Over a year ago, the European Commission outlined a target for all EU citizens to have access to basic broadband by 2013, a 30Mbps superfast broadband connection by 2020, with over half of households actually subscribing to a 100 Mbps or faster connection.
At the Parliament & Internet conference on Thursday, Ed Vaizey mentioned that some funding of £8 billion will be available across Europe to ensure that the 2020 goals can actually be met. This funding covering the seven year period from 2014 to 2020.
The current BDUK funding is £530m which is expected to be spent by 2015, with another potentially £300m being available between 2015 and 2017. Generally most councils are adding their own money in addition to funds available from central sources, EU funding and partial funding from firms involved in the roll-outs. In a workshop, the issue of potential joint projects involving Smart Meters/Grid that could increase the funds available for better broadband solutions was discussed. Issues of security and segregation of traffic on shared infrastructure were largely considered solved, with most obstacles to infrastructure sharing of fibre networks being down to contractual issues.
Hopefully local authorities across the UK will consider the European Digital Agenda when planning how to approach meeting the 2 Mbps and superfast targets. Many local councils are seeking input via surveys and meetings from residents and we encourage people to participate, because unless people make themselves noticed it would be very easy for a council for example to miss an area of a town that is under-served in respect to current generation broadband services.
The Parliament & Internet Conference website should be updated in due course with a report and pictures from the proceedings of the 2011 event, which involved the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group, Broadband Stakeholder Group, EURIM – The Information Society Alliance, ISPA, Nominet and the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum.
Compared to previous years, the outlook for broadband was more positive with the main discussion now revolving around the broad consensus that the original targets for the UK of getting to 90% coverage of superfast broadband by 2015 are pretty much underway, and that with further effort, rather than a 2 Mbps service for the remaining 10% it should be possible to push faster services to these areas, using combinations of fibre and/or 4G LTE wireless.