The broadband industry and the news media has been expecting an interim report on how the Internet is regulated, and whether rules that apply to television could be used for the UK Internet, along with a new broadband Universal Service Obligation for broadband and how the UK should roll-out high speed broadband. Alas it seems we have a few more days to wait, which leaves plenty of time for speculation and informed leaks.
In terms of the future of broadband, the goal would be to facilitate a national fibre to the home network, but there appears to be a lot of talk of wireless networks. While wireless offers the potential for speeds in excess of ADSL, it will still suffer the age old issue of distance affecting speed. Full fibre solutions are not cheap but appear to offer more scope for future proofing. We are expecting to see perhaps 70% of the UK left to survive on a purely commercial led model, which is the one that is seeing 50Mbps rolled out gradually. Those remaining exchanges where to date no-one has moved in to provide an unbundled service, will probably remain with an exchange based xDSL solution and a choice of wireless service that may exceed ADSL speeds and is part funded by government hand-outs.
Community and regional led schemes are bringing fibre to some parts of the UK, and new companies are emerging to do the same; whether they will thrive or just survive is open to debate. One problem facing regional and community solutions is convincing those larger companies to sign up. Many people will have encountered corporate IT policies that insist on certain 'approved' suppliers, and a firm with hundreds of home workers may prefer to use a single ADSL supplier, rather than three or four different firms to cover the UK.
Perhaps the largest advantage of Lord Carter releasing an Interim copy of the report will be that it gives him a chance to gauge the reaction to recommendations in the report and possibly alter things for the final report which is expected in late Spring 2009.