Arqiva calls on Welsh Assembly to address not spots first
The funding that has split out to the various regions of United Kingdom from the Broadband Delivery UK is meant to serve two purposes:
- Address not spots and areas receiving a service under the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC).
- Where possible make available superfast broadband to areas that fall outside likely commercial roll-outs for the service.
Reading on cable.co.uk comments made by Arqiva one could be forgiven for thinking that the first point is being ignored by bodies like the Welsh Assembly. Wales is already addressing not-spots with its Broadband Support Scheme which will provide funding of up to £1000 for premises where current telecommunications firms are not able to provide a service.
The funding from BDUK which means Wales has some £56.9 million to spend on broadband will need prioritising, but we would disagree with the Arqiva comments that 2 Mbps is the "reasonable level of service that everybody should have". While 2 Mbps represents a reasonable base line, the aim should be to ensure that the majority of access methods are significantly faster, a minimum of 10Mbps would be a sensible target to avoid having to spend a similar figure of £30 million in a couple more years. Superfast broadband is normally defined in the UK as a connection running at 25 Mbps or faster. Arqiva have conducted some LTE tests in Wales and they may be thinking that this technology could be used to meet the 2 Mbps USC.
The most pertinent question to ask anyone attempting to sell a service that meets the 2 Mbps USC should be - if you were to be able to buy your ideal property, but it had access to only a 2 Mbps connection for the foreseeable future would you buy that property or look elsewhere?
Hopefully the Welsh Assembly will strike a reasonable balance between ensuring universal broadband coverage in Wales, whilst leveraging the best possible speeds from the funds they have.