It would seem the BBC has had someone leak a few snippets of information on a report for the government that looks into the area of investment in future broadband networks. The BBC article went online overnight, with the full report being expected today.
"The BBC has been told that the report says there is no case for the UK government to provide cash subsidies to telecoms firms in order to accelerate the deployment of fibre. "Extract from BBC News item
A recent report by the BSG suggested that a fibre to the cabinet deployment would cost just over £5 billion for the whole UK, and fibre to the home £28 billion. Which while very large sums of money once spread over a number of years and the number of homes that have broadband starts to look more reasonable - with the pricing we all pay for broadband now a fibre roll-out would not be a goldmine for investors but would put the communications infrastructure in place to perhaps outlast the 21st century.
BT has said it will invest £1.5 billion between now and 2012 on new networks, mainly thought to be FTTC, and Virgin Media is to spend a smaller amount of money to upgrade its network to support DOCSIS 3.0. Firms like Ask4 and H2O Networks are also starting to deploy. So the UK is moving forward which is perhaps why the government is holding back, but a big question is whether this investment by private companies will extend across the whole UK or just cherry pick areas to cover. Alas past experience suggests cherry picking will be the cases.
Perhaps the only way we will see any UK government subsidising broadband roll out en-masse would be if the BT group was to collapse and need under pinning like some financial institutions.
Sitting the other side of the fence, why should taxpayers money be spent subsidising faster broadband if all it means is that people can download the latest Hollywood blockbuster (illegally or legally) faster. Among the decision makers who may still have a secretary to printing out their emails, this may be the view taken, and to some extent it may be. Video over broadband is often touted as the thing that needs faster networks - perhaps the movie studios could invest in the delivery networks to increase their audience.