If there is anyone out there who likes a good book for bedtime reading, transfer the 385 page PDF that is the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry Into Superfast Broadband Written Evidence to your e-reader.
There are no conclusions drawn at this stage, simply a book comprising the many submissions, which range from Aardman Animations to Wispa Limited. We resisted printing the document to save a few trees, which is the normal way to manage large Ofcom documents, and have reproduced a few interesting sections below, for those looking for a taster of what the evidence contains.
"The phrase super fast broadband is misleading. No government report has adequately explained why 24Mb is necessary. Fibre provides this kind of peak speed, but only in urban areas, so why promote this as a national target?
But one could alternatively choose to prioritise a technology which provides 100% geographic coverage at 10Mb as satellite does. The Broadband Stakeholder Group, in its work leading up to the Carter Report did NOT recommend a 24mb standard. We believe that government has got carried away promoting a technical standard which is unnecessary, impractical and not at all analysed or clearly understood. 24Mb would only be necessary if multiple occupants of a dwelling were simultaneously watching streaming high definition television. Is this an objective worthy of government subsidy, when HD television is universally available at lower cost with BSkyB?"Written evidence from Avanti Communications
"BT’s fibre network is available to all communications providers to access on an open wholesale basis – providing consumer choice in service provider and choice wherever BT deploys its network. BT’s is the only fibre network deployment in the world that proactively seeks to offer wholesale access to encourage plurality and competition in retail provision of superfast broadband."Written evidence from BT
"Demand for superfast broadband at present is driven predominantly by the multiple-user household; at this point there is no ‘killer app’. It is worth noting that the major innovations in first generation broadband began to occur when take-up had achieved 30-40%. It is possible that innovative services that require superfast broadband will be developed only once penetration has reach a level that provides a large enough audience; this may be penetration within the UK for UK-specific services, or it could be global penetration/penetration across the English-speaking markets for international services."Written evidence from the Broadband Stakeholder Group
"The UK Government’s broadband strategy “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future”171 does not offer a clear definition of broadband, it simply notes a target download speed for broadband services in the UK. The same is true of the Call for Evidence. The first point of business for an inquiry into the government’s broadband strategy must be to develop a full understanding of the characteristics of next generation172 broadband connectivity, and to develop a specific definition of the type(s) of broadband connectivity needed to achieve the government’s strategic objectives in encouraging the rollout and take-up of broadband across the UK. Consideration of network attributes in addition to download speed is essential."Written evidence from Dr Catherine A. Middleton
"Each part of the UK has a completely different economic and geographical landscape when it comes to superfast broadband needs. As a result of this it is our belief that superfast broadband will not be delivered by fibre alone, but through what we have termed ‘mixed use’ Internet access. The government cannot and should not pay for fibre delivery of broadband. Instead fibre and copper broadband access along with mobile (2G, 3G and 4G/LTE) and satellite will make up the options that all individuals who wish to access the Internet will have in the near future in a competitive environment which is full of choice, but only if the government allows."Written evidence from the Taxpayers' Alliance
While there are some that evangelise about full fibre solutions, the impression one gets is that many parties who submitted evidence see this as something that can happen in the future. Given the stimulus money from the Government that is pretty much the case, but there is nothing wrong with people pushing the envelope and trying to ensure that when 2020 arrives that the UK is not left patching up old solutions. Some comments also reflect vested interests, which is ok given the large amount of contributors, but shows the endemic lack of vision in UK business.