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Industry concerns over whether coalition government will help broadband Britain
Wednesday 12 May 2010 16:53:22 by John Hunt

The i3 Group, the company behind Fibrecity and H2O networks, have raised concerns about the coalition government that is now in power in the UK and what effects this will have on super-fast broadband policy in the UK. They feel the best plan would be to stick with Conservative policy put forward before the election, which largely allows the market to try and provide services, but sees the government stepping in supplying assistance to get high-speed broadband services to areas where the market will not deploy. The Conservative plans abandoned Labour's idea of a controversial 50p tax on phone lines.

"The Conservatives are the only party that have delivered a more structured and believable strategy for super fast broadband. They have a lot of time to make up due to the great Digital Britain debate that has been underway for far too long while companies like the i3 Group are already making strides to deliver it!

The area that is the toughest to address is the rural broadband issue, and the Conservatives are not alone in their vague approach in how to resolve it. I am concerned by their 'wait and see' strategy which hopes that the networks in rural areas will be built without any public spending. It is unrealistic, as often the figures to build a commercially viable infrastructure just don't stack up. I am in favour of their idea to use the BBC licence fee to fund connectivity in areas with limited access - and is certainly a much more sensible approach than Labour's proposed broadband tax was.

I hope that the Conservatives will put a stop to using the public purse for initiatives that the market can supply and see it supporting those 'not spot' areas that have limited access."

Elfed Thomas, (CEO) i3 Group

Broadband policy is not likely to be high-up on the coalition plans to address with many other tasks due ahead of this, such as appointing ministers to relevant departments, and them catching up on what needs doing. The Lib Dem's did state their intention to repeal the Digital Economy Act/Bill which was forced through during the last days of government. This bill did have Conservative support, but this only came late in the parliamentary process and was perhaps due to deals being done to get other bills through, but this does leave potential for this to perhaps be re-evaluated under the new government, and revised to a more fitting purpose.


Posted by timmay over 7 years ago
As long as we see a change to the rating system for fibre networks to remove "all current disadvantages suffered by new operators" then the market should invest and build future proof fibre networks.
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
And a reversal of the deb until it has been properly thought out, and not passed thru parliament via the backdoor
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Er more important things to think about in a new joint party partnership first id had thought. Bit silly for i3 to comment this soon.
Posted by Guest_Again over 7 years ago
I wouldn't be in a rush to believe any politician or political muppet.. I mean, party.
Posted by mishminx over 7 years ago
One company keen to get their hands in the begging bowl makes for an industry now... I should think the DEA more likely to be a news item. Can't see how either would be a priority but the DEA is certainly more contentious.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 7 years ago
Yet another company (i3) who think this is a rural issue.

If attacked only on that front, we could see rural areas with decent broadband and huge swathes of much more populous urban areas remaining without.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
markhampshite, I fear what you say is going to happen, fair play to the rural brigaders they got their voice heard, but this has led to misinformation.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
First things first - leave them alone to paw over the accounts and find out what Gordon 'profligate' Brown didn't tell us. /Then/ give them time to have a quiet whimper in the corner. /Then/ they have to come up with a plan to dig us out of this hole. Only then should the government look at increasing it's spending.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
BT says:

We are also announcing that, if investment conditions are favourable, we see the potential to extend our current fibre roll out to around two-thirds of UK premises by 2015 for an incremental cost of around £1bn, while maintaining our annual capital expenditure levels at around £2.6bn.
Posted by adslmax over 7 years ago
I doubt it, we won't hear anything from our coalition government until they sort out emergency budgets within 50 days time. They will not interesting in broadband as they must think of our country into safer and stable government with economy moving again. Leave broadband out for now until 2011 budget.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
openretch will do fibre to the cabinet in most urban areas, in the same way they rolled out adsl or adsl2+, they are a business in it to make money, so again the rural areas are still left on dial up. The conservatives are happy to let the market deliver what it can whilst they sort out the economy. It is going to be left to the JfDI crews to lay fibre themselves from the looks of it. Or rurals could move into cities and import food from third world countries, then send them money cos they are starving... the world is mad.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 7 years ago
Of course BT will focus on the high density areas, there is little/no return on putting fibre into the countryside due to the small uptake. People nowadays want everything handed on a plate, they want the services of the city along with the freedom and isolation of the country. If you are so desperate, do something about it, I know someone who decided to become an ISP for his village, ordered a 100Mb leased line and now shares it out via wifi as an ISP.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
cyberdork - isn't ADSL in all rural areas as well?
Posted by boggits over 7 years ago
Not directly related to Broadband but rather DEAct, the following was approved (by over 98%) in Birmingham today at the LibDem post election conference:

"Conference urges Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal of those sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 which are inconsistent with policy motion Freedom, Creativity and the Internet passed at the Liberal Democrat spring conference 2010."
Posted by xb0xguru over 7 years ago
AndrueC - the deficit's manageable and not because of anyone other than Brown - any economist will tell you that. There is no 'hole' as you so put it, and the country won't grind to a halt (again, thanks to the economic genius of Brown). What you want to be worried about is a Chancellor with NO experience, in charge of the finances.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
xb0xguru indeed, without this coalition, I think osbourne without a leash is scary to even think about.
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