they have an incentive to innovate in order to realise value for money on their investment.
Here’s a nice extract from the ministerial speech:-
“Last month we announced that digital will increasingly be the default channel for delivering public services – just as it is for many service in the private sector.
And as part of that, we announced a first wave of services that will have digital as their primary delivery channel – including student loans and jobseeker’s allowance applications for individuals, as well as VAT registration and Companies House services for businesses.”
So, what’s the impact?
Well, among other things including a british standard for ‘broadvand ready’ buildings there’s a committment to working with local authorities to reduce the cost of broadband roll-out by clarifying existing guidance on streetworks and micro-trenching.
Apart from the massive cost of investment still required the only flaw in the plan seems to be the reliance on BT to act as the delivery agents. Perhaps the vision of fair speed, coverage, price and chocie will be compromised by these plans?
I suspect those of us that remember dial-up connections will also remember how the massive push by small-fry firms like NTL allowed the internet to be consumed by the masses. Today it is the likes of Virgin Media who are really making the differnece in our towns and cities. While you can’t often beat BT on quality, they often fail to see beyond the bottom line.