Two weeks after the Government failed to send a representative to the FTTH Conference at ExCeL it dispatched Ed Vaizey to Cable Congress to deliver a speech.
"Firms like Virgin Media and BT lead the way when it comes to investing in our broadband infrastructure, and I must applaud the work they are doing and the capital they have committed. Virgin Media’s investment in doubling customers’ speeds is future proofing the network and opening up new opportunities for our online companies, and is only one part of its multi-billion pound programme.
Our goal is to provide certainty, to ensure the money invested in rollout is used to take superfast broadband further and not wasted on delays and disputes. It is important that the regulatory framework governing the telecoms sector is fit for purpose and competitive. While this of course sits with Ofcom, we are committed to ensuring the market fosters competition, supports multiple, innovative providers, and results in greater consumer choice.
On this latter aspect, the UK’s broadband market is already in rude health. Ofcom’s European scorecard, which was published today shows that the UK currently benefits from low prices and a high degree of competition in the broadband market, and that the UK has the best deals available for consumers across a selection of pricing bundles in the major European economies."Extracts from speech by Ed Vaizey MP
There is little doubt that the competition in the retail sector of UK broadband means that people can buy broadband from as little as £2.50 per month and is ahead of most of Europe. The problem this has created is that millions seem reluctant to embrace the faster services that allow people to do more with their connection and at the same time means that only providers able to cross subsidise can compete.
The message is clear as far as we are concerned, the UK has done exceedingly well in getting first generation broadband to where it is now, but other economies across Europe and the world are leap frogging this stage and could very easily become the locations to do business in a digital economy. What the politicians need to look at is how to attract the investment that means Russia is rolling out FTTB (Fibre to the Building/Basement) networks at breakneck pace and not subsidising existing companies. We have some firms succeeding in this area, but there are others that are simply lots of good PR but very little in terms of actual connections to the consumer and SME market.
So lets have no back slapping and celebrations, we still stand a chance of meeting the 2015 goals, but the crown may be short lived particularly as there is no clear direction from any of the political parties for post 2015.