A number of organisations including the Country Land and Business Association have launched a campaign called Final Third First with the aim of lobbying government on behalf of those living in what is commonly referred to as the 'final third' of the UK.
The Digital Britain Report earlier this year coined the term 'final third' to describe the areas within the UK where a purely market-lead approach was unlikely to deliver the next generation broadband services which we already see in many of the more populated areas. The government announced its intention to intervene by way of establishing a next generation fund which would be paid for by a 50 pence a month levy on fixed telephone lines, the so called 'broadband tax'.
Earlier this week, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced the establishment of the organisation Broadband Delivery UK which would be responsible both for delivering the Universal Service Commitment of 2Mbps by 2012 as well as next-generation services by 2017. The campaign's first action is to push for "faster action" on the promises made by the government.
"The Government's universal service commitment to provide broadband speeds of two megabits per second (Mbps) for all by 2012 will be hard to achieve. Those living in areas known as the Final Third still receive no proper access to broadband, putting them at a severe disadvantage. This campaign calls for faster action on the progress already made so that everyone can benefit from the Government's increasing array of online services."Dr Charles Trotman, Head of Rural Business Development, CLA
"Public sector websites now take good access for granted. They should revert to dial-up for a month and watch their children flounder in with coursework, their businesses stagger, and their tax, social services and DVLA transactions revert to Royal Mail. That is the issue not 50 miles from Westminster. E-government is a good policy but its deployment is socially flawed."Neil Blake, Ewelme Parish Council, Oxfordshire
Vtesse Networks, recently in the news when it lost its appeal over fibre taxes also supports the campaign. It will be deploying a new network in Birch Green, Bramfield, Hertingfordbury and Stapleford in Hertfordshire, to demonstrate that it is viable to deliver next generation broadband services in these rural areas. The services are expected to be available in late spring and early summer.
The results both from this trial and other areas already served by Vtesse will help it support applications for grants from Broadband Delivery UK both for delivering the Universal Service Commitment in the next two years as well as the next generation fund. We hope that in assessing the funding requirements for the 2012 target, the organisation will consider the benefits of a future-proof solution to ensure public money is spent wisely.
Those interested in being considered for the Vtesse pilot in Hertfordshire should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to register their interest.