Digital underpins so much of modern life that the Digital Strategy document published on 1st March 2017 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will over the next few years touch on many components of our daily lives, whether travelling, at work or resting at home.
The strategy was original due in 2016 but got delayed for various reasons and that delay means that certainly for the broadband infrastructure segment much of its contents are already well known, but still it is worth having them permanently etched into Government paperwork so that everyone knows what the aims are.
"Improved regulation of the consumer market will also play an important role in improving connectivity. We are working with regulators and industry to ensure that advertising for broadband more accurately reflects the actual speeds consumers can expect to receive, rather than a headline ‘up to’ speed available only to a few, and accurately describes the technology used, using terms like ‘fibre’ only when full fibre solutions are used. There should not be a gap between what is promised by providers and what is experienced by the consumer. The non-statutory Advertising Standards Authority has already made some progress in ensuring that broadband prices are made clearer and costs to consumers are not hidden, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that the advertising of communications is accurate and fair.Extract from DCMS Digital Strategy
The above section has previously only being referenced by people like Ed Vaizey MP back in early 2016 when he led a call for better speed information in advertising, and forcing the hand of regulators be they Ofcom with statutory or the ASA/CAP with non-statutory powers over how words like 'fibre' is used is a great way to get people on board and supporting other work DCMS has in the pipeline. So the future of advertising looks like to contain less works like fibre, and to some extent TalkTalk are already there with their Fast (ADSL2+), Faster (VDSL2) product names, and there is one other provider that asked all those listing its services to tweak wording to remove the word fibre already (though their own site still carries the references). Our monthly speed test results are expanding again, as we will release today our first results from the tracking of the speeds of the actual product tiers from the major providers.
"£1.7 billion of public funding is already being invested in delivering broadband across the country. Over 90% of UK premises can now access superfast broadband, and we are on track to reach 95% of UK premises by December 2017. Through strong contractual value for money requirements, we have released additional funds to extend delivery, with 600,000 more premises expected to benefit by 2020."Extract from DCMS Digital Strategy
The 95% target is now just 9 months away and with 2.6% which is around 740,000 premises still needed to be delivered to hit the target there is lots to do, and while it looks potentially on track a lot will hinge on how many new premises were built in 2016 and will be built in 2017 and whether developers do take up the options of pure fibre connectivity that now exist rather than defaulting to just a phone line. One would hope those new builds without decent broadband would not sell, but alas sales people are very convincing and promises are made that fall by the wayside.
The future of course is pure fibre or full fibre depending on your preference for wording and this means fibre to the premises. The pressures to roll-out better broadband so fast after a late start and value for money criteria mean that the UK has gone for its various hybrid solutions and nimby pressures are not helping some providers who are expanding their footprints.