Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just who needs Broadband?

The Sunday Times today reports that the Mobile Operators are to be offered the 3G spectrum in perpetuity in exchange for the provision of a universal service which could cost an additional £1-2B to build. In the Observer we are told that BT is looking at a return to mobile becasue of the loss of revenue having spun out Cellnet to help pay off a £30B debt at the time of the 3G auctions.

As someone who was involved in the 3G bids I have to question some of the logic in these reports. On a very simple level if I were the CEO of a Network in the UK the thing I want is planning permission for all the base stations they have planned. The Investment needed for 3G has been slowed because of local resistance to new base stations not cash concerns. In the Local Elections last year the Liberal Democrats had as a manafesto pledge the refusal to allow any new masts to be built. The outcome of this is that Networks need to Appeal Planning Applications to get one built, this is at present taking some 4 years to achieve! For me it means that I have very poor coverage from Orange which will only improve once they get permission to improve coverage not a Governement incentive.

3G spectrum might not be something that has a long time frame in that the current thoughs on 4G is that the old 2G spectrum is refarmed in an effort to improve inbuilding coverage.

Lord Carter (one of Mandleson's Business Ministers) is at present putting the finishing touches to his Digital Britain Report aimed at looking at the needs for UK PLC. It seems that at this moment the Mandleson Machine is stress testing some of the recommendations prior to publication. As well as the 3G "leak" we have the Observer
reporting that the central plank of the plan, Fibre to the Home is under threat. BT is looking at the best way to manage its cash knowing that they have a hole in the pension funds and declining incomes thanks to bundles that offer free calls and problems in the Services business.

Whilst I have been looking forward to a better connection than I have at present I am unsure of the benefits of just building FTTH. When you look at the expansion of the M25 you see that the adding of more lanes just means that more are stuck in traffic jams! Thus with a faster internet will we get a better one? The TV content that I want is not yet available on iPlayer and the regulator has said that Picnic or Kangeroo are not fair to sonsumers and so cannot launch. So it best solution for me to wait until the serries finishes and the buy the DVD at HMV if I wish to remain legal or risk viruses and file share. The Government seems to think that because so many are breaking the rules they need to
Tax all users of the web. If you get a better connection the incetive will be to break the rules more so who wins?

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