Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Digital Britain Report

When it was finally published my review of the Digital Britain report was I hope that they did not pay Lord Carter for this.

After two days when my fellow teleworks have overloaded my Internet connection I have to say that Carter has wasted an opportunity.  Because of the lack of investment in the Thatcher years we in Britain find ourselves in a void.  If we had invested rather than Privatised our utilities then we might not be looking at an infrastructure that is failing.

With the Mobile Networks it is not a question of funding capital projects on the whole but rather the need for planning permission.  Given rights to build a base station anywhere that they can rent or buy a site then the Networks will build the coverage that the customers will pay for.  The release of sites could speed the consolidation of Networks in the UK; it has to be obvious that we cannot support FIVE networks.  

At the time of the Internet Bubble I looked at the way that Railroads and Airlines had developed over the previous 100 years.  All those that built the Railroads ended up in failure and those that started Air Travel also ended in financial ruin PanAm was the last to fail.  However we still used trains and planes.

Looking at the demands of UK plc what we see is a need for better infrastructure.  The launch of Cable television shows that we cannot offer regional monopolies rather we need a single wholesale provider. However the lack of a government CTO who understands the engineering requirements of Broadband Britain we do not have a Blind Watchmaker capable of architecting an effective solution.

At this moment we have an opportunity not presented since the end of the World War in 1950's Britain.  If we are to limit the market correction then we need to invest in infrastructure that allows the UK economy be remain the the G8.  The roll out of fiber to finally provide high speed broadband connectivity will give the UK employment in the Civil Engineering sector at a time when the only thing we seem to be building is Sports facilities for the 2012 Games.  We will also provide employment opportunities to raise the level of Engineering Skills in the work force.  Before Thatcher we had pride in Engineers but the transfer to a service economy means that it is no longer so.  With better Engineering in the communications field we could raise the standard in the UK that makes people employment opportunities not currently provided following the downsizing of BT and the fall of Marconi. 

Looking at the people in the street I have to ask that does the man in the street want Broadband?  Whist some could afford a high speed computer that could benefit from 100 Megabits per second connectivity those who limit their experience to light social networking, messaging and catch up TV could function with a connection that is a little better than the current situation.

It is not the consumer that needs better Broadband rather it is business and government that does as without it the UK will demonstrate that we continue to fall back.  With better connectivity we can lift educational standards not just those that are currently in school but also within the workforce.

The last two days has seen an increase in Mobile traffic as well internet traffic but the benefits in terms of revenue has only highlighted the need for investment.  Looking at the response to the report I am surprised that not many are disappointed that Carter has been conservative in his recommendations.

(c) Picture from my Bedroom window yesterday morning.   

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