Today is the first broadband summit hosted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which is looking to set out governments ambitions to deliver the best broadband network in Europe by 2015. The government are aware of the hurdles that lie in place and are bringing industry together to see if they can find a way through which will allow the country to receive faster broadband throughout the country.
So far, BT has committed £2.5 billion to delivering broadband to 2/3rd's of the country, but they claim there is no commercial case for going further than this. They say to cover the rest of the country would require a cash injection from the public purse in the order of £2 billion, but the government think BT can do more.
"My own experience is that there are some areas where the private sector says it won't go, but the minute you introduce competition, they want to head it off and so they'll get involved. That was certainly my experience with BT when they were rolling out broadband the first time round. Public subsidy is potentially there to support roll out where the market simply won't go."Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister
The government has thus far only committed around £2-300 million from the digital switchover underspend, and it's not likely that more funds will be made readily available. Others have shown that faster broadband can be delivered cheaply which has been shown by innovative solutions such as those from Rutland Telecom which use funding from the community to help deploy the service.
So where will the industry go from here? Duct / pole sharing will be put forward by the government as a cost saving mechanism that will help other providers deploy to areas where BT can't see the business case, but there will likely be continued calls for government to drop the tax on fibre as it stands as a significant barrier to small providers deploying services. So will it be possible to deliver 100meg broadband to everyone by 2015? With Finland aiming for this, we will need to equal or better to stick to the governments ambitions of the 'best in Europe'