When you work on a project like Digital Britain, you start to see the issues involved pop up absolutely everywhere. Putting on Radio 4 in the morning it’s almost inevitable someone you know will be on there discussing broadband, or piracy, or the future of broadcasting.
Recent examples include a discussion about how file sharing is moving beyond music and film to books, the BBC’s investigation into broadband availability, and yet more discussion about the Australian broadband investment.
All of this probably increases expectations for the final Digital Britain Report. But raising the profile of communications policy is sort of the point – and high expectations can lead to bold decisions. We’ll just have to see how the final package of decisions is met in the real world.
With the Government machine now into ‘quiet mode’ during electoral purdah (and headlines dominated by goings on down the road in the Palace of Westminster), we are busy determining the shape of the final report. It’s looking like it’s going to be longer than the interim report, with more detail and firmer answers. I’m sure that won’t be the end of the process, because issues never really stop being debated, particularly if there is a detailed implementation phase, but we’re trying to be as definitive as we can.
There are various issues still to be decided, including the way in which we deliver universality, the exact shape of public service content provision in future, and the role of public incentives for NGA. Nailing these in time for launch next month will be challenging, but nothing quite concentrates the mind in Government so much as a deadline!