NGA – would you pay?

NGA – would you pay?

In a previous post I explored what the topics of discussion would be at the government’s Convergence Think Tank, and suggested that next generation access (NGA) would probably be a key secondary issue to public service broadcasting (PSB).

At the seminar yesterday, NGA was indeed discussed. It was interesting to see, particularly for someone fairly new to the debate, the level of interest and desire for NGA among the broadcasting world.

This isn’t surprising, of course, as it opens up a lot of avenues for them, but I was struck by one presenter’s firm conclusion that the PSB debate was the wrong focus for the future of the industry, and that superfast broadband was the most important next step. His view wasn’t necessarily shared by all in the room, but he wasn’t the only presenter to mention the importance of NGA.

Broadcasters aren’t the only industry who see benefit in NGA, and are clamouring for greater bandwidth. A key issue, though, is how will it be paid for. There is demand from industries and consumers, but is there a willingness to pay? This is a big question, and currently there is little hard evidence for investors to go on that suggest a return for their money would be likely.

The BSG’s ongoing research into the economic and social value of NGA has drawn on emerging evidence from the US, where Verizon have subscribers paying a premium for faster access over fibre. But until more is known about consumer willingness to pay, the business case for NGA will be difficult to make.

Peter Shearman, Policy Manager, BSG