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Telecommunications - Broadband

Next Generation Networks - Broadband Review

On 22 February 2008, Baroness Shriti Vadera, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business and Competitiveness, announced a review of broadband during her speech about the Creative Economy Programme. The review will be led by Francesco Caio, working with other relevant government departments and will report its findings to the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Broadband

Raising productivity is seen as one of the foremost challenges to improving the UK’s economic performance. There are a number of mechanisms for doing this and the innovative use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) is one of them. The department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform remains committed to working to create the conditions for business success through competitive and flexible markets that create value for businesses, consumers and employees.

Businesses in the UK are deploying ICT more pervasively and innovatively than ever before. We now see employees on the move quite at ease accessing their company network through remote connections, and more broadly, businesses are ever more integrated in their exchange of product, schedule and financial information.

Broadband is a technology that enables both businesses and the public to access a wide variety of new ICT services. This suite of technologies offers the potential to transform the development and use of ICT applications and services.

Prices for broadband have fallen and speeds have increased in the UK. The UK has one of the most extensive broadband markets in the world with over 99% of households able to access broadband. It also has one of the most competitive marketplaces in Europe for broadband, with competition at the infrastructure level between cable providers, DSL and numerous service providers competing with BT to provide retail ADSL services to its customers. There is however, no room for complacency in an ever more competitive global environment and the UK Government recognises the importance of the telecommunications infrastructure.

For this reason the Government has engaged in a process of consultation with public and private sectors to determine how and when Next Generation access to broadband can be delivered in the UK. The Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms MP, Minister of State for Competitiveness held high level summit on 26 November 2007 to discuss the role of next generation access networks on the economy, with business leaders from the main telecoms companies, investment community Government departments, regional public authorities and Ofcom. There was a consensus for a need for collaboration across the public and private sectors. The summit also agreed to develop a vision statement to set the context for future investment and establish future priorities. Experts will be called together to advise Stephen Timms on future actions including how to share learning and best practice from high speed broadband pilots taking place across the UK (See note of event in related documents section).

BERR is also supporting work being carried out by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) to identify the economic and social value of broadband and to the public sectors role in deployment of Next Generation Access. BSG and BERR are also working to identify alternative commercial models and with Ofcom to ensure that the regulatory regime is appropriate for next generation broadband.

The government also recognises the potential for digital technologies to transform the way we live and work and also their potential for disrupting adopted behaviours. We must respond to these challenges of increasing global competition by transforming our own services and raising our skill levels. That is why the Government has set out long term service transformation plans and is investing in technology to transform learning, to bring opportunity and experience of ICT to all school pupils and their families. These programmes and other complementary initiatives provide the backbone for the Government's digital strategy.

You can find out more about these initiatives on the following web pages:

http://www.cio.gov.uk/transformational_government/index.asp and
http://www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/e-strategy/exec.shtml

The following site provides information about how to make the most of broadband: BERR Case Studies

Public Broadband Schemes - A Best Practice Guide: February 2007

This collaborative guidance from DTI (BERR) and Ofcom is designed to help those responsible for making decisions about public investment in broadband schemes, setting out the factors that are to be considered before determining whether to use public monies to intervene in the broadband market.

You can view the frequently asked questions at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/mofaq/telecoms/pbs/