Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has perhaps not always been at the forefront of peoples minds when thinking of broadband in the UK, with there being criticism over the lack of visible progress to date. Alas, with the large amount of rules governing areas such as State Aid, it should be of no surprise that things can appear to move slowly. Today sees the publication of the Delivery Model document for BDUK, setting out milestones and timelines.
- The Government has the following objectives for the Broadband Delivery Programme:
- Objective 1: To support economic growth in the UK, including in rural areas
- Objective 2: To ensure this country has the best Superfast Broadband in Europe by the end of this parliament (2015):
- To ensure access to Superfast Broadband (through whatever medium) is extended to as great a proportion of communities in the UK as possible;
- To ensure the market place provides the ability for Consumers to access Superfast Broadband at an affordable price;
- Where the private sector is unlikely to deliver similar services on a commercial basis;
- By May 2015.
- Objective 3: To ensure delivery of Standard Broadband to virtually all communities in the UK within the lifetime of this parliament (2015):
- Where it is not economic to deliver Superfast Broadband;
- To ensure the market place provides the ability for all Customers to access Standard Broadband at an affordable price;
- Where possible, to allow for future upgrades to Superfast Broadband;
- By May 2015.
- Objective 4: To ensure the efficient use of funding to deliver Superfast Broadband and Standard Broadband:
- For public funding provided within the UK;
- For public funding available through other (e.g. European) sources; and
- To encourage the leveraging of private funding.
- Objective 5: To assist other Government initiatives which are dependent upon Customers ability to access Broadband based services:
- Where related regulation or policy is being amended;
- Where digital inclusion is being addressed; and
- Where local communities can become involved in the solution.BDUK Programme Objectives
The definitions of Standard and Superfast Broadband are pretty simple, Standard as a service that allows a quality home working experience, for which a headline access speed of 2 Mbps is used. Superfast is defined as headline download speeds of greater than 24 Mbps.
One key factor with BDUK is that it exists only as a central helper - the delivery itself is intended to be local, with BDUK encouraging action by local bodies, communities, customers and suppliers. To this end there was the talk of 'Community Broadband Hubs', which appeared to be a vague notion, but a catchy phrase for PR purposes. A key point about these hubs is shown below:
Wholesale connectivity should be available at a Community Broadband Hub at an affordable price within a community where communities or other private and public sector bodies can then take responsibility for extending the network capability further to individual homes. In one sense a Community Broadband Hub is essentially a point of presence, where backhaul can be bought at typical market rates, rather than rates that relate to the distance of the hub from a point of handover (e.g. a suitably enabled BT exchange.10.5.5 Community Broadband Hubs
The fact the Hub and bandwidth should not be based on the distance the backhaul has to travel will be key to providing affordable access to local communities. If the rates are low enough and local co-operation is possible on issues like way-leave, a community laying its own fibre could breed the possibility of moving current broadband not-spots in to locations with full fibre to the home/building (FTTH/B) solutions. With local bodies looking to minimise the proportion of users on Standard Broadband services and maximise the user of Superfast Broadband, it will be critical for backhaul prices to come down from today's levels.
|Current||Future - 5 years time||Future - 10 years time|
|Customer (end user) experience||12% of premises unable to get a connection of 2Mbps||Virtually all communities able to have access to a quality home working experience (i.e. to get at least 2 Mbps with the majority able to access more.||Everyone able to access 30Mbps capabilities. 50% to access 100Mbps capability.|
|Supplier Market||Competitive broadband service provision in the existing market||Competitive broadband service provision, as far as reasonably possible, as the market for Superfast Broadband expands||Maintain a world class competitive and flexible market place capable of delivering future technologies|
|Network||Good network coverage but supplier plans for commercial provision of Superfast Broadband limited to two thirds of market||UK has broad national coverage with the best Superfast Broadband network in Europe||UK continues to have the best Superfast Broadband network in Europe|
|Mobile broadband||Coverage limited outside large settlements. Spectrum not routinely traded / shared||Coverage outside large settlements improving. Spectrum trading and sharing increasing.||Majority of UK land area covered. Spectrum reuse and sharing now routine|
The target for Best in Europe, is a lofty goal, but draws attention and is derided as impossible by some, but remember that there is more to being the best than being the fastest or cheapest. BDUK will be measuring on four main factors: Coverage and take-up, speed, price and choice of retail provider. One area that will help make peoples actual experience of broadband is the idea that the 2000 registered installers under Digital Tick certified installers scheme could form the core for a new service providing a 'Certified Digital Home Engineer' - the idea being to help consumers with connectivity and speed issues in the home.
'The Big Society' and local people making a difference can often be seen as pure political rhetoric, with the actual handling of broadband delivery coming under the realm of local councils. With this being somewhere from the county level down to the parish level, now is the time for those complaining about broadband speeds to get involved and do their level best to ensure their area is not left behind, or simply given the bare minimum of service so a council can tick the job done boxes.