BT has taken its turn in submitting evidence to the Trade and Industry Select Committee. BT has chosen to highlight the success story behind UK broadband, though many will be sure to disagree with BTs interpretation. The full BT press release can be read here.
In terms of factual content there is very little new information. The fact that if the remaining 350 odd exchanges with triggers get enabled, coverage should hit the 90% of households mark is fairly well known. What is interesting is the way BT is setting out its table with regards to the competitive nature of the market.
An extensive broadband review is due from BT over the next few weeks, and some rumours are now saying inside two weeks. This press release can be seen as preparing the ground for what is to come, in particular the comments relating to regulation of the market. This is important, since for the final 10% of households the purely commercially driven market may not be enough, there may be a need to relax some regulation, both for BT and other competitors looking to provide a service.
If the UK can reach a basic affordable coverage figure of say 98% of households inside two years that would be an amazing achievement, and could provide lots of benefits to the national economy. One key element that must not be overlooked, is that while working hard to get the basic coverage figures as close to 100% as possible, the services and uses of broadband are growing and changing. While 0.5Mbps was acceptable in 2000, in a short space of time people will expect a connection to be capable of running a couple of games consoles, streamed audio/video and supporting multiple Voice over IP phone lines all at the same time.
If BT and other providers ignore the need to push forward with the technology and settle for universal coverage, the last two years will simply repeat themselves, with the call for better broadband, rather than just the basic offering.
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