If you are one of those who have missed out on the superfast roll-outs and your broadband is distinctly sub 2 Mbps then it may be worth not drinking too much on St Patricks Day and set some of the supplies aside to celebrate an announcement on broadband spending.
The rumour machine is suggesting that the Universal Service Commitment may receive a funding boost, exactly what this means is unknown and given the few lines broadband usually gets in the budget we may not know much more detail immediately after the Chancellor's speech. It has been talked about for some time and as such is not really new news but a mention in the budget that the SuperConnected Cities voucher scheme is to be extended to cover the whole UK would help to boost a lot of businesses in both towns and rural area. For the critics of the main superfast BDUK scheme, the fact that the vouchers can be used with any of the numerous providers and technologies means smaller alt-net providers are keen to chase for new business.
What is new in the last day or so has been a couple of people talking about an expected announcement that satellite broadband will become the adopted champion for the USC. Politically it has the advantage of being very quick to install and would tick a serious box allowing farmers to submit their paperwork online, although in the past it has been suggested that the submission portals have problems with the high latency of satellite connections, which if true is very poor system specification when the web based system was created.
The satellite transponders covering the UK do not have the capacity to handle a million plus connections suddenly appearing, but for business use it will help cover the period until we have 95% superfast coverage in 2017 and with other improvements from 2017 to 2020, it may help to avoid the need to relocate a business.
If there is a wad of money to be thrown at the USC problem, which itself has periodic rumours of vanishing, or being delayed then we hope it is not targeted at a single technology, but will be used to promote the range of options available. The problem all along with the USC has been it has played second fiddle to the preferred superfast broadband targets and with budgets limited, both BT and the local authorities appear keen to push the superfast targets to avoid spending twice on the same properties.
Update 8:30am The rumour machine is going into overdrive, BBC Radio 1 News just mentioned budget may introduce ultra-fast broadband across the UK and The Independent is saying To introduce ultra-fast broadband around the UK. While this sounds like potentially a massive change in the BDUK focus, since ultra-fast is usually 100 Mbps and faster speeds, we suspect it is the financial journalists take on an expansion of the super-connected cities scheme that itself was original touted as creating ultra-fast islands in UK cities. It would be nice to wrong, and for the Chancellor to announce investment of a few billion in a long term FTTH future.