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Listen to Lord Carter before the Business and Enterprise Committee
Tuesday 10 March 2009 22:25:34 by Andrew Ferguson

The Digital Britain report is only at its interim stage with the full report expected in the summer. Lord Carter the reports author was a witness in a meeting of the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee on 10th March, answering questions about the report, and in some cases helping to fill in a few gaps between the interim report and the final report.

An audio stream of the meeting can be listened to on, with an advantage of an audio only presentation being that it will run on practically any broadband connection, a full transcript should appear in the future.

The full meeting is some 90 minutes long, but for many the biggest issue will be a new Universal Service Obligation, which was discussed some 15 minutes into the meeting. Three building blocks were set out that will need to be worked upon before the USO can become active:

  • Current EU law in terms of Universal Service Obligation for telecoms, covers the provision of a telephone line capable of supporting an internet service at up to 56Kbps, i.e. what is achievable with a V90 dial-up modem. For the UK to pass a USO requiring broadband speeds of 0.5, 1 or 2Meg as the target and for this law to be legal will require changes at the EU level. It would appear Lord Carter feels this is achievable.
  • How do you provide the universal access, and at what cost? Three technology groups were mentioned, fixed, mobile and satellite, and it seems that not one solution will be chosen, but rather the solution most appropriate to the needs of an area. So while areas with no or slow broadband might see local loop upgrades, others could be offered a subsidised satellite service perhaps.
  • How do you fund it? It was mentioned that a mix of public funds and industry levy seem the most likely solution.

The issue of next generation broadband (i.e. 25Mbps and above rather than the next generation that is ADSL2+ as part of 21CN from the BT Group) was raised, and it seems that at this time little has changed since the Francesco Caio report in September 2008, and the current Lord Carter review is seen as being part of the process that this previous report recommends of keeping a close eye on developments. The issue of the Universal Service Obligation and next generation broadband would appear to be being handled separately, i.e. the USO is not likely to be used as a way to force providers to roll-out next generation services where they feel they cannot get a return on their investment.

If people feel the need to reply to anything that was raised by the report, or the committee meeting the report team are taking feedback until 12th March 2009, both through email and a less formal online comments section.


Posted by lep17 over 8 years ago
Satellite is not broadband it has latency issues as we are all aware of . Give us folks in rural not spots the real deal proper broadband .
Posted by Brigadier over 8 years ago
On behalf of the broadband “not spots”, rural users and those on long lines, I have emailed a response to the Digital Britain Interim Report team about the potential for a widening of the digital divide and the apparent introduction of geographical pricing (the latter following OFCOM’s relaxation of BTW pricing.
Anyone care to share their submission responses?

Posted by lep17 over 8 years ago
Well if the are going to have 2 meg for all dont try and cover it with the use of Sat as I said above give us proper BB . I live in N.Ireland and Avanti won the contract off BT to provide us with Sat BB and if BT had of won the contract thy were going to give us FTTC in our area as there is alot of SAt customers they already had all the ground work done bar installing the new Cabs. Awell some day.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
Sure Brigadier. I argued for ISDN/satellite dual connections for remote communities. ISDN has greater reach than ADSL, and can be boosted if necessary. Combine a low-latency ISDN line with a satellite connection for bulk data and use a router with "smart" firmware to handle the connection.

(i.e. It would get the page's HTML and images under 100k on the ISDN and the flash and large images on the satellight)
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
When I say "remote" there, I do mean "remote". WiMAX is suitable for last-mile replacement in "not-spots" and less remote communities, and should be considered as a bridging standard.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
Hi Brigadier, all my responses are on and on the site. Been adding bits all week, then cut and pasted them all to send to - those sites will probably stay open, but the email dies at close of play tomorrow (thurs 12th may)- last chance to have your say peeps.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
ps, do you think we will get a response to our submissions Brigadier?
Posted by Brigadier over 8 years ago
Hi Cyberdoyle

Unlikely; you will probably just get an acknowledgement like I did which said - "Thank you for your contribution. This will be passed on to the team".
Posted by timcato over 8 years ago
The bbc like SPEED CAMERAS are just there to generate revenue .
Boffins at bbc usually just come up with something expensive complicated and a different protocol to the rest of the world so they retain controll of the revenue tidal wave.
I would keep the bbc as far away from this as possible they are usless at everything except using propaganda to extort licence fees for a shoddy third world service .
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
Hi Brigadier, I got this response: Dear Mrs Doyle

Thank you for your response to the Digital Britain Report and for keeping the discussion going on the forum. We hope you will continue to contribute your views to the discussion.

Please note that the Minister would like to publish all responses made about the Digital Britain Report. Could you please let me know if you object to your response/s being published.
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