Carter’s Universal Broadband Commitment
At an event yesterday Communications Minister Stephen Carter discussed the idea of a universal broadband commitment of a 2Mbps service to be available to every household that wants it, by 2012. The commitment could be included in the interim Digital Britain Report, expected to be published at the end of January.
The proposal would see a reform of the existing universal service obligation on BT, and would make use of wireless networks as well as fixed to deliver the service. The idea follows similar recent developments in other markets such as France, Ireland and Finland.
Whilst this is clearly a significant development, many will ask what it means for next generation broadband deployment in the UK? In November last year BSG Chairman Kip Meek outlined the idea of a universal service commitment for broadband in his speech to the BSG Reception. Meek’s idea sought to bring together policy in current and next generation broadband – a universal service for current broadband while encouraging investment in next generation broadband.
If the aims of the digital Britain initiative are to deliver economic as well as social benefits then a coherent approach will be required that addresses both objectives. While Carter referenced the importance of enabling investment in next generation services, it remains unclear, what, if anything, the DBR interim report will say on the matter.
Peter Shearman, Policy Manger, BSG