Insights into some AxiCom thinking...
Digital Britain – a Lastminute strategy?
The publication this week of the Digital Britain report has predictably been met with headlines about the imposition of a broadband ‘levy’ (or ‘tax’ to you and me) to help fund the future investment in a national high speed internet infrastructure. But, as the appointment of Martha Lane Fox as ‘Digital Inclusion Champion’ perhaps mischievously suggests, is this all a little bit of a lastminute strategy?
In reality, the UK is way behind when it comes to both broadband speeds and access. Not only do we still have parts of the country that have no access to broadband services, but the benchmark that the Digital Britain report has set is a measly 2Mbps … However, three million homes in the UK cannot currently achieve even this speed which leaves much of the multimedia content defining the shape of today’s internet unconsumable.
When Gordon Brown wrote in The Times that the internet is “as vital as water and gas”, he was clearly stating the case that broadband internet access is so fundamental to people’s ability to go about their daily lives in society that it should be considered a utility. This is something which on my own blog I’ve been banging on about for some time now, asking the question whether it should be a utility, and if so, who should pay for it.
If you believe it is the government’s responsibility, you could look no further than Australia where the government has said it is going to undertake this job itself and is spending A$43 billion on building a national broadband network. In order to do this a new company has been created with the government as the major shareholder; this will not only connect the whole country to a 100Mbs network, but also create 25,000 jobs.
The Digital Britain report suggests we’re about to head off in a similar direction of taxpayer funded broadband investment when it says that “evidence, analysis and industry consensus shows that, in the absence of some market incentive, around one third of the country is likely to still be excluded [by 2012]”.
One of the key ways of connecting these ‘not-spots’ as they’ve been branded will be through mobile broadband. The report looks at spectrum allocation and refarming as a critical way of enabling operators to both extend 3G coverage to rural areas and to deploy next generation mobile networks. With spectrum auctions planned for mid-2010, we can expect to see a lot of jostling among vendors and operators to try and shape the terms that will be imposed.
In addition to the spectrum issues, which are obviously related to a large extent to the digital switchover of terrestrial television, the report is full of big issues which are great fodder for proactive PR campaigns. Whether it’s making Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) a headline news story by linking it to the new obligation that will be imposed on ISPs to police their subscribers or championing the technologies that will drive the build-out of the UK’s high speed internet national infrastructure, the Digital Britain report is packed full of angles for stories that can elevate even the most niche client and technology.
I’ll be doing a series of more in-depth looks into Digital Britain Report on my blog, http://mobileip.blogspot.com
The full Digital Britain report is available for download here.
OUR SECTOR EXPERTS
Experience in PR: 27 years
Expertise in technology industry: 22 years
Specialisations: Telecoms, international programme management